I didn’t write a report last year, but since it isn’t a local race, and is a Western States qualifier that not many people from the club have done, at least I could write about some of the things I wish I had known the first time, that helped me the second time.
I went back to do Cuyamaca 100 near San Diego for the second time as my second 100k with the idea that since Lesley wanted to do it, I would pace, but decided I may as run it again too. I wasn’t surprised that she couldn’t go a couple of days before with too many house buying and selling issues . The second time I hoped course knowledge would at least allow me not to go any slower than last year. Last year a 100k was an unknown distance I didn’t know if I could do, but after doing it once and doing just over 90 miles of a 100 a couple of months before, I felt it could go faster this time.
The start time is later than a lot of other 100ks, 6:30, with bib pickup and the race briefing right before the start. With not many places to stay nearby, just camping or the camp dorms, it would be hard to have people come the day before, then drive the half hour or 45 minutes back to where they were staying. We stayed in a one room cabin in the campground 3 miles north of the start where the 4th aid station was. We had sleeping bags and air mattresses, had to use headlamps inside. The campgrounds did have showers, it was nice not to have to drive, but not the most comfortable place.
The first time, I got into a slow line at the middle of the pack, this time I got out faster and could go at my own pace. Sean Flangan was there too, along with some runners from Reno. He got out even faster out front and was gone. It was warmer than last year at the start, even though the high predicted for the day of 75 was the same as last year, so I got ice in my bandana at the first aid station, instead of waiting for the second. It was great to have Tailwind at the aid stations this time, last year I used it from small bags, and it took longer. This time, I put it and ice in my bladder. I knew it would be warm after the second aid station at mile 14, my husband came and got my pack filled, ice in the bandana, my sleeves that I put halfway up my arms and in my pockets. A lot of runners were coming through there then and he stayed to volunteer and help. It would be nine miles uphill to Cuyamaca peak with a lot of it exposed. I drank all of my fluids, about 70 oz by the time I got to the top.
I had printed out my times at the aid stations in a bag to see where I was at compared to last year, so I at least didn’t fall behind the pace from last year. I was at the same pace for the first two aid stations, but was comfortable. By the 3rd aid station, I had gained 11 minutes, I didn’t stop as long as last year and was moving faster.
I knew it was downhill now from Cuyamaca Peak at 6500 feet. I had gone slowly down last time thinking the technical section would be short. This time it didn’t seem so hard and I went as fast as I could. I got through the next aid station quickly and was back at the start and the end of the first loop now 23 minutes ahead. The middle loop felt the hardest last year, at less than a half marathon, it had what felt like a lot of climbing, little shade and the aid station was 8 miles away, which I didn’t realize last year and ran out of water and had forgotten to get ice, it was very warm by then.
This time, I got fueled, enough fluids and ice, and a good sponging with ice water, and got out quickly. The course went on a steep uphill semi loop before the end, but it didn’t seem so bad this time since I was expecting it. I got back in 45 minutes earlier from the second loop, changed into a dry shirt and packed my wind breaker and headlamp, getting a fresh buff and leaving my wet sleeves, buff and bandana. The third loop was 18 miles and cool with most of the uphill in the first miles. I didn’t need my headlamp this time until I got most of the elevation gain done and was well into Anza Borrego State Park. It was warmer than last year, so I didn’t put on my jacket until the first aid station, I didn’t need much fluid, so got out of there quickly. It did get cold, but it felt refreshing. I only gained 4 more minutes on this loop, but my legs weren’t sore, they just weren’t moving fast and I was just happy not to lose time. The time seemed to go faster and I was back 49 minutes faster than last year, very happy just to finish in under 16 hours.
The race shows the course as 8800 feet gain, my watch had 8400. It does have enough technical trail that it can be challenging at times.