Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lake Sonoma 50 Mile

Lake Sonoma is one of my favorite races ever. Not only is it a beautiful, challenging course; but the atmosphere that Tropical John creates and the buzz surrounding the pre- and post-race events really make a great weekend! Lake Sonoma was also my first 50 mile race a couple years ago, so I was excited to come back and see if I could run it a little faster (and I did...by 40 minutes :)

Video: JourneyFilm- Lake Sonoma 50 mile

Clif Bar Media Summit
A couple days before the race I had the opportunity to spend some time at Clif bar HQ for their media summit. Ian Sharman, Linsey Corbin, and I spent Thursday doing some fun interviews and discussed our race day gear and quirks with the media. It was a lot of fun! One of the highlights was interviewing with Mitzi Dulan, one of the most well-know registered dietitians in the country!

Clif Athletes with RD Mitzi Dulan

Lake Sonoma 50 mile
I drove up to Healdsburg Thursday night after playing at Clif bar so I could have at least a day to relax. I've been traveling a lot in the last month, so a day to relax and recover was exactly what I needed. And what better place to do than in wine country!

The day before the race I parked myself at a coffee shop to get some work done. Turns out a few other familiar faces had the same idea :) I was a great way to relax AND be social.

Pre-race interview

Later that night I was trying to get both myself and my gear ready and I realized I was a little fuzzy on the details. "How many gels do I need? Should I have a drop bag? Oh yeah....I should get some coffee ready for the morning." Needless to say I was a little scattered. I made a rookie mistake that night as I ate brown rice and Indian curry with some kale. Kale? Really? You ate kale and Indian food the night before a 50 miler? Ooops. Yep, I had some stomach issues in the first half of the race. Next time I'm eating white rice and salmon!

Race morning I woke up to some drizzly, foggy weather. Not a problem for me. I don't like to be cold, but I love crappy conditions. I planned to arrive at the course by 6:10 for a 6:30 start. For some reason (I did this last time too) I arrived just minutes before the start. I grabbed my number and pinned it on just in time to hear "Two minutes until the start" I ran back to my car to get my pack and jogged to the start line with less than a minute to spare. Guess I wasn't going to have a drop bag :) I actually didn't mind cutting it close. Less time to sit around and get nervous.

Once the race started I quickly found Emily Harrison and Jodee Adams-Moore. We chit chatted a little for the first couple hours. It was nice to have some company! We took turns leading but were never more than a few seconds apart.

Jodee and I early on
The first 11 miles of Lake Sonoma consists of rollers, with a net downhill. It's so easy to run too fast- I made that mistake last time. My goal during the first part of the race was to relax and be patient. I think I accomplished my goal because I felt great (besides the stomach issues) and was smiling quite a bit.

Somewhere around mile 15 or 16,  I had to stop yet again and Emily got away. And I never saw her again. The gap between us stayed pretty consistent, but I was never able to chip away at it.

My favorite part of the course is the long grinder hills (3 of them) near the half-way point of the race. I struggled a bit with the short rollers, because I couldn't get into a groove. The long hills were great though! I surprised myself by running the whole time. I usually like to hike, but the running was feeling good, so I went with it.

I was greeted at the turnaround by a lot of great energy at the aid station. Among the spectators, Jorge and DBo were especially enthusiastic and encouraging, which motivated me to keep up the happy demeanor (seriously, how can you not smile around Jorge?!)

After leaving the halfway point, I realized that I was pretty much running alone. Which I was ok with. I was just in my own little world, enjoying the day. I felt great from mile 25-40, which is not normal for me. This is usually where I have a little rough patch or low energy section of a 50 miler. Not today though! I was really on top of my nutrition (every 15 minutes!) and my energy levels were great. Woohoo! I was actually having a lot of fun.

Since I was running solo I may have gotten too comfortable and slowed down a little bit. I was enjoying myself, but at 45 miles to go you have to do a little out and back section. Here I got a split that I was about 12 minutes behind Emily. Yikes! Welp, guess it was time to run a little faster. So the next 5 miles I picked it up a notch. (NOTE: not sure if that split was actually correct, but it motivated me to get my butt moving!)

The last mile is always hard. It's uphill and there are a few little rocky patches. I made it 49.5 miles without falling, and then in the last half mile, just before you cross the road to the finish, I took a digger. Figures. I tend to fall when I get tired because I don't pick up my feet enough! Ha. I was still in a good mood though, so I laughed out loud at myself.

Still smiling! Photo credit: iRunfar.com

Emily and I post-race
Crossing the finish line is always such a great feeling. I finished in 7:33, which was under the previous course record. Success! Emily set new a new blazing CR of 7:26. Wow!

I was especially excited because I knew there were tamales at the finish :) Mexican food is my absolute favorite after a race!! I also love the energy at the Lake Sonoma finish line. Most runners stick around and shoot the shit afterwards. I met quite a few new runners and worked on my tan (tan lines?) a little bit :)

Post-race interview

Overall I was very please with the weekend. This winter/spring I've been conservative with running. I've been trying to get back into shape while staying healthy and only running 3-5 days per week. In fact, my mileage was around 50 miles a week going into LS! So to run 50 miles in one sitting and feel great the whole day was very positive for me! I'm excited to start preparing for Western States next. Oh boy......

Good day for 2nd place finishes for TNF athletes!

Easter weekend Zach and I have a tradition of doing some crazy adventure and making cioppino for dinner. And this year was no exception. Well, this adventure was a little tame for us, but to my credit I was still recovering!

On Saturday we did a run in Sisters and then on Sunday we went out to Prineville and did a 23 mile loop in the Mill Creek wilderness. It was a beautiful day and we only ran into a little bit of snow :)

Homemade Easter bunny treats :)

Next up: lots of travel and running. I'm looking forward to it!


  1. Wow Stephanie, these are some awesome pictures! Thank you soooo much for taking the time out of your schedule to do such an in-depth interview about ultrarunning with me for my PR class. You really should come back next summer and run the Marquette Trail 50 Ultramarathon! I will email you our campaign book if you'd like too. Some extra info too: http://www.marquettetrail50.com/
    Caitie Kieliszewski

    1. Thanks Caitie! I'm excited to see your campaign book :)

  2. Hi Stephanie! I love your blog - I'm pretty new to trail running but I've set my sights on an ultra (eventually!) and I have enjoyed reading about all the different amazing courses and races out there. Very inspiring! Congratulations on Western States!