Monday, April 22, 2013

LAKE SONOMA 50 Mile Race Review

What do I get out of running? I realized (or at least reaffirmed) the answer a couple weekends ago at the Lake Sonoma 50 Miler. I get mental strength. Sure the physical conditioning is great but the mental stamina and fortitude is what keeps me going. Lake Sonoma 50 is a TOUGH race. It's a rough course, w some major climbs and descents and lots of rolling hills. There is really no flat/gentle areas of the course. I ran it 10:20 but was really hoping and very confident that I would break 10. I made the biggest rookie mistake, I went out too fast. It was deliberate though but I'm not sure if that makes its more or less of a mistake. I had run the course in one direction, on very tired legs in a casual 5:15. With a 2 week taper I was certain that I could push it to the turn around (it's an out n back) and cruise back in 5/5:15. I didn't account for how relentless that course is.

I pushed way too hard for the first 12 miles. So much so that I actually started bonking around mile 15. By time I hit the turn around I was thinking about calling it a day (something I had never seriously considered in a race before). I collected myself at the turn around and set out slowly. I started cruising along the rollers as best I could before the steep descent down to lake level. I must have been passed by about 20 people through this section. I was moving but hurting from the turn around through about mile 34. Finally, life started to comeback to my body and mind. I thought this would be an eleven hour race leaving the turn around. I felt my energy reserves stocking up as a held a very conservative pace. As I pressed on I started to reel in a few people who had passed me.

As I neared the aid station around mile 38 mile, I decided I would kick in to gear after that. I got some good solid food down (side note: I was recently given some samples of Yaff Bars. I've been using them on training runs and they're pretty great. Quality ingredients and also awesome because you can share them w your dog! check 'em out:, a bit of caffeine, mixed a Hammer Perpetuem into one of my bottle and turned the head phones way up. I immediately passed 4 or 5 more people and was moving at a good pace and passed up another 6 or 7 before the finish.

I think a big part of my problem was that I set my goal and focused on the (ridiculous) split too much. When I started to break down and realize that I wasn't going to get in under 10 it was a big mental bummer. As I pushed along in the later miles, I switched my thoughts to feeling really proud for staying in the race and tried to enjoy the small personal comeback I was experiencing.  As I crossed the finish line, I was elated to be finished but more importantly I realized why I love running ultras so much.

It took me a while to get this review out because of the Boston Marathon bombing a couple days after the Lake Sonoma race. Running has been my escape, the thing I do when I want to feel free and clear my head whether its a race or just a solo run. Now we have some f$&^%rs bombing the finish of a marathon!? This deeply affected me. The irony of people having just ran 26.2 miles and others losing there legs was terrible. I started to reflect on running, my race, what makes us runners and why we run. On a deeper level it was very strange for these b*&^hes to bomb a running event. Their cowardly weak act contrasting with the mental and physical strength of the runners and the positive vibes from all those who supported their runners and the event. If anything this bombing has driven me to live an even "free-er" life than i have been living, to run stronger than ever and most importantly to just keep running.