Montana de Oro Race Report

A race! A race! Valentines weekend was punctured by the opportunity of competitive running. What a treat! I was pretty stoked for this race, the Montana de Oro 50k, 25k, 12k, and 8k out on by Pacific Coast Trail Runs. I would be running it with friends form the

Waiting for racers to come in

Cal Poly Trail Runners and also had many friends from both CPTR and the SLO Trail Runners out volunteering. I’d never been to a running race where I knew people other than Kristen and our parents! On a tangent I just gotta say, this whole club thing has been awesome. I always thought that the terrain and views made the run, but now I know the terrain doesn’t matter when you have people to talk to and suffer with.

Kristen started her weekend off right with a midday run on Friday while I got some stuff done at FLUID (see her report). I took it easy after a good 3 day series of Crossfit. Saturday was filled with homework and riding my bike around SLO to run some errands and get chores done. For Saturday night, a nice big group of Cal Poly Trail Runners gathered at our gracious president’s house for some potluck pasta, salad and other fare. This group really does it right for a bunch of college kids! I felt like I was at a real adult potluck with fancy corn salad and homemade salad dressings and other things that I’m not used to eating unless I’m at home or with Kristen (which is actually pretty often, she loves to cook and I love that she loves to cook! I’m good at chopping and stirring things…usually. I’m also good at dishes!). But anyways, we started a pretty awesome tradition of making “trail names” for everybody in the club. A trail name can stem from anywhere, it just has to be fun and usually disliked by the person who has it. We got a few different colors of neon fabric paint and stenciled our names onto our shirts. Now when we go out into public

Larry aka "The Bunny"

people can see how awesome, colorful and non-serious we are! We capped the night off with a viewing of Fight Club and all headed home to rest up for an early start the next morning.

Around 7am, another CPTR member (Ben) and I met up and carpooled out to Montana de Oro state park, about 20 minutes from SLO. We were graciously met by the volunteers (many of whom were SLOTR) and got everything sorted out for the race. My goal for the day was somewhere around 6 hours, with a main focus of getting in some good training miles. Ben hadn’t been training at all, so his goal was more just to finish. The siren went off and we fell into the pack. Ben and I ran pretty much together for most of the first half. I felt like we started out a little bit fast but I wasn’t too worried. We chatted and cruised. I hiked out ahead on the way up Valencia Peak, only to be caught quickly again on the on the downhill. We finished the first 12k loop and made it back to the start/finish (and the only aid station).

After a brief stop we continued on, beginning a different, longer loop that would bring us back to the aid station to complete the first half of the run. We saw Heeva (another CPTR and SLOTR member) cruising along Islay Creek road, coming the opposite direction and smiling as always (he volunteered in the morning and was getting some miles in on his own). Ben and I droned on up the false-flatted fire road, away from the ocean and into the stagnant air of the canyon. As we began the hike up Barranca trail, I began to feel heaviness in my stomach and a slight ache in my head. I was carrying two water bottles, one of which was mixed with a rice-derived maltodextrin, basically a tasteless way to add 200 calories to your water. I had done the same for the first loop, but with both bottles, and had drunk all of it by the end of that 12k (maybe that was a bit too many calories in that small time span). I had also opted to forego the shirt. I thought I was cool enough to be like Krupicka and run free, as little clothes and gear as possible. Apparently my Irish/English heritage didn’t care…my back is still peeling from the burn. Oh, and I apologize to everyone who had to look at me throughout the day:)

Barranca trail climbs steeply out of the canyon, spitting runners onto a flowing ridge with gorgeous views. The clean blue ocean sparkled in the distance and I marveled at the lush hillsides. Sometimes when I run here I imagine I’m in Jurassic Park. The wide canyons are green and dense and I always expect to see a dino come tromping through at any moment. At some point along the climb Ben and I got separated. By this time I was sufficiently sunburned, over-nourished (not a great feeling…generally nausea) and beginning to feel some hip pain. But the view was too gorgeous to stay down on the little things, so I focused on keeping an efficient stride and looking out over the ocean on my way back to the aid station. By that time, Larry and Kristen were there (they had biked out there later in the morning). I chatted with Kristen for a minute and after a quick kiss I was off again.

Ben coming down the hill from his 2nd loop

I kept up a slower but still solid pace along the bluff trail then began hiking my way to the top of Valencia Peak for the second time. At the top I talked with a young guy from Kansas who was doing his first 50k that day. I could tell he was having a blast and I was stoked for him. It definitely brightened my spirits a little. By the time I started down the mountain my hip feelings had snowballed. I could tell I had an uneven gait and began to question what was going on. Although I felt like I kept a decent pace on the way down, I waffled with the thought of dropping out. By the time I got back to the aid station, I had my answer. My general feelings of sun exposure and nausea did nothing to motivate me forward, but the aching feeling deep in my left hip caused me to stop and take a look at the bigger picture. This was my fourth week of building mileage after about a month off from any regimented sort of training during the holidays. I was about 24 miles in and knew that a full 50k was probably not the smartest activity this early in the training game anyways.

Potatoes and salt can be disgusting and delicious at the same time

With all this logic stacking up, I decided the only reasonable option was to drop. After telling the officials of my decision and explaining to my friends my situation, I napped off the nausea for half an hour, waking up just in time to see another CPTR member Aaron finish his first 50k in 6 and a half hours. Apparently he had even fallen asleep for a moment when he sat down to rest on the final loop! Another new addition to CPTR, Salome ran the 25k and looked awesome at the finish, like she was out for a stroll. Ben came in not long after I decided to drop. He was pretty toasted and we both knew he could go on, but he had a paper due the next day and couldn’t just go home and pass out. I definitely didn’t blame him. So with the day a wrap, Kristen and I jumped in my truck and we headed home. I was late for a group meeting at school!

Although the race results would indicate an unsuccessful day, I look at that race as another awesome learning experience.

1. I’ve become better at knowing when to say no, which is huge for me.

2. I should always wear a shirt and other proper sun protection (my ancestry calls for cold and fog!).

3. I still haven’t found a perfect nutrition plan (I wish gels didn’t upset my stomach!). I think I have a ways to go in that department.

4. After later research, I found that tight back muscles can pull the hip out of alignment and cause pain (I had strained my back earlier in the week). So my pain was not due to overuse! Woohoo!

Based on those revelations, I’d say I had a pretty successful day of training.

The group :)


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