Monday, November 22, 2010

Santa Monica Mountains - 11.20.10

Santa Monica Mountains
Sunday, 20 November 2011
9km, 18km, 30km & 50km

Race Website HERE.
2010 Photos HERE.

Mens Results
30,000 Meters
Andy Noise 4:55:22 BDP -

Womens Results
18,000 Meters
Gayle McNeir 3:53:54 BDP -
Ruth Saenz 2:45:40 BDP -

30,000 Meters
Shawna Rountree 3:26:18 BDP -
Denni Jorgensen 4:04:44 BDP -
Cindy Adame 4:16:07 BDP -
Norma Diaz 4:39:09 BDP -
Lyndi Wilson 4:49:56 BDP
Lisa Sorensen 4:56:07 BDP -
Diana Daves 5:25:00 BDP -

For years I have wanted to do a trail run but the only ones I have done are the Mr.Toad's 20k and the Rio Bravo 10 miler and they are not really trail runs. Recently I started hiking and though I like doing it, I don't like having to carry all the gear and worrying about water and food out in the wilds. So I surmised that a real trail run would be the best of both worlds.

After doing this race, I proved my prediction because I really enjoyed the event. The Pacific Coast Trail people know how to put on an event. I only wish they had more races in the Southern California area because traveling to Northern California can get expensive.

I picked this race this summer and told my Bakersfield Distance Projecters about it and many were up for the challenge. In the end, eight of us decided to do the event and we put together a car pool to get there. Though it was only 130 miles away, we decided to meet at Bagels & Blenderz at 5am so we would be there in plenty of time for the 8:30am start.

The week leading up to the race went well but news of raining being forecast for the weekend made all of even more nervous. We had not done a trail run and adding mud and water to the mix made the idea even more daunting. The day before the Sunday event it rained quite a bit and we got wet at the Killa Hilla run that morning while others got wet or cold at the Turkey Trot.

That night I was awaken in the middle of the night by the rain pouring off my roof and I thought this is not a good sign. But when I got up at 4am, the sky was clear and there was a brilliant full moon in the sky. I loaded up my van and headed to Del Taco to have an early breakfast.

Now most would say "Del Taco?" but for me it works. I get a steak and egg burrito and I am good to go. Awhile back, I heard someone say that ultra running is more of an eating contest than a running contest and I believe that is true. Now today's 30k is not an ultra but I was going to be out there for 5 hours and you can not go that long unless you eat and drink properly.

So in training I am like a bear, bears are omnivores and so am I. I experiment with eating all kinds of things so that my body can handle what ever I throw at it. In a race, you do not know what they are serving at the aid stations and if you did, they might run out of it or it might taste awful. Before a long run, I fuel up on all kinds of things and have found that a regular meal works for me.

For instance before I run the Los Angeles marathon, I eat a Tommie's chili burger at two or three am and it has served me well during the race. So at 4:30am, I hit the drive-thru at Del Taco and there was a line. The van in front of me took forever to order and then their order took forever to make. They got six cokes, three coffee drinks and three bags of food! Guess somebody was hungry. Finally I got my food and headed to Bagels to meet my BDPers.

Because of my food pit-stop, I was not the first there and in a few minutes everyone was there. We loaded into Lisa and Denni's SUVs and headed off for our adventure. Most of the talk was about the weather and what were we getting ourselves into. As we drove by Frazier Park, it started to rain and then it snowed a bit. Fortunately once we went over the Tejon Pass, the precipitation disappeared for the day.

In Filmore, we made a pit-stop at the Starbucks and then we were on our way again. After some GPS meanderings through Oxnard, we finally made it to the race around 7:30am and parked on the PCH. The ocean was stormy but the skies were clear. When we got out of the car it was cold but I expected it to warm up by race start.

What was nice was the start and number pickup was right at the entrance of the park which was right off of PCH. So we grabbed our numbers and then went back to the cars to figure out what we would wear for the run. I think most of us guessed right and were glad the rain stayed away for the day.

