Races, The (Actual) Life of an Ultrarunner, Trailrunning
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Twin Peaks 50: A Twin Race Report

This past weekend, Nick and I ran the Twin Peaks 50/50, an awesome race run by Dirty Feet Productions RD Jessica DeLine. Nick ran Twin Peaks in 2012, but this time I was willing to join in on the fun. Without big expectations for our performances, we set the male and female course records (Nick: 8:56:27 and Jade: 10:32:34), finishing first and fourth overall, respectively.

On the drive home, we asked each other some questions about how our races went behind-the-scenes. Here’s what we had to say.

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Photo by Paksit Photos

Why the Twin Peaks 50? 

Nick: A client of mine was asking about the race, and with UTMF not having quite worked out how I’d envisioned, I thought it would be a nice event to end 2016’s ultra-running season with. 

Jade: I haven’t run a 50-mile race since Santa Barbara’s Red Rocks 50 two years ago, and was curious about the distance; when Nick mentioned that he was considering running the race, I was interested and decided to jump in as well. Running races together (though I should clarify that we don’t actually run together, as Nick is lightyears faster) makes me realize how incredibly lucky we are to share the sport. I guess what I mean to say is…why not?

What was the best part of your race?

Nick: I really enjoyed the first 7 miles of the course, the early morning inversion layer combined with the light classical music I was playing on my i-pod at the time.

Jade: Surprisingly the descents. While I felt strong on the first 10 mile climb (assuming first place from roughly mile 5 to the finish),  it was the ease and confidence with which I ran the somewhat technical and steep descents that became the best part of the race.

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Photo by Paksit Photos

What was the worst part of the race?

Nick: The immense “lead legs” that I experienced after finishing an 8 mile descent and going right into another big climb. My legs were toast and Mario (my competition throughout the race) was pulling well ahead of me on that part of the course.

Jade: Climbing up Trabuco Canyon in the heat of the day was tough. I swore second-place woman was right behind me, so I urged myself to run (read: shuffle) despite feeling light-headed and nauseous. I also ran out of water on that climb.

Would you come back?

Nick: It’s a really great local event and packs a hell of a punch. Dirty Feet does a great job putting on these races in SoCal.  I’ll definitely be back at one of their races next year.

Jade: I loved the race and would be thrilled to have the opportunity to come back in the future! The volunteers were kind and helpful, the participants were wonderful competition and the course itself showcased a surprisingly beautiful and tough part of SoCal.

How did you train for this race?

Nick: I’ve really been focused on my running form and body awareness over the last year. Strength training, stability work, treadmill, beach running, rock climbing and valued rest days.

Jade: I’m 6 weeks post-Cascade Crest right now, so after a 2 week break, I worked on bringing my mileage back up and getting back to a few speed/interval sessions each week. Other than that, I’ve been really focused on strength training and working on my pull-ups–by the end of the year I want to be at 15. This has nothing to do with running.

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What was the competition like?

Nick: Surprisingly intense! I purposely vowed not to look at the Ultrasignup entrant list before the race as I didn’t need the unnecessary worry, but Mario Martinez, the winner from the previous year, was there. The two of us virtually raced the entire 52 miles together. After leap-frogging back and forth, I pulled ahead of him on the final descent and, pushing hard, managing to open a 4 minute gap between us by the finish.

Jade: Intense! After pulling ahead on the first climb, I didn’t see her again until I was coming back down from the first summit of Santiago Peak. I thought I had lost her, but she was only 10 minutes behind! I hurried down the trail there to gain some distance. The last time I saw her was in the same location, coming down from Santiago Peak, this time less than a quarter mile behind me. I pushed the entire descent to the finish, terrified she would overtake me at the very end.

What was the most difficult part of the race?

Nick: Mario. Having great competition at an event with a course like this is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in the fact that the race is over sooner because we were both pushing one another so fast. Then a curse, because ultimately the race wasn’t about “what I was willing to give” for the win, it was “what it was going to take to win” and for a while I wasn’t prepared to give that.

Jade: The competition. I’m a competitive person, but I’m also uncomfortable feeling anxious for such a long period of time, and this race was certainly long. Knowing that the second-place woman could overtake me at any minute was difficult for me to deal with, and I focused as much as I could on going for time, going for the course record, as opposed to feeling frightened about what may or may not happen. Nick once told me that the winner looks ahead, always chasing down the competition; the loser looks behind, afraid of who is catching him. I took it to heart and didn’t look back once during the race.

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Where are you the most sore now post-race?

Nick: Quads. I can feel a massive growing soreness in them.

Jade: My quads!

What would you work on future races?

Nick: My uphill game didn’t feel as strong as it used to. I’ve learned nowadays to run with my posterior muscles instead of solely my quads (as I did in the past). Consequently, there is a lot of room for improvement in sharpening up my “springs” and improving my elastic recoil while ascending.

Jade: For the first time I feel like I’m beginning to do something right. Not coming from a high school/college running background, I’ve often lacked confidence in terms of my ability. My downhill was the strongest it’s ever been at Twin Peaks, but I want to continue to strengthen my speed and agility on the descents, in addition to finally solving lingering rib pain/diaphragm spasms.

What were you most proud of that you did (or didn’t do) during this event?

Nick: Keeping calm when Mario passed me multiple times throughout the race and having the internal confidence that I had what it was going to take to win, and truly believing that my race strategy was better than his. Very close competition like that usually shakes me up (see HURT 100/ UTMF/ Baja 50km etc..etc..) I was really proud that I kept my cool and raced my own race for the duration of the event.

Jade: I’m well aware that downhill running is the weakest component for me, but I felt strong and capable during this race. Maybe this is my turning point?

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Strangest thought?

Nick: Ooo look a golden eagle! I wonder if Jade will see that.

Jade: I bet Nick already saw that golden eagle and is hoping I’m seeing it now.

Two seconds before the gun goes off you think…

Nick: Damn. It’s really dark. Hmmm

Jade: I better leech onto a runner with a headlamp, because it’s really dark right now.

Two seconds before finishing you think…

Nick: Hey, Jade’s family! Oww… Yay, first person to go sub-9!

Jade: I can stop racing! My family is here! I can’t believe I did that!

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One-word summary for the race?

Nick: Mountainous.

Jade: Long.

One piece of advice for other runners?

Nick: Train your downhills before this event. There is no flat out there, folks!

Jade: Work on your uphill climbing legs, but don’t forget to build the necessary strength for the downhills.

For full race results, click here

Thank you to RD Jessica and all of the volunteers for putting on a spectacular and challenging race!

 

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