Ultra Adventures: Salt Point 50K

Hello world! I ran my first ultramarathon today?!

Somewhere around mile 18?

A few weeks ago, I was looking for new routes to run and stumbled upon Salt Point State Park, tucked about 2 hours north of SF just north of a tiny town called Jenner, that happened to have a race (hosted by Pacific Coast Trail Runs) this weekend. They had a few different distances, but the 26K seemed too short (I’ve done two half marathon trail races and was looking for something slightly longer), which left the 50K. And in my sleepy logic that night, I decided 31 miles wasn’t really that much farther than 26 miles, and I’m in pretty good shape right now, particularly for trail running, and I’m running a road marathon next month… and then I signed up and promptly realized it was only a few weeks ago.

Anyway, it was today, and I put very minimal forethought into it other than going to REI last week and buying a random selection of gels and powders and food to test out (… at the race. I know. Running 101.). I don’t really eat when I run – I never have. I need to. I know that. But I hate gummy things. And I hate flavored drinks. And I just hate eating food while I run. Anyway – getting nervous about feeding time and recognizing that I had to do it was literally all I thought of. Coupled with this week being extremely busy with work/work social things, I was not feeling particularly confident last night.

Luckily, Jenner is fairly close, and the start was at 8:30, so I could actually get away with doing it as a day trip without a ridiculously early wake-up call. Honestly – the drive up would’ve been enough to make the day worth it even if I never actually made it to the start. I’m almost tempted to spontaneously head up north with the Spotify Acoustic Covers playlist on to drive on empty roads through fog-blanketed fields with pastel skies.

Jenner sunrise.

(Yes, I pulled over to take that photo. Don’t photo/text and drive, kids).

Rather than doing a full race recap (mostly because I don’t really remember specifics), here’s it Strava’d, and here are the highlights:

1) I am totally happy with how I did, considering I had zero expectation and no baseline. I finished in 6hr 4min, and the course was just under 33 miles, which ends up being about 10:30 pace. I came in 7th and was the 1st female by about a half hour, and I’m mostly excited that I got to add to my coaster collection:

More coasters. So many coasters.

2) That extra 7 miles was KILLER. The course was a large loop, medium loop, small loop, and the large loop, and all of them started with the same 1000ft climb through the woods and ended along the gorgeous coastline. The short loop started at about mile 18, and I was feeling really strong and consistent up until that point and so was excited it was ‘short’. Unfortunately, short also meant even MORE climbing in a tinier distance… and it was painful. So painful. I’d been going without music until that point, and I had no choice but to resort to blasting some MIKA and dancing in the middle of the trail for a few minutes to try to re-motivate myself (No, not kidding. Yes, it worked.). The last loop was also painful, and my legs were cramping like crazy. Luckily there was an aid station, and someone gave me a salt tablet (which helped with the cramping), and I picked up someone to run the remainder with (which helped with the ‘Plz let me die now’ feeling).

3) Despite all of that, running for 6 hours actually didn’t feel that long. It kind of flew by, probably because trail running takes a certain extra concentration that there isn’t really time to count steps or think too deeply about anything other than blocking out pain or trying not to fall.

Salt Point trails.

4) Clearly I have not mastered that last one though. I feel four times. And have two very bruised toenails. And one blister. And four soon-to-be open wounds from my backpack rubbing bare skin.

5) Salt Point is GORGEOUS. The first 7 miles were wooded, and all of sudden we (…we = I, I was alone for almost all of this race) crossed a road and emerged into this alcove with the bluest/turquoise sea lapping up against craggy cliffs, and I lost my shit (#endorphins and #prettylandscapes) and could not get a decent picture.

Totally not an accurate depiction of how gorgeous it was.

Honestly, none of these capture it properly. Ugh. I hate that.

Cliffs. Blue water.

You’ll just have to go visit yourself.

Seriously, not stopping to take photos was a mistake.

6) Trail people are so friendly.

7) I got so dirty. I love it.

So much mud.

8) My car got rear-ended on the way home. Fortunately, it wasn’t too bad, but it was forceful enough where whiplash + extreme muscle soreness means I am not moving right now.

Short hair. And not running for once?

All in all – I really, really enjoyed the whole thing. It hurt, but I’ve kind of forgotten about the pain. I am definitely not ready to bump up to a 50-mile thing anytime soon (I cannot imagine doing another 15+ miles), but I wouldn’t mind doing another one in a few months on some different terrain (maybe a larger one?).

Right now though, I am eagerly looking forward to a day on the beach tomorrow to try to get rid of my horrible shorts/racerback tan and not moving.

(I also cut my hair. You can kind of tell. Shoulder-length apparently meant chin-length?)

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