Race Recap: Jed Smith 50K

For a few years, I’ve toyed with the idea of an ultra-marathon. I love running new distances and after having completed 6 marathons (including Ironman), I was really ready for a new challenge. I may not be the fastest runner, but I am a patient runner and generally enjoy running long. The thought of a 50K sounded crazy, but at a little less than 5 miles more than a marathon, it should be possible. This weekend, I put that theory to the test.

Video Recap

For this race, I created a video recap of my race experience. It’s a little long (15 minutes), so you might want to bookmark this post and come back when you’ve got some time.

Jed Smith 50K Recap

Race Splits

You can see where things started to slip and where things got a little better. Miles 23 and 25 were the worst, I think that’s where we stopped to try to stretch out my knee. The total time shown here does not include me changing clothes or 1 potty break, my official time is 5:11:31!!


I originally thought I won my Age Group, but I must have done something wrong when filtering the results. It looks like my AG was 30-39 and I actually came in 5th out of 7. I was the 10th female, out of 24 females and the 44th out of 81 runners. I think this is pretty good for first attempt at this distance. :)


Written Recap

In case you can’t watch the video (or don’t like videos), here’s a written recap. It’s not exactly the same as what I covered in the video, but I’m giving you a couple of options this time!

I got dressed in lots of layers, so I would be prepared for the temperature swings in the forecast. The starting temps were in the mid-40s, with the finish temps projected for the low-60s. I wore my Zensah calf sleeves, running skirt, lightweight running tights, sports bra, short sleeve shirt, arm sleeves, and vest – I was prepared! Even Stuft Mama’s Flat Kitty (see left picture below) was ready to go!

Ready to go!Jed Smith 50K - Cold!

This was a low-key, small race – only 150 racers across the distances (50M, 50K, and 30K). The 50M distance started at 7:30, 50K at 8:30, and 30K at 9:30. All races were run on the same 4.88 mile loop, which a little extra out-and-back at the start to get the extra mileage necessary for each distance. We parked near the start, right on the race course – which made it easy to have my own personal aid station at the car.

On your mark - Jed Smith 50K

And we're off - Jed Smith 50K

The out-and-back distance for the 50K was almost exactly 2 miles on a well-groomed, wide “trail”. I fell into a comfortable pace with two other girls and listened to them chat about other Ultras they had done and had scheduled for the year. I realized how inexperienced I was with this group – it’s humbling to realize that you are so new and a “short-distance” runner in this crazy/awesome pack. I know many of you think I run a long ways, but I was seriously outclassed here. Many around me had done at least one 100M race – this was a short distance to them!

Race Scenery - Jed Smith 50KRace Scenery - Jed Smith 50K

Flat Kitty in Sacramento

Flat Kitty enjoying the scenery

I kept a sharp eye on my pace the entire race. My plan was to run “easy” – no faster than a 9:15. I did a pretty good job at this and settled into the pace with little thought after the first few miles. I was able to keep this average consistently through about 20 miles, which I was really happy about.

As I finished the first loop, Kirk was there with camera in hand and cheering me on! I was getting warm, so I pointed toward the car and stripped off my tights and vest, grabbed two fresh bottles of water (I wore my FuelBelt with just 2 bottles), a gel, and headed off again.

Jed Smith 50K    Jed Smith 50K - down the hill

The second lap went by really fast, although I did start to feel a little pulling on the inside of my left knee. I hadn’t had that problem in training (of course), but it was just a dull ache and nothing to worry about. I passed Kirk my arm warmers after this loop and asked him to fill one of my next bottles with the Vega electrolytes. It was really starting to warm up and I wanted to try to manage the “heat” as much as possible.

The third lap was good and coming down the hill on this lap was exciting – I as over halfway done! Yikes I’ve run 16 miles and I’m just over halfway done? Wait – stop thinking about that and just run! I grabbed my refill bottles and gel from the car and took off again – only 3 laps to go! Hey…if I keep this pace up I’ll finish in under 5 hours!

