2018 Boston Marathon – Week 4

2018 Boston Marathon Infographic - Week 4

I moved out of my hotel room and back home on Monday after completing a lactate threshold run.  With the exception of the medium run I did the next day, I ran each workout a little faster than I expected.

Training Schedule
February 11th – February 17th

Sunday: Recovery Run. 6 miles (AM) + Recovery Run. 4 miles (PM).
Monday: Lactate Threshold Run. 10 miles w/5 miles @ 15K to half marathon pace.
Tuesday: Medium-long Run. 15 miles.
Wednesday: Recovery Run. 6 miles.
Thursday: Medium-long Run. 13 miles.
Friday: Recovery Run. 6 miles.
Saturday: Long Run. 17 miles.

Mileage Total: ~77 Miles

Notes.  I followed the schedule pretty closely except I only ran for 35 minutes on the treadmill on Friday.

Workout Details

Lactate Threshold Run. 10 miles w/5 miles @ 15K to half marathon pace [Log Details].

I ran a warm-up from my hotel to the Mount Vernon Trail.  The temperature was 50 degrees but with the wind and light rain, it felt colder in my light long-sleeve shirt and shorts.  I ran north and west on the path for 2.5 miles.  I was disappointed that I was running over 8:00 pace but I reminded myself that I was running into the wind.  I turned around and my legs felt great!  All of my muscles felt engaged.  My final split was 7:20 pace!  Thanks wind!  I ran a very easy cool-down back to my hotel and then checked out.  I looked forward to moving back home!

Lactate Threshold segment pace=7:55.  Overall pace=8:50.

Medium-long Run. 15 miles [Log Details].

When I went to bed the night before, I assumed I would have a rest day after a lactate threshold run but I was mistaken!  I had a 15 mile medium run.  I muttered, “I don’t want to,” before heading out the door for a run-commute.  (Although my toilet was working, I still didn’t have a working shower at home.)  During this endurance cycle, I knew I needed these mid-week medium runs.  But, I also thought I could run it easy.  I listened to podcasts, including one on mental training.  It was very cold – I wore a pullover that didn’t provide enough warmth.  I only live 7 miles from work so I ran south to Alexandria, Virginia and then looped north.  At the Washington Marina, I saw sailboats out on this calm day:

Sailboats Near Washington Marina - 02132018

Sailboats Near Washington Marina – 02132018

I’m running almost a minute per mile slower than I ran last fall.  Showering at work, it occurred to me, “You are over-trained.”

Overall pace=9:38.

Medium-long Run. 13 miles. [Log Details].

After Tuesday’s relatively slow medium run, I wanted to do this one as a progression to work in some faster miles.  I also ran it as my commute.  The weather was nice enough for a long-sleeve and shorts.  I ran up the W&OD Trail.  I took a long water break at the junction for the Custis Trail.  I made it to the Mount Vernon Trail.  On my way to Memorial Bridge, I got down to 8:00 pace.  I stopped to take a picture of the fog floating over the Potomac River.

Foggy Memorial View with Bridge - 02152018

Foggy Memorial View with Bridge – 02152018

I crossed the 14th Street Bridge and entered Washington, D.C.  On Constitution Avenue, I got down to 7:40 pace!  I thought, “You’re working your way back.”

Overall pace=8:43.

Long Run. 17 miles [Log Details].

The temperature was in the 30s but it felt warmer because it was sunny.  I was chilly at times but mostly comfortable in a long sleeve thermal with a short-sleeved shirt and capri shorts.  I ran the same route I did during week one of this training cycle.  It started uphill and easy for three miles to the Custis Trail.  At the water fountain near Nelson Street, I ate SaltStick FastChew.  I was running about 8:40 pace, which was a little fast, but I went with it on my way to the Mount Vernon Trail.  I had a second salt chew when I stopped for water near Roosevelt Island.  The winds seemed a little strong.  I couldn’t figure out which direction they were coming from. I thought they should be at my back at some point!  After Humpback Bridge, I started running closer to 8:20 pace.  At the 1:30:00 mark, I took a Sword Energy Chew.  Fifteen minutes later, when I reached the Four Mile Run Trail, I took the other tablet and felt a small boost.  I felt pretty good at the end of the run – tired but not destroyed.

Overall pace=8:42.


Injuries.  Nothing hurts!

Sleep.  I moved back home on Monday.  I didn’t sleep well that first night but got about 7 hours each night thereafter.  My body wouldn’t let me sleep in on Saturday and I got up at 5am, as usual.

Weight.  Usually, I gain a little weight after a marathon training cycle ends but it drops once I start running regularly again.  That hasn’t happened this time.  I think my metabolism is slowing down.


It was windy and rainy on Monday, which made the threshold run even harder.  The weather improved after Wednesday.  In fact, I ran in shorts or capri pants Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Racing Schedule

Next race2018 Reston 10 Miler on Sunday, March 4th.  (My Complete Racing Schedule.)

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2018 Boston Marathon – Week 3

2018 Boston Marathon Infographic - Week 3

The only bathroom in my townhouse was being remodeled, so I stayed at a hotel this week.  I took Sunday off because I was very tired after my long run last week and I didn’t pack the right clothes for running in the rain or on the treadmill in my hotel.  The rest day helped the pain in my right foot go away and I had a good week of running!  The week ended with a cold and rainy long run with 10 miles at goal marathon pace.

Training Schedule
February 4th – February 10th

Sunday: Recovery Run. 6 miles (AM) + Recovery Run. 4 miles (PM).
Monday: General Aerobic Run + Speed. 8 miles w/10x100m strides.
Tuesday: Medium-long Run. 13 miles.
Wednesday: Recovery Run. 6 miles.
Thursday: Medium-long Run. 13 miles.
Friday: Recovery Run. 6 miles.
Saturday: Long Run. 19 miles w/10 miles @ marathon race pace.

Mileage Total: ~75 Miles

Notes.  I took Sunday off, so my overall mileage was lower than scheduled.  I also skipped the strides on Monday and ran Wednesday’s recovery run on the treadmill.

Workout Details

General Aerobic Run + Speed. 8 miles w/10x100m strides [Log Details].

Sunday was a rest day and my legs felt great during this run!  I thought, “Maybe you should consider taking more days off.”  Still, I didn’t bolt out the doors of my hotel.  I ran about three miles north through neighborhoods to the Custis Trail, ran a mile, and then hooked up with the W&OD Trail.  It was another two miles to Columbia Pike, which is normally where I do my strides, but since I still had two miles to go until I reached my hotel I skipped them.

Overall pace=8:45.

Medium-long Run. 13 miles [Log Details].

I wanted to do this run as a progression, so I ran easy for the first three miles but picked up the pace in Ballston on my way to the Custis and Mount Vernon trails.  I was probably motoring at around 8:20 to 8:30 pace, in part because I wanted to catch this view at sunrise:

Lincoln Memorial View - 02062018

Lincoln Memorial View – 02062018

I tried to run harder after stopping for water at Roosevelt Island but it didn’t result in a much faster pace.  I felt frustrated and eased up when I reached Gravelly Point.  I’m running so much slower than usual.  In Crystal City, I left the trail and ran easy back to my hotel.

Overall pace=8:42.

Medium-long Run. 13 miles. [Log Details].

I ran the same route from Tuesday for this run.  To keep my pace honest, I reminded myself that I had a big workout on Saturday.  On the Mount Vernon Trail, there were a few icy patches and I had to slow down to watch my steps.  Checking my pace, I noticed my Garmin was off!  “Not again!”  I stopped and turned it back on but it turned off again on my way to Humpback Bridge and Gravelly Point.  I wasn’t exactly crushing this workout, so I wasn’t going to obsess about the watch malfunction.  During a stop, I noticed I had several messages.  It was a cold day so I waited until I reached the Whole Foods in Pentagon City to go inside and check.  My bathroom contractor had been calling.  I talked with him for a couple of minutes before completing my cool-down back to the hotel.

Overall pace=9:25.

Long Run. 19 miles w/10 miles @ marathon race pace [Log Details].

I started the run from my house to make sure I had all the clothes and gear I wanted.  To keep my pace easy, I listened to a podcast and focused on my breathing during the warm-up on the W&OD and Custis trails.  I also ate a Crank Sport e-Gel about four miles into the run.

I started the marathon pace segment at Glebe Road (and switched to music).  The effort – 8:20 pace – felt harder than what I’d run in a marathon but I tried to hold on to it.  It started raining when I reached the Mount Vernon Trail.  I started feeling cold in my long sleeve shirt and shorts.  Despite the miserable conditions, I forced myself to enjoy the experience because I haven’t felt a lot of joy from running lately.  My time dropped to around 8:00 pace.

