Yay! I ran the Salmon Falls 50k, my first ultra marathon and I ran it on leap day. For those that don’t know, an ultra marathon is anything above the marathon distance, 26.2 miles, and 50 km is equal to ~31.07 miles. I’m glad my sister talked me into joining her on this because it was quite the experience and now I’m proud to say I’ve ran an ultra marathon. Who would of thought, especially since I hated running long distance when I was younger since I was a sprinter/jumper in high school. Things do change.
The Salmon Falls 50k takes place near Sacramento, CA. It starts at the Magnolia Ranch Trail Head in Pilot Hill. I woke up around 4:00 am to get ready and I had my usual bagel with peanut butter. We left my sister’s place around 4:45 am to head to Folsom Point which is where the finish is to get shuttled to the start. We got there around 5:30 am and by 6:15 am we were on the bus on our way to the start area.It was a chilly morning but not too bad, I think in the low 40s, and it was nice that there were heaters in the starting area. I heard it was a lot colder last year, like 29 deg, so I was happy it wasn’t that cold.Around 7 am I took my pre race fuel, UCAN (If you’d like to try it, you can get $10 off your first UCAN order when you spend at least $20 with code UCANREFZAY8WW6AZ6 at https://generationucan.com/shop). This stuff works for me. It uses a super starch that gives steady energy. I like the chocolate flavor and with 3 scoops, it lasts for about 3 hours.
Some pics from the start:
By 7:30 am we were off.I wasn’t sure what to expect with this being my first ultra. I knew it was a trail run and that the first half had the most elevation gain and had an idea on where the aid stations were but that was about it. For those that don’t know trail running is a lot harder than road running. Your running pace is much slower with the different uneven terrain, hills, creek crossings, rocks and roots that make trying not to fall a focus, it’s a whole different experience. But I must say it is more fun than running on roads with the beautiful scenery. 3.4 miles in. I felt pretty good for this race since training went well, thanks to my run coach, Dawn. Early on I felt strong on the hills.Something that’s different about trail running is that there can be a lot of hills and with that walking. I did a lot of walking on the hills to conserve some energy.4.8 miles in. It was a beautiful day out and getting warm. I think by the end of the race it was close to 70 deg F.Taken around 9.7 miles.In a race, I’m not used to no one else around. There were many times in this race I was running alone and thank goodness for my AfterShokz headphones, my music really kept me going. They are a lifesaver! (You can save $55 on any AfterShokz wireless bundle using code SHERRYM55 and this link: https://glnk.io/4w4/minkiewicz2).It is a beautiful course.Here I am going down what they call “Red Dragon” because of the twists and turns on this hill. I was looking down, so focused on looking where I was going, I didn’t notice the camera man. It’s funny because there was a gal just ahead of me and she heard me say, “darn it, I missed the camera man” lol. She just laughed too and said it is hard going down Red Dragon with all the rocks, it’s hard to look up.Crossing the bridge was around 13.1 miles.This was taken around 18 miles.Got great views of the water, I think this may be part of Folsom Lake.Taken after 22.7 miles. By this time my right quad was cramping and I was walking more. There was a lot of rolling hills and I still tried to run the downhills and walk the up hill. I felt cramping in my right calf as well.Taken after 29.7 miles.The levee, that seemed to last forever. From here, it’s about a mile to the finish line. That part was especially rough since it was on gravel and slow going. But when I did see the finish line, I picked it up as much as I could and I felt so happy to finish.I’m proud to be a part of the ultra club :). Official time was: 5:41:37. I managed to get 3rd in my age group out of 62 females 40-49, 9th overall female out of 164 females, and 55th overall out of 310 runners.That was tough but so happy to experience my first ultra.
Here’s what the elevation chart looks like from my Strava:I felt pretty good in the first half and I was thinking after the first half it should be easier but boy was it not. There were so many rolling hills. As for fueling, I stopped at the Monte Vista aid station which was at 16.9 miles and refilled my bottles. I also started eating my Clif Cube Bites then. A huge thanks to the volunteers! They were awesome cheering and refilled my bottles for me. The next 8.1 miles to the next aid station were hard and I ran out of my nuun so I refilled at the next aid station at mile 25. There I had some banana and after the last aid station, I ate the Honeystinger waffle that I brought. I don’t think I drank enough electrolytes because the back of my black vest I was wearing was covered in salt.Pic with Kristine and my sister. Yay! First time ultra runners! We did it!The medal. Pic with the hoodies that we got that’s included with registration.
This was a great first ultra for me. I’m happy to have had a pretty good experience overall. Cramping is always a downer but I’m glad it wasn’t worse and it did go away some since I was able to continue running. It’s also nice that the race supports a good cause. The Salmon Falls 50k is put on to raise funds for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) to help cure type 1 diabetes. HUGE thanks to my hubby who supports me and took care of the kiddos while I was gone! Also, another BIG thanks to my run coach, Dawn, who’s gotten me in tip top shape! Is there another ultra in my future? I’m not sure yet… but my next big race is Boston.