I was super excited to do this on my home court. I do most of my trail running in El Moro Canyon at Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach CA. Even though I run here often, it was a completely different experience on the trails. First of all, only about 50% of the race was on trails I’ve been on. Second of all, it had rained the night before and morning of, and with how muddy it was, I barely recognized the place from the dirty and snake infested trail running paradise it usually is.
I ran the first 10 miles or so right behind Sally Macrae, a badass ultra runner currently training for Badwater. She was definitely taking it easy in the first 10 miles, because she took off and finished about 40 minutes ahead of me hahaha!
The first 3 miles were super muddy, lots of slipping and sliding as we all tried to climb from the canyon floor to the ridge trail. Of course I was running in my Nike Free’s like a trail running rookie that I am. It didn’t matter much though, everyone’s shoes were basically giant blocks of mud anyways.
Miles 4 till about mile 22 were super fun. It was lots of single track trails I had never been on before. The buddy Travis and I were back and forth, pushing each other just like we did at Catalina. And I still felt good during this period.
Miles 23-28 were MISERABLE. It was a new kind of agony that I hadn’t experienced before in my previous couple marathons. My legs were in pain from the pounding, but also sort of numb and it felt like I could barely even work them. I was so exhausted, that I could feel the muscles in my face melting off, and I tried to run and close my eyes and maybe trick my brain into thinking I was resting. At one point, I could only muster the energy to run off and on in 20 second increments. I would see a rock or bush and try and push myself to jog to that point, where I would then allow myself to walk again. Travis passed me during this time and I wouldn’t see him again till post-race. At the last aid station at about mile 27, I hung out for a good 5 minutes sampling just about everything the table had on offer. When I saw the runner behind me, I tried to get back after it, but could still only walk, and I got passed again shorty thereafter. I fell from 9th to 11th during this 6 mile pain cave, and was pretty bummed to miss a top 10 finish. I’m glad I had these shitty miles though, I feel like I learned from them and it wouldn’t have been an ultra with out them.
Miles 28-finish were all downhill, and second wind came over me. I think it was a combination of the downhill, how badly I wanted it to be over, and thinking about all the Kodiak pancakes I was going to eat once I got home that breathed new life into me. I smashed those few miles as hard as I could! It felt like I was doing 7-min miles, but I looked back at the watch later to realize they weren’t even under 9-min miles hahahaha. But they felt super strong, I swear!!
God it felt good to cross that finish line!
Final time was 5 hours 10 minutes.
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