Firetrails 50

It was a dark and stormy night. Just kidding; it was a cool and foggy morning.  I arrived at the start early, and was chatting with some fellow runners when I saw...my Dad and Grandma! They had come to cheer me on! I gave them some good luck hugs, lubed up, went the the restroom, ate an apple (in that order, actually) and hit the road. Literally.

firetrails 50
Raring to go!

The first couple of miles were on pavement. I was trying not to go out to fast, as I know that is one of my weaknesses. In fact, speaking of weaknesses, after the race, a friend asked me what my challenges were for this race, and it got me thinking... instead of doing a mile by mile breakdown, as there are a lot of them, I am going to highlight some of the challenges, as they are really what defined this race for me.

This race was pretty much an out and back, with the only difference being that we went around the northeast side of the lake heading out and came back along the southwest side. This meant we went through most aid stations twice. I am going to recap this race mostly from aid station to aid station.

Start to Bort Meadow / mile 7.9: After the paved section, it started uphill on a dirt fire trail. I caught up with Kent, a guy that I have seen around at a bunch of races, and we actually stuck together for this entire section. He kept telling me that I was pacing at a faster pace than he normally starts out, and I was trying to slow down because I knew that starting out fast would come back to get me in the end. He also said that I would have to have salt, which I have never really trained with. Average pace = 9:00 / mile.

Bort Meadow to Big Bear / mile 10.5: After Bort Meadow, a high five from grandma, and some potatoes with salt, the majority of this section was downhill. Kent took off flying down the hill and I was back on my own again. Even though downhill is not my forte, I did pass a few people in this section.

Big Bear to Skyline / mile 15: When I ran the Skyline 50k, Skyline was the halfway/turnaround point and boy was I glad to see it. This time, I tried to get that thought out of my head, because it was only about a quarter of the way this time! This section was pretty unremarkable. I ran, sometimes near others, sometimes chatting with them, sometimes running silent. I kept slowly passing people, but was still trying not to go too fast. Average pace = 10:30/mile.

Skyline to Sibley to Steam Trains / 21.7 miles: I was still feeling great, which was strange because when I run 50k races, mile 19 - 25 tend to be my weak point. However, somewhere in the middle of this section, my sock started tightening up. I couldn't figure out how to fix it; I took my shoe off and adjusted it, hoping it would help, but I kept feeling it squeezing my toes inside my shoe. Another issue was that I was wearing fairly new shoes and I was kind of hating them. Instead of laces they have that zip tie thingy and it kept loosening up, which was probably why my sock was acting funny. In spite of that, I had a good time, as this was the point when I started to see the front of the pack heading back toward me.

Steam Trains to Lone Oak / 26 miles: This was a good section, with plenty of people to look at, due to the out and back. I saw my friend Kent, as well as many others who were in front of me. I counted the girls, as I always do in this situation, and knew I was not going to get any prizes for this race! However, the best part about this section was the Lone Oak aid station, which was not only the turn around point, but was also the giver of grilled cheese sandwiches! Never before has a white bread and American cheese sandwich tasted SO good! Average pace = 11:25/mile

Lone Oak to Steam Train / 30.3 miles: The worst part about this section was that it was mostly uphill, so it was pretty slow going. Also, it was devoid of trees, so it was a bit warm. However, I buddied up with a really nice Russian guy who was trying to qualify for the Western States (11 hours or less) and we hiked up the hill together and had a nice chat along the way. Also, I got to see who was behind me, as we were again on the out and back section.

Steam Trail to Sibley to Skyline / 37 miles: To be honest, at this point I started to just put one foot in front of the other. My left sock kept giving me trouble and I had to stop a few times to try to adjust my sock/shoe. I could feel a hot spot, which I had a feeling was going to end up as a blister. I remember a couple of rocky, root filled downhills and the fear that my feet were not going to hold up as long as I would like. They were not screaming, not even close, but the left one had the hot spot and I was favoring it a bit and was worried it would affect the right. The last two miles of this section, I was really, REALLY wanting to get to the aid station. I had to pee and I kind of just wanted to stop just for a minute. I kept thinking that I just have to get to 40 miles and then it would all be easy from there.

Skyline to Big Bear to Bort Meadows / 44.1 miles: After fueling up at the aid station and stopping for a potty break, I headed back down the Stream trail. Most of this section was run with a guy I had been talking with before, Matt, and his pacer. I didn't really talk to them much; at this point I was not very social, but it was kind of nice to just run behind them, or in front of them (we kept switching) and to listen to them chatting. I cannot tell you what they were talking about, but just having them "keeping me company" was nice. For this section, I walked the uphills, even if they were little or not steep. I just really wanted to save a bit of energy for the last few miles. After Big Bear, we headed up the big hill toward Bort. These miles up the hill were 16 minute and 18 minute miles. This hill made my legs pretty tired, but on the other hand, I was glad to not have to run.

