Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Lake Hodges Trail Fest 50K Race Recap

SURPRISE... I ran the Lake Hodges Trail Fest 50K last weekend (this race was a late add to my training/ race calendar).

Spoiler Alert: I finished!

A month or so ago I saw a giveaway for a free entry to the Lake Hodges Trail Fest from one of the local running groups, the Ultrabuds, so I figured I'd throw my name in the hat. I looked at my training plan and saw I had a 20-miler scheduled for Saturday and a 10-miler scheduled for Sunday, so if I won the entry I could register for the 50K and just get all of the mileage done at one time (#RunnersLogic). Loandbehold I won, so that's how I got to the starting line.

Source: @ultrabuds' IG

If you've been around my corner of the InterWebs for a while, you probably remember that when I was training for my 100-miler I was actually able to change my weekly work schedule so that I had Friday and Saturday off. The reason I did this was because I was noticing that when I was doing my long runs on Saturday morning, 40+ hours of standing on my feet at work all week made my runs less-than-ideal. When I started working Sunday thru Thursday I was able to take Friday as a complete rest day (from working AND running) and could get to sleep earlier, therefore I started waking up feeling more refreshed and ready to tackle my longer runs... Well, seeing as this was technically "just a training run" I didn't adjust my working schedule, so I was on my feet at the running store until 7pm the evening before the race... not the best if you were shooting for stellar results, but thankfully my game plan was just to enjoy some local trails with likeminded people. 


Once I got home on Friday evening, it was time to make sure I had everything I needed for the race come Saturday morn.

This race's #FlatCarlee included: Active.com + PRO Compression SocksTurquoise Sparkle Athletic SkirtNathan VaporHowe 

While I was laying out my flat runner, the hubby was kind enough to get the oven preheating for my homemade pizza dinner (he makes fresh dough for us - YUM!). One of my best friend’s jokes that it is more of a cheese loaf, but I don’t like thin crust and I prefer my pizza with little to no sauce, but, hey, whatever works, right?! And THIS works for me! ;)

I also love covering it with Umami Seasoning from Trader Joe's

After I finished my dinner and let my food digest a bit, it was time to hit the hay. During the work week I'm normally up somewhere between 3 and 4:30am so I can run before work, which means the alarms weren't any earlier than normal, but I still figured I needed to get as much sleep as possible. [Note: I always wake up before my alarms - anyone else?!]

Because I was working during the week leading up to the event, I wasn’t able to grab my bib prior to race day. My plan was to get to the start about an hour early so that I would have time to check-in, grab my participant goodies and bib, take everything back to the car, and use the port-o-potties without feeling rushed. The plan worked to perfection and I still had about 30 minutes to max and relax in the car before we were set to meet at the starting line for pre-race announcements.

Pre-race bib pick-up was quick and easy (although the volunteers weren't super familiar with where everything
was at when I arrived... they almost didn't even want to look to find the proper t-shirt size I ordered...)

I didn't want to waste battery life on my old iPhone 8, so I
snapped a quick selfie and just laid back for a few minutes

Eventually it was time to head back to the starting line and get this party started. I didn’t have any time goals in mind, but a friend had asked prior to the race when I might finish, since she was running the 15K and wasn’t sure if she would be around when I was coming in. I gave a rough estimate of probably finishing between five and six hours, but the main focus was to get in my miles with plenty of smiles (and, of course, not getting injured before the New York City Marathon).

Time to rock and roll!

Technically I would consider the trails that this race was scheduled to cover to be considered “local“. We don’t have a ton of dirt trails in Oceanside (well, ones that aren’t on the military base and are open for the public to run on), so if the hubby and I want to run trails, we often end up in Escondido and run some of, what ended up being, this course. With that said, I didn’t take a ton of photos, because I was very familiar with the terrain and views. While putting this race recap together, it dawned on me that I probably take the local spots where I run often for granted. Here’s to hoping that coming to this realization nudges me to look at my routinely used running routes through a more grateful lens.

This course was sort of like a “T“. We started at the bottom of the stick, ran up to the top where the upper line intersects, turned to the left until we hit the end of the line, turned around and ran back to the intersection and then continued on to the end of the line, then turned back and retraced our steps until we hit the spot where the two lines intersected and turned back towards the finish line. Although not everyone loves out and back sections, I do really enjoy them. I like being able to see and cheer on fellow runners (it helps take my mind off of my own running, especially if I’m struggling), as well as it gives you a preview of what you have to look forward to (at least for the next chunk), but to each their own ;)


Although I didn’t have a time goal in mind, my competitive nature took over when I started seeing runners come back at me… I may have been counting the number of females I saw pass me to give myself an idea of what place I was in ;)


There is a decent climb on the course, where you get the majority of the elevation gain (especially because you have to run it twice - once on the way out and once on the way back), called Raptor Ridge. Prior to hitting it the first time, there was a fun aid station with the volunteers all dressed in dinosaur/Jurassic Park gear. Well, if you know me, you probably know that I love a good character stop and the inflated dino costumes are pretty high on my favorite list. I asked one of the volunteers to snap a picture of me and the T-Rex, only to be told we should have a mini dance party. I mean, I may have wasted a few ounces of energy getting my groove on, but I think I gained anything I lost with the joy it added to my heart.

