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Noble Canyonk 50K - RunUltra Marathon

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Pine Valley, California
United States
95F / 35C
Total Time = 6h 29m 16s
Overall Rank = 32/173
Age Group = M30-39
Age Group Rank = 13/40
Pre-race routine:

Up at 3:00 to get ready and drive out to Pine Valley. Got there way too early. Should have slept in another hour.

Had some coffe along with toast, PB and Nutella.

Had an Ensure, banana, and gel slightly prior to race.
Event warmup:

  • 6h 29m 16s
  • 34 miles
  • 11m 27s  min/mile

This run was harder than expected. The final 4 miles gave me a glimpse into the mental stregth required to push though the tough times associated with ultramarathon running.

Start to Pine Creek. ETA 7:42

We started off promptly at 7:00 a.m.. Much of the front pack took off at a sub 8 min pace. The first mile departing the Bible Center is flat asphalt road until you hit the Noble Canyon trail head. I went with the flow of the group, knowing things would slow down as we begun the first climb.

After the climb, the course gradually descends another 2.5 miles to the first aid station at Penny Creek. I estimated reaching that point about 42 mins in and was pretty much spot on. I stopped for a top off, but next time would just run through. So far, so good.

Pine Creek to Penny Pines. ETA 9:12

The course then begins the long climb up Noble Canyon to Penny Pines aid station just off Sunrise Highway. By this time I had settled in with a group who were maintaining a good pace up. Things were comfortable as I chatted with a few other runners.

I met Dave who was primarily a cyclist before going off the ultra binge. He had done several 50k's and milers this year and it turned out we had a few friends in common. I asked if he had any time goals for this race to check my pacing and they were right in line with mine. Great, so far so good.

We arrived at Penny Pines slightly ahead of schedule at 9:09. Wow, I thought, no major problems so far, and right on pace for my sub 6 hour stretch goal.

Maggie and gang were there to greet me. They provided cold towels which felt awesome.

Penny Pines to Penny Pines Loop. ETA 10:54

The next section is a 10 mile loop which begins on the PCT offering majestic views of the Borrego Valley. It then veers off on the Big Laguna trail through the meadows surrounding Big Laguna Lake and then back to Penny Pines. Much of this section is at roughly 6,000 feet.

It's at this point that I really began to feel some fatigue. I hit Rat Hole aid station ready for fluids as it was beginning to heat up. I gave both of my handheld bottles to a volunteer who was quick to assist.

On the trail, I made a decision to fuel up with some Carbo Pro which was being offered on the course. I typically adhere to conventional wisdom of not trying anything new on race day, but with the heat, decided that I really needed some extra calories.

Anyways, this was my first ultra and ultra's are laid back, right? This isn't really a race as much as a bunch of good friends out conquering the trails?

I asked for one botte of Carbo Pro and just plain water in the other.

I had already started slamming electrolyte pills and asked them to throw a dozen or so more pills into the pouch on my bottle holder.

I had a quick seat to remove a few rocks from my shoes and was off.

The remainder of the Penny Pines loop was quite enjoyable albeit getting harder. I concentrated on keeping good form, using this experience to cultivate mental strength as much as physical.

I took a quick drink from the Carbo Pro bottle. YUCK!!! This stuff is horrible... cough, cough. Okay, lesson lived, I thought... nothing new on race day.

A quick swig of water and I dug for an electrolyte pill. Hmm... I thought I had asked for a dozen electrolyte pills in the pouch. Where did they go?

I glanced back at the Carbo Pro bottle. Hmmm. Lot's of little white capsules floating in there.

I guess it wasn't the Carbo Pro itself that tasted aweful. It was the brine created by the handful of Succeed caps that were mixed in there. Hahaha...

Oh well, I could still take swigs in small doses, so no problem.

I arrived back at Penny Pines about 3 minutes behind schedule.

I wasn't too concerned as it was all downhill from here, right?

Penny Pines to Pine Creak. no ETA. Just trying to make it back to the finish by 1:00 p.m..