Halfway Bridge

Right before I hit that 20 mile mark, I realized the knee pain was getting a little worse and I allowed a short walk break. I came down the hill of lap 4 just a little off my pace, but not too bad. Then I saw Kirk in his running clothes – YAY!

Kirk ran with me for the last two laps, which was awesome. It was an open course, so it didn’t interfere with any other runners. Shortly after he joined me, I started a little more walking – up the hills to manage the knee discomfort. Then I tried to stop and stretch it out, even laying on the ground and trying to figure out how to twist to stretch out that spot. I realized later, that stopping was a bad idea. It made my knee really lock up and getting going again was difficult. We walked and stopped and stretched a lot on this loop, but I worked at keeping a good attitude and doing what I could. No time goals, let’s just get through this. Even with all that mess of the 5th lap, I was just about at my PR pace for the marathon. Wow!

Jed Smith 50K - 26.2 done!

The last lap was much better, I was able to push through and get my knee moving manageable, with far less walking this lap. I was tired, I’ll admit it, but with each step I got closer to finishing my first Ultra! My watch beeps every mile, so with every beep we celebrated. Only 4 miles left…Only 3 miles left….2 miles left…On my gosh – only 1 mile left!!!

Coming down the last stretch, there are a lot of people (spectators and runners who have already finished) hanging out. I “encouraged” them to make some noise – this was my first 50K and I was almost done! =)

Crossing the finish line is very low-key, no medals, no screaming fans packing the chute (other than Kirk!), but it was still awesome! I was so happy to sit down (yea, you’re supposed to keep moving, but I wanted to sit for a second) and Flat Kitty joined in the finish line celebration with me.

Jed Smith 50K - 31 Miles!!

Jed Smith 50K - happy to be done!

Overall, this was a fabulous race experience. As much as I complained about a 6 loop course, it was actually great! Being able to carry very little on each loop, change wardrobes as the temp changed, and breaking the distance down into smaller segments was great! The volunteers and spectators along the course were GREAT, even those that were out doing their own workout took a few seconds to cheer us on along the way. The course was more rolling that I expected, but in a good way. Too flat can start to wear on your legs in different ways. I could have done without the steep downhill at the end of each lap, but it was okay.


Okay – what did you think? Video or written? I really would love to hear your opinions on this one!

What’s the longest race you have done so far? Any long-term aspirations for running races to share?

Do you like to travel for races or do you prefer races near home?

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    • says

      Thanks – I’m happy my knee held up too! I’m sure Dr Nik (1st Choice Healthcare) will put the hurt on it tomorrow, but it’s feeling much better already and I think it will be okay soon. :)

  1. says

    SO freaking awesome, Heather!! I am so proud of you! What a huge and awesome accomplishment. I watched your video and loved it. It was great to be able to see your excitement from reaching such an amazing goal. Congrats!!!!
    Stacy @ Stacy Eats recently posted…Blogger PotluckMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks Stacy – glad to hear I didn’t bore you with my long recap! I tried to shorten it, but I kept taking a little longer to tell the story each time, so I gave up and shared it anyway. I do like to talk! :)

  2. Lee says

    You are awesome!

    The longest run I’ve ever done is a marathon and I didn’t like it. I did the GA one the first year and, as I’m sure you recall, it was ridiculously hot out and I got really dehydrated.
    Lee recently posted…Bloggers in the HouseMy Profile

    • says

      I was lucky to only be doing the half that year, I do remember hearing horror stories about that race. I hope you’ll try again if that was your one & only marathon, it’s not usually so bad (and that’s a HILLY marathon). :)

    • says

      Coming from you, that really means a lot! :) Thanks!! BTW – I should finally have some time this week to get back on our TRX idea. I’ll email you. :)

    • says

      Thanks Becky – you ready to join me for the next one?! And that running skirt is my favorite running clothing ever – same one I did the Ironman run in. So much more comfortable than shorts. :)

  3. says

    Congrats again! That is such an accomplishment! (and I love that you had an outfit change!)

    I have to say I like the the text, in addition to the video, because I can read it quietly in my office.