Washington Monument View - 02102018

Washington Monument View from Humpback Bridge – 02102018

I was tired and wanted to stop when I reached the Four Mile Run Trail.  I told myself, “You can slow down, but you can’t stop.”  The mantra worked and my pace didn’t drop much by the time I finished the marathon pace segment near I-395.  The last two miles were 8:11 pace  I was so proud that I ran so well!

Marathon pace segment=8:08.  Overall pace=8:56.


Injuries.  The rest day on Sunday worked wonders.  The radiating pain in my right foot went away!

Sleep. I stayed up late watching the Super Bowl on Sunday and working on a long overdue training supplement on Wednesday, but otherwise went to bed early and slept well this week.  (The bed in my hotel room was so comfortable that I bought the bedding online!)


It was another cold and windy week!  Temperatures hovered around 30 degrees most days, (which made for slick running surfaces) with winds blowing over 20 miles per hour. On Saturday, it was mid-40s but rainy.

Racing Schedule

Next race 2018 Reston 10 Miler on Sunday, March 4th.  (My Complete Racing Schedule.)

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Training Supplement – February 4, 2018

Training Supplement - 02042018

Between my year end review, the San Diego 50 Miler, getting ready to start training for the 2018 Boston Marathon, and having my bathroom remodeled; I haven’t had a chance to post about anything other than training until now!  I tested out a lot of gear during my first ultra-marathon and caught up on some podcasts during my flights.

Clothing & Gear

Camelbak Dart

Camelbak Dart

Amphipod ArmPod SmartView

Amphipod ArmPod SmartView

How did my gear hold up for the San Diego 50 Miler?

Hydration packsCamelbak Dart.  The pack served me well as I was training for the San Diego 50 Miler, but in retrospect, I wish I had tried some different options.  On race day, I fell and it would have been nice to have a handheld with water so I could wash out the wound.  And with bottles, I could have switched to an electrolyte drink during the race.  With the pack, I was committed to water.

Handheld water bottlesCamelbak Quick Grip Chill.  After several runs with a pack, I thought I might want to ditch it at some point since it shifted around a little.  I packed this bottle in my drop bag and carried it for the last 20 miles.  (The race required runners to carry at least 20 ounces of hydration with them.)  The bottle was comfortable enough to carry but it didn’t keep fluids cold for very long.

Arm bands. Amphipod ArmPod SmartView.  I also purchased a new armband before the race.  The Velcro on the model I had been using was falling apart.  I’ve been very happy with this armband.  It fits my Samsung Galaxy S8, which is a big phone.  My only wish that it fit a little tighter around my arms.

Runner’s World Box.  The box arrived on Christmas Eve!  It should have been labeled, “So, we hear you have plantar fasciitis,” because there was a foot massager and special socks for that aliment.

Runner's World Box - December 2017

Runner’s World Box – December 2017

(My Complete Clothes & Gear Page.)

Nutrition & Hydration

Electrolytes. SaltStick FastChews.  Thinking back on the San Diego 50 Miler, I’ve wondered if I had enough electrolytes during the race.  Each time I came to an aid station, a volunteer remarked how I was covered in salt and asked if I was taking in enough electrolytes.  I believe I ate 13 tablets during the race, which seemed like a lot but was less than suggested on the bottle.  I was afraid of taking more – that seemed like a lot of salt – but probably should have supplemented them with an electrolyte drink such as Tailwind.  It seemed most of the runners were drinking that instead of water like I was.


Sights.  When I arrived in San Diego for the 50 miler, I drove to La Jolla Cove for a short run.  Running along the coast, I was surprised to hear a barking sound through my headphones.  It was the seals!  Remembering the “This American Life” episode about them, I tried to take a quick video without disturbing them.

Art.  During a section of the San Diego 50 Miler on the Del Dios Gorge Trail, I saw a rusted out car that had been painted.  I stopped to take a picture of it.  My only regret is that I didn’t stop long enough to get the shot centered.

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Car Art

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Car Art

Construction.  There was some construction on the W&OD Trail in late December.  It made me nervous that the county was undertaking a project that would close the trail, but it only lasted a couple of days.

Media & Motivation

Music.Girl On Fire,” by Alicia Keys.  Going back to my hometown to run a 50 miler put a lot of swagger in my step.

(My “Songs of the Week” playlist on Spotify.)

Podcasts.  I listened to a few podcasts during my flights out west and back for the San Diego 50 Miler.  These were two of the most memorable.

Episode 136 – A Once in a Lifetime Race (Chris Farley),” by Pace the Nation.  I watched the Breaking3 attempt on Facebook Live and really wanted to hear about the race from his perspective.  My favorite part was when he said the event was not about him and then his co-host says it was all about him!  The D.C. running community is incredibly supportive.  It’s no surprise that so many people wanted to help make sub-3 possible for him.

Episode 417 – Camille Herron,” by Marathon Talk.  I could feel how much she loves running just from listening to her voice.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a picture of her not smiling when she’s out on the course.  I listened very keenly to her recovery techniques because she has to be an expert: active recovery, sleep, protein, and strength training.  There was one part of the podcast that annoyed me a little, though.  Before the interview, the hosts commented about whether Shalane Flanagan thought her hard work and sacrifice was worth it and I wondered what they meant by that.

Motivation.  “Man can only truly enjoy that which he acquires with hard work and toil.  The harder you work for something the more you enjoy it.  If something is easy, how much reward is that?” – The Barkley Marathons

I really struggled during the San Diego 50 Miler and I’m so proud of myself for finishing it!

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2018 Boston Marathon – Week 2

2018 Boston Marathon Infographic - Week 2

I completed all of my workouts despite going through the first week of a stressful bathroom remodeling project. I ran well but struggled towards the end of my long run on Saturday.  I also had some worrisome pain in my ankle all week.

Training Schedule
January 28th – February 3rd

Sunday: Recovery Run. 6 miles (AM) + Recovery Run. 4 miles (PM).
Monday: Lactate Threshold Run.  10 miles w/4 miles @ 15K to half marathon pace.
Tuesday: General Aerobic Run. 10 miles.
Wednesday: Recovery Run. 6 miles.
Thursday: Medium-long Run. 12 miles.
Friday: Recovery Run. 6 miles.
Saturday: Long Run. 18 miles.

Mileage Total: ~72 Miles

Notes.  I ran Wednesday’s easy run on the treadmill since I planned to shower at the gym that day.

Workout Details

Lactate Threshold Run.  10 miles w/4 miles @ 15K to half marathon pace [Log Details].

The contractor I hired for my bathroom remodel wanted to start at 8am!  I tried to leave the house by 6am, but got a late start.  I ran the first 4.5 miles easy through the center of Arlington on the way to the Custis Trail through Clarendon.  I started the lactate threshold segment near Glebe Road.  I felt pretty good during the tempo segment but couldn’t quite get my pace down to what I thought my half marathon pace should be right now.  I was a little disappointed with the effort, but given the fact that I ran a marathon pace workout two days before, it wasn’t terrible.  I was 20 minutes late meeting the contractors, though, and had to shower at work.

Half marathon pace segment pace=7:58.  Overall pace=9:09.

General Aerobic Run. 10 miles [Log Details].

When I came home on Monday night, my bathroom had been gutted!  I didn’t expect to lose the use of my toilet until the next week.  I woke up, got dressed for my run, and then went to the coffee shop across the street to use the facilities and get my morning caffeine shot.  The temperature was mild, but the winds were gusting up to 30 miles per hour!  I ran the same route as the day before except I didn’t speed up when I got to Glebe Road.  I wanted to run something in the 8:40 pace range but came up a little short.

Overall pace=8:50.

Medium-long Run. 12 miles. [Log Details, Part 1 and Part 2].

I felt surprisingly good during the run, probably because I ran very easy on the treadmill the day before.  On my way to Rosslyn, I stretched my legs thoroughly every time I had to stop to cross the road.

View of I-66 from Rosslyn - 02012018

View of I-66 from Rosslyn – 02012018

The run was going great until I noticed my Garmin had stopped six miles into the run during the short, steep uphill on the Custis Trail.  I restarted it but a few minutes later, saw it had shut down again.  When I stopped for water at Nelson Street, I opened the Strava app on my phone and used it to capture the rest of the workout.  I was in a groove and skipped the water fountain at the junction for the W&OD Trail.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that I ran sub-8:40 pace for the second half of the run!

Overall pace=8:42.

Long Run. 18 miles [Log Details].

I ran easy for the first three miles on my way to the Custis Trail.  At Nelson Street, I drank some water and started a Luna Bar.  I had a light dinner the night before and only a few bites of a croissant for breakfast and worried I was under-fueled.  About an hour into the run, heading downhill towards Rosslyn, I took one Sword Caffeine Chew.  I stopped for water at Roosevelt Island to wash everything down.  I tried to pick up the pace on the Mount Vernon Trail but heading into the wind, I wasn’t seeing a drop.  I stopped at Gravelly Point to take the second energy chew and take pictures of the airplanes landing.