The descent back down Noble Canyon was a real meat grinder. The beautiful single track that we ascended a short while earlier had now turned into a long lesson in pain management.

After exiting the worse of the mostly shaded steeper sections, you are greeted by some highly technical and very exposed rocky trail. This was definitely a low point as the heat radiated around my now beat up body.

Okay, just hang on a few miles longer to the sanctuary of the next aid station.

The last few hundred feet to the aid station takes you up a small hill. I was so impressed how a volunteer ran down to grab my bottles and refill them as I dragged myself up. By the time I reached the aid station the bottles were filled. Thanks guys!

Another volunteer drenched my head in water from an ice bath. Oh my, that felt good. But as I was taking in a few more Gu's, someone noticed that I was shivering. They were a bit concerned given the current temperatures, but then we figured it was just the ice water dunking.

Pine Creak to Finish.
I hobbled out to tackle the final 4.5 miles.

I began to notice that I still was quite cold for another mile or two and began wondering if maybe I was really having some kind of issues.

I defintely was digging deep these last few miles and by that time had summized that I would not make 6 hrs. On to plan B, break 6:30.

Only problem was, this section which earlier was a gradual descent now felt like a massive climb. I was reduced to a walk for much of it and continued to just try to hold form and keep moving foward.

I realized now, that I didn't have the durability needed to complete the course at my earlier pace. Damn. But this was excellent experience for the Avalon 50 coming up in January.

I slogged up the remainder of the hill and back down the last descent for the final stretch to the finish.

I did some mental calcs and figured I could still break 6:30 if I pulled it together for the final mile.

Fortunately, I was able to ecke out a "blistering" 10:19 final mile and kiss the Bad Rat mascot for a final finishing time of 6:29:16. Whew!

What would you do differently?:

1. I wish I did the 30 mile training run that the group had done a few weeks prior. I never got to pre-run the steepest ascent/descent sections of the canyon which would have been valuable experience.

2. Pacing - Without knowledge of my true durability over this distance and terrain, I found in retrospect I should have taken the downhill section from Penny Pines even slower. Giving up a min or two a mile there just may have allowed me to run more of the final 2 mile ascent to towards the finish.
Post race
Warm down:

Warm down... haha.

Sat down in a chair for the next several hours welcoming in fellow runners, talking with old and new friends, and eating from the sandwich buffet.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

I signed up for this somewhat sponstaneosly as a training run for the Avalon 50 mile run. Timing wise, I would have liked to have had a little more mileage under my belt.

I had been able to get in about 6 20 mile training runs over the couple months, but could have used some longer distance training runs or more back to backs.

Overall, I'm satisfied given the input.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2010-07-30 12:00 AM
06:29:16 | 34 miles | 11m 27s  min/mile
Age Group: 13/40
Overall: 32/173
Performance: Good
Summary 06:30:41 11:27 avg; 1 7:48; 2 11:31; 3 08:42; 4 08:05; 5 09:48; 6 10:31; 7 09:50; 8 13:53; 9 13:44; 10 12:52; 11 10:39; 12 11:09; 13 10:19; 14 11:44; 15 12:37; 16 11:42; 17 10:44; 18 9:04; 19 9:43; 20 10:02; 21 11:16; 22 9:37; 23 11:35; 24 10:44; 25 10:31; 26 11:42; 27 13:14; 28 10:13; 29 10:47; 30 15:04; 31 15:12; 32 17:40; 33 15:58; 34 10:19
Course: 34 mile course which starts at Pine Valley Bible Center and ascends Noble Canyon to Mt. Laguna. There is a 10 mile loop at the top followed by the descent back down Noble Canyon to the start.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2010-09-30 1:02 PM

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Subject: Noble Canyonk 50K

2010-09-30 2:26 PM
in reply to: #3126225

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Extreme Veteran
San Diego
Subject: RE: Noble Canyonk 50K
Great race report and congrats again on completing your first 50k!  It was a learning experience for me, too.  I had fun hanging out with everyone after the race.   Looking forward to some long group training runs here soon!
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