Mountains to Sea 50k: Lessons learned a second time around

Instead of my usual race recap, I thought I would write up 31 lessons learned over 31 miles! (By no means an exhaustive list!) So, in no particular order, I give you lessons learned from my second time around at the Mountains to Sea 50k at Falls Lake in Raleigh, NC:

  1. Sunrise off the lake is incredibly beautiful, just make sure you don’t let the light impede your vision of the roots on the trail.img_1319
  2. Don’t assume that the aid stations will have the same snacks as the year before – I was really looking forward to those fig newtons! (and peanut butter crackers are not the same thing…)
  3. Don’t assume that each aid station will have the same stuff – Gatorade, heed, and tailwind are all different things and my body doesn’t like them all the same way…
  4. If you think you hear a snake, just keep running.
  5. Learning to be an efficient downhill runner is the best skill I picked up this year. Having downhill running muscle memory made the last 10 miles of this race a whole lot easier than it would have been otherwise. I could let my body recover while my feet and legs worked with gravity on the downhills. It also helped to have the leg strength I’ve built through CrossFit to trust through the entire race. img_1330
  6. Having friends or even just acquaintances in the race makes a huge difference. It is really fun to cheer for people you know while out on the course or at the finish. It is also nice to chat with someone you know for either a brief moment or a few miles on the trail.
  7. It’s also nice to have an acquaintance/friend who’s wife will drive you back to your car after finishing so you don’t have to walk all the way back to your car.
  8. Out and back courses are really nice for cheering on people and getting cheered for.
  9. I think animal noises are nature’s way of saying “keep it up”
  10. It is really hard to distinguish between upper hip flexor pain and low stomach pain- I still don’t know which I was hit with at mile 21.
  11. There is a moment when you realize, holy shit I already ran a marathon and just kept going. That is a great moment. Cherish it, then keep moving towards the finish.
  12. Vegetable stew/soup is my favorite post race food.
  13. It is easy to get dehydrated when it is 30 degrees at the start of the race (I’m better at staying hydrated in warm weather.)img_1317
  14. I may just need to work on drinking more water during races… I ended up super dehydrated.
  15. Sometimes leaves and roots look like animals, mostly I see dogs, and I hope they’re friendly… then I blink a few times and they go away (I promise I was not hallucinating, just seeing dogs in the leaves!)
  16. Chafing can occur in really random places.
  17. It might feel like you broke your toe, but it might just be that you popped a blister (it was surprisingly painful!)
  18. Not remembering (or bothering to look up) your previous 50k time before the race can be a good thing, and can land you a 31 minute personal best.
  19. They make running kilts now in tech fabric! (I guess this shouldn’t surprise me since plenty of women run in running skirts.)
  20. Don’t go to a bacon and beer fest the day before a race! (I didn’t do this, but the kilted runner referenced above did, and paid for it.)
  21. Trail races are still the only place where there is a long line for the men’s room and no line for the ladies room before a race, and due to NC’s wonderful new law, no men were allowed to use our lovely facilities.
  22. I can think of no better place for me to spend a Sunday morning (plus part of the afternoon) than on trails in the woods. img_1321
  23. It is really hard to negative split an out and back course when you share the first half with folks running (blasting through) a 12 mile race.
  24. Not having someone to drive me home meant I couldn’t (immediately) enjoy my post race beer, next time I’ll be sure to have a driver!
  25. Ending up 7th woman overall is a pretty badass feeling, even if not that many women were in the race. img_1324
  26. Always respect the distance.
  27. Cross-country team teenagers make for really fun aid station volunteers but anyone who volunteers at an aid station is automatically one of my favorite people. Thank you!
  28. In one of my post-race conversations I learned the 72 hour rule – you’re not allowed to go on until at least 72 hours after your last race.
  29. I think I’m ready for a 40 mile race… depending on the race, and I still have to wait at least another day to browse races (see above rule.)
  30. I love the trail running community.
  31. I fully believe that trail running helps me be the best version of myself.



3 responses to “Mountains to Sea 50k: Lessons learned a second time around

  1. Pingback: Run Streak: My Year of Running | postgradjourney·

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