Whoo’s in El Morro 50k – May 2011

 

There’s no other way to say this: I had a fantastic time at the Whoo’s In El Moro 50k this past weekend! I tried to get in last year, but the entry field was so small it sold out before I had a chance to register. So I guess you could say I’ve been looking forward to this race for over a year. I wasn’t sure how I would do, since I haven’t exactly been taking it easy the past few weeks, but I ended up feeling really good and setting a Personal Record for the 50k distance. Plus, I was able to definitively answer this most important question:

Word.

My morning started bright and early at 4am. One day—maybe not one day soon, but one sweet sweet day—I will figure out how to go to bed early the night before a race and wake up refreshed! Until then, I will have to content myself with shuffling around like a zombie for a few hours. Don’t worry, my tiredness makes me an extra-safe driver on the early morning roads.

Lucky number 33?

WIEM50 is held at Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach. I only know this area from a disastrous training run I did there last summer, where my body did NOT enjoy the heat and the hills and let me know it…over and over. So I was relieved and excited when race morning dawned overcast and cool, with some light misting for the first few hours of the race. I’ll take all the help I can get!

The crowd was small—a little over 50 runners, for both 50k and 25k—but everyone was really friendly. Also, I met a blog reader! (Hi Dave!) I think he deserves an award for being the first reader outside of my immediate friends and family. We ran & chatted together at several different points during the race and it was so cool to have met someone through these public ramblings and shameless picture posting. Love it!

The race started a few minutes after 6:30, and it wasn’t long before we left the flat section and started climbing. This was pretty much my view for most of the race:

WIEM doesn’t have a lot of terribly steep climbs, but what it lacks in quality it makes up for in quantity. It really didn’t feel like there was more than a mile of flat trail, anywhere, throughout the whole course. We were either going up or down the entire time. I mean, check out the elevation profile:

elevation

Charts don’t lie! Pictures don’t lie either:

hill-collage

You know what I thought when I saw all these hills?

wallacegromit

Any Wallace & Gromit fans in the house?

I started off running at a pretty conservative pace, and although I was initially running the hills, after only a few miles I was tired and needed to walk. I was a little bit worried at this point, since it’d only been a few miles and my legs were not feeling particularly fresh, especially on the uphills. I was thinking that running Chino Hills last week was a mistake, and I should have rested more after Leona Divide. But I put my head down, concentrated on running what I could and power-hiking the rest, and decided to not put any pressure on myself about a time goal. I just wanted to finish feeling strong.

After the first aid station, about 5 miles in, we had some nice gradual downhills, and I started feeling better. I was stopping fairly frequently to take photos (all those identical pictures of hills don’t take themselves, you know!) and I got out of my head and just enjoyed taking in the views and chatting with fellow runners and the aid station volunteers.

In the middle of the first loop—mile 9 or 10?—we got to leave the jeep road and run through some really fun, rolling singletrack.

I started really getting into my groove about 10 miles in. I was warmed up, everything was flowing, and I was just loving being out on the trails.

Almost halfway through. I was moving into position when this photo was taken, so I ended up in Awkward Pose. Madonna would not approve.

The last mile or two to the turnaround is mostly downhill, and this is when we finally saw the ocean! Usually this is a knockout view, but because of the (wonderful, amazing) overcast skies, the ocean kind of bled into the sky and the impact was lost. But still: gorgeous.

At the turnaround I said goodbye to one of the 25k runners I’d been chatting with, and paused to eat some potatoes, yogurt-covered pretzels (um, amazing. New fave thing) and force the aid station volunteers to take cheesy pictures of me.

25 down, 25 to go

I just have to say, everyone was so nice. The volunteers were super cheerful and helpful, and none of them blinked when I thrust my camera into their hands and made ridiculous faces. Case in point:

runningwithsugarsposter

I think taking chipmunk-cheeked pictures of myself is going to be my “thing.” Some people race to get good times, some race to stay in shape, I race to stuff gummy worms in my mouth. Don’t judge.

So, yes, the volunteers were awesome. Know what else was amazing?

The course markings!markings

Dear Chino Hills: This is how you mark trails so runners don’t get lost. Yours in race safety, Elizabeth

Look Ma, no need to carry a tiny map with me!

