Posted by: runwithgarrison | September 25, 2012

Noble Canyon 50k

Aloha Everyone,

It has been a few weeks since my last update and I am happy to report that I am finally starting to feel better. I have not run any workouts but I finally returned to run up tantalus once in the 3 weeks heading into the Noble Canyon 50k. So, there is the good news…I feel good and very well rested. The bad news, as I realized on Saturday, is that I am a bit heavy and out of shape. Thankfully, I can work to fix the fitness and weight issues and hopefully I can salvage a few solid efforts while the calendar still says 2012.

Here’s my mileage totals with long run distance in () for the past 6 weeks
39.76(10.7), 24.58(10), 43.93(11), 54.08(11.4), 59.95(16), and 56.87 (31–NC 50k). As you can see, there is a serious lack of anything that remotely appears to be a long run. With that said, I am very happy to get thru the 50k healthy as I head into the Dick Collins 50 Mile race in mid October. Onto the race report…..

The temperatures were a bit high in San Diego for the weekend and Noble Canyon is located in the mountains about an hour east of San Diego. The morning drive was easy and I was feeling relaxed and in a very positive mood. I knew I was not nearly as fit as I was at this race last year where I finished 12th with a time of 5:02:30. I however, was much better rested and I had now seen the course before–those had to be huge advantages–Right?? I have run 502 miles less this year compared to this time last year and I am about 15 pounds heavier than I was last year but I tried to not let that into my head as I stood relaxed on the starting line. The crowd at the race was relaxed and chatty. Race Director Brian gave his final instructions and we were all ready to go. My race plan was to run relaxed early thru 14 and then see what I could manage from there. The first 13 of the race is flat/downhill as we worked our way down the canyon to the turnaround mark around 13.6 miles. Parts of the trail, especially on the up/downhills, are rocky and I could easily tell who had local knowledge of the trail and the terrain. On the way out to the bottom of the canyon, things were going along well. I was not plagued with the stomach issues that hindered my first 20 miles here last year and I felt pretty good. At the turnaround, I was around 6th or 7th place. A little quicker than i planned but I was/still am ok with that. The strangest part about the first 15 miles of the race—-I had incredible focus. I might not even qualify it as focus…I was completely mentally lost in the effort. I was thinking about nothing except what was directly in front of me. I think Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would call it a Flow experience. I do recall at one point, Bob Marley said, “One good thing about music, When it hits you feel no pain.” Life was good and I was embracing the moment.

The first rough patch of the race hit from about 16-20 miles. During this stretch, I was walking/hiking my way out of the canyon and several racers were rolling by me like I was standing still. A really fun part about this race is that a big chunk of it is an out/back. I always find it inspirational to watch others compete and work their own way thru difficult events/efforts and the racers at Noble Canyon did not disappoint—What a cool group of runners. Lots to positivity and support–Mahalo to all of you who were out on the trail Saturday.

As the first rough patch set it, the mental freedom that I embraced for 15 miles turned into a chorus of negativity. Most of the thoughts revolved around my lack of fitness and that my shorts were fitting a little tighter than normal. The bottom line was…. I was just not tough. I narrowed my focus and allowed the negativity to rule for that period of time.

After the Big Tree 2 aid station, about 19.6 miles, I started to pull my way out of the funk and started to get some decent running together again. I was drinking my Skratch Labs and feeling like I could still break 5 hours and better my time from last year. That feeling lasted thru the next aid station and I felt like I had conquered the negativity for the day. However, that was not to be the case…

Around 25-29 miles, I hit another rough patch. This is the final pitch up to about 6000 feet and I spent most of this time walking and hiking. I just felt out of shape and totally out of my element. I no longer felt like fighting for a good time or place, I just wanted to be done. The negative thoughts that gripped me during this spell revolved around not being good enough, disappointing myself and others, as well as the thought that I should not even bother to attempt the Dick Collins 50 Miler in a few weeks. That race has over 8000 feet of vertical gain and 50 Miles is a completely different gig compared to 50k. If I struggled this much at 50k, 50 Miles seemed impossible at the time. While I was walking and displaying a lack mental toughness, even more racers ran by and I could do nothing to respond. Around 29 miles, I started to sense a closeness to the finish line so I started to get my head together. I ran all the way into the finish, kissed the rat at the finish line and thanked RD Brian for an excellent race that he and his staff put on. The volunteers at the Aid Stations were absolutely awesome!!! Very Helpful and positive!!!! THANKS!!!

