Sunday, November 27, 2011

Louis - PCTR Santa Monica Mountain 50km: My first ultra marathon

My Santa Monica Mountain 50km Garmin Profile

This was totally a last minute race.  I decided to sign up a few days before the race. Why? For stupid reasons of course.  And I am glad I did.

A few days prior the race I met with Coach Jimmy to go over my race plan.  We talked about nutrition and pacing. Jimmy (along with everyone else) told me not to go too fast in the beginning.  I told them I have no such problem because I am not fast.

I was occupied the next few days so I didn't give it much thoughts about the race.  I ran during the week to keep my legs fresh and I biked on Sat to prime my heart rate for Sunday's race. I know Sunday is going to rain so I carried extra clothes.  Being a hiker I know the importance of keep myself warm.

So it's kind of funny to wake up on race morning and not thinking about the race AT ALL.  A little sad actually because I SHOULD be thinking about the race.  I got ready and drove to the start line.

I got there early and I was able to park close to the starting area.  It started raining so I decided to layer up. I have my TNT tri top, my coyotes shirt, arm warmer, and my mountain hardwear shell... and yes... gloves too.  Since this is a 4 loops course I told myself to evaluate the weather after every loop.

I chilled with the other Coyotes and get ready to start my 50 milers... I meant 50km.  Special Shout-out to Erin as she just finished her first 100 miles race the weekend before. I was happy to see her at the starting line cheering.

three 50k virgins about to crush it out on the trail. Louis, Natalie, and Simren

At 8:30 am, I started running my first 50km.  People were running very fast in the beginning.  I wanted to run fast but I needed to follow my race plan.  And why do I want to run my heart out at mile 2 when I have 28 more miles to go anyway? Right?

After a short while all my clothes got wet.  A few miles in the wind really pick up and that make the wind chill even worst.  I started to eat extra because I figure my body need extra calories to produce heat.  Beside all these cold, rain, and muddy trail stuff the run itself is actually kind of nice.  I told myself this kind of bad weather actually give me an advantage because I am used to hiking in this kind of weather.  Sure enough, some people that look way faster than me fall back because they are either getting too old or they are not confidence running on mud (going on a downhill too *_*).  As I was making my way back, the trail turned into a mini stream and you have to run in it. I thought that was very fun (knowing that I will probably develop blister). I never got blister, but I did get little rocks in my shoe. I figured there isn't really a point to get them out so as I was running I shift them to the side of my shoe... just self-taught a new skill ha!

I finished my first loop in an 1 hr 49 min (12km), I drink and ate, then move on to the second loop... which is different than the first loop (18k).  The trail got very muddy at places and I was actually balling.  That's a mountaineering term when you accumulated so much snow between your boot and crampon that you lose traction... because you literally have a 'snow ball' wrapped around your feet. I zoomed by a woman (slowly) and she asked me what kind of shoe I have as she was literally inching away.. I told her what I know and move on.

After 1hr23min, I got to the second aid station (half way thru the loop), I was happy to see Kate Jobe (I think people call her K robot) exiting the station and I thought if I really go fast maybe there is a chance that I can catch her.  The thought quickly went away as I needed to go to the restroom.

It will be 1hr20 min before I finish the loop. 30km done. 20km more to go.  I stopped at the aid station for a few minutes and I got every cold.  I determined that I can be out there with the elements for at least another 2 hours so I decided to go for it.  For the next hour or so I kept on playing catch up with this guy. He is faster on the uphill and flat but I am faster on the downhill.  At one point he was like... Louis? I looked at him and I was like... hey you are the Coyotes guy that did an Ironman.  So Christian and I started running together to get some speed going.  I concluded that we were the last one because we haven't seen another one behind us.  And we concluded that there are like two people ahead of us and they are probably a good half a mile away (we saw them when we were traversing Point Mugu).  Being the last person didn't really bother me because I am all about finishing this training run... didn't really matter if I am the first person or the last person to finish.

As Christian and I finishing up the second loop, we passed the two people who were in front of us.  I know right then that I won't be the last person to finish the race (evil smile).  I dumped my headlamp (which I never should in the first place) along with some other items (gloves, etc) to save some weight. The weather was getting better but I decided to run with my shell.  I rather be too hot than too cold.  A few minutes later, I was off to the last loop. The route is basically a 4.5km run on a uphill, turn around and come back down (who the hell came up with this route by the way!).

By now all the other runners left the aid station, so I was the last person in the whole race.  And I said that with a smile.  Being the last person isn't bad at all because I am doing something new. Something I never done before. I rather be the last person of anything than just sitting at home.  But having said that, I know I have people to catch.

So Jimmy's direction is to 'go all out' at the last 10k if I feel good.  Well, I felt good!  But at the same time I knew I will wore myself out if I punch it too soon.  So I waited.  I decided to go all out on the downhill.  Christian already gained a lot of distance on me.  As much as we are all friendly and stuff, he knew I want to pass him and he knew I will do it on the downhill.  After the turn around, I started running, fast.  Christian was like way ahead of me and I didn't think I can catch him.  But I stayed focus and just kept on running.  I passed the two other runners with no problem.  I kept on running my heart out and there he was. I was literally 15ft behind Christian.  I ran behind him for a while and try to figure out a place to pass him (remember, we were running on a trail people... kind of narrow you know) But then... I got very hot (ya, remember the jacket that I was wearing).  I needed to slow down a little because I was redlining myself.  So I pull back and regroup... then I slipped and fell.  I sit on the ground for a moment and got back up.  And I continue.  I was not able to get closer to him (especially the super muddy part where I really struggled).  I finished the race at 8:21. Christian was 2 minutes before me =)  He said he was running super hard because he knew I was going to catch him and he said he can hear foot steps lol.  We waited for the last two to come in, and we just all left.  I felt so cold that I didn't get warm up on my 1 1/2 hr drive home (with heater on highest setting).  I got home, took a shower, and slept.

Condition was tough yet I had a lot of fun. It's fun to see all the Coyotes out there, and it's fun to see my TNT buddy Emil. I feel like I can go on for another 10 miles.  Let's see how I feel when I actually run 40 miles.