Ohhhh the magical world of UltraSignup. If you ever find yourself on this site — beware. You could find yourself gazing deep into it’s Hot List and the Deal pages’ eyes and before you know it, 8 hours of your life have passed by and you didn’t even stop for snacks. If I could describe UltraSignup in one word it’s, addicting, and it could be a fair assumption, a lot of trail runners feel the same way.
Last week I found myself on this magnificent site of glorious race opportunities, and I just so happened to have stumbled upon one. Yes, one race fairly close by, fairly inexpensive, and worked well with my training schedule. The Run Deo Run 50K was exactly what I was looking for in a trail race! Up until a few days ago, it was never on my radar.
At first I was hesitant to sign up. It’s a small race with various distances – 5K, 10K, 25K, 50K – and I wasn’t sure if it was strict in terms of time limits and cutoffs. You know how those 5K’s can be? Knowing my training isn’t quite up to 50K distance (as it should be), I contacted the race director to find out.
“There are no cut-offs – we’ll be out there til the last person finishes ;)”
Yes, he even included the little winky face.
This sounds awesome!!!
Of course, in the back of my mind, the front of my mind, and all around the sides, it was quite possible I could very well be that last person who finishes. But heyyyy, my goal is to finish, so I’d be perfectly okay with that.
After a quick consult with my UOR co-hosts Angela and Melissa, I sat on the idea of signing up because I was still unsure about it. But I thought if anything, this race would serve as a long training run so I’d get precious time on my feet. I figured if I decided to stop without reaching the 50K distance, you know, basically get a DNF, whatever. As long as I don’t suffer an injury, I’d be one happy trail snail. So what the heck!!! On a whim, I signed up a few days before the race and I got in just in time because race registration closed Thursday night at midnight! Or technically, Friday morning. Either way – Whew!
First of all, the weather was completely on my side for the entire race. It was chilly at the start, but I knew it would warm up nicely as the race went on to reach cloudy skies, some sun, and cool breezes. Perfect beautiful race weather!
At the start I recognized a few faces from other trail races I’ve done. One of them was Luisa who I ran with a bit at last year’s Bulldog. She tells me, “We’re ready for revenge at Bulldog this year, right Christina?” Yes we are!
Because I was going into this race with the mindset of it being a training run, I ran conservatively. For the second half of the race, I periodically kept telling myself “run nice and easy” because I knew if I could comfortably speak that to myself, I was going to do just that. And I did. Up until this day, my longest mileage on the trails has been 14 miles at one time and this was just a couple of weekends ago. What’s funny is, right when I started thinking of this race as “just” a training run, any sign of nervousness flew out the window. Maybe I should consider ALL my races as training runs. 🙂
The 50K course itself was mostly flat with a nice stretch of climbing on a couple of sections which I would do twice because this was a looped course. Not having a ton of experience on a multiple loop races, they’re tougher on me mentally more than point-to-point, out and back, or a single loop. Knowing every time I reach the start point and I could easily call it a day, especially when I’m having a tough moment, can be extremely tempting.
From the start I felt a little discombobulated. I was already lacking an hour of sleep. Thanks Daylight Savings Time. I didn’t eat enough breakfast (banana with peanut butter) and I was getting hungry. The race started a half hour later than we were told (we didn’t take off until 7:30AM), and an hour later than the initial start time of 6:30AM for the 50K which I would have preferred. But I wasn’t going to complain. I was out there to have fun and train for the big one, Miwok, no matter what happened.
The terrain wasn’t technical by any means. Soft packed dirt for most of it with stretches of loose packed sand which was difficult to run through. I tried to find areas to the side where the dirt was firmer. The recent rain helped pack a lot of the dirt down but we had a tunnel completely filled with water so there was a short detour where we had to climb up and cross a street to get to the other side of the tunnel. I don’t think anyone planned to slosh through the water.
The course itself was run around the golf course, run down to the turnaround, turnaround, run down and make a right, go up the hills, run down the hills, crawl back up the hills, run down the hills, come back, this time make a left turn and run towards that same turnaround and way back down towards the golf course. Repeat. I got confused and had to keep asking people, which way are we supposed to turn? Not that it was a complicated course with lots of twists and turns but I found myself thinking a whole lot more about where I was. There were no flour markings on the course, nor ribbons, aside from the ribbons indicated where the tunnel detour was earlier in the race. There were a few people stationed to direct so that was helpful.
Training and ultras are all about getting through the challenges because they’re going to be there. For the most part, I didn’t have too many challenging moments besides the fact around mile 20 my feet started to hurt and I was hungry. I may need to look into new trail shoes and eat more. All I consumed was water, CarboPro, a few pretzels, some Coca-Cola, and a couple of salt tabs. For the entire race. I suppose the most challenging aspect for me was the fact my phone died so excuse the lack of photos.
One thing I really loved about this race, was getting to know parts of Griffith Park I never ran on before. There are over 50 miles of trails in Griffith Park and I’ve only been on a fraction of them. This race was just another ploy for me to discover more trails in the area taking me to the other side of the park and around the LA Zoo where all I kept thinking about was the Koala who was killed last week by Griffith Park’s famous mountain lion P-22. Well, he’s suspected at this point. RIP Koala.
And, I finally got to run on the trail I would see driving on the I-5 near Glendale. I’d always see people running on this side of Griffith and wondered how they got there. Now I know!
I think this was the smallest trail race and ultramarathon I’ve ever done. Definitely felt different, but they had nice support along the course with water and some snacks. I always try to be very self-sufficent when it comes to trail races, but I think I need to implement more solid food into my training runs and see how it goes. That’s what training runs are for, right? Gotta work out the kinks before the big race day!
Keeping tabs on my Garmin and time, I knew a PR was a great possibility considering the course and weather conditions I was having. In the end I took off a little less than an hour and a half off my previous 50K time and I was pretty happy with this, but the weather and course were definitely in my favor. Not too bad for running a 50K on a whim.
Thank you for reading and Happy Running!