As I headed out on Saturday afternoon to Santa Monica, it was clearly going to be a drive and run full of rain. The drive was hit and miss on the rain but as I rolled into my hotel it was definitely raining. I had already planned and packed all my gear so there was no need to sort or think about things, it was basically get some food and off to bed.
During the early morning hours, about 4am, I was woken up from the sound of a freight train passing by only to come to my full senses and realize it was a torrential down pour. I jumped up to take a look outside and sure enough, Crazy raining! I thought it's going to be a fun long wet run. I had been hovering all over the weather channel and the reports showed this:
The 50k course is the Orange, Pink, Orange and Yellow loop. The thing that really sucked was the last loop, of which had a cut off of 3:30pm, and was basically 2.5 miles up to the peak and back down to the finish!! Cruel!!
As the first loop on Orange began it was pretty technical and big rocks which just slowed everyone down and then it was a long grind it out climb/hike to the top of the Orange loop. Once up there the line of congested runners had been thinned out which was great because the trail was mostly single track. The view from the top of the loop was amazing! You could see the ocean for miles, the beach line and just overall awesome. After running along the edge of the Orange trail that paralleled the coast line it then turned inwards and a nice gradual downhill into some tall grass lands. I mean this stuff was 5-6 feet tall and single track and snaked around which was cool because at times you just see anyone running in front of you. Once at the bottom it opened into a huge prairie field and on this grass dirt road. It was pretty great but it was also muddy through here and the mud was just caking to the bottom of every one's shoes. I had to stop and knock it off a couple of times to make my shoes lighter. By the time I was heading back towards the start area and the end of the Orange loop the mud was completely gone heading back down the technical section of the rocks. I knew that on the second loop this was going to slow things down so I took good mental notes on where I could run and where I would have to take it slow. Once back at the starting area, basically 1 of 2 aid stations on the course.
I refueled my pack and noticed I had drank as much as I should have and would keep better track on this next loop. The Pink loop (also Yellow climb section) started off with a grueling hike up that 2.5 mile section. I could see other runners way ahead of me and up the side of the mountain where we were going and I actually stopped looking simply because it was discouraging to see how much we had to climb. I did enjoy the views as we kept getting higher. Finally I was at the top and started on the slow but later steeper section heading down on the pink course. This was basically an old fire road and went down back side of the mountain we just climbed up. At the bottom was the next aid station where I made sure I drank more, grabbed some food and moved out quickly. As I headed out I was walking and talking with some other runners and then the road turned to single track and UP we went on another trail that climbed back up to the top of the Yellow-Pink summit! This part was pretty freakn' hard especially about 1/2 way up where there was a nasty 200 yard straight up hike to get to back on the fire road. I mean this thing was eating runners up left and right as I was climbing up I could see others just stopping and taking a break trying to catch there breath. When I got there I had rested just short of this and was able to power up this section and rested back on the road. Once at the top of the fire road it was a nice recovery back down 2.5 miles to the main aid station.
Once back at the main aid station it was time to start Orange loop for the second time. I grabbed a can of Coke because my stomach was a little upset and I was hungry. I headed out and made my way back through technical section and started climbing back up the Orange loop. I noticed there was a couple of runners in front of me so I was working to catch up to them. I also noticed that no one was really behind me but I knew there were other runners behind me on the down section back to the main aid station. As I made the summit of the Orange loop I caught to guys and one seemed to be hurting pretty good. I ran with them for a short time and then I made the pass along the parallel section. I stayed ahead of them on the back side of the Orange loop because I was running faster than them and didn't want to get stuck behind them on the grass lands single track and I figured they may catch me on the open grass road but they never did. Matter of fact by this time I was keeping an eye on my pace and time and realized that if I didn't make up some time on this grass area I was going to miss the 3:30pm cut off. I ran as much as I could and every time I stopped I would tell myself to start running again. The mud was all dried and the only thing that was slowing me down was my tired legs from those 3 freakn' climbs! As I started narrowing down my time and distance back to the main aid station I knew that if I didn't run as much as possible I would lose more time on the technical rocky section and miss the cut off. In the back of my mind this was NOT something that was an option! I dug deep and kept telling myself I had to run because a DNF was on my terms but being pulled from the course because I didn't try harder was not an option. I knew if I ran as much as I could and as hard as I could and I missed it I could live with that, overall, maybe I should have ran faster during the day but not knowing the course this is where I was at. I made the technical rocky section and just about a 1/2 mile before the aid station there was two ladies walking through the trail and I basically pushed pasted them and hogged the trail so much so I basically ran over the second lady. I yelled out to her, Sorry!! I am about to miss the run cut off! She just replied, It's Okay. I made the last little section and came flying in looking at my watch. The aid station guy was looking at his watch and said, Dude, you got a couple minutes, You're Okay.
A couple of minutes. It was 3:27pm.
to be continued...