Okay, I’m officially done complaining about that race.

Anyhow. I made it halfway through in 2:40 and was feeling really good. At this point, I started thinking that I wanted to shoot for 6 hours. My PR previous to this was 5:41 at the High Desert 50k in Ridgecrest, which is a much flatter and easier course. So I didn’t have any PR dreams, but I did think that finishing the race in 6 wasn’t unreasonable—that gave me 3:20 to do a reverse loop of the course I had just run, which should be very manageable unless I crashed and burned. So I put on my game face, had another gummy worm for the road, and hit the hills in the opposite direction.

I was passed a bit in the first half of the race, especially toward the beginning when I waved the walking flag so early on. But after the halfway point, I started passing people myself. I was feeling remarkably good, and was able to keep a steady pace that was only a bit slower than the first time around.

So you can leave your cigarello-smoking, motorcycle-riding dogs at home, got it?

I really liked the double-reverse-loop structure of this race. It’s nice to sort of know what’s coming up and what the race milestones are, and going in the opposite direction the second time prevents boredom from setting in, plus, you get to see your fellow racers as you pass and give high fives and cheers of encouragement. Of course, I always suffer from should-be-there-itis, which is a devastating affliction that causes the runner to think that he or she is much farther along in the race than they actually are. Symptoms include checking your watch compulsively, peering around every corner for a glimpse of the next aid station, and sighing heavily at the glimpse of yet another hill standing between you and the finish.

Wild mustard in bloom all along the course

I chugged along, and didn’t start dragging until about mile 24. I knew there was one last aid station coming up soon, and after that station it was mostly downhill to the finish. This section of the course was all uphill on wide roads, and by this point the novelty of climbing was gone and I was ready to see something new and run downhill to the finish!

The last climb

The face of someone at the top of the last climb

I reached the aid station around mile 25.5 with over an hour to go to finish in 6 hours. Since it was downhill, I knew I had a huge cushion, and because I was feeling great, I decided I wanted to try and PR at this race. I’d have to run an average of 9-minute miles, but I thought I could do it, so I put the hammer down and went for it.

I do love me a good downhill finish. My last three miles were around 8:30s and I finished in 5:39:36, a PR by two minutes. Now obviously this isn’t any sort of remarkable time, considering the front-runners finished around 4 hours, but it’s fast for me, and I was happy with my performance.

You know what comes next: post-race pictures!

50k

Funny story: I asked a nice gent to take the picture on the left for me. 5-0, for 50k. He took it, but then suggested that my hands were backwards and that I should switch them. I’m tired, not thinking too straight, so I totally do. After he takes it, he says he’s dyslexic so he wasn’t quite sure which way was right! He might have been joking but I love the story so much I’m pretending that it’s true.

After the race I cleaned up, changed, and enjoyed an awesome post-race barbeque and debriefing with my fellow runners. I have to say, everything about this race was top-notch. Great people, great goodie bags, great course, great veggie burgers…all the necessities!

lunch of champions

I can’t say enough good things about this race. I’ll definitely be back next year, gummy worms in hand.

Final Stats:
Date:
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Distance: 31 miles
Elevation gain: 7,000 feet
Garmin time: 5 hrs 28 min
Official time: 5 hrs 39 min (19/44, 6th woman, 1st age group)

4 Responses to Whoo’s in El Morro 50k – May 2011
  1. Heather
    May 17, 2011 | 9:36 pm

    Liz! Saying that you are amazing just doesn’t do it. You are super fantabulous! That’s a bit closer. Way to go on the PR! Glad you had a good race. I love the blog.

    • Elizabeth
      May 17, 2011 | 10:10 pm

      Thanks lady! The only thing that would have made it better would be you by my side, singing “I’m Too Sexy.” 🙂 So sexy…it hurts!

  2. Ian
    May 18, 2011 | 12:30 am

    Looks like you had a great time. I just wanted to let you know that I find one picture in this post very reminiscent of a Jeremy pose. We shall see if you can pick out the photo I am thinking of.

    • Elizabeth
      May 18, 2011 | 9:11 am

      Hm…this is a toughie. I’m going to have the guess the last one, where I’m stuffing my face with a burger? That is a very Jeremy thing to do.

