Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Salmon Falls 50k (February 27, 2016)

Salmon Falls 50k
February 27, 2016

After I finished RDL last November, someone from Coloma River Races contacted me wanting to share my RDL story.  After being interviewed by them, I felt I should probably run their race so I signed up for the Salmon Falls 50k.

Here's the blog story they posted on me:

February has consisted of some tough Saturday long runs as I continue building up to Canyons 100k.  After doing the American Canyon 25k, the Western States Training Run, and the Fourmidable 35k, I ended this month running the Salmon Falls 50k race.  I set a goal of running about a 12:00 min/mile pace for the race, hoping to finish between 6- 6 1/2 hours.  

The race went from Magnolia Ranch in Coloma, CA to Folsom, CA, running a good portion along the single track trails along Folsom Lake.  The trails were beautiful and the weather perfect (dry and not too hot!).    

photo credit: Captivating Sports
The first 13 miles went relatively quickly due to a lot of downhill.  I remembered this section was the hilliest part of the course so I was ready for the climbs but I forgot just how much downhill there was.  On the ups, I went up feeling strong and passing lots of people.  On the downs, everyone would go flying past me.  I felt a little discouraged watching all these people pass me on the downhills but I remembered what my friend Ohnmar said in her last race report from Fourmidable:  "Exploit your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Face your fears."  For her, she had the opposite problem of people passing her on the uphills but she would pass the on the downhills (and flats) as well as be more efficient in the aid stations.  So, I kept that in mind as people were passing me and focused on improving my own downhill running.  Knowing uphills are my strengths, I exploited that and went up strong, passing folks on the way up.  And, I tried not to worry too much about all the people passing me on the downhills and focused on facing my fears of downhills and running down faster for me, trying to do more quicker smaller steps.  The last descent into the mile 13 aid station was my fastest mile during the race so I am making some improvement in my descents.

After 13, the course runs along the lake and it's mostly rollers the rest of the way.  A lot of the runners are starting to spread themselves out so I ran mostly alone the rest of the way.  I kept a pretty consistent pace though I slowed down a little in the mid teenage miles (which always seem to be tough for me; I usually call them the terrible teens).  Mile 17 to 24 was also the longest stretch between aid stations.  It seemed especially long to get to the mile 24 aid station.  

I was pretty quick through the aid stations but I spent a little longer at the mile 24 aid station as I needed to refill both my bottles and dig out more gels from my pack.  Mentally, I felt relieved to have finally gotten to this aid station and know I had less than 10 miles to go.  

After that aid station, I was able to pick up the pace a little bit.  I knew I was running right at target pace so wanted to keep that up.  After Brown's Ravine (the last aid station), I pushed myself a bit and passed some folks on my way to the last levee.  I was running at a pace close to the pace I had started the day with.   
photo credit: Matt Brayton
At mile 30, I hit the levee before the finish line and even though it's flat, it seems like the longest stretch to the finish line.  You can see the finish line but it is SO far away.  I remember Roger telling me that it's 0.9 miles from gate to gate so just watch each 0.1 mile slowly tick over on my Garmin.  This is like running on the treadmill and watching each minute click over ever so slowly.

I eventually get across the levee and hit some trails again towards the finish line.  I manage to do a little kick before crossing the finish line, ever so grateful to be done.  Then, I'm even more grateful to look up and see my husband and baby there to greet me.  

photo credit Janae Patja

I ended up finishing in 6:15 for 31.5 miles, averaging 11:53 min/mile so right in the middle of my target goal.  I was pretty happy that I've been able to maintain that consistent pace throughout the race. This 50k race would be my 3rd fastest 50k (my two fastest 50k races are both at Way Too Cool, where the course is only about 30 miles).   I'm really happy that I'm able to average just under 12 min/miles on my long runs this month as I remember I was averaging 14-15 min/mile pace when I was training for RDL last fall.  It's nice seeing and feeling the results from the serious training I've been doing since the start of the year.  

The races this month have been fun to do.  For March, I don't have any races on the agenda.  I plan to do a step-back week to recover a little then looking to do some more serious training in the canyons.

Three Favorite Moments:
(1)  Stopping on top of a hill in the morning sometime to take in the views.

(2)  Running and chatting with Roger, Lindsay and Melanie for a bit.  Had some amusing conversations and running with friends makes some miles go by quickly.

(3) Giving my finisher's medal to my baby after the race for her play with afterwards.

Three Things That Went Well:  
1.  Having a race plan and following through on it.  Kept the steady pace according to my plan and fueled according to plan (eat a gel at the first hour and then every 30 minutes afterwards).  So, race was well executed.

2.  Efficient through the aid stations.  There were six aid stations and I spent a total of 3:22 in all the aid stations.  I went in, got what I needed, and got right back out.

3.  Making the most of my strengths -- my uphill running.  While lots of people were passing me on the downhills, I made up for some of that on the uphills.  I would catch up with a lot of folks who passed me earlier when we hit a climb.

Three Things I Could Do Better:
1.  Try not worry too much about all the people passing me as I run downhill and focus more on my own downhill running.  Need to remember to be quick on my feet as I descend.  When I do that, I see that I do go a little faster.

2.  Remember to drink more water after the race is over.  I did better eating afterwards but wasn't the best at the post-race hydration.

3.  Pay attention more to my heart rate.  I've been wearing a heart rate monitor lately on my runs but haven't really been checking my heart rate as I run.  I need to learn ways to utilize it more effectively in my runs/races, especially as the weather gets warmer.

Three Things I Learned: 
1.  Check your shoes before you run a race.  Right before I started the race, my friend pointed out how there were big holes on the sides of my shoes.  And sure enough, they were tearing at the sides.  Fortunately, my shoes held up for the race and are now retired but I was reminded I should inspect my shoes every so often, especially before a big run.  

2.  Stick with the stuff you know already works.  I got a new pack the week of the race and debated wearing it for the race.  I ended up putting it aside and going with my old reliable pack that I've been training in (the Ultimate Direction AK Vest).  The new pack may have been fine during the race but it was just ease of mind to go with something you already know is reliable.  I've also been training with Salted Watermelon GUs, which have worked well for me.  I filled my pack with a bunch of those gels to last through the race and I had no stomach issues.  I used to just eat whatever gels and food I could get at the aid stations but I used to sometimes get bad stomach issues too.  I had to carry a lot of the Watermelon GUs to last me 50k but carrying that extra weight (of gels I know work for me) were worth it.

3.  Reading other runner's race reports are always helpful.  I read a number of friend's race reports about Fourmidable.  Got some good tidbits from them which helped me in this race.  :) 

photo credit: Captivating Sports

Three tidbits about the race and the race organizers (Coloma River Races)
1.  The organizers put on a quality event.  The course is fun and beautiful.  The race was well supported and well marked.  Great aid stations and volunteers.  The post-run food was fantastic too. And, they provided the runners with free race photos (a nice extra bonus).

2.  They give you the "finisher's" jacket at packet pick up.  In past ultras where jackets are given, I usually got the jacket after finishing the race -- after "earning" the jacket.  It was a bit of a surprise to get it before the race.  The jacket itself was a really nice jacket.

3.  Race also supports a great cause -- Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

1 comment:

  1. great read, thank you, I am going to race this one, my first 50k!!