Gravelly Point - 02032018

Gravelly Point – 02032018

By the time I reached the Four Mile Run Trail, I was exhausted.  I sat for a minute or two and finished the Luna Bar.  I managed to keep going and finish the scheduled mileage but ran very slowly.  Last week, I felt confident that endurance wouldn’t be a problem for me, but after this run, I felt less confident about that.

Overall pace=9:07. 


Injuries.  All week, I had pain in my right foot that radiated up to my ankle.  Massage seemed to help but it’s worrisome.

Sleep.  I slept pretty well – getting about 7 hours of sleep each night.

Stress.  I lost access to my shower and toilet sooner than expected.  It took me a few days to get my act together and move into a hotel.

Hotel Room View - 02032018

Hotel Room View – 02032018


The temperature was mild during the week – from mid-30s to 50 degrees.  However, the winds were blowing in the 15-20 mile-per-hour range most days.  By Saturday, the temperature dipped into the 20s with wind chills in the teens.

Racing Schedule

Runner rankings.  “Best of 2017 Runner Rankings,” by Potomac River Running.  I didn’t expect to make the ranking since I didn’t run all out during a couple of races last year, but I was 17th in my age group!

Next race 2018 Reston 10 Miler on Sunday, March 4th.  (My Complete Racing Schedule.)

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2018 Boston Marathon – Week 1

2018 Boston Marathon Infographic - Week 1

I took a week off after the San Diego 50 Miler and am now training for the 2018 Boston Marathon!  After weeks of mostly slow running with frequent breaks, picking up the pace and going non-stop was exhausting!

Training Schedule
January 21st – January 27th

Sunday: Recovery Run. 6 miles.
Monday: General Aerobic Run + Speed. 8 miles w/10x100m strides.
Tuesday: Medium-long Run. 12 miles.
Wednesday: Recovery Run. 6 miles.
Thursday: Medium-long Run. 11 miles.
Friday: Recovery Run. 6 miles.
Saturday: Long Run. 17 miles w/8 miles @ marathon race pace.

Mileage Total: ~66 Miles

Notes.  I chose to sleep in on Sunday but otherwise, ran all of the scheduled workouts.

Workout Details

General Aerobic Run + Speed. 8 miles w/10x100m strides [Log Details].

I ran hard from the start.  One of my worries about training for the San Diego 50 Miler was that I would lose my speed after doing so much easy running.  My legs and lungs were burning by the time I reached the Custis Trail, about three miles into the run.  I stopped for water when I got to the W&OD Trail and used the opportunity to catch my breath.  My legs were spent by the time I did the strides but I took long rest breaks between them.

Overall pace=8:32.

Medium-long Run. 12 miles [Log Details].

When I left the house, it was raining but the temperature was in the 50s.  I wore a light long-sleeve shirt, a thin slicker, and capri tights so I wouldn’t be soaked during the run but it was a little too warm.  (Coincidentally, I listened to the Pace the Nation episode where their guest was a weatherman and he mentioned runners who over-dress.)

Rainy Run - 01232018

Rainy Run – 01232018

I was tired after running hard the day before still, I was surprised that I was running well over 9:00 pace.  I realized it had actually been a while since I did a distance run without stopping except for stop lights.  When I was training for the San Diego 50 Miler, I gave myself breaks every five miles.  I didn’t run as fast as I wanted but I didn’t take any unnecessary breaks.

Overall pace=10:02.

Medium-long Run. 11 miles [Log Details].

After a few days of getting used to training again, I thought I would try to do this run as a progression.  I ran easy for about two miles on my way to north through Arlington.  The temperature was around 32 degrees but the wind made it feel like it was in the 20s.  I increased my pace when I got to Clarendon.  On my way downhill to the Mount Vernon Trail, I averaged around 8:30 pace, which was a little slow.

Sunrise Under the Memorial Bridge - 01252018

Sunrise Under the Memorial Bridge – 01252018

I pushed the pace harder just before reaching Humpback Bridge and managed 8:20 pace comfortably.  After three miles of hard running, I ran easy again but fought against the wind.  In the end, I thought I paced the run very well.

Overall pace=8:57.

Long Run. 17 miles w/8 miles @ marathon race pace [Log Details].

I had some doubts about running marathon race pace so early in this training cycle.  I ran the mostly uphill warm-up very easy to save energy.  I made my way to the Custis Trail and started the marathon pace segment on the downhill to Rosslyn.  The temperature was in the 40s, but the sun was shining bright, so I only wore a long-sleeve shirt and capri tights.

The first mile felt fine but I thought it was a little slow.  During the second mile on the Mount Vernon Trail, I thought, “Endurance isn’t going to be an issue for you.  Your issue is going to be speed.”  It spurred me to push a little harder.  At the junction for Washington, D.C., a group of three runners joined the trail.  I ran behind them for the next two miles.  Buoyed by thoughts of the San Diego 50 Miler, and truly knowing what it feels like not to be able run another step, I was able to push myself to run hard through the end despite 20 mile an hour wind gusts.

I took the final three miles incredibly easy.  I was spent!

Marathon pace segment pace=8:08. 

Scrapped Knee - 01142018

Scrapped Knee – 01142018


Injuries. I fell during the San Diego 50 Miler and scrapped up my knee.  It scabbed over but is still sore.  My legs ached after the general aerobic run on Tuesday and I had some pain in my left foot during the early miles of my long run.

Sleep.  I’m trying to put myself on a schedule by going to bed by 10pm and waking up at 5pm, for 7 hours a night with the idea of getting out the door by 6am in the morning for my workouts.


It was fairly warm early in the week with temperatures in the 40s and 50s.  But, it was rainy and windy on Tuesday.  By Thursday, it felt like winter again.  The wind was at its strongest on Saturday – gusting up to 24 miles per hour.


Racing Schedule

Next race2018 Reston 10 Miler on Sunday, March 4th.  (My Complete Racing Schedule.)

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My 2018 Boston Marathon Training Plan


I finished the San Diego 50 Miler two weeks ago and I’m already training for the Boston Marathon!  If everything goes as planned, the 2018 race on Monday, April 16th will be my sixth running of the event.  My best time on the course was from the 2015 when I ran 3:25:58 (7:52 pace).

The Plan

Pfitzinger Advanced Marathoning

Pfitzinger Advanced Marathoning

Choosing or Creating a Plan. I’m going to stick with what’s been working for me lately and follow a plan in Advanced Marathoning, Second Edition by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas.  However this time, I’ll do the 12 week, 70-85 miles per week plan instead of the 18 week schedule.

Pick a Start Date.  The plan is 12 weeks.

I ran the 2018 San Diego 50 Miler on January 13th and thought I’d want two weeks of recovery after that race.  But, since I walked so much during that race, thought one week might be fine.

Start Date: Sunday, January 21st.


Plan Mini-Cycles.  Here are the training cycles for the plan:

Endurance: 4 weeks – Sunday, January 21st to Saturday, February 17th.
Lactate Threshold + Endurance: 3 weeks – Sunday, February 18th to Saturday, March 10th.
Race Preparation: 3 weeks – Sunday, March 11th to March 31st.
Taper: 2 weeks – Sunday, April 1st to Sunday, April 15th.

What’s the difference between the 12 week and the 18 week plan?  The 12 week plan is two weeks shorter in the endurance (four weeks instead of six) and the endurance plus lactate threshold (three weeks instead of five) phases; and then one week shorter in the race preparation (three weeks instead of four) and taper (two weeks instead of three) segments.

Schedule Tune-up Races: The schedule calls for two tune-up races two weeks apart during the “Race Preparation” cycle.  But, looking at the race calendars in RacePacket and RunWashington, I didn’t see any events that I wanted to run those weekends.  I found two races a little earlier in the schedule that seemed more interesting.

Sunday, March 4th – Reston 10 Miler.  I’ve done this race before and the gentle undulating course should be good training for the hills in Newton.

Sunday, March 18th – Shamrock Half Marathon.  I haven’t done this race but know it’s very popular with runners in the area.  It’s a long drive, but since it’s on a Sunday, I can manage it.

(My complete racing schedule is here)

Set a Race Goal.  I squeaked under 3:30 (8:01 pace) at the 2017 New York City Marathon by running 3:28:53 (7:59 pace).  If I can run sub-3:30 again in Boston, I might try to go under 3:25 when I run the New York City Marathon again in the fall.  But with the compressed schedule, I’m wondering if sub-3:30 is a reach.

Achievable Goal: Sub-3:34 (8:11 pace).

Other Thoughts

I’m not a huge fan of the course Boston Marathon.  I’d rather have hills spread out, like New York City, rather than having them all bunched up in Newton.  It would be wise for me to do some hill training so I can go into that section of the course with more confidence.