Bort Meadows to Clyde Wood to Finish / 50 miles: I ate a potato, which I was not hungry for in the least, but I knew I was running out of energy. I also had some Gu Brew, which tasted like medicine. It was gross. Dad caught up with me and together we headed out for the final section. I told him he needed to just talk so I wouldn't have to and he did a good job of keeping me entertained. I was feeling a little gross at this point. The Gu Brew was threatening to come back up and my legs were pretty tired. I think Dad was surprised when I walked the little hills. I did get a burst (if you can call it that) of energy around mile 47 or 48 (my Garmin had died by then) and I even started participating in the conversation a little. However, I felt like a drunk person, where you can't control what does or doesn't come out of your mouth. My brain was like a marshmallow. The last section was on pavement again, and there were regular people hanging out and walking and they all looked so fresh and so happy! I rounded the corner next to the finish and the clock read 9:54:xx. I sprinted (term used loosely) to the finish and crossed it in just under 9:55!

Afterward I felt pretty good. My legs were a bit tired and my feet were pretty excited to get out of those shoes, but otherwise, it was not too bad. I scarfed down a hamburger and some ice cream and put on my new fleece (bonus) because believe it or not, I was kind of chilly!

finish dick collins
My loyal fans!

Just for reference, here are a few of the stats: #1 guy came in at 6:27. #1 girl was 7:43. She is 50 years old. The Russian from the Steam Trail section came in at 10:17, which means he qualified for Western States (nice job buddy!). I came in 103/287 overall and 19/94 females. I think there were actually about 380 registered runners in the beginning. Another pretty cool thing that I didn't learn until I saw a camera on the side of the trail is that it was all being broadcast live! My Mom went online to watch me finish but her bandwidth ran out right before I came in (bummer). I wish I would have known in advance. Next time, I guess. They did put the start online HERE.

So, the big question is: Would I do it again? Yes. Am I ready for a 100 miler? Not quite.

But maybe 100k.

Do you talk to other runners when you are racing? Have you ever been so tired you feel like you are drunk? Who is YOUR most loyal fan?


  1. I think my Mom is my most loyal fan. Great job on the 50 miler, ew on the GU brew medicine glad you didn't have that come back up!

    Love how you started this "it was a dark and stormy night" I laughed :)

  2. Great job on the 50 miler!

  3. Wow, great job Kyria! I usually only talk to other runners if they talk to me first. I hate to bother people. That's neat that the race was being broadcast live. My parents have always been my biggest fans and I think if I asked them to they would drive to more races.

    What's your final verdict on the shoes? Do you think they caused your feet problems during the race?

  4. I have a loose goal to run a marathon at some point. I say loose because I don't know how worried I am about accomplishing it. I don't know how you have the stamina to run 50 miles!

  5. CONGRATULATIONS! SO proud of you! I think I am going to stick with 50 km races and less though. Can't even imagine doing 50 miles. You are awesome though!

  6. Last time I was so tired I felt drunk was in the hospital after our baby was born. You get NO sleep in the hospital.

    Congratulations! You're amazing.

  7. Wow, Kyria- so inspiring! It does actually look like a dark and stormy night in that first picture. :) The part about your brain feeling like a marshmallow is one of the scariest parts of an ultra for me- I'm nervous about not keeping up with my fuel and passing out or something! But I think I could handle a 50k... not so sure about 50 miles! Huge congrats!

  8. You are awesome Kyria!!! I can remember nights when both girls were newborns that I was sounding like a crazy person...like marshmallow! You did amazing!!!! Congrats!!

  9. I love how you broke the race down because I can just imagine how it feels...but only up to 26.2:) It sounded exciting and your time is impressive. Well done! Hm...maybe I need to try one.

  10. Argh! I just left a long comment and then, like a fool, went and hit sign out instead of publish. Anyway, you are amazing! Congratulations! It's nice to have company sometimes during races. My favorite half marathon was the one I ran with my friend because we just chatted the miles away.

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  12. Congrats congrats congrats! You did amazing! I can't even wrap my mind around running 50 miles, honestly. You did so amazingly well so you should be very proud of yourself! I like the way you broke up this race report! I am glad you had your dad there at the end to keep you company and entertain you!! We were thinking of you that day when we were in Chicago together. I knew you'd rock it!

  13. First of all, I would like to congratulate you for such a pretty looking blog! I'm glad to be here :) Now your running - yes, it was exciting! I have never ever done anything like that, but love watching such outdoor events.

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  15. Congratulations!!!! I know I'm so late, but I hope you are still beaming a bit from your accomplishment. Great job!!! I love your adoration of the grilled cheese sandwich. Hilarious.

    And, yes, I've run long enough to feel drunk and just brain dead. Such a weird experience. Congrats again!!


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