Preparing For My First 50 Mile UltraMarathon

It’s hard to believe that Lake Sonoma 50, my first 50 mile ultramarathon is less than a week away! The closer it gets, the harder is for me to reconcile that I’m going to be toeing the line to run 50 miles. The Lake Sonoma 50 is an out-and-back with over ~10,000 ft elevation gain (and equal amount of loss). That’s almost a 2-mile vertical elevation gain/loss over the course of 50 miles! Yes, I wrote some code to analyze the elevation profile, but there’s code and there’s the reality. Definitely getting butterflies as the race day approaches and explains my pouring over the course multiple times during the day.

Lake Sonoma 50 - My First 50  Mile Ultra Marathon

First 50 Mile UltraMarathon

Just a week ago, I ran 34 miles on the spectacular Coastal Marin 50K and it took me about 7:23 which included lots of resting, waiting for people to regroup and socializing. Lake Sonoma 50 has another 16 more miles to go with another ~5K worth of elevation gain/loss. Compared to this the American River 50 looks tame (elevation gain wise). The three climbs right at the turn around are probably the killer ones  - about ~500, ~800 and ~600ft each. Everyone that blogs about it talks about how relentless the hills are. There are over 50 up and downs on this run with varying grades!

Here’s my gear + food prep that I’ve thought about. Have no idea how this is going to play out during the race. At this point though, I’m not even thinking about this as a race. Just a run that I would like to finish without injuries (or throwing up!) while still smiling as I cross the finish line. Here’s what I plan to carry with me from the start line:

At the mile #25 aid-station (also the turn around point), I plan to leave these in my drop bag:

  • 10+ Clif Shot Gels for the return trip
  • Leukotape + scissors to re-tape my feet to prevent blisters
  • Sunscreen, ‘cos it’s going to be a 80°F day
  • Vaseline
  • Body glide anti-chaff balm
  • Instructions-to-self in case I have a brain fart and get delirious

In the drop bag at the mile #38 aid station (home stretch!):

  • Petzl Tikka 2 LED head lamp (sunset is at 7:41pm, ~13 hours into the run)
  • Additional Clif Shot Gels?
  • Maybe iPod for music? (though I’ve never listened to music during a run)

I think I’ve got my food + hydration down for the 50K’s. First 50 mile though? Still a bit of a mystery, uhh, adventure. Just don’t know what to anticipate and what curve balls my mind/body is going to throw at me. But after running 34 miles last week, another 16 should be doable, right? RIGHT?

How did you do on your first 50 mile ultra marathon? What am I missing in my gear checklist?


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  • https://www.facebook.com/pftaxi777 Peter Ferguson

    You’ll be great!

  • https://www.facebook.com/kennethkirsch Ken Kirsch

    No worries. Just don’t think too much.

  • https://www.facebook.com/anna.l.liao Anna Liao

    Good luck! We’ll be volunteering at the Madrone Pt aid station (mile 19 and 30) See you out there!

  • https://www.facebook.com/jclowers Jeff Clowers

    Good luck out there! I will see you out there, only my second 50 so I am in the have fun and finish camp as well. If you want to say hi and share a few miles I will be the guy in the USMC boonie hat.

  • https://www.facebook.com/k0ws1k Kowsik Guruswamy

    Jeff, looking forward to it! I should be easy to spot. Probably be the only guy running in Luna Sandals

  • https://www.facebook.com/jclowers Jeff Clowers

    No no, there are always a few of you crazies (meant in all jest).

  • Ryan

    Good luck with the 50 miler, brother. I’ve always meant to write to you, but kept forgetting – then this post pops up on my tumblr dash. Just wanted to let you know that you’ve been an inspiration to me with regards to minimalist running. Like you, I ran my first ultra at last year’s Big Basin 50k. What an experience. Loved every mile and the ultra community was really nice!! I remember seeing you at the parking lot before the starting line (we had matching SJ vests), thinking, “that guy should really put his shoes on, the race is gonna start soon.” Ever since then, I’ve entertained the thought of running in a pair of Lunas.

    Fast forward to February, where I got my first pair of Monos with tech straps. I’ve close to 80 miles in them (along with a few minor blisters that have toughened up) and love them so far! Gearing up for my first ultra in Lunas at the upcoming mt. Diablo 50k. I gotta admit, I like the attention I get on the trail.

    Thanks again and best wishes on your first 50mi race!!! One day I’ll get there as well.

    • http://freeradical.me/ kowsik

      Ryan,
      Thanks for taking the time to write that wonderful comment! So glad that you are having fun as a LUNAtic! I’m planning to run the Big Basin 50K again this year, as it’s such an awesome course. Hard not to run through redwoods. Hope to see you out on the trails.

  • https://www.facebook.com/supratik.roy.73 Supratik Roy

    All the best

  • http://twitter.com/k0ws1k kowsik

    ICYMI: Preparing for my first 50 mile ultramarathon with @LunaSandals – http://t.co/HXBiisiAeU #LS50

  • Orson Buggeigh

    Interesting list of things to have, things to worry with in drop bags — all part of the changing scene in ultramarathons. In my first 50-miler—I carried a hand-bottle for drinking along the way; used the aid stations for food; no drop bags did I have. Best wishes for a good day on the trails. John M. (sign-in requires membership so I used an alias).

    • http://freeradical.me/ kowsik

      John, thanks for the comment. I guess I’m going gourmet since I have no idea what I’m up against. :) Secondly, I’ve gotten used to Clif Shots + Onigiri and try not to experiment with new stuff on race day that I haven’t tried before.

  • http://twitter.com/k0ws1k kowsik

    From last night: How mere mortals like me prepare for a first 50 mile run – http://t.co/zL6F7OaqCo #LS50 #butterflies

  • http://twitter.com/LUNAsandals LUNA Sandals

    RT @k0ws1k: ICYMI: Preparing for my first 50 mile ultramarathon with @LunaSandals – http://t.co/HXBiisiAeU #LS50