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Whoo’s in El Morro 50k – May 2011

 

There’s no other way to say this: I had a fantastic time at the Whoo’s In El Moro 50k this past weekend! I tried to get in last year, but the entry field was so small it sold out before I had a chance to register. So I guess you could say I’ve been looking forward to this race for over a year. I wasn’t sure how I would do, since I haven’t exactly been taking it easy the past few weeks, but I ended up feeling really good and setting a Personal Record for the 50k distance. Plus, I was able to definitively answer this most important question:

Word.

My morning started bright and early at 4am. One day—maybe not one day soon, but one sweet sweet day—I will figure out how to go to bed early the night before a race and wake up refreshed! Until then, I will have to content myself with shuffling around like a zombie for a few hours. Don’t worry, my tiredness makes me an extra-safe driver on the early morning roads.

Lucky number 33?

WIEM50 is held at Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach. I only know this area from a disastrous training run I did there last summer, where my body did NOT enjoy the heat and the hills and let me know it…over and over. So I was relieved and excited when race morning dawned overcast and cool, with some light misting for the first few hours of the race. I’ll take all the help I can get!

The crowd was small—a little over 50 runners, for both 50k and 25k—but everyone was really friendly. Also, I met a blog reader! (Hi Dave!) I think he deserves an award for being the first reader outside of my immediate friends and family. We ran & chatted together at several different points during the race and it was so cool to have met someone through these public ramblings and shameless picture posting. Love it!

The race started a few minutes after 6:30, and it wasn’t long before we left the flat section and started climbing. This was pretty much my view for most of the race:

WIEM doesn’t have a lot of terribly steep climbs, but what it lacks in quality it makes up for in quantity. It really didn’t feel like there was more than a mile of flat trail, anywhere, throughout the whole course. We were either going up or down the entire time. I mean, check out the elevation profile:

elevation

Charts don’t lie! Pictures don’t lie either:

hill-collage

You know what I thought when I saw all these hills?

wallacegromit

Any Wallace & Gromit fans in the house?

I started off running at a pretty conservative pace, and although I was initially running the hills, after only a few miles I was tired and needed to walk. I was a little bit worried at this point, since it’d only been a few miles and my legs were not feeling particularly fresh, especially on the uphills. I was thinking that running Chino Hills last week was a mistake, and I should have rested more after Leona Divide. But I put my head down, concentrated on running what I could and power-hiking the rest, and decided to not put any pressure on myself about a time goal. I just wanted to finish feeling strong.

After the first aid station, about 5 miles in, we had some nice gradual downhills, and I started feeling better. I was stopping fairly frequently to take photos (all those identical pictures of hills don’t take themselves, you know!) and I got out of my head and just enjoyed taking in the views and chatting with fellow runners and the aid station volunteers.

In the middle of the first loop—mile 9 or 10?—we got to leave the jeep road and run through some really fun, rolling singletrack.

I started really getting into my groove about 10 miles in. I was warmed up, everything was flowing, and I was just loving being out on the trails.

Almost halfway through. I was moving into position when this photo was taken, so I ended up in Awkward Pose. Madonna would not approve.

The last mile or two to the turnaround is mostly downhill, and this is when we finally saw the ocean! Usually this is a knockout view, but because of the (wonderful, amazing) overcast skies, the ocean kind of bled into the sky and the impact was lost. But still: gorgeous.

At the turnaround I said goodbye to one of the 25k runners I’d been chatting with, and paused to eat some potatoes, yogurt-covered pretzels (um, amazing. New fave thing) and force the aid station volunteers to take cheesy pictures of me.

25 down, 25 to go

I just have to say, everyone was so nice. The volunteers were super cheerful and helpful, and none of them blinked when I thrust my camera into their hands and made ridiculous faces. Case in point:

runningwithsugarsposter

I think taking chipmunk-cheeked pictures of myself is going to be my “thing.” Some people race to get good times, some race to stay in shape, I race to stuff gummy worms in my mouth. Don’t judge.

So, yes, the volunteers were awesome. Know what else was amazing?

The course markings!markings

Dear Chino Hills: This is how you mark trails so runners don’t get lost. Yours in race safety, Elizabeth

Look Ma, no need to carry a tiny map with me!