By now it was time for the start so we headed back to the park and got ready for our first real trail run to begin. Everyone liked how laid back the start was and then we were off. We only got a little ways up the trail before we hit a traffic jam. There was at least 40 in front of us and they were not moving. I thought perhaps it was a creek crossing bit found out it was just a gully with a little mud.

The good thing is it let me catch my breathe and look at where we were headed and it looked all up hill. The first miles were the most technical and the steepest too. I knew coming down this section was going to be tricky and going up was not a piece of cake either. I also saw the runners thinning out in a line and headed to a very tall peak and knew this was going to be a long climb.

By this time most of my BDPers were out of sight and I would not see them again till the finish. Lisa was ahead of me and Diana was right behind him. It was easy to keep track of Lisa because of her hair that was the only color out there besides the orange trail ribbons. The trail was single track for the most part and only muddy in spots.

Which was good, because we needed all the traction we could get since all we were doing was climbing. After a number of miles we reached the top and were treated to a great view of the coast line and a flat/slightly downhill trail too. So after doing mile one in 17:53, mile two in 16:47 and mile 3 in 18:44, I finally got to run more than I walked. Miles 4,5, and 6 were done in 12:50,13:43 and 13:44.

Miles 5 and 6 were through a large grass meadow which reminded me of Jurassic Park and I kept looking for dinosaurs. By now Diana had caught me and was leading the way. We were both trying to catch Lisa but I knew soon we would lose sight of her when we hit the technical downhill section that we had earlier climbed up.

I stayed with Diana for a while in this section but then she told me to go ahead so I did. Here is where I had wished I had wore my trail shoes because the rocks hurt me feet and I kicked quite a few too. Plus now it started to feel warm out and I wished I had worn my camelbak. I always train with it but at races, I like the light feeling I get by not wearing it. Usually I can get by carrying a bottle and refilling it at aid stations but here the aid stations were 6 to 7 miles apart.

Plus i was trying to take pictures and having a camera in one hand and a bottle in the other was not a good idea. I almost fell a couple times but managed to stay on my feet. I was alone during this section and mile 7 was done in 15:23. But at least I was at the aid station. They had all sorts of food but I just refilled my bottle and took off.

Over the summer I have been listening to the Trail Slammer pod casts and he warned about lingering to long at aid stations so I heeded his advice. He ran one ultra that had chip timing at the aid stations and was amazed to find out how much time he stayed at aid stations during an ultra. his pod cast is where I heard about ultras being eating contests btw.

Now the course was going on the second longer loop (11 miles or so) and we would get to do two more 1200 foot climbs. As I head up the first climb, I could see Lisa with a group of runners and set off to catch them. This was made more difficult by the steady stream of faster runners coming done the single track as I was trying to go up. About half way up I caught up with her and then pressed on because I can not run downhill very fast.

I have the technique down but my size limits how fast I can go. I am like a Mack truck going down the Grapevine and I could easily be a runaway train if I do not brake myself. I did miles 8, 9, 10 and 11 in 16:38,17:17.17:11 and 17:11 and passed about 8 runners going up. The views on this single track were spectacular and at the top, one could see where we were going.

Here the single track became a fire road that was pretty steep but runnable. Unfortunately everyone I passed could run down it a lot faster than I could and they all passed me on the way down to the second aid station. Miles 11, 12 and 13 were run in 15:21, 13:21 and 11:57 and I was glad when we hit the flat road to the aid station where I caught up with Lisa and her friend.

We walked to the aid station where we were glad that we could refill our depleted bottles. There was plenty to eat too but I just grabbed a couple handfuls of salty stuff and took off. Lisa and the others looked like they were planning on staying a little longer but I knew I needed to get going.

As I headed up the road, I heard some shrieking and turned around and saw Lisa and her friend dancing away from something. I was hoping it was not a snake and later I found out it was a large spider. Soon after their encounter with a beast, I started up the beast on the course. We headed up fire trail to fire road and it was steep. I caught a couple people going up and felt good even though it was hard.

All the hiking at altitude this past summer made this course a lot easier. The trails were steep but having air to breathe is a big bonus. So once we got back on the fire road, I was able to increase my pace and catch a couple more runners. I needed to push the uphill because I knew I was going to get caught by many going back downhill to the finish.

too be continued ...