After my short stint on the pavement and finally qualifying for Boston last weekend, I was eager to get back to the trails and training for Lake Sonoma. With LS50 only 5 weeks away, I didn’t have much time to waste, so I started the week off with some good recovery miles. By Tuesday afternoon, I was so excited for the weekends trail runs that I went out to buy fuel for my long runs: Z-Bars, pretzels, and PB & J supplies. As prepared as I was mentally, I’d have to wait until Friday to get back into my long trail runs because I knew by body needed what little rest I could give it. I tried to run SLOW and by feel all week, and paid attention to any tightness or pain, but each run seemed to loosen my legs up bit by bit and I was able to get away with 31 miles Monday, Tuesday, Thursday.
The week slipped away from me, and soon enough it was Friday morning. I ran across the Golden Gate Bridge and spent some time reacquainting myself with the headlands. Ok, so I’d only been gone 2 weeks or so, but for the past few months, Friday mornings have been my time with the trails. It’s my weekly ritual and I spend Monday through Thursday anxiously awaiting the weekend so I can roam the headlands and explore. I had 23 miles planned and did exactly that. Just 5 days after Napa, I still didn’t feel 100%, but was also surprised and really happy that I could push through and get the run done.
A few hours later, I was showered, belly-full, and packed to head up to Way Too Cool 50k with Aron. We drove up, catching up on the past week’s runs and training, and made it to our hotel at around 7. We ordered pizza, iced our legs, foam rolled, and watched Unbreakable, PERFECT pre-race night!
Saturday morning we were up early, grabbed some coffee, layered on our clothes, packed up all of our gear and fuel and drove to the starting line. I could tell Aron was a little nervous/excited (this was her first Official Ultra!) and I was anxious about tackling another 31 miles given how much I’d already asked of my legs this week. We started off slow, chatting and taking in the scenery. After the 1st mile or two, the trail narrowed into a single-track path. We crossed a few streams, sometimes getting our feet wet. We were making really good time and felt strong coming into the first Aid Station at Mile 8. The course was really different than my typical routes in the Bay Area, the hills were rolling, with less long/steep uphills and long descents. The trail was covered for a while, keeping us cool and out of the sun.
At the next few Aid Stations, I tried all kinds of fuel- Rice Krispie Treats, Shot Blocks, and even grabbed a few M&Ms. I was happy that I was fueling and hydrating a lot because I knew the last thing I needed was to bonk in the final stretch of this run. Aron I switched it up, each leading the way for sections, and somehow finding things to talk about the whole way. At one section in the early 20′s, I could feel my legs getting tired and was starting to beat myself up mentally, but I was so thankful to have Aron to just keep the pace and refocus my energy. Around Mile 24/25, I felt stronger and we seemed to actually pick up the pace a little bit. I loved exploring the new trail and felt like a little kid, prancing around trying to find out what was coming up next. Since neither Aron or I had really looked at the course, it was fun to be surprised by the ups and downs, switchbacks, and terrain along the way. The race is frog themed, and we figured out why late in the race when we heard lots of “ribbit ribbit”ing in the woods- we were running with the froggies!
As we approached the final mile, we had one final climb. A handful of spectators cheered us on saying “My money is on purple”, and “Let’s go blue”. We laughed, knowing we would obviously be crossing the finish line side by side very soon. A few more turns and we were finished! 5:51 on the clock, we’d done it in less than 6 hours! (More than an hour PR off of my 1st 5ok!)
The finish line was amazing- the camaraderie and culture surrounding ultrarunning is one of my favorite parts of this sport. We grabbed pizza, water, and the signature frog cupcakes and plopped down on the grass to enjoy the sunshine. We saw a few friends finish and Aron signed up for her next 50k before heading home. This week has been tough, finishing off with 90 miles and setting 2 personal records in 1 week! But, I can feel myself getting stronger physically and tougher mentally. And I’ve taught myself this week that even if I’m tired and my body is wearing down a little, I can slow the pace, take it one step at a time, and listen to my body. Usually, if I ask nicely, my legs will take me just few steps further.