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San Diego 50 Miler

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - BannerScroll all the way down to the end of the post for the tl;dr version.


Inspired by the Barkley Marathons documentary and a Marathon Talk episode with Elisabet Barnes describing the Marathon de Sables, I thought I might try a serious multi-day running event someday – something like 70 miles over two or three days.  Running a 50-miler seemed like a sensible introduction to ultra-endurance racing.  Plus, I’m not getting any younger and thought if I ever wanted to run an ultra-marathon, now is the time to do it.

I researched a lot of races on UltraSignup.com.  I settled on the San Diego 50 Miler because it had a high number of finishers (about 150), seemed well supported, and it was in my hometown.

I started training for the race back in November, two weeks after running the 2017 New York City Marathon.  The first five weeks were fine but then record-setting freezing temperatures and a cold during the first week of my taper got the better of me.


Personal Records: This would be my first 50 miler and my first run over 30 miles!

Achievable: Finish.  I felt confident that if I ran smart, I could complete the race.

Likely: Sub-9:10 (11:00 pace).  I managed roughly 10:40 pace, including breaks, during my training runs.

Stretch: Sub-9:00 (10:48 pace).  If I felt good, I might be able to run a bit faster than 10:30 pace for some of the day.

Strategy:  Since the aid stations were spaced every five miles, I trained thinking I would treat the race like 10 five mile runs.  I would try to run an even 10:30 pace from the start, skip the first aid-station but then give myself a 2-minute break every five miles thereafter (with the exception of a couple of bathroom trips and a drop bag stop at Mile 30, which might take a little longer.)  I’d hope to head off slowing down to 11:00 pace until around Mile 40.  But, that strategy changed during my flight to San Diego…  For nutrition, my plan was to eat about 200 calories and one salt tablet every five miles.


The course is an out-and-back mix of double track, single track, fire road, and a small amount of pavement.  It starts at the San Pasqual Valley Trailhead.  From the start, the route travels about 2.75 miles through an agricultural area to the Coast to Crest Trail.   The highest climb of the race is Raptor Ridge, a three-quarter mile ascent at Mile 5.  The race hooks up with the Mule Hill Trail between Mile 8 and 9.  At San Dieguito River Park, runners are routed to the North Shore Lake Hodges Trail.  This 6-7 mile trail is mostly single track overlooking Lake Hodges.  At the north tip of the trail, the route travels to the very rocky and steep Del Dios Gorge Trail.  At the end of that trail, the course continues to the Santa Fe Valley Trail, which has two sets of switchbacks.  This trail ends in another set of switchbacks that lead to the Lusardi Creek Loop Trail.

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Course

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Course

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Elevation Profile

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Elevation Profile

There are aid stations every five miles, approximately.  They would be stocked with water, an electrolyte drink (Tailwind), salt tablets, and snacks.  Runners for the 50 miler are required to carry a bottle or pack that can contain at least 20 ounces.


I organized five hours of music to play at various parts of the course.  I organized them chronologically.  I thought it would be interesting to hear the music become more recent and know it meant I was nearing the finish.

I also downloaded the audiobook, “A Wrinkle In Time,” by Madeleine L’Engle.  I never read it as a child and it’s being made into a movie.  I listened to a few chapters ahead of the race so I would have about four hours of listening time for the race.


2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Flying into San Diego

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Flying into San Diego


On the flight to San Diego, I re-watched the Barkley Marathons documentary for inspiration.  I also re-read my training book.  In one chapter, the author wrote, “You are at the race to run.”  I re-thought my race strategy and decided to run through more of the aid stations.

After landing in San Diego and getting settled, I drove to La Jolla Cove (there’s a “This American Life” episode on the seals) and did a short run.  I suppressed my fish taco craving and had a sandwich at Mendocino Farms instead.


On Thursday morning, I finally got around to really studying the course and re-visited someone’s race report from two years ago.  In the process, I realized that “Raptor Ridge” is long and steep; and the trail would be very difficult between Mile 22 and Mile 28.

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Del Mar Beach

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Del Mar Beach

I packed my “drop-bag”, which would be waiting for me that aid station at Miles 20 and 30:

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Drop Bag

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Drop Bag


On Friday morning, I filled my Camelbak Dart with water and packed the pockets with items I wanted handy during the race:

    • A first aid kit w/Ibuprofen, cleansing wipes, and band-aids;
    • A utility tool w/scissors, a knife, and a nail file;
    • A pen with a small amount of duct tape wrapped around it (so I could MacGyver any problems I encountered on the trail);
    • Toilet paper (I hadn’t found any information about bathrooms on the course);
    • Squirrel’s Nut Butter; and
    • Sword Caffeine Chews.
2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Camelbak

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Camelbak

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Shirt

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Shirt

I went to pick-up at Laces Running Company in Scripps Ranch.  It only took a few minutes to get my bib and shirt.

Back at my hotel, I laid out my outfit for the next day:


2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Race Outfit

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Race Outfit

I probably should have had a big pasta dinner, but I went back to Mendocino Farms for a sandwich.  I went to bed a few minutes after 8:30pm and fell asleep immediately.


I woke up at 3am, checked the weather, and made in-room coffee while I got dressed.  Mentally, I wasn’t the slightest bit nervous.  But physically, I felt off.  It had been a month since I’d run over 20 miles and I haven’t raced well with big cut-backs in mileage during the taper.  (Although I ran well at the 2015 California Marathon, I think I under-performed.)  I ate a banana, watched a little television, and finished my weekly training report before leaving my hotel in La Jolla at 4:15am.

I planned to have breakfast at a Denny’s on the way to the race but didn’t pass one on the way.  Instead, I stopped at a gas station off of Interstate 15 and purchased an egg sandwich, a Gatorade, and water.  I turned into the race start site and was a little confused about where to go.  But, I followed other cars and parked by 5am.  I sat in the car and ate breakfast.

There was a mandatory check-in between 5:30am and 6:15am so that the organizers would know who was out on the course.  When I left the car, there was a warm breeze blowing.  One of the runners remarked, “It’s going to be a hot day.”  I went to the porta-potty and then back to my car after taking a picture of the sun rising:

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Pre Race Sunrise

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Pre Race Sunrise

With about 15 minutes to race start, I saw runners heading to the start, so I joined them.  The race director made a few announcements and then, we were off at 6:30am!

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Start Line

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Start Line


The temperature was in the mid-60s at the start.  It climbed to about 80 around noon and stayed there for about four hours!  The wind was 15 miles per hour with 25 mph gusts out of the east.

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Weather

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Weather

The Race

Early Miles, Part I – Miles 0 to 5.7 (Start to Raptor Ridge 1)

From the start at the San Pasqual Valley Trailhead, the route went west on a dirt path next to a fence for about a quarter mile before turning left.  I listened to my audio-book, (“A Wrinkle In Time,”) and settled in for a long day.  I felt sluggish but pushed the pace so I could pass a few runners and get my speed up to 10:00 pace.  I didn’t want to take the race too seriously, though, and made sure to take in the view of the scenery.

The route went right to Bandy Canyon Road for a stretch.  Although it was early in the race, I started a Luna Bar (Smores) and sipped water from my Camelbak since I didn’t have a very filling breakfast.  Keeping with the spirit of reigning in my competitive side, I stopped to take a picture of the sunrise:

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - View of Mountains

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – View of Mountains

After about 2.75 miles, runners were diverted to the right again and hooked up with the Coast to Crest Trail.  It was a very gradual climb through an agricultural area.  I still felt tired but thought, “Maybe you’ll feel better after a few more miles.”

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Farms in the Valley

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Farms in the Valley

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Raptor Ridge - Photo by Ilian Moctezuma

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Raptor Ridge – Photo by Ilian Moctezuma

The ascent to Raptor Ridge began at around Mile 4.25. I was running 9:50 pace going into it, which was much faster than I’d planned. The trail was single to double-track with packed dirt. There were beautiful views of the valley below. I passed a guy walking up the steepest part and wondered if I should do the same. I slowed to an almost walk. The climb peaked at Mile 5.

Coming down the mountain, I was grateful for the downhill and felt relaxed listening to my audio-book. I ran behind a runner in a blue Nathan pack. I noticed how he was running from side-to-side, unlike how I was running in a straight line. I copied him and it did seemed like less stress on my legs. The course wasn’t closed and at one point, there were mountain bikers on this single track trail, so space got a little tight. I ran through the Raptor Ridge aid station at around 7:30am.

Distance and Time (by Garmin): 5.73 miles in 58:09 (10:09 pace).

