I went into this race mostly to have fun and I had no plan except to finish. To begin with, it was a makeup race - it had been canceled due to weather in March and rescheduled for April 7th. I had planned (when it was on March 17th, St. Patrick's Day) to wear my sportkilt and all green outfit. Things changed after it got rescheduled, so I put on my normal running clothes. It was all good though - when Oriflamme got canceled I decided to do a 50k of my own at Lake Hodges all dressed up in my St Paddy's outfit. It was stormy that day but a lot of fun.
Saturday April 7th was the makeup day and it turned out to be one beautiful morning to run. My feet were still recovering from the Old Goat 50 miler, so I was a little worried about adding more blisters. I didn't really prepare for the race because of my feet laying me up for a week and a half. I got a couple of runs in two days prior to the race and my feet were hardening. I learned now that every time I go out I'll be lubing these feet up - and making sure I stop and take care of any hot spots as soon as they show up.
This race starts in the Laguna Mountains, heads down to the Anza Borrego Desert where you turn around, then climbs back up to the mountains. The race starts at Sunrise Parking lot and heads out on the Pacific Crest Trail(PCT) loop trail until you cross Sunrise Highway and get on the PCT trail for 5 miles. Next you run on the Mason Truck Trail for about 2 miles - then down the steep rocky path of the Oriflamme Truck Trail for 5 miles. Once you hit the desert floor you run on sand for the rest of the way until you turn around and climb back up through sand, rocks and heat.
Race day came and I did my usual morning warm ups, then the family and I piled into the car to head to the Lagunas. One of my favorite parts of running these races is seeing all my Ultra-friends standing around talking and waiting in anticipation for the race to start. As soon as I got out of the car, Scott Mills (RD for the San Diego 100) came over to wish me luck. The SD100 is the race I'm preparing for this year. He came over and told me he had read my race report which I was like that's totally cool. Scott also gave me some advice regarding my blog post about the Old Goat. That is what I love about this sport here is the Race Director and a stud of an Ultra elite runner talking with me and helping me out. This is what makes this sport spectacular, everyone is so personable and have huge hearts. Thanks Scott for the advice and just being out there for us all.
I walked around talking with everyone I knew and was very relaxed not even thinking about the race that much.
The timer ticked down and we all headed out on the single track trail of the PCT loop trail to get us to the PCT. We were all in a long line for the first 5 miles spreading out a little as we grouped up with our pace. The PCT has bushes that like tugging at you as you run over the rocky trail. I think everyone came away from that race with scratches all over their legs or arms - I did anyways, and it was all from the miles on the PCT. I had no issues though - I was just cruising along because I didn't care about my pace or anything. I just wanted to run, have fun and see where that got me. This part of the race twisted and turned around the edge of the mountains to where the desert below began. You could always look down and see the desert floor below (when you could look away from rocks trying to trip you).
I got to the first Aid Station without any problems, and saw all my awesome friends there, having a great time volunteering. Got some hugs and love, then headed on out of the AS as fast as possible... because my favorite part of the race was up next. It is mostly downhill for five miles until you get to the desert floor. I booked on down the Mason TT until it flattened out (then took a pit stop for a minute to get rid of some waste). After that little pitstop I stormed on until the Oriflamme TT. I ended up almost sprinting down Oriflamme, passing people and having a wonderful time. It was nice to fly down the hills the way I like to do (and like I couldn't do at OG50 because of my ripped up feet). This time I had 2Toms Sport Shield, Blistershield and second skin pads on my feet to keep from blistering and causing more damage.
I got down to the desert floor, and hitting that sand was like trying to run through water. This is the part I had a difficult time with - trying to place my foot where I wouldn't sink up to the top of my shoe was a chore. The next AS came up pretty quick - I got what I needed, and saw some more of my awesome friends volunteering and cheering us on.
I got out of there as fast as I could and headed to the turnaround, going through Box Canyon and trying to avoid the Cholla Cactus that wanted to jump onto my legs. That sand was hard to climb in and took a toll on my legs. I finally got to the turnaround, passing some friends along the way and cheering them on as they cheered me on. I got to the Turnaround AS and was about to turn around when Jeff Coon says "Wait I want a picture" so I pose because, well, I'm a poser...heck I am an actor I do know how to look gooood!!
I headed back towards the mountainous climb up Oriflamme and Mason TT's. Heading back through the sand was easier this time, I found my footing and stride in the sand that worked much better. Oh - I also found out when I get home and plugged in the Garmin that I was going downhhill slightly on my way back through the sand. Which was fine by me because I didn't use up all my energy. I was having a great time because I was not having any issues with my stomach or feet. Running was actually fun for me for this little bit while I was on the desert floor. It wasn't warm yet either which usually drains my redheaded butt. At the bottom of Oriflamme, I looked up at what I had to do for the next hour.
I started to climb with some pretty tired legs - but I just kept going, kept putting that left foot down then the right foot. One foot in front of the other - that is what I love about this sport, get your mind right, put one foot in front of the other and you are on your way. I trudged up that hill (rocky as a dry river bed) trying to keep positive. At times out on these long runs, you go inside your head and say to yourself what am I doing? That thought is easily extinguished when you hit that finish line.
At the top of Oriflamme I was happy that part was over. I still had two miles of Mason TT, but it's a gradual climb and I actually liked it. I got to the last AS (also the first AS) and see my son waiting to run the next three miles with me. I get all my love and hugs again from my friends at the Mason TT AS and took off with my son Errin. Errin and I ended up running at a nice slow pace as we tripped our way along the PCT. We talked a bit, I complained a bit - he was just behind me, following me and I could hear his breathing. We got to his turnoff (a shortcut to get to the Sunrise parking lot) and I saw Steve Harvey (RD for the OG50) standing there talking with someone. He told me I'm looking good or something to that effect - at that point I wanted to get done, so my ears were shut off. Two miles of trudging my feet through bushes and rocky terrain... I saw the finish line up ahead and started sprinting towards it. I finished a race I had no plan for (except to have fun) and I PR my 50K time at 5:49.
I had fun after finishing getting my usual love from my wife Rachel and seeing all my friends see me finish or watching them finish their race. It's also cool for me to see my kids up there volunteering to help out. Errin was helping out at the Mason TT AS and Jude was handing out medals when I finished.
I guess I should learn to go out with no plan and have fun on these races! Well for the 50k's anyways - I recommend having some kind of plan for a 50 or 100miler. I do plan on having fun for my upcoming races. It just feels right to go out and have fun doing the one thing that makes you feel good and a better person.
Thanks to all the awesome volunteers and ultrarunners - you all make these races the most fun and inspiring thing for me. Thanks to the RD, John M. Martinez, for putting on another great race, and a challenging one at that. I had a ton of fun! I will have to go back again to race into the desert and climb back up into the beautiful Laguna Mountains. It was great to go run and have a ton of fun. I Hope you had a great Birthday Carlos!