The first steps of what would be many!
The race began and I knew I would walk the 2 mile climb to the top of the Ray Miller trail. In our training runs at Ray Miller, this climb always proved to be a worthy opponent. I had to control my breathing, anxiety and nerves on this climb.
I took my time and hiked up. I felt pretty good but couldn’t keep up with my friends on the climb. I thought, well, maybe I’ll see them again on the course. I knew they’d be out there somewhere and I’d have to take comfort in that. I was a little bummed that I couldn’t keep up but I couldn’t let negative thoughts set in so early. I had to go my own pace.
The views on the Ray Miller climb are incredible. The ocean’s blue was especially intense on that day.
It was windy on the climb. It was so different from the weather we had encountered on training runs. But I knew it would only make me stronger and as Coach Jimmy says, “Adversity reveals character.”
The view from the top of the Ray Miller ascent.
I ran the Overlook Fire Road and knew my next stop was the aid station at Mile 4.8. I was surprised that I hardly saw anyone on the fire road. I was a little worried that I was so behind already from the climb. I saw 2 girls in front of me and a couple of people behind me and that was it!
Hell Hill aid station! I was so glad to get to the aid station as I knew I’d see friends. The Coyotes were in charge of the aid station and howled as I came in.
I didn’t need anything just yet but I scoped out the aid station to see what was available for when I came back at Mile 11. Coach Kate told us to not spend more than 3 minutes at aid stations and to make mental notes about what we needed before we got there. I knew I’d want fresh fruit when I hit the aid station the second time.
The first loop, the La Jolla loop, was one we ran once. It’s dry, grassy and the last time we ran this loop, I was attacked my mosquitoes! I got 50+ bites! (Read about that adventure here.) The good news was that I think the cooler temps and wind may have deterred the mosquitoes. Nevertheless, I was prepared. I had sprayed my clothing, lathered and sprayed 2 kinds of repellent on my body and had repellent wipes on me, just in case!
We took the La Jolla Canyon Trail first which was not the way we had run the course previously which meant we had gone the wrong way when we trained but that’s okay. So this section was new for me. I was a little worried at first but when I saw other runners, I felt more assured.
Some sections were really rocky.
We climbed some more.
When I saw this view, I knew I was going the right way.
We had run Mugu Peak Trail before and this climb was very challenging.
See that trail way up there? That was where I was going.
The view on the way up was spectacular. A hiker coming down cheered me on and said, “Hike the uphills and run the downs.” Thank you! 🙂
The view at the top of Mugu Peak!
Hooray, I made it!
From the top, we ran around the mountain and had a view of the Naval Station at Point Mugu. I saw a few runners here and it was nice to chat with them. One girl said she’d train for this next time. I thought, well, I did train and this is still hard! But I knew it’d be hard and I just had to keep focusing on what I needed to do. I made sure to take in calories and just put one foot in front of the other.
I was happy to see the course photographer after turning back on this part of the mountain. Howie gave me a shout of encouragement and off I went.
The course was well-marked and even though I didn’t see anyone, I knew I was going the right way. The race director, Keira, had spent a good 2 days marking the course. I was so appreciative of her hard work for the runners.
My next focus was the solar restroom. I knew it was coming up soon and although I didn’t have to go badly, I knew I’d better go just in case. Plus, it was nice to just sit for a little bit! 😉
I hit the Hell Hill aid station at Mile 11 and the watermelon was really, really good. The Guadalasco Trail was the second loop on the course and we ran here the first time we ran Ray Miller.
This section of the course is popular amongst mountain bikers. I saw a few cyclists and the two ladies I had seen at Pt Mugu Peak. Reality set in that I would be alone much of the course. A combination of fear and surprise took over my mind. I tried to settle my mind, knowing I had run this loop and some of the Sycamore loop. So the fear subsided some but I was surprised at how different it was than road racing, where there is always someone ahead of you and behind you, heads bobbing everywhere. It was just me and the mountains.
I made sure to take in calories. I found that my mouth was kind of dry from the windy conditions. I had my Tailwind, Honey Stinger chews, Clif Bloks and Sunrype. That kept me going for a the first two loops.
I remembered this part well and knew that in less than a mile, the dreaded Hell Hill was next. I saw my teammate, Gerry, before that and he was hurting. We talked for a bit and I told him I just needed to get make the Mile 19 cut-off, 6.5 hours. I was starting to worry I might not make it but knew I had to stay focused. Gerry said he might drop to the 30k and I told him there was no shame in that and that a 30k is really awesome. The thought had crossed my mind for a second, too, and I had to squash it quickly. If I could make the cut-off, I’d be okay,
The beginning of Hell Hill.
Hell Hill sounds worse than it is. It’s pretty steep but it’s only about a mile. I remembered that when we ran it in training it was super hot and I had run out of water by this point. The great thing about Hell Hill on race day was that the aid station was at the top!
My Coyote friends were there and I was happy to see them! They helped me refill my bottles. They told me I looked good. (Not sure I did but that’s okay!) Jennifer asked me if I was good on calories and she reminded me, “Remember, like Coach Jimmy says, it’s an eating and drinking contest with a little bit of running.” 🙂 For me, it was a lot of running but I heeded her advice. I had fresh fruit and some Coca Cola and yelled, “I just have to get to the next aid station!” as I ran off. Coach Nicole shouted, “Don’t worry about that! You got this!”
The 30k/50k split was just after the aid station. I went left and just kept thinking, I just had to make the cut-off. That was my next mini goal. I had 3 miles to go and about an hour and a half to get there before the cut-off.
Your path, your pace, Tam