Yesterday I ran my second San Juan Trail 50k. I had signed up for this race on a whim about two weeks ago and decided that it would be a good “train through” race, meaning it wasn’t a top priority race and I wouldn’t cut back on my training before it. I would be using it more to get in some long miles and push myself a little harder than a normal long run.
Unfortunately on Friday, the day before the race, it was raining cats and dogs. Apparently because of this, the forest rangers wanted the race to be cancelled, but Baz (the race director) made the decision to change the course a bit instead. At a normal San Juan Trail 50k, runners start off by running a 18 mile loop on the super technical San Juan trail, which kicks my butt every time I run it and is definitely not my favorite part of the race. After they complete that, then they run a second 12 mile loop, which is where the fun really begins. The 12 mile loop takes runners up a 2.5 mile climb to the Main Divide road and then down the Trabuco Trail, which is basically just made up of all rocks for a good portion but is really fun to run down. Once they hit the bottom of Trabuco they are then in Holy Jim and have to go back up again to the Main Divide road up a little trail called “West Horsethief.” West Horsethief is all switchbacks and climbs 1400 feet in just a mile and a half. It is gnarly. Once runners hit the top, they run a few miles on the rolling Main Divide dirt road and then descend back down the 2.5 mile road that they originally had come up. It is a really fun loop.
Anyways, due to the rain, the second loop of the course was cancelled since the rangers didn’t want runners or volunteers going up to the higher elevations. Instead, the race started out with a 15k loop on the lower San Juan Trail and then we ran the dreaded 18 mile loop. I was a little bummed, but the RD did what he had to do and was clearly just looking out for everyone.
I started off running the first 15k loop pretty conservative. I knew that the second loop would kick my butt as always and so didn’t want to burn out too quickly. I came into the race headquarters feeling good after finishing the first loop, drank 450 calories of Vitargo, and then was on my way back out for the second part of the race.
The first half of the second loop was primarily downhill, but it was still hard to get a good pace going because it was so technical and the trail twisted and turned so much. About 6 miles into the this section, I started to get hungry again and thought I would take some Vitargo. Since I was carrying my pack with me though and I don’t like to put Vitargo in the bladder, I decided to make Vitargo into a gel for the race to take. I couldn’t find my gel flasks in the morning though so I just put each serving into a zip lock bag and thought I would just squeeze it out of that when I needed it. So anyways, I reached into my pack to pull out one of the servings of Vitargo, except for somehow the ziplock bag opened and the Vitargo got all over the inside of my pack. And for those of you who have used Vitargo before, you know how sticky it is! Epic FAIL for me!!!! It was all good though and I actually started laughing at myself and then just kept on going. By the time I hit the aid station and turn around point at 19 miles though, I was ravenous! Luckily this was a major aid station too so they had good stuff. I had 1.5 giant white chocolate macadamia nut cookies then grabbed a handful of peanut butter filled pretzels in one hand and a giant handful of wheat thins in the other hand and then was out on my way to the finish.
Since the first half of this loop was mostly downhill, that means the second half was mostly uphill. However, I didn’t feel as bad as I thought I would by this point. When I reached the last aid station, which was mile 24 ish I asked the volunteers how many women were ahead of me and they replied not too many. I then asked if I was close enough where I could catch any and their response was “if you really put the hammer down.” So I put the hammer down the best I could. I felt really good the last few miles and passed a couple guys, but unfortunately no women. I came in at a time of 5:46 for 5th female I believe and first in my age group. Not bad for a train through race. Wasn’t great, but wasn’t terrible. It was basically what I had expected and I was content with it.
With SJT 50k being a train through race, my goal was to finish feeling good enough that I could get out and do another long-ish run today. This morning I woke up feeling really good without any soreness and I was able to run another 16 hilly road miles. I have been doing a lot of my road runs lately on Santiago Canyon road and love it out there. It has long rolling hills, no lights, a very wide bike lane and great scenery. I had never run the whole canyon though from point to point so today that was my goal, which was successfully accomplished! All in all it was a great training weekend. My miles are starting to really add up and my body is responding a lot better to the higher mileage than I thought it would. Each week I continue to feel in better shape than the last.
I also would like to thank everyone who has been helping me prepare for Badwater so far. This is by far the biggest thing I have ever attempted in my life and the past few weeks I have been feeling very appreciative of everyone who has taken the time to help me get ready in one way or another 🙂 So thank you!
April 9-15th training:
Tuesday: 14 miles on Santiago Cyn Road
Thursday: 10.5 miles around Back Bay (road)
Saturday: San Juan Trail 50k (really about 28 miles)
Sunday: 16 miles on Santiago Cyn Road
Total miles: 68.5