Born to Run 50K Ultra Marathon Race

Hello! I am alive! I did it – I ran 30 miles yesterday!

born to run 50k ultramarathon

I ran the Born to Run 50k yesterday. And it was quite the experience.

I wanted to run this race for several reasons…

1. I LOVED the book Born to Run

2. Tarahuarmara, the group the book is based on are from Mexico just like my great-grandparents.

3. The race is in Los Olivos, CA – hello I am Olivas. It’s fate, right?

born to run 50k ultramarathon

So Friday night I packed up my stuff and headed to Los Olivos,CA


We made it around 10pm on Friday night and it was pitch black. You had to open the gate to drive in and there were cows just standing right there staring.

born to run 50k ultramarathon

I made camp and then hit the sack.

4:14am – Wake up to gun shots!

4:15am – Mariachi Music starts blasting.

Guess it’s time to get up.

There weren’t a lot of porta-potties considering people were racing and camping there, but it worked.

born to run 50k ultramarathon

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I walked over the grab my bib – this was one bonus of staying on site. Super easy.

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Then, we were off!

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This wasn’t just my first trail race it was my first trail RUN.

And it was 30+ miles of trail. I ran the first hill and 99% of the other people were walking. Then, I was slow coming down the hill because of all the rocks (downhills are usually my thing). born to run 50k ultra marathon

Around mile 3 I realized…

I have no freakin clue what I’m doing!!

So I told myself, “You are going to have your ass handed to you today, get ready…”

Luckily I stuck to my “If you think you’re going too slow, slow down.” plan.

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I almost got lost once but someone behind me yelled at me that I started to go the wrong way and I got back on track. There were pink and yellow ribbons on trees that you were supposed to watch out for every half mile or so. IMAG3674 (800x450)

I ran solo the first couple of miles until Steve and two of his buddies caught up to me. I stayed with them for the first 10 from there. Steve told us when to run and when to walk the hills.

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born to run 50k ultra marathon

Ultra-marathon aid stations are very different from half or marathon aid stations in that:

1. There is a lot of “real food” not just gels and energy drinks.

2. People stop and eat, drink, hang out for a bit.

This was odd to me because I have mastered the art of running through an aid station.

3. The aid stations are very spread out / there are less of them.

*Fuel fail – I didn’t take any fuel with me for miles 10-20. NOT good.

On the next loop out I lost Steve and his peeps so I was solo. At this point runners are very spread out so I went for a while without running near anyone else.

At Mile 19ish at the aid station I caught back up with Steve and we ran a mile together.

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Finally at this point I got some fuel and dipped a potato in salt for sustenance. born to run 50k ultra marathon

Then, I took off – I found my 3rd wind and felt great!!!

I ran past 3 guys who were pretty spread out on a long flat stretch. I was feeling amazing until mile 24 when I started to get stomach cramps. I took a little of the gel I had at mile 25, but just couldn’t do it.

I tried to make myself run as much of the flat sections as possible, but my stomach hurt until the end. I even walked the last half mile-ish and kinda hate myself for that.

Once I crossed the finish line I didn’t even get my ‘medal’ – I walked straight to the porta potty line and my friend Russ was yelling at me, “Come get your medal! Where are you going?”

Finally, I went back to the finish.

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New PDR (personal distance record)  Official time was 5:45:21 – I stopped my watch during my 2 bathroom breaks out of habit.

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The ‘medal’ is actually a handmade amulet! And when the guy puts it on you he says a little speech about it being lucky. I’m not normally a jewelry girl, but I never want to take this off!IMAG3756 (800x450)

At the end I was filthy and stiff. But I was also really happy and proud of myself Smile

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After the race we took a drive to Los Padres and I went in the river as a makeshift ice bath! So glad I did that.

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Then, we went into town for food. There were cupcakes…

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and Sangria.

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Then, more sangria back at camp.born to run ultra marathon

We just hung out from there…

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One of my peeps, Hector was running the 100 mile race! He is the best. We cheered on the other runners as they came by and it was really inspirational.

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Huge thanks to Leann from the Sole Runners for putting so much work into organizing everything!

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Overall thoughts…

It was rough. I had NO idea the art of trail running or ultra fueling or ultra pacing. I have a lot of learn. But, I do kinda want to learn so I think I might maybe do it again at some point in the distant future. But that’s not my focus as of right now.

Most importantly – I had a BLAST!!! I went into it knowing it would be an adventure and it was.

I made a video of my experience…

Born to Run 50k

Question: What was the best thing you at this weekend?

