|Finish! Photo: Chris Jones|
As I mentioned above, I am graduating this semester so I have been super busy writing my thesis, getting some results and searching for a job. Unfortunately, this did not leave much time to run. However, it was a nice time for my body to recover and rebuild from all the miles and racing in 2014. I learned a valuable lesson that we all need time off, mentally and physically. Although I still ran, I probably averaged around 40 miles per week since January 1st. Also due to a lot of traveling for interviews, I got sick twice, taking nearly five days off each time.
So obviously, my training was not even close to what I had hoped. However, I was able to get in a fair amount of quality workouts in. I did everything from hill repeats, tempo runs and intervals on a fairly regular basis. In the past, I was always focused on mileage, however, I have been able to let this go and focus more on quality, which was a nice change. I was also confident as I have have run and learned a lot since my last 50 miler in December 2013. So I was very curious to see how Lake Sonoma would play out. Finally, I did not put any pressure on myself to hit a particular time, and instead, just have fun.
Going into the race, I was very excited to finally run Lake Sonoma after spectating in 2013 and volunteering in 2014. Long story short, I ran an nicely paced race. I came in 8:04:53, which was good enough for 38th place overall in a super stacked field. I was able to run at nearly a constant effort all day and only had about a 20 minute positive split. I came out not too beat up, which will make for a great training run for Angeles Crest in August. Huge thanks to all the volunteers and race organizers for a flawlessly executed race. Finally, huge congrats to all my Bay Area friends who also ran!
This "race" felt more like a training run. I never felt really good nor did I ever feel really bad. I never pushed really hard nor did I have to resort to the infamous death march. Honesty, I was just having fun and soaking up the beautiful scenery. So a play-by-play race report would be quite boring, and I will keep this short and to the point. I still have some work on my thesis anyway.
I was able to pack 15 gels and 7 servings of Tailwind in my shorts and belt. This way, there was no need to have any dropbags and I only had to rely on the aid stations for water.
The race as usual started out fast, but I'd like to think after many ultras, I am smarter than that. So I just focused on running a comfortable pace, especially for the first few miles on the road. I noticed tons of elite ultra-runners and many local Bay Area runners. It was great to talk with everyone before we hit the trails.
Honestly, I did not feel particularly great for the first 10 miles or so. I was running along comfortable, but I just wasn't feeling it. Nothing major, just did not feel ready to run. I think this may have been due to the super early morning and not much sleep leading up to race day. In the past, I was running a lot more in the early mornings, while lately, afternoon runs have been a lot more convenient. I think my body was not ready to run, but after 15 - 20 miles, I felt much better and was enjoying the day.
Around this point, I was running with my friend Rudy and Kaci Lickteig. We talked for a few miles, which was nice and made a couple miles fly by. By now, the day was warming up and it was shaping up to be an epic day in Northern California. After a mile or two, Kaci decided to slow down, and Rudy and I moved ahead a bit. Eventually, we caught up with our buddies Edmundo and Sebastian, and it was really nice to catch up with them for a few miles. After one of the few steepish climbs up to Madrone Point at mile 18, they pulled ahead and I was falling behind.
|At the turnaround with Meghan. Photo: Chris Jones|
On the way back there were at least five major creek crossings, which were amazing. Each time, I soaked my entire body, which gave me a great burst of energy. At the last aid station at mile 45, there was a short little quarter mile out and back. I noticed a handful of runners within a couple minutes. I felt good so I thought I would push the last five miles and go for a few places. I passed four or five runners on the final climb up to the finish, which felt great. I am usually on the receiving end of that!
It felt great to finish strong with some gas in the tank. I think this turned out to be a great comfortable effort and perfect training for Angeles Crest.
Lake Sonoma's post race is very nice. Plenty of Racer 5 and tamales to go around. It is awesome to talk and get to know all the elites as well. If you can, Lake Sonoma is definitely worth being a part of either as a spectator, volunteer or runner.
I recently read a blog post by Wyatt Hornsby about the honeymoon in ultra running. When I first got into ultras in 2012, running was all I could think about. I was constantly reading articles, planning races and looking forward to my next long run. I was definitely in the honeymoon period, and running had a serious impact on every other aspect of my life. It took time away from school and work, and ultimately forced me to rethink my career goals and what I wanted out of life.
Over the last 4 months running has taken a back seat to life as I have had to put nearly all of my effort on graduating and finding a job. Looking back, this was such a healthy mental break from my obsession with running. I still ran 40 - 50 miles a week and got in some quality workouts, but there was no stress to get in a run or hit big miles. I stopped reading articles online and worrying about the latest gear or nutrition.
My point is that it felt really good not to stress out about every little detail. I am really glad I had this forced break from my running obsession. Now, I don't plan to stop running anytime soon, and I am really looking forward to ramping up my training and getting back into it for Angeles Crest. However, just like running big miles ever weeks, obsessing over running is not sustainable, and I needed a break and time to step away. I totally understand why so many take the winter off to ski or do something else. I think this is a great mentality for longevity in the sport.
1. Training - You don't need to run big miles each week to have a good race. I peaked at 60 miles from January 1st to race day. I got in some quality workouts and a couple long runs around 20 miles. Now, I was also relying on my experience and cumulative miles from the previous couple years. My point is that once you have some experience, you probably don't necessary have to train big to succeed. I did not expect a PR time on tough course. However, I ran a much better race and finished with gas in the tank compared to my 7:20 at American River. I will take this into account as a I plan for Angeles Crest.
2. Aid Stations - I think I have said this in every race report. But don't waste time in the aid stations. Since I only needed water at each aid station, I never stopped for more than a minute. If you are going for a time, you can't afford to waste it. Plus, by carrying my own nutrition, I knew I already had exactly what I wanted. I didn't have to worry about gel flavors or anything, and instead, I just filled up my bottle and left.
Advice for LS50
|One of the many creek crossings. Photo: Chris Jones|
2. Creeks - There are around 10 creek crossings if I remember correctly. However, this will also depend on the water levels. Make sure to have shoes that drain well. Also, I wore compression socks and sleeves. In the afternoon, I soaked myself in the creeks. The cold, wet compression gear helped keep me cool for a while. It was super refreshing!