Early Miles, Part II – Miles 5.7 to 10.2 (Raptor Ridge 1 to Sunset 1)

After Raptor Ridge, the trail flattened out and the course cut through a valley.  The terrain was less rocky and I finally felt free to run!  Still, I tried to keep my mood light.  The sun was rising to my right over the ridge and I stopped to take a picture:

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Sunrise over the Mountains

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Sunrise over the Mountains

I was still feeling a little flat, so I started a different Luna Bar (Chocolate Peppermint Stick).  I thought the mint flavor might perk me up.  I passed two men running together.  They were going very slow and it made me wonder again whether I should be following the example of others.  I was going faster than my planned 10:30 pace for these early miles but not by much.  Running by a fence, the path narrowed at one point and I spent a lot of mental and physical energy trying to stare the trail.

At around the 8.5 mile mark, the course hooked up with the Mule Hill Trail.  I smelled a familiar spice in the air that I couldn’t quite place.  Allspice?  Nutmeg?  It lifted my spirit a little.  By the end of that stretch of trail, my legs felt better but my breathing wasn’t quite right.  I’d had one complete Luna Bar and two or three salt tablets but thought perhaps I should drink more water.

We turned left and ran next to a busy roadway before turning left again to go around a park of some sort.  Just before the aid station, there was a porta-potty with a few women in line.  I arrived at the Sunset aid station, which was in San Dieguito River Park, at around 8:15am but didn’t stop.

Distance and Time (by Garmin): 4.47 miles in 44:41 (10:00 pace).

Early Miles, Part III – Miles 10.2 to 15.2 (Sunset 1 to Del Dios Park 1)

Leaving the Sunset aid station, the course ran along a concrete sidewalk parallel to Interstate 15.  There were a few people out walking, some with their dogs, but it was easy navigating around them.  I had a few Clif Bloks Energy Chews (Watermelon).  The course went under the freeway and around Mile 11, there was another porta-potty next to a pedestrian bridge.  Then, the course linked up with the North Shore Lake Hodges Trail.  Having listened to three chapters of my audio-book, I switched to my music playlist to break the monotony.  I also stopped to take a picture of the lake:

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Early Lake Hodges

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Early Lake Hodges

A short while later, the trail turned rocky again.  I came to a small creek.  Reluctantly, I put my foot in the water and giggled as I skipped through the water towards dry ground.

I passed Mile 12.5 and acknowledge that a fourth of the race was done.  Shortly before Mile 13, I slowed but didn’t completely stop to take a picture and send a status update to social media.  The next thing I knew, I went airborne!  (Coincidentally, I saw the woman ahead of me go down, too!)  I got up and immediately started running again.  The palms on both hands my hands were dirty and stung but the skin wasn’t broken.  My shorts were wet with sweat so I wiped the dirt off on them.  But, most of the pain was coming from my knee.  I glanced down and could tell it was scrapped.

I ran more cautiously after the fall.  There were two sections where I had to stop and carefully lower myself down large rocks before continuing on.  But after Mile 14, the trail flattened out.  It was still narrow, though, and I was rattled by a group of cyclist who passed me from behind.

I arrived at Del Dios Community Park at around 9:05am.  The volunteers asked if I needed anything but I ran through the stop.

Distance and Time (by Garmin): 5.04 miles in 51:47 (10:16 pace).

Middle Miles, Part I – Miles 15.2 to 20.5 (Del Dios Park to Bing Crosby)

The course hooked up with the Del Dios Gorge Trail, which had bigger obstacles than the previous trail!  But, there was the slightest bit of tree cover, which was a relief.  I slowed down so I wouldn’t kill myself on the terrain, which gave me a chance to catch my breath.  Since I was going so slowly, I stopped and looked at my knee.  There was a trickle of blood and gunk leading from my knee cap to the top of my compression socks. Even though I had a first-aid kit in my Camelbak, I wanted to get going again.  I realized one of the downsides of running with a bladder instead of a handheld is that I didn’t have free flowing water.

There was a very steep incline leading to a section of fire road next to the Lake Hodges Reservoir at around Mile 17.  There were quite a few cyclists on this stretch but the road was wide enough that it wasn’t hard sharing.

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Del Dios - Photo by Ilian Moctezuma

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Del Dios – Photo by Ilian Moctezuma

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Car Art

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Car Art

At the southern tip of Lake Hodges, around Mile 18, the course hooked up with the Santa Fe Valley Trail, which has a short switchback.  One uphill was so steep that I decided to walk it.  I texted my friend who was meeting me at the finish and told her the course was much tougher than I thought and the race might take me longer.

I was anxious to get to the next aid station, though, to get my knee cleaned up.  My Garmin showed 20 miles had passed already when I finally saw the cabana at the Bing Crosby aid station at around 10:15am.

Distance and Time (by Garmin): 5.23 miles in 1:05:32 (12:32 pace).

Aid Station Activity. One of the volunteers remarked that I looked salty and asked if I was taking fluids.  I assured her I was.  I asked for first-aid for my knee and sat in a camp chair.  The attendant put on gloves, and then cleaned the wound with a paper towel and water.  He warned, “Here comes the sting,” but it didn’t hurt.  After a few minutes, I was off and running again.  Time at Aid Station: 2:17.

Middle Miles, Part II – Miles 20.5 to 23.3 (Bing Crosby 1 to Turnaround)

I left the Bing Crosby aid station and restarted my audio-book. The leaders were on their way back. “I can’t believe I’m 10 miles behind them,” I thought. And, they all looked remarkably fresh and happy! Ever the competitor, I counted female runners and guessed I was 20th.

The Santa Fe Valley Trail ends with a series of switchbacks.  The first set of switchbacks were so steep that I walked them.  I spent the time getting back on track with my food and hydration.  I could tell the bladder in my Camelbak was running low on water, though.

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - View of Rancho Santa Fe Neighborhood

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – View of Rancho Santa Fe Neighborhood

I had to walk the second set of switchbacks, too.  I got a little down about how much walking I was doing.

At Mile 22.5, a volunteer told me that after I took a right, the turnaround was about a half mile ahead.  The course was going to be short!  When I got to the turn, I asked the volunteer if he knew whether the course would be lengthened.  He didn’t know for sure but guessed not.  Surprisingly, I wasn’t upset at all.

Distance and Time (by Garmin): 2.85 miles in 42:20 (14:51 pace).

Middle Miles, Part III – Miles 23.3 to 26.1 (Turnaround to Bing Crosby 2)

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - View After Turnaround

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – View After Turnaround

I left the turnaround at around 11am.  I walked the steep uphill and told the runners behind me, “Good job.”  At the crest, I started running again but went back to walking when I reached the back part of the first switchback.

Heading to the second switchback, I tried drinking from my Camelbak and it was completely out of water!  I felt a little light-headed and told myself to walk for a while to avoid getting more dehydrated.  I checked my nutrition.  I’d packed 15 salt pills and nine left.  I’d only had one and half Luna Bars, so I started another one (Chocolate Hazelnut).  I worried about upsetting my stomach when it didn’t have much water.

I pulled up to a guy who was also walking. I told him that I was out of water and we walked together for a while. Sensing I was close to the aid station, I left him and started running a little. But, I had to walk again after about 200 meters. He caught up and asked if I wanted some of his Tailwind. I declined but appreciated the gesture.

I arrive at Bing Crosby for the second time at around 11:50am.

Distance and Time (by Garmin): 2.88 miles in 54:52 (19:03 pace).  I forgot to hit the lap button for this aid station stop.  I was there for a while.  My guess is between 3 and 5 minutes.

Aid Station Activity.  A volunteer asked what I needed and I asked him for some water and my drop bag.  I took off my Camelbak, changed my shirt and hat, and re-arranged my gear.  I noticed the volunteer was hovering over me.  I realized he wanted to make it clear he was there if I needed anything.

Middle Miles, Part IV – Miles 26.1 to 31.4 (Bing Crosby 2 to Del Dios Park 2)

When I left Bing Crosby, I couldn’t help thinking how much changed over the last 10 miles.  I went from running strong to mostly walking in about an hour.

I came to the short switchback on the Santa Fe Valley Trail.  On the downhill, I noticed I had a cramp in my right quadraceps.  I needed to start running again!  I re-started my music playlist for motivation.  I bargained with myself.  “Okay, you can walk 30 steps, but then you have to run.”  I thought about taking some caffeine for an extra boost but couldn’t find a packet in my shorts.  I realized I didn’t transfer my first aid items and Sword Energy Chews from my drop bag and Camelbak at the aid station!  I managed to run-walk for a little while but soon was back to walking.  I went back to my audio-book thinking maybe I’d want music later.

Around Mile 28, I took a picture of the reservoir in the distance:

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Reservoir at Lake Hodges

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Reservoir at Lake Hodges

Since I had my phone out, I texted my friend again and let her know I probably had 3 more hours ahead of me.

