Back when I was scouring the Inside Trail site for what races I wanted to run in 2013, this race very much jumped out at me. I had never been running at Fort Ord, and really had no idea what to expect in terms of terrain, but new trails always sound like a good idea to me. Add to that a 50k course that didn’t do multiple loops or cover the same trails a number of times and I was sold. To make it even better, Jojo and Jessica signed up for the 50k also, and Alyssa and Erin were in for the 25k!
Another point of excitement for me, is that at the beginning of January I was asked to be an Ambassador for Inside Trail Racing! I have been a big fan of theirs, ever since I ran their very first race in January of 2012, and am so excited to be a little part of the team.
We decided to make the trek down to Fort Ord, which is between Salinas and Monterey, the morning of. I met Jess down in San Jose and we carpooled the rest of the way. It was about a 2 hour drive for me, which made for a long day, but it was completely worth it. We got there with about an hour to spare (standard Aron), and had time to get ready in a relaxed state.
It was a lot foggier than we had anticipated, so I was happy I had thrown in some arm warmers at the last minute. The 5 of us girls had planned on wearing some form of red and gold in support of our city’s team in the Superbowl the next day.
We ran up to the start line with about 5 minutes to go, heard the race announcements, and we were off! The 50k and 25k started together and ran probably the first 10 or so miles together. The first 3 miles were all downhill, so I was pretty surprised to look down and see how fast we were running. I made a comment but knew the hills would be slowing us down soon.
Jess, Jojo and I planned on sticking together. None of us were out to set any personal records or anything, we were just out to enjoy the day on some beautiful new trails together. The miles were flying by as we talked and caught up on the last couple weeks, and enjoyed the new scenery.
The terrain changed from fire roads to single track to exposed to tree covered. I loved being on these new trails and constantly wondering what was going to be next. I think it was around mile 10 when we split off from the 25k and said bye to Alyssa and Erin.
We were all pretty good in terms of energy at this point. We knew we still had a long way to go, but were fueling well and running along. I had been eating Shot Bloks, drinking water and had taken a salt cap by this point. At the aid stations I was eating boiled potatoes dipped in salt and had a small Clif Bar. Pretty standard fueling for me.
We had a couple good sized hills in these sections and I was reminded of parts of Diablo. You could see for miles and miles with endless trails wrapping around. The fog had burned off a bit so we could see further, but it was still really overcast which I was appreciating.
The course would take you from these rolling fire roads onto some fun single track trails. Jess and I were getting a little disoriented at this point. We really had no idea where we were or where we were going, and we both are typically very map and direction oriented on our runs. It is really nice being on new trails and letting go of that part, but it may have caused a little bit of crankiness and mental frustration around the 20 mile mark.
We wound out of the trees onto more beautiful open single track. I was so thankful for the cloud cover right here, I can see it getting really warm without it!
We went through the last aid station around mile 23 and the course took us along some neighborhoods and we saw a lot more people. We were asked a number of times if there was a race going on and a received a number of comical reactions when we said 50k.
Then we started going back up and were definitely rewarded the higher up we climbed.
More incredible views and more trails that went on forever.
We were getting down to the last few miles at this point, and this part of the race was so fun. The single track that wrapped around these hills reminded me a lot of the Coastal Trail above Stinson Beach, but without the ocean. We were tired, but were definitely pushing the effort at this point. We were running consistently and passed a few people over the last few miles.
At some points over the last 2 miles it felt like we may never get to the finish, but eventually we wrapped around a corner and saw it up the last hill. We all ran in together with lots of cheers from our friends and happily crossed the finish line together.
Garmin: 30.9 miles/6:02:38/3,825’ gain
This was such a fun day and I am so glad I did this race. The volunteers and race staff work so hard to put on these races and it makes these days even better.
I didn’t really know what to expect from myself, this is actually my first 50k not training for a 50 miler. My legs were definitely tired towards the end, but I am really happy with how it went. I have a number of planned 50ks this spring, so this was just the kick off to “the year of the 50k” for me. If they all are this fun and beautiful, it’s going to be a really fun spring.