Malibu Canyon 50k Race Report

December 13, 2015

The short of it is I had a fun race and had a better than expected outcome! I went out too hard on loop one, blew up on loop two and still managed 5th overall and 1st in age group! I also must say that Zoom running events puts on a great race. The course was very well marked, the aid stations were well stocked, and the race had a great sense of community. The director was running around handing out medals, working the timing computer, while also cooking chili and soup. This sure was a different vibe than an Ironman. The course is basically the Bulldog trail run backwards for anyone familiar, and the 50K is the course twice. My official time was 4:59:34 which I am very pleased with. My goal was 5 hours so I barely squeeked in.

Morning Photo

The race started right on time at 8:00 AM with the 25K and 50K racers going out together. Like usual, everyone ran hard out the gate, including myself. Once we hit the trails the racers spread out a bit. Each loop has a monster hill of at least 2000ft which contributes to most of the 6000 total feet for the race. On the first loop I power hiked the steep sections and mixed in running as it flattened out at various points. I was just as fast as people who were trying to run the whole thing. At this point I started talking to those around me and most were doing the 25K. Maybe I was going too fast? Oh well! Once we crested the first part of the climb we had a great view of the Pacific Ocean. I really enjoyed the view on the first loop, not so much on the second.

Strava Elevation Photo

The next section was running along a ridge which had some small up and down segments. The neatest part of the race was this steep rock formation that we had to run up to reach a peak that was then pretty techinical to descend from. The majority of the race was on fire roads so this was a nice change of scenery. There was then a long descent on the fire roads which were absolute quad killers. The final section was mixed between more fire roads, running along a dry river bed and finally pavement back to the start. It was pretty painful to run right past my car and then have to go back out to do it again. After analyzing the results, I definately went out too fast. Had I stopped at the 25K point I would have been in 6th place in the 25K race. My first loop ended up being over 20 minutes faster than the second.

On the second loop I was pretty much by myself. Again, I power hiked the hills, but with even less running this time. At around mile 21 or so I just couldn’t keep my heart rate up anymore. I realized that I was unlikely to pass anyone, and no one was behind me, so I didn’t fight the fatigue and slowed down. At around this time I made it to an aid station and the volunteers tried to talk me into a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich. Just the thought of sandwich made me nauseous which made me realize I wasn’t in great shape. Even at a slow pace those last 9 miles were brutal. The best I could muster on the descent was a 9:00 minute average pace, my legs were shot. On the first loop I flew down those hills at a 7:15 pace. My goal was to crack 5 hours and I could tell I was getting closer and closer to not making it. The last 30 minutes or so was a lot of math in my head trying to sort it all out. I did my best to hang on. The last part of the course is a wide loop around the parking lots to the finish. I arrived at the lots with about 3 minues left and I gave it all I had. My peak heart rate for the day was right at the finish line. My heart rate for the race averaged 169 which earned me a Strava suffer score of 740!

Strava Suffer Score

My legs were pretty toasted at the finish. They weren’t quite cramping, they were just very uncomfortable. It felt like every cell in my muscles were screaming. Nothing alleviated the pain. I finally laid down on a picnic table and waited it out. I hung around for about an hour, enjoying the soup and meeting new people. There wasn’t an award ceremony, we got our medals as we finished. Finishers of the 50k received a coaster.

Laying on Table

Finisher Coaster

My wife Jena earns the wife of the month award. While I was out racing our water heater decided to fail and flood our garage. She had to deal with this fiasco on top of caring for our two kids and cleaning the house. Even with all of this she was still excited about my race!

For nutrition I used 600 calories of tailwind and 4 GU gel packets. I also tried some salted potatoes at one point and I had coke at the aid stations in the last hour. I need to analyze my sodium intake because I was completely caked with salt at the end. I know I went out fast, but I think my struggle in the last third may have been hydration related as well. As I drank liquid I could feel it start to slosh in my stomach which means my body wasn’t utilizing it.

This is a special race for me being my first ultra marathon on my journey to racing the AC 100 and raising money for Children’s HeartLink. Thinking about my Son’s upcoming surgery and the fundraising that we are accomplishing helped me finish strong. It was also a great learning experience for the Avalon 50 miler next month. I now have some real data points to put together a pacing and nutrition plan. It was also a great confidence booster because this malibu race has the same elevation gain, but with 20 fewer miles, which shows that Avalon will have much more gentle climbs. Stay Tuned! Less than a month to Avalon!

Finish Photo