I tried getting myself to run again by focusing on a woman ahead and telling myself, “Whenever she walks, you can walk. When she runs, you run.” It kept this going for a good while before I lost sight of her. With about two miles until I reached the next aid station, I ran out of water in my handheld.

On the Del Dios Trail, an older woman came up and complemented me on my legs, which was nice.  She could tell I was struggling and tried engaging me in conversation.  I reached the aid station a quarter mile walk later at around 1:20pm.

Distance and Time (by Garmin): 5.36 miles in 1:24:57 (15:51 pace).

Aid Station Activity. A volunteer immediately asked what he could fill my water bottle with.  I asked for Tailwind.  He put plenty of ice in it, too. He asked if I wanted cold water sponged over my head and I eagerly agreed.  Afterwards, I sat down and applied Squirrel’s Nut Butter to my thighs.  It was so warm that the salve oozed out of the container.  Time at Aid Station: 3:49.

Later Miles, Part I – Miles 31.4 to 36.4 (Del Dios Park 2 to Sunset 2)

I left Del Dios at 1:25pm power walking behind a young, seemingly fit guy who was also struggling.  The terrain was flat on this initial section of the North Shore Lake Hodges Trail.  I went to take a picture of the water sparkling on the lake but my new phone but it was dead!  I realized it was probably water-logged from the water bath I had at the aid station.

The terrain turned jagged and steep in a couple of points.  The muscles in my feet and calfs spasmed when I propelled my body up the rocks.  I listened the ending of “A Wrinkle In Time”.  I didn’t love the ending, but it had been a good distraction.  I re-started my music playlist.

The older woman who complemented my legs on Del Dios was ahead of me, walk-running with a friend.  I tried to keep them in eye-shot by trying my “30 Steps of Walking Rule”.  I pulled up to them and two other runners at the creek.  I saw everyone crossing over the water using a cluster of rocks and laughed at myself, “So, that’s how I was supposed to that earlier!”  The woman’s friend insisted I go ahead of her.  I think she could tell I was in trouble and wanted to make sure I crossed safely.  The five of us walked-ran in close proximity for about a mile.  I tried keeping up with them but I was constantly tripping over rocks and stopped to walk.  I thought, “You’re running Boston in 14 weeks.  There’s no point hurting yourself.”

Running under Interstate 15, I enjoyed a brief moment of shade!  A little while later, I arrive at the Sunset aid station at around 2:40pm.

Distance and Time (by Garmin): 4.87 miles in 1:15:38 (15:32 pace).

Aid Station Activity. An enthusiastic volunteer refilled my water bottle.  Realizing I might still be out on the course after sunset, I asked whether I was required to have a headlamp.  The volunteer thought I’d be fine.  Time at Aid Station: 2:07.

Later Miles, Part II – Miles 36.4 to 40.9 (Sunset 2 to Raptor Ridge 2)

I left Sunset just before 2:45pm.  I restarted my music playlist to finish out what I thought would be two more hours on the course.  Exiting the station, I passed a guy with trekking poles and a woman walking together.  We wondered if we were going the right way.  I saw the porta-potty from earlier in the race and told them we were.  I re-started my 30 step run-walk program.  I kept it up for most of the Mule Hill Trail but couldn’t keep it up any longer.  The trekker and friend passed me along with another woman.  It was demoralizing seeing them pull away.  By now I was walking almost exclusively.

It was very hot during this stretch of the course.  The sun was ever present and there was a dry headwind blowing from the east.  I felt like I was in some terrible Western movie where some outlaws stole my horse and I was forced to walk back to town with vultures circling overhead.  I was afraid of running out of water again, so I started rationing it as I walked.

A woman came up and we chit-chatted for a while.  When I told her I was dehydrated, she asked if I had water and I affirmed that I did.  She offered me something that would make me feel better.  I asked, “Caffeine?” but she handed me a gel instead.  I thought, “Sure.   Why not take a strange gel at this point?  What else could go wrong?”  It tasted alright – honey and ginger – but I didn’t want to finish it.

Closing in on the next aid station, I saw Young Fit Guy closing in on me.  I didn’t want him to pass me, too, so I tried running again.  But, all I could manage was a few steps.  It didn’t take long for him to pass me.  I arrive at Raptor Ridge aid station just after 4:00pm.

Distance and Time (by Garmin): 4.47 miles in 1:19:01 (17:41 pace).

Aid Station Activity. Immediately, a volunteer in a New England Patriots shirt asked what I needed.  I gave him my water bottle to refill and also asked for some Tailwind.  I asked if I could sit down to get the gravel out of my shoes.  The volunteer asked if I wanted an orange slice.  I was puzzled.  “Did I?”  I replied, “Yes.  Yes, I would like an orange slice.  Thank you.”  He came back with the orange slice and a piece of banana that I didn’t know I wanted.  As I tried to put my foot back in my shoe, my calf seized and I winced!  He went to massage the muscle but the pressure hurt.  “I need to stand up,” I said.  Once I was standing, the cramp when away.  I stood there for a moment drinking and eating.  Young Fit Guy was sitting and didn’t look like he was going anywhere anytime soon.  “Would you like some ice water on your back?”  I looked at him and squealed, “Yes, that would be awesome!”  He sponged me down and I knew I needed to leave that man or I’d be there forever.  Time at Aid Station: 4:37.

Later Miles, Part III – Miles 40.9 to 46.6 (Raptor Ridge 2 to Finish)

I left the aid station at around 4:05pm and started the steep climb on Raptor Ridge.  The lower part of my shins hurt so much when I pushed off that the only way I could make my way up the mountain was to turn my feet outward.  I duck-walked the three-quarter miles up the trail.  I looked at the pace on my Garmin and realized this segment was going to add a lot of time to my finish.  A few minutes into the trek, a volunteer from the aid station came up from behind me.  There was a runner down ahead and he was taking him water and a banana.

The sun was setting and I found myself reflecting back on the race, even though it wasn’t quite over yet.  It hadn’t gone as I expected but I asked myself, “What did you get out of this experience?”  It didn’t take long for me to answer, “I need to accept help from other people.”   In most situations, if someone offers me assistance, my automatic reaction is, “No.  I’m okay.”  I’m very independent and try to take care of most things on my own.  But, I let people help me today and…  It felt fantastic!

After the peak, I enjoy a full mile downhill!  I ran a little but still could only manage a dozen or so steps at a time.  I saw the volunteer on his way back.  He said the runner who went down wanted to finish.  He asked me to give him some encouragement when I passed him but when I caught up to him a mile or so later, he was walking with someone else and seemed alright.

I started run-walking again just as my Garmin gave me its first “Low Battery” warning.  I saved the activity when it hit 43 miles.  I think my watch automatically would be I didn’t want to lose the record of this race!  By now, it was after 4:40pm and with the sun going down, it felt cooler.  I managed to run a lot more than I had been.

Just before reaching Bandy Canyon Road, I came upon the Trekking Pole Runner and Sister.  I walked with them for the next two miles.  We talked about the day and other races we’ve done.  I checked my phone and it had come back to life.  I texted my friend to let her know I was about a mile from the finish.  Then, out of the blue, I started to feel weak.  It’s always strange to me when my body wants to give up so close to the finish!  I didn’t mention it to my new friends but I was glad they were there in case something happened.

We walked along the road and then north towards the San Pasqual Valley Trailhead. – a little more than a half mile – in the dark.  Another runner came from behind us.  He and I paired off for a short while.  Through him, I finally learned that it had been 80 degrees for most of the day!  He joined his wife and child near the finish line.  And, I managed to jog to the finish line!

I finish the race at 5:48pm.

Distance and Time (by Garmin): 1.99 miles in 40:09 (20:11 pace) + 3.29 miles in 1:01:31 (18:41 pace).  I’m guessing my Garmin missed the last half mile of the race.

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Finish Line

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Finish Line


2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Finish Line Picture

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Finish Line Picture

A dear friend and her husband were waiting for me at the finish line.  The race organizer handed me a pint glass and my “medal”, which is actually made of wood.  Later, at dinner, I knew I should be famished but only managed to eat two slices of pizza!  I took another salt pill, though.

My knee was still weeping a little on Saturday night but scabbed over the next day.  The only blister I had was on my right pinky toe.  I actually looked forward to the flight home because I could sit for seven hours!


2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Pint Glass and Medal

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Pint Glass and Medal

My time was 11:19:00 (14:37 pace) [Log Details, pt. 1; Log Details, pt. 2].  (The results list the course as 46.5 miles.)  I was the 83rd finisher out of 212 (top 59%), 29th woman out of 52 (top 56%), and 14th in my age group (40-49) out of 21 (top 67%).

In the elite race, the male winner beat his competition by almost 30 minutes, but the women’s race stayed close.


