Thursday, July 4, 2019

Black Mountain 50K Race Recap

Saturday was the Black Mountain 50K - my third official ultra. While I was running the 50K, the hubby ROCKED the 25K!

As always, I need to give you a little back story before I jump right into the recap, so hopefully you grabbed your reusable water bottle and a snack ;) This race wasn't a goal race, but when I was putting together my ultra training plan for the San Francisco Ultra {FYI - I use this plan generator for my ultra training and edit it to fit any additional races, vacations, etc I have on my schedule} I saw I had a 50K around the time of this race. I reached out to the race directors to see if they'd be interested in comping me an entry and they were generous enough to do so (we paid full price for the hubby's entry, so it was like 50% off both ;)). As you know, though, that will not impact in my recap, cause I always gotta #KeepItReal!


Not only did the race directors offer me a free entry (which really only benefits me and my wallet), they also put together training runs before the race. The hubby and I were able to make the final training run work into our schedule a few weeks ago. I had a 22-mile run on the calendar that day and they were doing a preview of the 25K course so I woke up early, got in 7 miles before the hubby and I jumped in the car and made our way to Black Mountain. The hubby had 10 miles on his schedule so didn't do the entire run with us, but both of us felt this was super beneficial. They absolutely do not need to take more time out of their busy schedules to put together additional runs for the community (you didn't even need to be running the race to take part in the training runs), but let me tell you, it was much appreciated! Since I hadn't run in the area before, it was definitely helpful to see the type of trails and conditions we should expect come race day. And, if you know me, you know directions aren't really my forte, so having a sense of where I was going was priceless.

I found $10 on the first run of the day and then got to scout the trails for the upcoming race on the second - MAJOR WIN!

Seeing as this was more of a training run for me, I went in feeling a lot more relaxed than I have for races in the past. It probably didn't hurt that the hubby and I are in the middle of doing a major renovation of our condo and I haven't had much time to think of my races other than picking out my gear and making sure I get in the training runs.


Well, let's just say the relaxed feeling started disappearing when, a few days before the race, I started seeing Facebook posts from the race. The posts sort of had me freakin' out a bit... They were reminding us about the weather (it was going to be hot, unlike the cooler May Gray and June Gloom weather we had become accustom to for the previous two months) and to familiarize ourselves with the course maps (they had started marking the course and had already seen vandalism of their efforts a couple days before the race). Don't get me wrong, I much prefer races notify runners of potential issues beforehand so everyone can prepare, but I guess since I was as cool as a cucumber these posts sent my head a-spinnin'.

Source: Black Mountain 50K's Facebook

To try and calm my nerves I decided to focus on what I could control - getting to the start line as prepared as possible. I studied the online maps, I hydrated like a boss and I laid out my #FlatRunner to make sure I had everything I needed.

This race's #FlatCarlee included: Kelly Green PRO Compression Socks, Green Sparkle Athletic Skirt, Do Good. Be Kind. trucker,
Nathan VaporHowe Hydration Vest, PROBAR BOLT chews, Handful Bra muscle tank, elite Road ID, black and white QALO silicone
wedding bands
, watermelon nuun hydration, green Momentum Jewelry wraps, COROS APEX Watch and Brooks Cascadia 13.

I haven't been sleeping great lately (thanks to my fibromyalgia and a bit of staying up too late to help with house renovations), but I still wanted to try and get a decent amount of "sleep" since I knew race morning would come quickly.

As you can see, the time on the screenshot is earlier than the
first alarm... of course I was up before they started going off...

Per usual, I was up before my alarms started going off which meant I was able to take my time getting ready before waking up the hubby and walking the pup before we had to jump in the car to drive down to San Diego.

Glad the race was "closer" than most are!

The sunrise on the way to the race did not suck... PS The towers on the top of the mountain on the
left hand side of the photo (above the highway on-ramp sign) are on the summit of Black Mountain.

I love trail races for many reasons, but one of them is how different the start line is compared to a road race. Trail races are normally smaller and usually a million and a half times more relaxed. I love being able to roll up to a trail race start 15 minutes early to grab my bib, participant tee, etc and still feel like I'm not rushed (but, let's be real, I am still always WAY early). Anywho, the hubby and I got to the parking lot around 5:45am, grabbed our bibs, used flushing toilets (thanks to the park facilities being opened for us) and had plenty of time to go back to the car so we could put on our shoes.

