I was really excited going into this race. After a number of weekends of solo long runs, I was excited for both the race atmosphere and the change of scenery in trails. This would also be my first ultra of this training cycle and only my second “official” 50k.
Saturday I ran 23 solo miles on the trails and felt pretty good. My legs were feeling a little beat up going into that run, but they actually ended up feeling better after it. My calves have been knotty and tight, and I have just been paying extra attention to my legs. They are doing a lot of work and I want to make sure I give them the appropriate TLC back. I went to bed early on Saturday night after an early evening face stuffing session with Page with my alarm set for 4:30 (which sadly does not feel that early these days).
I woke up easily, drank coffee and got ready. Folsom is about an hour and a half drive from my house, so I ate my Clif Bar on the way. My stomach had a few butterflies, but overall I felt pretty calm. The drive was easy and went by quickly, and just as the sun was starting to make it’s way up, I arrived at the race start.
I had about an hour to kill, which is more than enough time at a small race like this. I got my bib, sat in my warm car, used the bathroom and eventually got my shoes and pack on. I knew a few people there and made some new friends as well. Pretty soon it was time for the marathon and 50k to line up. We were given directions and we were off!
I knew this race was going to be much “flatter” than what I usually run (flatter being relative of course… it wasn’t flat, but definitely didn’t have the big climbs I have been training on), but I didn’t really have any plans or time goals. I just was out there to get a solid training run in and make sure my legs didn’t fall off after the big week of running I had put in.
The course is an out and back along Folsom Lake. I have ran at this lake one time during AR50, but we were on the other side of the lake, so these were all new trails to me. The temperature was perfect to start the day. There was more shade than I expected and the air was cool, which I was happy about since it was supposed to be another warm day. We were on beautiful single track trails and I easily found my happy pace and just ran along. I kept thinking “I need to take a picture of this!” but didn’t want to pull out my phone a million times.
There were a bunch of aid stations which was great. The first two, at miles 3.4 and 6.5, I didn’t need much from, so ran through pretty quickly. The next one was just before mile 11 and I was ready for some real food at that point. You had to earn this aid station by going up a pretty steep little hill to get there.
I had friends at this aid station which was fun! It’s always so great to see friendly faces in the middle of a long race. I took some boiled potatoes and Coke and made my way back onto the course. I had been doing my standard fueling of eating Shot Bloks every couple miles and taking a salt cap every hour in addition to water out of my pack. It was getting warmer at this point, but I still felt good.
The miles were ticking by pretty fast and pretty soon the marathoners were turning around. A few minutes later the leaders of the 50k were coming through and I even ran into a co-worker! I hit the turn around and stopped for some more potatoes and Coke and to refill my water pack. My watch said right around 2:45, which I was very happy with since I half way through and still feeling great. I hoped to be able to keep it pretty close time-wise for the second half.
I continued to fuel and was definitely feeling the sun warming me up. The miles just continued to pass by as I was running in my own little world. I usually am not a big fan of out and backs, but since I didn’t know this route it was great. Everything looks different coming from a different direction. I hit the top-of-the-hill aid station just before mile 20 and took some more potatoes and Coke and talked a little bit.
I passed a couple people in the later miles and just continued to run where I felt comfortable. I pretty much ran the entire first half, but took it a little easier on some of the hills in the second half. I was getting warm and just didn’t want to push too much since it was a training run after all. I refilled my pack again at the 2nd to last aid station. I was drinking a lot more water on the way back.
Pretty soon I was at the last aid station with just over 3 miles to go. I was feeling strong and ready to push it a little bit more. After some more fuel and talking with the volunteers, I took off and was ready to be done!
The last 1.5 miles were on an exposed flat damn running back to the start of the race. Since it was an out and back, I knew this was coming and knew it might be a little rough at the end. I just got in the zone here and didn’t look too far ahead and ran. I was feeling great, so pushed it a bit to get myself to the finish line a little faster. I saw another friend right at the end, and then made my way up and over the last hill onto the road that would drop me to the finish.
I wasn’t sure what my overall time was going to be, but it ended up being about 13 minutes faster than Way Too Cool, my other “official” 50k.
Official time: 5:36:45
A 50k PR to finish off a new weekly mileage PR (for now). This run also officially made 2012 my highest mileage year, and we still have 2 months to go! Lots of number fun happened this day.
To top it off, I was 3rd place woman and 1st in my age group. Sure it was a tiny race, but it was still fun to get all the medals. I don’t think I have ever placed top 3 in any race before! Inside Trails gives out pint glasses as their ultra finisher medals and I have wanted one for a long time, so I was really excited for it too.
All in all it was a great day. I had so much fun running new trails, seeing old friends, meeting new ones and setting some fun new PRs. I slowed down a little in the second half, which I expected with the warmth, but a lot of it was taking a little more time at the aid stations. I was able to run strong the entire way and finish feeling really strong which I was happy with.
As always Inside Trails put on another great event and I just really love these small trail runs. The community really shines through in the volunteers and in the runners, and I feel so lucky to get to experience it and be a part of it. I can’t wait for the next one.