Monday, February 27, 2012

La Jolla Canyon 50K Race Recap

Yesterday, I ran my second 50K – the La Jolla Canyon 50K in Malibu, California. It had a wee bit of climbing in it and I was running it only 3 weeks after my last 50K so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I knew for sure I wanted to beat my JJ50K time and there was a time limit of 8 ½ hours. I was sure I could do that but I guess I was hoping for big!

I took my mom to a belated birthday lunch on Saturday. We went to Mimis and I had the Jambalaya to start my carbo loading. I could only finish about half my order but I think I made it for it with soup, bread, and Birthday Cake pops at Starbucks after. :) I was fine all that day but just when I was about to go to bed, my mind started racing with what was going to happen on Sunday and I could not get it to shut up! I haven't had a night like that before a race in a long time. Anyway, I didn't get much sleep. :(

My alarm went off at 4 and I ate breakfast, got dressed, and packed up my bag w/my gear. The drive to Malibu took about 1 ½ hours and I arrived there at 7. I picked up my shirt and bib and then went back to the car to get ready. At 7:40, I headed to the race start. It wasn't very cold and there wasn't much of a marine layer so I left my arm warmers and gloves in the car.

There were 5 races happening on Sunday: a 5 mile, an 11 mile, a 30K, marathon, and the 50K. The 30K, marathon, and 50K started at 8. We gathered at the start line & the RD reminded us about the course markings and then we were off!

The course consisted of 2 lollipop loops and an out & back. We did the orange lollipop first (7.5ish miles), then the pink (11ish miles), then the orange again, and finally the out and back which was the “stick” of the pink lollipop (up to the yellow arrow – 5.5ish miles).

We were pretty much going up or down the whole 50K. It was a definite roller coaster ride!

We started off uphill right away. It wasn't too bad though. The “stick” of the orange lollipop was really rocky and it was slow going the first loop with the train of runners going thru it. It was pretty though. Once we passed that section, it was a really nice single track up to the top with some awesome views. Mostly. The marine layer had come in and it made it very cool and added an air of mystique to the trail.

I felt really good and passed a few people on the way up. I'd decided to run what I could (flatish, not steep ups & the downs) and hike the rest. My legs felt great though and so did I. Once over the top, it was nice long downhill sweep back to the start. It took us inland and it was more of a grassy double track for a while. The view here was pretty cool too.

I caught the runner in the pic above and we ran together for a lot of it. I told her to let me know if she wanted to go by and she said she was using me as her pacer. Ha! But kind of cool. I was bummed that she was wearing headphones so we didn't talk much.

I made it back to the start and stopped at the aid station to refill my bottle and grab some food. The plan was to eat mostly real food in practice for my 50 miler next month. I grabbed pretzels and a few oreos and headed out.

The pink loop was harder in that we had to climb twice during it but it was a much smoother single track. I caught up to some of the runners who'd passed me and I spent most of the first uphill in the pink lollipop talking to a guy named Rowell. We compared favorite races and talked future races and it was fun having someone to talk to. The sun was out and the climb was exposed so I got hot and started sweating. On this side, we could really hear the waves crashing on the shore and feel the breeze coming off the ocean so it was still really nice. The downhill after the summit was a great reward but I didn't push it because I knew I had a lot more ahead of me and I didn't want to blow my quads.

I made it to the 2nd aid station at mile 13.5 in about 2:50ish. I got some coke this time, more pretzels, a couple of oreos and some orange slices. While they were filling my bottle for me, I noticed a bowl of Scaps and realized I hadn't taken any yet! Doh! I couldn't believe it. I had six in my pocket but had completely forgotten. I was way behind schedule on them but I just took one and then headed out. I tried to keep my time at the aid stations to just a couple of minutes.

After this, we headed inland so we lost the breeze and then it was back uphill. And boy was it. Mile 16 was a soul sapping, leg depleting, killer, hot climb. It was about here that my stomach said “you know, I've seen better days”. It wasn't that I was nauseous, it was just uncomfortable and achy and was like that the rest of the day (I figured out after that it was because I started and it was menstrual cramps...damn it!). Anyway, my stomach didn't really appreciate the downhill after I got over the top but my legs sure did. I got back to the start at about 12:15 pm. And that was about 19 miles. I had just 12 miles to go and I was thinking I could get in under 7 hours. I thought for sure I could do it because I wasn't tired yet and my legs and feet were doing okay.