Bib pick-up was easy peasy!

PRO TIP: I keep an empty nuun tube in my glove box full of safety
pins and if the race doesn't put pins in my bag I reuse ones I've
acquired from other races - because I have a million and a half!

Another awesome aspect of trail races - the community vibe! There are definitely competitive runners out there, but for the most part everyone is there to cheer each other on and see everyone succeed. It's hard to explain but it's like everyone checks their ego's at the door. This race even featured one of the race directors' kids performing the national anthem.

It was so cute to have these two kiddos perform the national anthem for the runners!

Before we knew it, it was time to get the party started. I located satellites on my watch and had a friend snap a quick "before" picture (I'm never sure how thrashed I will feel after a race so want to make sure I have at least one decent picture to prove I ran the race ;)). And then it was GO time!

Ready to get this party started!

I didn't have any plans for the race. I knew the course was pretty technical (rocky, rutty and exposed), so I wanted to take it slow enough as to not hurt myself but still put forth a good effort. We were going to be climbing a decent amount, especially during the second half of the race, so I decided I would try to take everything as it came and knew that even if my time wasn't "fast" at least the extra time on my feet would be beneficial training for my next race.


I would say I felt great for the first 10ish miles. There was a decent cloud cover so it was helping to keep the temperatures low. We were also running the same portion of the course that I had ran a few weeks previous so I felt comfortable with what to expect. The 50K started 30 minutes before the 25K so it was nice to have some extra room on the course so we could all spread out a bit and find our grooves. {FYI - There were 145 finishers of the 50K and 82 in the 25K.}


I'd say by the time I hit the half marathon distance I was starting to feel the heat more. The sun was making it's presence known and with the lack of coverage on the trails we were getting beat down the entire time.

Slow and steady wins finishes the race.

I know this may sound silly, but you have to control the controllables. Obviously there is nothing I could do about the weather, but I could do my best to hydrate and fuel properly for the conditions. I was taking my PROBAR BOLT chews every 4-5 miles (I took them at miles 5, 9, 14, 19, 23 and 27.5) and making sure to sip from my hydration frequently (I had "plain" water in my vest bladder and nuun in my chest bottles for the electrolyte and to switch up the flavor a bit).

I used the Pink Lemonade flavor for the first two, Strawberry for the middle two and Pink Lemonade
again for the final two. 

A friend mentioned she would be at the aid station around Mile 16 so I was telling myself I just needed to get there and then I'd see a friendly face and take a little breather (although there were aid stations prior to Mile 16 I charged through them since I was self-sufficient with what I was carrying). She wasn't there when I got there so I kept chugging along. Thankfully she was at the turn-around spot closer to Mile 18ish so I was able to give her a high five and get a little morale boost. I also stopped at the aid station around Mile 19 to grab a couple potato chips (for the salt since I was sweating like a sinner in church) and an Otter Pop for the road. {FYI: Otter Pops are my jam! Pink and purple are my favorite flavors.)

I could eat Otter Pops all day err' day! And during a race?! They are HEAVEN SENT!

I knew from looking at the elevation chart (and having run some of the course before) that the majority of the climbing came after Mile 20. I told myself to run when I could (flats and downhills), walk when I needed to (uphills) and keep moving forward whatever it took. I realize compared to the summer heat some folks deal with while running I probably sound like a major wimp, but remember, we have had two months of gray, drizzly weather. Sure, we have had high humidity (which I loath), but the high during the day has been maybe 65 degrees. This mid-80s was zapping my energy...

Ha, funny, Weather Channel, nice try trying to
lie to me about the cloud cover... But as you can
see it started off humid and finished toasty warm. 

Once we hit the majority of the climbing I was pretty toast. At every aid station that had ice I was grabbing a handful and shoving it in my sports bra to try and keep myself cool. Although I hadn't seen many runners (if any) pass me, in my head I assumed I was one of the last people out there. In fact, since the trails weren't closed to the public, I saw some hikers and bikers (I actually almost got hit by two separate bikes during the race). The course must have been taking us the "long way around" because I saw some hikers a couple times and they would chuckle, like I was lost or something ;)

A friend snapped this picture of me when I was coming the opposite way as her. It's sort of funny
that you can see the towers on top of Black Mountain again in the background... And this time I am
heading away from them... I swear they wouldn't get any closer during the race!