Okay, I’m officially done complaining about that race.

Anyhow. I made it halfway through in 2:40 and was feeling really good. At this point, I started thinking that I wanted to shoot for 6 hours. My PR previous to this was 5:41 at the High Desert 50k in Ridgecrest, which is a much flatter and easier course. So I didn’t have any PR dreams, but I did think that finishing the race in 6 wasn’t unreasonable—that gave me 3:20 to do a reverse loop of the course I had just run, which should be very manageable unless I crashed and burned. So I put on my game face, had another gummy worm for the road, and hit the hills in the opposite direction.

I was passed a bit in the first half of the race, especially toward the beginning when I waved the walking flag so early on. But after the halfway point, I started passing people myself. I was feeling remarkably good, and was able to keep a steady pace that was only a bit slower than the first time around.

So you can leave your cigarello-smoking, motorcycle-riding dogs at home, got it?

I really liked the double-reverse-loop structure of this race. It’s nice to sort of know what’s coming up and what the race milestones are, and going in the opposite direction the second time prevents boredom from setting in, plus, you get to see your fellow racers as you pass and give high fives and cheers of encouragement. Of course, I always suffer from should-be-there-itis, which is a devastating affliction that causes the runner to think that he or she is much farther along in the race than they actually are. Symptoms include checking your watch compulsively, peering around every corner for a glimpse of the next aid station, and sighing heavily at the glimpse of yet another hill standing between you and the finish.

Wild mustard in bloom all along the course

I chugged along, and didn’t start dragging until about mile 24. I knew there was one last aid station coming up soon, and after that station it was mostly downhill to the finish. This section of the course was all uphill on wide roads, and by this point the novelty of climbing was gone and I was ready to see something new and run downhill to the finish!

The last climb

The face of someone at the top of the last climb

I reached the aid station around mile 25.5 with over an hour to go to finish in 6 hours. Since it was downhill, I knew I had a huge cushion, and because I was feeling great, I decided I wanted to try and PR at this race. I’d have to run an average of 9-minute miles, but I thought I could do it, so I put the hammer down and went for it.

I do love me a good downhill finish. My last three miles were around 8:30s and I finished in 5:39:36, a PR by two minutes. Now obviously this isn’t any sort of remarkable time, considering the front-runners finished around 4 hours, but it’s fast for me, and I was happy with my performance.

You know what comes next: post-race pictures!

50k

Funny story: I asked a nice gent to take the picture on the left for me. 5-0, for 50k. He took it, but then suggested that my hands were backwards and that I should switch them. I’m tired, not thinking too straight, so I totally do. After he takes it, he says he’s dyslexic so he wasn’t quite sure which way was right! He might have been joking but I love the story so much I’m pretending that it’s true.

After the race I cleaned up, changed, and enjoyed an awesome post-race barbeque and debriefing with my fellow runners. I have to say, everything about this race was top-notch. Great people, great goodie bags, great course, great veggie burgers…all the necessities!

lunch of champions

I can’t say enough good things about this race. I’ll definitely be back next year, gummy worms in hand.

Final Stats:
Date:
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Distance: 31 miles
Elevation gain: 7,000 feet
Garmin time: 5 hrs 28 min
Official time: 5 hrs 39 min (19/44, 6th woman, 1st age group)

4 Responses to Whoo’s in El Morro 50k – May 2011
  1. Heather
    May 17, 2011 | 9:36 pm

    Liz! Saying that you are amazing just doesn’t do it. You are super fantabulous! That’s a bit closer. Way to go on the PR! Glad you had a good race. I love the blog.

    • Elizabeth
      May 17, 2011 | 10:10 pm

      Thanks lady! The only thing that would have made it better would be you by my side, singing “I’m Too Sexy.” 🙂 So sexy…it hurts!

  2. Ian
    May 18, 2011 | 12:30 am

    Looks like you had a great time. I just wanted to let you know that I find one picture in this post very reminiscent of a Jeremy pose. We shall see if you can pick out the photo I am thinking of.

    • Elizabeth
      May 18, 2011 | 9:11 am

      Hm…this is a toughie. I’m going to have the guess the last one, where I’m stuffing my face with a burger? That is a very Jeremy thing to do.

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