This time, at the aid station, I grabbed some potatoes w/ salt, peanut butter pretzels, and a mini brownie, filled my water bottle and headed out. The climb up thru the rocky section was quiet and I could go at my own pace. I liked it because there was shade and it was interesting. Once I hit mile 20 though…bam! My right hamstring started cramping. I could still keep moving but I’d have to stop to stretch it once in a while. So I didn't do much running up hill on that loop. :( At least the views were distracting!

I did suck down a gu and take another Scap hoping it would help and I think it did because once I got up to a flat section, I could run again.

The run through the valley was lonely. There were hikers out but I didn't see any runners til I caught up with a man near the end. He passed me back going thru the rocky section because my legs suddenly turned to noodles and I was pretty shaky going down that section. I fell once but it was nothing big. And another time I jumped off a boulder and landed on a rock which hurt like heck. But other than that, I made it thru in one piece which I was very grateful for. 26.5 miles done. Just 5ish to go!

I took longer at the aid station back at the start this time. More potatoes. A lot of Sprite because I was super thirsty. And watermelon just seemed so yummy I wanted to take the whole plate. But I didn't. When I was coming down that last mile, that stupid devil on my shoulder said “You could drop after this loop and just finish as a marathoner”. I admit, I thought about it for a while. But when I got to the aid station, I didn't even think about it. I was in “you're in it this far, see it thru to the end” mode. So I headed out for the out-and-back.

And bam! The cramping was back in my right hamstring. This time the glute decided it needed to join the party too. I seriously sucked at electrolyte replacement during this run. I had a really nice coat of salt over all exposed skin. I must have looked like a ghost! I popped another Scap and kept hiking up the hill. And up and up. The hamstring complaining the whole way. I tried to focus on the sound of the waves to drown it out. It worked some. Mostly, I wasn't thinking. Just moving. When I got to the turn-around at the top, I looked at my garmin and calculated that if I ran down, I could make it in under 8 hours and it would be a PR. That thought gave me enough motivation to run it down. You don't know how badly I wanted to just walk. But I didn't. And I made it back in 7:58 and change! My second 50K was done. Finally. :)

The assistant RD was waiting for me at the finish line, said "Congratulations Lisa" and handed me my coaster. I hobbled over to the food and nothing looked appetizing. The woman who'd been manning the aid station all day gave me a cold Sprite and I had 1/2 a banana and then went to sit down for a little bit.
As I was sitting there, I heard the assistant RD call my name and ask if I was still around. I yelled that I was and she told me to wait that she had something for me. She said "You were 3rd in your Age Group" and handed me my AG award. I said "So there were only 3 of us, huh?" And she laughed and said that more had signed up but didn't show today. So I was 3rd out of 3 in the W40-49 age group. pays to show up!

Then I walked down to my car and took off my shoes and tried to put on my other pair. I couldn't tie them though because my hamstring was cramping again. I sat there for a while watching the water and listening to the waves. I finished off the Sprite and had an protein bar and by then I could tie my shoes and felt recovered enough to drive home. I stopped just before home and had pancakes, eggs, hash browns, and bacon and ate every last crumb! By then I was starving.

The day didn't go the way I'd hoped but I am happy that I shaved 45 min off my previous 50K time and on a very tough course too. I still have a lot to learn but I think I'm getting better with each race!

Thanks for reading!

P.S. One more very cool thing happened...I did an interview for Ashley over at Ultra Chicks Unite (@UltraChixUnite) and she posted it today. Check it out!
My Interview


  1. Awesome race Lisa! Congratulations on the PR AND AG award. I enjoyed the report, sounds like you learned a lot from this race, thanks for sharing.

  2. Congrats on your 2nd 50K, the PR and the age group award!!

  3. Awesome job out there, Lisa!! Congrats on a PR!!! And congrats on your AG award, so awesome!

  4. Congrats...sounds like a great run and heck of a JOB by YOU!