I'll be honest, around Mile 26 or 27 you can see the park where you start and finish, yet you know you still have to climb to the summit of Black Mountain. It is a bit demoralizing having the towers at the top of that hill never seem to get any closer. Thankfully eventually I made it to the top. There was an aid station welcoming us with open arms. Instead of grabbing any of their food or drinks, I asked a volunteer to snap a picture of me with the summit sign ;) #Priorities

1554 feet above sea level may not sound like much (and, really, it isn't), but I finished with over
5,000 feet of climbing during the 30 miles of running... This definitely wasn't a flat course!

I texted the hubby to let him know I made it to the summit and was on my way to the finish line, then tried to get the legs moving again (which, as I'm sure you can guess, is a little difficult after already putting 5,000+ feet of uphill and 6 hours of running/hiking on them). There was a decent amount of downhill to the finish, so I wanted to try and take advantage of as much of it as I could (although the rocks and ruts along the trails made it difficult to find a rhythm and make up any time lost in the climb). I had seen a few females coming down from the summit when I was on my way up, so I was hoping that maybe I could catch a couple of them. (I know, I know, I said it wasn't about my finishing time... and it isn't... but the competitor in me thought it'd be awesome if I could move up a place or two in the standings ;))

Ready to be DONE! PS Can you see the salt build-up on the left shoulder of my vest?! Yum... 

After a few more ups and downs it was eventually time to get off the trails, hit the park we started at and make our way to the finish line. I was able to catch one of the females in front of me while we were on the trails (I was on her heels for about the last mile), but once we hit the sidewalk in the park she took off and my legs didn't have the juice to go with her...


My official time was 6:21:29 (they didn't have chip time, so everything was recorded from the gun start, which added a few seconds to what I had on my watch - but three or four seconds in the grand scheme of things doesn't make a difference).

There wasn't a huge crowd at the finish line, but the hubby was there cheering me on and that's all that mattered to me. He had finished his race a couple hours earlier and had been hanging out at the finish line enjoying pizza (Costco pizza is yummy), beer (he loves him some SufferFest) and massages (Bastyr University was on site to help runners recover).

Cold beer and pizza?! I think the only thing missing would have been donuts
and our pup and the hubby could have sat there all day long ;)

After I had a moment to catch my breath, down a bottle of cold water and snag a slice of cheese pizza, I figured I should probably snap a quick finisher picture before we made our way back to Oceanside to let the pup outside.

My third official ultra marathon (both of 2019 and EVER) done - WHOO HOO!

I assumed, since the heat sort of destroyed me, that my finish was nothing stellar so we left before any awards were given out. Well, come to find out, I actually took SIXTH female overall and FIRST in my age group (Females 30-39) - BOOYA!


All-in-all, this was a well run race. The three race directors are super awesome - keeping runners up-to-date with any and all pertinent information they may need, offering multiple pre-race training runs to scout the course and lining up great sponsors. The aid stations were well stocked, the volunteers were all amazing and the course was well marked (there were a few spots that I would have loved a few additional ribbons, but there is a 95% chance that there were ribbons there originally and they had been incorrectly removed). And I can't forget to mention the bling. I love anything that Elevation Culture does and this "medal" (made of wood) did not disappoint. Not to mention, I didn't see a single snake while running (there were a couple areas where I thought I heard rattling and you can say my pleads to God got a lot more feverish in those moments) which is a win in and of itself. The trails themselves may not have been my favorite (I prefer more runnable trails and these were a bit more technical due to the terrain than I usually enjoy), but it was great getting to check out a new-to-me area (especially one that's somewhat close to home). If you are looking for a challenging, well organized trail race in the San Diego area, you should definitely check out the Black Mountain 25K/50K!

We got a race tank, a HydraPouch, some awesome stickers and the 50K runners received a technical trucker.

What's your favorite terrain to run on?

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