Apr 26, 2011

Sycamore Canyon 50K: Race Report and Photos

The buildup to the SD 100 continued with my last 50K of the season at Sycamore Canyon, Pt. Magu State Park. The Grand Canyon trek really didn't take anything out of me and I continued with my weekly training without a break.  The week before the run had me dealing with a cold while slightly increasing mileage to ~80 miles/week. It was fairly challenging, physically and motivationally speaking, but made it through that week and the next feeling a bit better. I was now looking forward to the beautiful run at La Jolla and Sycamore Canyons. I consider those trails to be the most beautiful in the Santa Monica Mountains as it hugs the west side of the mountains just off the Pacific Coast Highway.  You can get excellent views of the Channel Islands, the shoreline, and at times can only see mountains and royal blue ocean. That along with great running weather made for an excellent set-up to the run.  My goal for the 50K was to break 5 hrs and the 10,000-ft of ascent and descent was about 2000-ft less than my last 50K where I was timed in 5:00.13, so I was confident that it would happen.  Megan was running in the 30K event where I suspected she was going to perform very well.  I was feeling pretty good until mile 18, where I hit the 3rd aid station in 2:50.   I refilled my hydration bladder, grabbed a few gels, and headed out. I started to hit the proverbial "wall" on the next 1000-ft climb and my pace definitely dropped off as the 3rd place runner, squirted away on the climb, and I started to think that I wasn't going to be able to break 5 hrs if I continued to feel, bluntly speaking, like crap.  I made the next 2K climb and the ensuing descent with the same feeling, but I finally shook it off after about 600-ft on the final climb. During that climb I came up with the strategy of hiking until I climbed 20 vertical feet then running the next 80 until I reached each multiple of 100.  When I reached 500-ft I started to get a 2nd wind so I continued to run all the way to the finish.  My legs were shot but I felt I could keep up the turnover and as I sensed my approach to the finish I picked up the pace even more knowing that my goal was going to be reached. I crossed the line in 4:54.06, 4th overall, and happy with the run.  Megan finished her 30K run in 2:41: breaking the course record for women by 19 minutes, getting 1st in the female division and 4th overall.  What a running animal! 
This is my 4th event of the season and my 2nd to last one before the SD 100.  A post-run reflection had me happy with the way the training had been progressing and how everything was coming together.  It's taken a lot of dedication to be consistently running high-mileages for the past 4.5 months, with very little rest (3 days/month and nothing greater than 1 day post-race) while attending grad school full-time and working.  Not only do a lot of things have to be in sync in terms of schedule, upcoming races, health, and a whole host of other variables that I can't think of now, but the will power to continue has to remain high.  I only have about 6 weeks until the SD100 and I can say that I've been putting in the work and I hope the "cumulative fatigue" strategy pays off in June.
On a side-note, my R patellar tendon that had been irritated before the Grand Canyon trip, acted up again Sunday and I hope to be able to calm it as I continue the training. I attribute it mostly to strength deficits, which I have to 


admit has not been incorporated into my training since February. I am going to start because I believe that the contractile weakness exposed on the hard run Saturday couldn't handle the eccentric loading. When that happens it starts to transfer that load to the more vulnerable part of the muscle: the musculotendinous junction. Hopefully, strategies to deal with inflammation, adhesions, and strength/endurance deficits with quell it. It worked once before but I didn't see it through so now is not the time to let all the effort and work go to waste.  Next up is the Bishop 50 miler where altitude and probable heat will be a factor in this final prep race. 



  1. I don't know what any of the physiology words in this post mean, but I do know that I'm jealous of your training schedule. I've only been managing 2 runs a week most of this month.

  2. Well, I'm amazed how good your times are considering the light training you do. You must have iron legs. I started to run higher weekly mileages mainly because of the fear of injury. As a side note, my longest runs are 15 miles not including 50Ks so now is the time to turn it up a notch.


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