It was a tough day that involved more walking than running.  I thought I could come off a strong marathon cycle, do six weeks of training, and run fin; but that wasn’t the case.  I learned (or re-learned) a few things:

  • Don’t start too fast!  I knew this but for some reason, went out faster than planned even though I didn’t feel particularly well.
  • It’s important to run on the surfaces I’ll be racing on.  I knew this, too, but discounted it for this race because I thought the trails would be flatter and better groomed.
  • It’s important to acclimate to the temperature that I’ll be racing in.  It’s been cold on the east coast and I wasn’t prepared for 80 degree weather.  I probably would have fared better at a spring or fall event.
  • Don’t change your race strategy at the last minute!  I should have stuck with my plan and taken short breaks in the early miles.

When it came to nutrition and hydration, I didn’t do very well.  I had two Luna Bars (a full Smores, half a Dark Chocolate Hazelnut, and half a Chocolate Peppermint Stick), and the Crank Sport Electrolyte Gel at the end of the run.  I think that meant I only ate three bars and a package of Clif Blok Energy Shots – about 800 calories.  I had two salt tablets (out of 15), left over.  It occurred to me that despite all the water I drank, I never felt the urge to use the bathroom.  In hindsight, I should have kept my Camelbak instead of leaving it with 20 miles to go in the race.

I don’t see myself attempting this type of distance again, although I may still attempt a multi-stage event in the future.  For now, I’ll take a few more days off or easy before starting to train for the 2018 Boston Marathon on April 16th!

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - View from Airplane Flying Home

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – View from Airplane Flying Home

Abridged Version

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Selfie with Medal

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Selfie with Medal

This was my first ultra-marathon!  Starting the training cycle, my goal was just to finishAs I trained, I thought I could run it in about 9 hours.  On race day, I started faster than planned.  Then, I fell at Mile 13 and skinned my knee.  The course was cut short at Mile 23.3 but I wasn’t complaining.  I ran out of water in my Camelbak after the turnaround.  By then, the temperature was at least 80 degrees!  I struggled to stay hydrated drinking from my 20 ounce handheld.  I walked most of the second half.  I finished in 11 hours and 19 minutes!

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2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Week 8

2018 San Diego 50 Miler - Week 8 Infographic

2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Week 8 Infographic

It was the second week of my taper for the San Diego 50 Miler.  I felt a bit under-trained from so many easy and rest days, but told myself it was a sign that my body was recovering.

Training Schedule
January 6th – January 13th

Sunday: Easy Run. 5 miles.
Monday: Rest.
Tuesday: VO2Max Run.  6 miles.  3-5 x 2 min. w/1 min. recovery.
Wednesday: Easy Run. 3-5 miles.
Thursday: Rest.
Friday: Easy Run + Speed. 3 miles w/4x100m strides.
Saturday: San Diego 50 Miler.

Mileage Total: ~15-19 Miles.

Notes.  I followed the schedule but didn’t do particularly well with paces.  Sunday’s run was on the treadmill and Tuesday’s interval session was on slick asphalt.  I ran better on Wednesday and Friday in San Diego.

Goal.  Complete the San Diego 50 Miler!  Outcome: My race report might take a while, but I’ll post an update on Twitter today.

Workout Details

Easy Run. 5 miles [Log Details].

Gold's Gym Treadmill

Gold’s Gym Treadmill

It was around 20 degrees in the morning and sunny.  But since I had just recovered from a cold and I wanted to try a different race day shirt, I retreated to the treadmill again.  I set the machine to 6.0, which was 10 minute mile pace.  I felt a little silly wearing my Camelbak indoors but told myself this isn’t the weirdest thing these people have seen.  The shirt didn’t feel too warm and my shoulders didn’t chaff from the straps like they did in my tank top, so I thought the combination could work.

Overall pace=9:54

VO2Max Run 4-6 miles.  3-5 x 2 min. w/1 min. recovery [Log Details].

Slick W&OD Trail - 01092018

Slick W&OD Trail – 01092018

I knew I needed to get off the treadmill and get my legs used to their natural gait again, so I ventured outside.  The sidewalks were slick so I had to watch my footing on the way to the W&OD Trail.  In fact, I kept seeing skid marks in the frost from where people had slipped.  I thought the asphalt might be better but it was still slippery.  I thought, “You can’t risk slipping this close to your goal race.”  So, I ran hard but not as fast as I might have in better conditions.  The first couple of repetitins were tentative but as the sun rose, I felt a little more confident and opened up my stride a little.  On the cooldown home, I stuck to the sunny side of the street but it didn’t seem as though there was more traction.

Splits=7:42, 8:00, 7:25, 7:25, 8:00.  Average=7:42.

Easy Run. 3-5 miles [Log Details].

I didn’t have time to squeeze in a run before I had to leave for the airport.  After my plane landed in San Diego, I got my rental car, checked into my hotel, changed clothes, and drove to La Jolla Cove to get in a quick run.

I ran an out-and-back along the coast.  I just missed the sunset but still enjoyed the view of the waves crashing on the beach and the smell of salt water.  My pace was good for an easy run but the muscles in my legs felt tight and stiff.

Waves off La Jolla Cove - 011020180

Waves off La Jolla Cove – 011020180

At one point, I heard weird noises and realized it was seals!  (For those of you who listen to “This American Life”, there’s an episode on the seals that live in this area).  I stole a peek at them and then wrapped up the run.  It was a long day!

Overall pace=9:11.

Easy Run + Speed. 3 miles w/4x100m strides [Log Details].

Pre-Run in Tierrasanta - 01122018

Pre-Run in Tierrasanta – 01122018

For inspiration, I thought I would go to my high school and run part of the route my P.E and track coach had us run once a year.  In my mind, this road was long and hilly.  But running it today, more than 25 years later, it was nothing!  My pace was a a little fast for an “easy” run, but I chalked it up to pre-race excitement and being back in my old neighborhood.

Overall pace=8:35.


Illnesses. I recovered from the cold I had last week but had some residual nasal congestion through Wednesday.

Injuries.  The taper has done its job and, going into the race, the only pain I’ve had was in my lower calves.  I think all the treadmill running in my trail shoes, which have a lower heel drop, aggravated the muscles in my lower legs.  I thought the aches would go away with time but in retrospect, I should have done more about it.

Sleep.  I didn’t sleep well Tuesday night before my trip to San Diego, but it’s been fine since I arrived.


It was still sub-freezing at the start of the week in Washington, D.C.  It warmed a bit for my interval run on Tuesday but the ground was still slick.  In San Diego, the temperature was cooler than I expected.  It was mid-50 degrees for my easy runs on Wednesday night and Friday morning.

Racing Schedule

Next race: 2018 San Diego 50 Miler later today!  I’m a little afraid of what I’m about to attempt but also confident.  If I run a smart race, I know I can do this.  (My Complete Racing Schedule.)

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2018 San Diego 50 Miler – Week 7

2018 San Diego 50 Miler Infographic - Week 7

It was record-breaking cold this week.  But, for the most part, I missed running in it because I was sick!  I ran the Fairfax Four Miler on Sunday, skipped my next three workouts due to illness, and did a 10 mile medium run on Saturday.

Training Schedule
December 31st – January 6th

Sunday: Fairfax Four Miler.
Monday: Off.
Tuesday: Steady Run. 3-5 miles.
Wednesday: VO2Max Run. 5-7 miles w/4-5 x 5 min. w/1 min. recovery.
Thursday: Easy Run. 3-5 miles.
Friday: Rest.
Saturday: Medium-long Run. 8-10 mile trail run.

Mileage Total: ~23-27 Miles

Notes.  New Year’s Day was a scheduled rest day.  But, I skipped my workouts on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday due to illness.

Workout Details

Fairfax Four Miler. 4 miles [Race Report].

The schedule in Running Your First Ultra had me taking a rest day after last Saturday’s long run but I like closing out the year with a race.  I had doubts about running when I saw it was going to be 20 degrees with a wind chill of 6 degrees on New Year’s Eve, but I did it anyway.  My lungs burned the entire distance but I finished in 30:33 (7:39 pace).  I was the 170th out of 1204 finishers (I can’t believe so many people ran this race!), 40th woman and 7th in my age group.

2017 Fairfax Four Miler - Selfie

2017 Fairfax Four Miler – Selfie

Overall pace=7:39.

Medium-long Run. 8-10 mile trail run [Log Details].

It was about 15 degrees when I woke up in the morning.  After three days of sickness and two days of rarely leaving the bed, I felt good enough to run.  My plan asked me to take this final medium-long run to a trail, but I wasn’t going to risk sucking in any more cold air or slipping on ice.  I drive to the gym and hopped on the treadmill.