    Also, something funny I realized about running this weekend is that I felt just about as proud and accomplished after finishing my first 5 miles as I bet you did after finish 31. It’s crazy how personal and exciting every milestone is. :)
    Traci @yellowWISHBONE recently posted…"Fake" TrainingMy Profile

    • says

      I guess a wardrobe change does sound a bit girly, huh? :)

      I’m so glad you felt proud of yourself after your 5 miles, hitting distance milestones is HUGE, no matter how many miles they are. I actually talked about in the video version, so you’ll have to watch that tonight. I felt like such a newbie with so many experienced ultra-athletes, it’s all relative!!

  4. Christie says

    First off- so funny that Kirk commented above- Haha! Love the cute flirty teasing of one another 😉

    Heather- I am so proud of you! You’re amazing! I LOVED the video recap. As a runner and blogger I feel like I READ them all the time. It was so nice to not only HEAR your recap, but it was great getting to see your excitement and get a better feel for your personality as well.

    I think I would’ve liked the loops too. Especially being so close to your car, gear and other essentials. So sweet of Kirk to run the last part with you- how great that must have been!!!

    I do like traveling for a race, but it can be so costly. When I do it is usually around another event or a visit with friends or family. What was it that made you choose this specific race and to travel so far?

    Can’t say it enough, so proud of you! Maybe someday you’ll be able to talk me into joining you, but first I need to get another full marathon under my belt.

    WAY TO GO!!!

    • says

      I’m so glad you liked the video, I tried to make it shorter but just couldn’t. A lot happens in 31 miles. :)

      I love traveling for races, and compared to traveling for tris, running races are so much cheaper. I was originally going to run a 50K in NC this weekend, but when I realized it was out-and-back on a 10K course – I thought that sounded really boring. Running the same 3 mile stretch 10 times just sounded dreadful. There weren’t a lot of other choices that fit in the timing of my marathon, but with Kirk working in Sacramento more often right now, this one made sense!

      I’m doing the Marine Corp marathon in October – you should sign up and run with me!!

      • Christie says

        You know what… if I am not pregnant again I am in!!! Actually, i’ll check and see if there is a half. I could totally do a half pregnant!

  5. Doug says

    That is pretty darn strong in my book!

    Awesome effort and execution. I need to buy you a beer and hear all the gritty details.


  6. says

    YES! Been waiting for this recap and waited all day to sit and watch your video. I loved both recaps…the video was good for something different, but a bit long if I was to give any constructive criticism (for me anyway). At the same time, I really liked hearing about your fuel, running clothes…everything! So glad it was low key, Kirk was there to help/cheer and you DID IT! Huge accomplishment. Loved the pics too! Can’t believe Flat Kitty made it in. 😉 Awesome work, Heather.

    • says

      Okay, I definitely need to work on being less long-winded next time, thanks for the feedback! I still can’t believe I actually did it – you know how the farther away something gets it starts to feel surreal, I’m already there. :)

  7. says

    Okay lady. YOU are my hero. Sooo awesome! I’m so proud and inspired, not to mention thrilled that Flat Kitty got to join in on the fun. I’ve never done a race with laps before, but it sounds like it was nice not havign to carry everything around with you and with the temperature changes and everything. I hope you’re resting and recovering well! YOU ARE AWESOME!! (I just had to say it again.)CONGRATS!
    STUFT Mama recently posted…Barely Hanging, a Green Smoothie and Weekend LessonsMy Profile

    • says

      You are so kind, I’m just good at running and running and running! :) We had too much fun with Flat Kitty – we were talking about needing a Flat Abbott & Zurie (our dogs) on the next trip, it was just hilarious! Now, if I can run near your pace for the marathon, I’ll be even happier!

  8. says

    the longest race i’ve done is a half-marathon and that’s plenty long for me!!! you’re incredible! :) :) i’ve also never traveled for a race… i think that would make me even more nervous! but i do love traveling, so it could be fun, too!

    • says

      Never say never, I’ve done that too many times and been wrong. :) You should try a low-key race in an area you’re already traveling to, that way you could see if you like it!


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