I’m going with the loads of kettle corn I ate.


  1. says

    Legit you’re my hero. Congrats girl, you are freaking incredible! That sounds like a super fun race to just stop and eat food and hang out before heading back out!

  2. says

    Congratulations Monica! I think my friend Michele P (who is friends with Steve Mackel) might have been with you there.

    I love reading your running triumphs and hope that when my back heals and my core is strong enough that I’ll be able to run again and run strong!

    I hope we get to meet at Fitbloggin.

  3. says

    HOLY COW!! Such cool pics too! Jill Conyers says the people that run these long races are so cool & helpful!

    I know many of the Hoka OneOne wearer run these races. I wear those shoes & saved my exercise life! :)

  4. Jess says

    I love your video! It’s one of the best ones you’ve ever made and you’re pretty damn adorable in it.

    Amazing race – I think Ultras have their own special ‘groove’ and it can seem slightly-to-very alien depending on how much of a numbers-orientated runner you are. I’d love to do one but the navigation aspect frightens me more than the miles themselves. I’m impressed with anyone who can finish an Ultra without getting lost!

  5. jodea @ says

    That looks like such a fantastic challenge! You must feel so proud to have done it. My friend’s homemade apple crisp last night. Want. Now.

  6. says

    And I thought I was crazy for some of the races I’ve done, at least I ran on a few trails before doing my first ultra! That’s freaking great, congrats!

  7. Angelica says

    Congratulations! I’m surprised, though; you live in southern CA, running is your life, but you’ve never run trails?! I ran CC in HS when I lived in Nogales, AZ, and trails are sooo much better than pavement pounding. Now I absolutely prefer trails and dirt to streets and sidewalks. I really hope you get into it some more! Again, great job!

  8. says

    Congrats! Loved the video you made. You are a rock star for sure. I just started training with Sole Runners for the Long Beach Full. They are such an awesome group. I’ve done a bunch of halfs but this is my first full. Definitely looking forward to the rest of the training with them.

  9. says

    Seriously that looks amazing! I must do it!
    Those aide stations look like Ironman aide stations, a complete buffet! I used boiled potatoes and salt when I was training for IM and they worked like a charm. I get so sick of sweet stuff on long races, boiled potatoes and pickles save the day!
    Congrats on a great race!

  10. Amy says

    Congratulations on your new distance! That is really awesome and you should definately feel proud of yourself. I miss running SOOO bad, I’ve been dealing with plantar fascitis since January and haven’t ran since then, but hopefully I’ll be able to do it again in my future.
    I always enjoy checking out your blog, you should definately do more of those fun videos like you just made for the race, like a “day in the life” kinda thing. It’s fun to feel like you’re getting a behind the scenes peek at someone else’s life.
    Keep running and blogging!

  11. april says

    whoa, you should feel SO proud right now! that’s amazing! congrats on finishing what seems like the toughest race ever (well, to me at least!). =)

  12. Marci says

    Congrats on the ultra. My trail run was an ultra too :). Sorta breaks you in. I think 50k equals 31 miles right ? Most trail runs aren’t exact on mileage anyway. You did awesome!

  13. Marci says

    Sorry, I mean my first trail race was an ultra. I remember thinking the same thing as you… why is everyone walking up this hill! ha ha

  14. Ella says

    oh my gosh. Monica, you are so bad-ass!! I am super impressed. Running is hard, I know that a teeny bit from experience having done just one half marathon… but I always kind of lump it into a lesser category than organized sports (sorry, I know that’s bad, but it’s my default thinking). This, however, is super hard core and I have nothing but RESPECT!!!

  15. says

    Monica, You did great and your finishing time was fantastic. It was also great but a bummer to watch you pull away from me at mile 21. Next time you have to spend the night Saturday night. It is a raging party and they stay up all night. You are now an ultra-marathoner. Welcome to the club :)

  16. says

    Sounds like a total blast (minus the camping part)!
    Those aid stations are incredible!! I love your make-shift ice bath!!

  17. Ida says

    congrats on the 50k! i’ve done some shorter trail runs and I love how nice and low key everyone at the events are. it’s a totally different race experience, but it’s fun to switch it up.

  18. says

    Monica, congrats on your first ultra! Trail runners are a different breed, that’s for sure. Since my first ultra last fall, I haven’t really had any desire to go back to road racing. Trails are where it’s at!

  19. says

    Congrats! That is a huge accomplishment! Anything over like 6 miles seems like too long of a run :) I was in Chicago thus past week so for the best thing I ate….Garrett’s popcorn! Holy yum. I had the cheddar/caramel mix, so so good.