Gold's Gym Treadmill

Gold’s Gym Treadmill

I started out on the 6.3 setting (9:31 pace), which was fast considering I’d been completely sedentary for two days.  But mentally, I wanted a final strong run before my first ultra-marathon.  I had printed my race plan for miles 20 through 35 of the race and tried to imagine how I’d feel during that segment.  But I was distracted by an odor during the first few minutes of the run.  “Is that me?”  Remembering the past three days of sickness, hygiene hadn’t been a priority.  “Maybe it’s the guy next to me.”  But then I noticed a guy on the elliptical with the arm pits cut out of his shirt.  “Oh, it’s gotta be him!”  I made a few sly sniffs in all directions, but couldn’t determine which one of us was the offender.  Back to visualizing, I focused on running strong and determined – head up, shoulders back – for this section of the race.  After the first hour, I stopped the treadmill, made some notes on my race plan, and then ran the final 3.7 miles at the setting to 6.5 (9:13 pace).  Again, faster than I should have but it made me feel fit instead of sickly.

Lessons learned:

  • It’s best to train for an ultra-marathon in the spring or fall.  I didn’t get to test race day weather conditions because it’s been so cold on the east coast.

Overall pace=8:55.


Illnesses.  After bragging on New Year’s Eve about how I never get sick…  I got sick a couple of days later!  I sneezed a couple of times during the day on Tuesday but didn’t think much of it.  The next day, I thought I might be getting sick but went on with my day.  Huge mistake!  I had a throbbing headache, and was sneezing or blowing my nose the entire day at work.  I stayed home on Thursday and Friday.  I felt so miserable that I barely left the bed.

Sleep.  The reason I wasn’t sure I was sick on Tuesday was that I didn’t sleep well on Monday night.  Due to the cold temperatures, the heat pump in my townhouse switched to auxiliary heat during the night and kept waking me up!  I slept well for the rest of the week due to the nighttime cold medicine I took.

Weight.  I barely ate while I was sick.  I finally got my appetite back on Friday night (craving a grilled cheese sandwich), which is how I could tell I was on the mend.

Injuries. If there’s a bright side to my sickness, it’s that my piriformis didn’t hurt during my medium run!


It’s been very cold here in Washington, DC.  It was 20 degrees with single-digit wind chills on New Year’s Eve.  We were introduced to the phrase “bomb cyclone”, which was fun to say.  On Saturday, it was sunny but the air temperature and wind chill were record-breaking low.

Racing Schedule

Next race: 2018 San Diego 50 Miler on Saturday, January 13th!  Being sick for three days has me a little rattled.  I’d rather be going into these last few days feeling healthy rather than knowing I’m still on the mend.  But, I’m a fighter!  And, I’m smart.  If I can get those two attributes to align, I should be fine.

This may be my last training-related blog post before the race and I’m sure the report will take a few days.  I’ll try to tweet out an update on my Twitter account if you’re interested in seeing how I do next Saturday.

(My Complete Racing Schedule.)

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2017 Fairfax Four Miler

2017 Fairfax Four Miler - BannerScroll all the way down to the end of the post for the tl;dr version.


After last Saturday’s long run to close out a 50 mile week, I started tapering for the 2018 San Diego 50 Miler!  My schedule called for a rest day on Sunday but I wanted to end the year at the Fairfax Four Miler.  It was going to be cold, though.  The forecast for the region was low-20s with wind chills in the single digits!


Personal Records:

  • 4 Mile PR & Course PR: 27:48 (6:57 pace) at the 2010 Fairfax Four Miler.
  • Most Recent 4 Miler: 29:29 (7:23 pace) at the 2016 Fairfax Four Miler.

Likely: Sub-32:00 (8:00 pace).  This wasn’t a goal race, so I wasn’t going to run it hard.  I’ve been able to do “steady” runs a little slower than 8:00 pace.

Strategy:  Don’t freeze to death!


The course is a loop through the George Mason University campus.  The terrain is gentle uphills and downhills throughout.  There’s one water stop after the 2 mile mark.  Crowd support is non-existent.

Fairfax Four Miler – Course


I didn’t listen to music during the race.  Well, not from my own personal device…


The forecast for this race was going to be cold and I wasn’t sure I wanted to torture myself when my goal race in two weeks would probably be 70 degrees.  But, I pre-registered for the race and at least wanted to pick up the hoodie since they’ve served as my throw aways at the New York City Marathon in recent years.

I took a nap on Sunday afternoon and woke up at 4:30pm for a 6pm race about a half hour drive away!  I dressed quickly, rushed to my car, and sped off a few minutes after 5pm.  During the ride, I noticed, I forgot a hat!  “Well, I’m definitely not running”.  Then, I thought, “You could buy a hat at Pacers.”  A few miles down the road, I realized I forgot my iPod.  “You can run without music,” I thought.  Run without music?!  Once that thought came into my mind, I knew I was running this race. (Oddly, I remembered a headlamp.)

I parked at the race site at about 5:45pm.  I picked up my bib and valued hoodie at the Old Town Hall, and then jogged to the old Pacer’s Running Store location to buy a hat only to realize it was a warming station.  I didn’t allow myself to be lulled by the heat, though.  I went to the actual store location, bought a hat, went back to my car, dropped off my hoodie, and was at the start by 5:55pm!  I even had time for an anxious selfie:


2017 Fairfax Four Miler - Selfie

2017 Fairfax Four Miler – Selfie


I captured the conditions from National Airport, which showed the air temperature was 20 degrees!  But, I should have grabbed Dulles Airport.  I’m guessing it was a few degrees colder.  With the wind chill, it felt like about 6 degrees!

2017 Fairfax Four Miler - Weather

2017 Fairfax Four Miler – Weather

The Race

Early Miles – Miles 1 to 2

The race starts with a slight uphill on University Drive/George Mason Boulevard.  I felt a little out of sorts – like my legs weren’t moving as fast as I was directing them.  I decided not to push the pace, though.  The cold air burned my lungs at first but I adapted to the feeling after a few minutes.  During the first mile, I noticed a woman running and playing music from her phone.  It was a bit annoying, no jealous because I wished I had remembered my iPod!  Music would have helped me take my mind off of how miserable I was.  She stopped to do something with her phone and I forged ahead.  The course veered left for a short stretch through a neighborhood.  I was still pretty miserable from the cold.  When I saw my first split, I was disappointed it wasn’t much faster than my interval pace.

The course took a short out-and-back on Patriot Circle.  Usually, I can cheer for my fast friends but I was too far back to see any of them.  Back on the main part of the course, I ran a little faster as the course headed downhill.  Closing in on the second mile, I heard some jingling and sensed there was a dog next to me – just like last year!  Meanwhile, Music Woman was back on my radar.  She would stop, I’d pass her, and then she’d start running again.  I wondered, “Is she running this race as an interval workout?”  My competitor mind countered, “If she is, she’s still beating you.”

Splits (by course): 7:44, 7:11.

Later Miles, Miles 2 to 4

I felt relief after Mile 2.  “You’re halfway done!”  I ran an even effort but the course climbed a little so my pace slowed.  Plus, I really didn’t want to be running anymore, so there’s that.  The course curved to the right and took an out-and-back on Mason Pond Drive.  Usually, there’s a water stop here but it was removed due to the cold.  The water would have froze in the cups!

After the turnaround, I sped up a little to put some distance between me and a woman running with her dog.  The course turned left back onto Patriot Circle.  It was very dark in sections.  My headlamp was slipping off my head, so I took it off my head and just held it.  At Mile Marker 3, I told myself, “Just one more mile.”  Runners were passing me but I didn’t feel the need to push harder.  I just wanted the cold torture to be over.  I took advantage of the downhill on George Mason Boulevard to the finish and passed Music Woman for the last time, though.

Splits (by course): 7:46, 7:35.


I crossed the finish line and went inside to grab a slice of cheese pizza.  I took one bite and then threw the rest way.  I wasn’t hungry at all.  On the drive home in my warm car, my appetite grew.  And, what did I want…  pizza!  I ate a microwave version before going out to celebrate New Year’s Eve.


My time was 30:33 (7:39 pace) [Log Details].  I was the 170th out of 1204 finishers.  I can’t believe so many people ran this race!  I was 40th woman and 7th in my age group.

2017 Fairfax Four Miler - Hoodie

2017 Fairfax Four Miler – Hoodie


The race crew did a great job adjusting to the cold weather. The warming stations were a great idea! I felt fine with how I ran but a couple of days later, I felt a cold coming on and had some regrets about running the race.

Abridged Version

I started tapering for the 2018 San Diego 50 Miler on Sunday and was supposed to take a rest day but I like closing out the year with a race.  I had doubts about running when I saw it was going to be 20 degrees with a wind chill of 6 degrees, but, I did it anyway.  My lungs burned but I finished in 30:33 (7:39 pace) and was 7th in my age group.  Naturally, I came down with a cold two days later.

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