San Juan 50K Recap
5:09:02 (1st F / 6th Overall)
Race Site Here
It took me exactly four days to get back on my running feet following the wonderful San Juan 50k. I was pretty wrecked post-race after taking another few spills in the first half of the race. It wasn’t all the missing skin that concerned me but my poor knee, both times I managed to bang my left knee which was the one I had been complaining about for the last month. Luckily, the running Gods are once again on my side and everything seems to be back to normal (less the missing skin).
San Juan 50k was a great last minute race decision as I found myself very anxious for Leona Divide coming up at the end of April; it would be a great opportunity for me to log some long miles on a course I had recently become fond of. I was also very excited that my friends would be proudly supporting Runner’s Booty by each wearing a green themed tech top.
Signing up for the race, my intention was to use it as a long training until Andy told me that if my body felt good, I should use it to gauge myself for next month’s race. Of course this excited me because no matter how many times I try to convince myself or my coach that I will just “jog” or “take it easy,” race-mode automatically gets turned on and I can’t even stop myself from running through the bad kind of pain. I know that is horrible…I am trying to work on that.
As soon as the race started, I was off. I had told myself that I would push it from Bluejay Campground to Candy Store and back. I didn’t exactly know what kind of hills I would encounter after that but I had seen the outrageous elevation profile of Horsethief Trail and knew there’d be some crazy hills to battle later that would have me hiking no matter how hard or easy I had taken it up to that point. From the start I was in 7th place and I was able to follow Mike and Loren’s voice ahead of me from San Juan Trail through Chiquito until my absentmindedness set in.
By the time I reached Candy Store around 8 miles, I was nearly in tears because I had approached aid going the wrong direction. My race was over. How could I go the wrong way on this loop? IDIOT You know that you are supposed to turn left! Looking back, I would not have continued this race if it wouldn’t have been for Baz (RD), Steve Harvey, Keira Henniger and Jesse Haynes. This group was at the aid station and they made sure I got back out there — they were very motivating and kind and pretty much forced me back (in the most kind and gentle way). Thank you for that.
On my way back out from Candy Store, my mind was racing; I was still holding on to my frustration and as I was chatting with Mike and Loren, I kicked a rock or stump that literally sent me flying face first onto the trail. Ouch! My hands, my boob, MY KNEE! Oh gosh, this is so embarrassing… “Are you alright?” they both asked. “YEAH, I’m fine.” Please keep running guys. Don’t wait for me. “You guys are so sweet, but you don’t have to wait for me.” My freaking knee! Why did I have to fall with them near me? Crap, THAT is going to leave a scar. It seemed like they were not leaving this (wo)man behind so I just got up and started running with them again. Man, it was really painful to start running again. I had slid chest first on the ground and the only pain I remembered was my right palm, right breast and my left knee. What was going on with me today? GET IT TOGETHER, GIRL.
A short time later we had to start climbing our way back to Bluejay. I thought this would be the perfect time for me to stay back behind them and just be by myself. I was not in any mood to pretend I felt fine and I no longer wanted to talk. I tucked behind them and slowed, saying, “see you guys later!” to which one of them responded, “I am sure we will see you real soon.” Yeah right. I didn’t even know if I could hang with them to begin with and now as we headed back up to get to Bluejay, I could see them on the switchbacks getting further and further ahead of me. I could have cared less. When I got to the next aid station, both of them were just taking off and since I was feeling much better, I quickly jumped behind a bush and used the restroom before trying to catch up to them again. For the most part I stayed right behind them up through Bluejay until I tripped again with less than half a mile before we would exit San Juan Trail. Thankfully they were not able to witness this fall because I was a mess! I literally screamed a few foul words while I just lay there throwing a temper tantrum, yelling at myself for being so careless. These fall were kicking my butt and I really needed to regroup and focus. I considered dropping at Bluejay which was the start and halfway point to the race because I wasn’t quite sure I could make it without taking another spill. I was seriously off this day. I felt like I was just skimming the surface of the earth, tripping on everything. Only 16 miles to go…
As I got into Bluejay Campground I caught up with them again and we ran in to the next aid station greeted by volunteers and the RD Baz. Just seeing people and a flat paved road made me instantly feel better, ALMOST as if I had never fallen in the first place. I felt renewed and I was so ready for the second part of this race that Mike seemed to be really familiar with. He pretty much gave us an idea of what to expect for the rest of the race which wasn’t going to be pretty. Loren told Mike he wanted to take the lead for the second part of the race and before I knew it, he was flying ahead of us.
Around mile 20-21 I reached the aid station that we would hit twice, once on our way out to Trabuco Trail and again on our way back from Horsethief. This aid station was so helpful and nice. I didn’t want them to touch my water bottles because my hands were bloody and I was actually a little embarrassed about it. I don’t think they cared, they just wanted to help me. One of the guys at the aid station wanted to help clean my cuts but I told him that Baz told me to wait until the race was over and that I had to go, the guys were getting away and I needed to see them in front of me if I was going to continue on. I got my bottles refilled and I jetted down Trabuco alone.
I’d say Trabuco was the easiest part of the whole race, it seemed like we were heading downhill which was awesome but that meant we’d have to be climbing soon. As I rounded a turn, I passed Jesse Haynes, Michelle Barton and Keira Henniger. They again excitedly cheered for me and I was so happy to see them. It was another good distraction from the mental mind games I had been playing with myself the whole race.
Finally as I turned right to head up Horsethief, I ran into Mike again. Yay! I didn’t have to be alone! He kindly warned me that he would be power hiking up, I guess expecting me to get up ahead of him. “Good,” I responded, “I will be right behind you.” We hiked, and hiked and every once in a while I would make one of those annoying “whoo” noises — you know, the annoying ones you hear from people during a hard portion in spin class. He probably thought I was a weirdo. This hill was no joke! I was marching right behind him and at times when it looked like he wanted to take a break, I just told him, “if you stop, I’ll stop.” and we did a few times. The scenery was gorgeous, and we were really getting high up, looking back and not seeing anyone, there wasn’t any reason for us to panic or hurry. I was so glad he was there with me.
Finally we got to the top of Horsethief, passed an aid station and headed back. I knew that the hard part was over and I just wanted to get back to Bluejay Campground and finish this race . Loren was nowhere in sight at this point and Mike seemed content with the pace he was going so I took off. I was able to see Alison Chavez, who would also be running LA Marathon the next day, and Clint, Ashley’s brother as they headed up toward Trabuco/and Horsethief. Alison was so cute, she busted out her camera and snapped a photo of me. When I passed Clint I just told him to stay focused and positive, that I had just hiked the whole way up Horsethief, it was OK to do that. I felt horrible that they were both alone and heading up that dreadful hill.
As I came in to the finish I was glad it was over and that I made it in one piece. I was the first women in an 6th overall. Loren had finished 15 minutes ahead of me and Mike was about 6 minutes back behind me. Both Ashley and D were already at the finish, both had decided to call it a day when they got back to camp. Poor Ash, she had fallen too and hurt her shoulder again. Her big picture was to get to the start of an “A” race this year so she made the right decision.
The highlight of the whole day for me was witnessing Ashley’s brother Clint come across the finish line — this was his FIRST ultra ever! He chose a hard first race and we all cheered for him as he came in to the finish and had a celebratory beer together.
I am happy to be running again and I am super excited for Leona which looks like a really strong field of men and women. It will definitely be a great learning experience for me and I will do my best to make it to start line that morning ready to go and ready to feel pain, you know, the good kind of pain. 🙂