Final Race stats–5:23:41. 17th place overall, 5th in 40-49 age group

I must say, I was not very happy with my lack of toughness on Saturday but as I let a few days pass, I am focusing on the accomplishment and what I can do to improve my effort next time. After the race, P also pointed out that the Noble Canyon 50k was my 10th Ultra start & finish. Hitting double digits does seem pretty cool now that I think about it and it is nice to see my race result resume on grow.

What is next????
I will get right back to running and enjoy not feeling sick anymore. I will return to Tantalus as well as adding back in some fartlek and track workouts. I am planing on running in the iRun 25k in Kailua on October 7 and then I head to the Runwithgarrison west coast compound for the weekend of October 13 for the Dick Collins 50 Miler. I hope to see a lot of you out at the race that weekend. Yes, the race does allow pacers and I am quite certain that I will need all the help that I can get. Last year at the DC 50, I went out wayyyy to fast and paid a severe price. I want to try to run even and smart to see if I can get anywhere near the 8:24 that I posted there last year. I hope to see many of you there!!!

I also want to Congratulate my friend Kent who ran 3:31 at the Rock n Roll Denver marathon. I think that is his marathon PR and it looks like all his hard work and dedication has paid off—Congratulations KENT!!!!

I also want to thank Matt, Eric, Pat for the post-race refreshments, Boy Wonder for the Phil’s BBQ and sister KHB for providing the runwithgarrison San Diego sweet digs!

I also hope to see many of you at the iRun 25K. Please check out if you get a chance. Frank and his team make great products and are super supportive of the active community.

Thanks for you your time, support, and feedback—The site has been up since the end of January and we have over 3100 hits from 3 continents!!!!

See you on the trails




  1. Heavy and out of shape? You wouldn’t be saying that if you could see me đŸ™‚

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Thanks Doug! However, if I could see you right now, we would be grabbing some BBQ at the Salt Lick! P and I hope all is well with you guys!

  2. Don’t beat up on yourself. It is a lot easier to be mentally tough when your preparation is perfect.


  3. Hey Cuz,

    Great job, despite your uncertainties. 10 for 10 in Ultras. Sweet!

    Next up, DC 50. Forget last years 8:24. I like your plan to run more even. So how are you going to do it? I suggest taking the bike path along the lake super easy right off the start line. Don’t press at all on that first climb up the ridge away from the lake. Everything ’til the first aid station, at Marciel Gate, is your warm-up. The next few miles of the Brandon trail are rolling/downhill. There is where you can ease into a good comfortable race pace. By the time you hit the flatter section of the Meadow Trail, you should be trucking on by folks that blazed out too fast.

    From the Bort Meadows aid station, all the way to the finish, is a series of short grunts up to a ridge line trail. Then roll along the ridge to back down. The only exception being at the turnaround with the drop into and back up out of the Lone Oak aid station.

    Besides the turnaround climb, the longest one is probably the grunt-rolling-grunt up from the lake to begin the race. Don’t attack it like Superman and you’ll be good to with the even pace plan. Then play the game where you don’t service those uncertain or negative thoughts. Instead of dwelling when you go there, find ways to push the negative out of your mind and focus on cruising over that next roller ahead of you. On this course, there always is one. đŸ™‚

    Good luck next weekend, Mike.


    • Aloha Cuz,

      Thanks for taking the time to go thru the DC50 race course and breaking it down for me. I think you totally nailed it! One of the many things that went well when Zeke and I ran the Skyline 50k over the same course, we started out very conservatively and it led to a positive experience. I think I have recovered from Noble Canyon and I am looking forward to a few solid weeks heading into the DC Firetrails 50. I hope all is well.

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