This is the dino I mentioned at the end of the dance video ;)

Get your groove on!

A coworker and I were both running the 50K, so earlier in the week we were keeping an eye on the weather… You see, midweek we were in the throes of a heatwave with the temps in the mid 90s. Our weather apps were calling for a cool down, so we were crossing our fingers that the temps really would drop. Thankfully by race day Mother Nature was kind to us! It was still a little warmer than originally predicted, but definitely much cooler than it had been. By the time I finished, around noon, it was 72°. Also, we had decent cloud cover till about 11:30am or so. I would've loved temps about 10° cooler all around, but beggars can’t be choosers, so I was thanking my lucky stars for the weather we were blessed with.

Left: The predicted weather for race time | Center: Still higher humidity - BLEH! | Right: Actual weather when I finished

I'd say around the time I hit Mile 15 or 16, I probably could have been done with my run. I think the fatigue of everything from the week was catching up with me and my mental strength was starting to dwindle. I told myself to try and continue to have a strong 20 miles, then everything else would technically be a bonus. I reminded myself that because I was doing Sunday’s 10-miler during the race I would be able to sleep in (as long as my body would allow) the following morning.

I fueled with my PROBAR BOLT Chews every 5-ish miles and grabbed a pickle spear
at two separate aid stations during the race (other than that I was fully sulf supported)

When I was coming up to the last turnaround spot, I was again counting the number of females in front of me. I knew that I wasn’t planning on picking up the pace, but figured that if I could at least keep other females from passing me, I would be in the top 10 when I crossed the finish line. [Sidenote: When I hit the turnaround aid station, I asked if anyone knew the mile marker we were at. This was the first time running with my new COROS Pace 2 watch and I wasn’t sure how off my distance might be from the actual course. There was a sign on top of one of the water jugs and it said we were at mile 18.75… And when I looked at my watch I was at EXACTLY that point. That NEVER happens, especially on the trails!]

Fake it till you make it, right?! Smiling on the outside even if I was a bit over it on the inside

Once I left the final turnaround aid station my mantra was "just get back to the car". Like I thought, when I hit about 20 miles I was pretty done (this was probably a combination of the overall fatigue, but also probably a little more of the mental battle that I wasn't willing to wage). I decided I'd walk/run the final 11 miles. I was power hiking the uphills, jogging the downhills and walking whenever my body felt like it wanted a break. I was playing leapfrog with a few runners nearby, so it was awesome to keep giving one another encouragement when we'd pass each other. #RunnersRockMySocks

I'll let you guess where Raptor Ridge was ;)

Since I am familiar with the trails we were running on, I knew about how much of the course I had left to go (obviously the mileage on your watch helps that too, but I also could picture when the anticipate the hills, turns, etc). Once I got around Mile 27 I started seeing some of the females ahead of me and I thought to myself "I could probably catch them". The goal from that point forward was to start picking off the runners in front of me (but obviously not push myself too hard seeing as I had the NYC Marathon two weeks after this race and CIM four weeks after that). [Maybe the walk breaks helped me conserve some energy to chase those runners down, maybe seeing them was the motivation I needed to get my booty in gear and actually run it in - whatever the case, I used the surge of get-up-and-go to start chugging at a slightly faster clip.]


I'm glad the race wasn't much longer because I probably started my "kick" a bit too early and was just holding on towards the finish. I actually saw a female gaining on me during one of the last uphill climbs so I put my head down and charged on. I passed quite a few runners in those last miles, finished strong and was mighty proud of the effort I put in. 

And NAILED the "between five and six hour" estimation!

In the end I finished fourth female, second in my age group and thirtieth runner overall - not too shabby for a training run! 

Only the first three overall finishers in men's and women's
won any sort of prize so I just missed out... Bummer!

Obviously once I finished I had to snag a picture with Eric, the race director (or, as they call it with Elevation Culture, the "experience director"). He's AWESOME, as are his events! (Not to mention, the wooden medals are always AMAZING!)

Note: I did win this entry, but hopefully you know I've always gotta #KeepItReal. I'd say I don't know that I would personally run this race again (or at least not if I had to pay for it), because it's an area I run frequently. With that said, the volunteers and event staff are great. Like I said earlier, I definitely take my local routes for granted, so I'd probably say it isn't the most spectacular race when it comes to views, but then again, that might be because I'm used to it. My only "real" complaint is that because it is an open course, there are some bikers out on the course that you really have to watch for (a handful of them were kind, but most were intense and were sort of rude...), especially on the blind corners or the hilly spots.

You better believe I "refueled" with my fave Mexican food.
The idea of these chips and salsa got me through those final few miles ;)

Do you participate in local races if you frequently run on the route/ course during your daily runs?

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