  20. says

    Awesome job!! I tried my first trail run a few weeks ago at Zumbro because I needed a 16 mile training run for my marathon training…oh my that kicked my butt. I have such respect for trail and ultrarunners now! I’m going to be volunteering at a trail run in July and can’t wait to help out!

  21. Lucy says

    So awesome. Congratulations! Glad you had a great time! Now you have me wanting to try this ultra thing… I only fear that I will get lost out there in the wilderness.

  22. says

    Congrats on the PR! New distance, new time, new terrain – you’re a champ! Did Ben travel with you this weekend or was it a trip with friends? I volunteered as a marshal at the Hong Kong Vibram 100km in January and am thinking of heading back next year to help out at the CP/aid stations coz I had the most amazing experience this year.

    Ran a night run on Saturday – small local race in the university campus; hoping to put up the race recap this week.

  23. Pam says

    CONGRATS on your 1st Ultra mi amiga!! :) Soo proud of you!!! 2013 has really been a great year of races for you…AND you’re only 1/2 way through the year! :)

    The best thing for me this weekend was Spice Market buffet at Planet Hollywood!! Soo good!!! 😉

  24. says

    So. Flippin’. Awesome. You ROCK!!! I bet you have an amazing runner’s high that will last for a LONG time!

    I loved the book Born to Run. I listened to the audiobook during my training runs for a marathon a couple of years ago. Talk about motivation! So proud of you!

  25. says

    Congrats, rock star!!!!!! Sometimes it’s best just to jump into new events and figure it out as you go. I find I’m less nervous that way. I felt like I was going to die during my first Tough Mudder, but I wasn’t nervous. I now get nervous before doing one because I know what insane events lie before me!

  26. says

    Congrats on the race!! Trail running is definitely one long party compared to a road race! Its more like an eating festival with some running if you do it right enough 😉

  27. says

    congratulations! I’d say that’s completely insane and why would anyone ever want to do that but if running has taught me anything it’s that, well, one minute it’s crazy and the next minute I’m all, “OMG that’s awesome I totally want to try it!”

  28. says

    My boyfriend and I love to run and we’re in a cross country team. We’ve been training for a while now and I want to prepare ourselves for the big race. We decide to look at some blogs on some running team and give ourselves a rest before the big race.

  29. says

    Congrats! That’s amazing girl! I’m running a couple trail races for the first time this summer too… a bit scared but should be fun!

    Question, did you carry water/electolytes with you?

  30. says

    Congrats on completing your first 50K and getting your new PDR! I can’t even imagine what it must be like to run an ultra. The aid stations sound like fun–more laid back, more food. Sounds like my kind of aid station. :) The best thing I ate this weekend was some fro yo. It was totally delicious.

  31. says

    This is just so overwhelmingly awesome, Monica! I don’t think you need to feel one single ounce of guilt or anything about walking a single step because girl, you ran. RAN. thirty miles! That’s an amazing feat, and not one that a lot of people ever attempt, let alone accomplish. So good for you, man!

  32. Sarah G. says

    You are such a badass! I am really interested in testing out more “real” foods as fuel. I’d be interested to hear more about what kinds of foods they offered at the aid stations. Congrats on your first ultra!!

  33. says

    Thank you so much for posting this! I am running my first 50k next month (Eastern Divide Ultra) and I am terrified. Also my first trail race, although I have run on trails a few times.

    And I’ve heard that same ultra-running mantra all over the place – glad it worked for you!

  34. says

    Congrats on finishing your first ultra! That’s so cool!

    Best thing I ate this weekend was yummy Italian food from Zia’s on the Hill (a quaint Italian neighborhood in St. Louis). I went there to celebrate my graduation. I got veal with asparagus, shrimp, and white wine sauce, pasta with red sauce, and a side salad.

  35. says

    Congrats on such an awesome accomplishment! I’ve got a long ways to go, but I’d love to try ultramarathons at some point. I’m almost finished reading Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run, and it has been really inspiring. I’m glad your recovery is going well, and I can’t wait to read more about your future trail/ultramarathon adventures!

  36. says

    Way to go Monica! That’s so awesome!! I hope to meet you at the RNRSD. I’m running for Team In Training but I am a Team Refuel member and plan to make it over to the VIP tent.

  37. betty says

    i was on vacation so i’m a little late reading this, but congrats! what an accomplishment. you are a true inspiration and i love reading your blog!

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