*This is a guest post from our friend Elijah Landen on his first 50K and the 50K that got cancelled due to the fires in California*
Friday November 9th I was eating breakfast getting ready to go to work when my wife came out of our bedroom and asked if my race was still happening. “It should be, why?” “Well the whole area is on fire and they are evacuating people.” Quickly I turned on the news. Sure enough the whole area was up in flames. One minute later the race director posted to Facebook saying that it was canceled. So many emotions I was dealing with. I trained hard for this and was stoked to go run the course. I also had family living over there I prayed they could make it out and that their homes would be spared. I spent the whole day pissed off and had no idea what to do with myself. I also felt like a spoiled brat. How could I be so upset when people’s whole lives are being destroyed? I wrestled with this the next couple days, when finally I decided I would go do a 50k anyway.
After I had decided to do it on my own I cleared it with my wife and put the plan into motion. As soon as it was decided, the Race Director posted that the race was canceled indefinitely and he gave several options for runners to choose from. One of the options was a race challenge. You could run your own race, post it to strava on their private page then come pick up your shirt, medal. and bib at a local running store. Well this was great news I already decided I was gonna do it anyway.
Saturday November 17th I set off for the Portuguese Bend forest preserve just over the hill from my house. I had run through the trails there before, but today I really wanted to explore them all. I started around 6:30 a.m. It felt great just be outside watching the sunrise. My plan was to take my normal route to see exactly just how far it is. The trails are all a little different. Some are single tracks, some are rocky, the main one is a fire road. A lot of people come here. They all park at the top and work their way down. I’ve done work in the area and knew I could park at the bottom and go up. This is much better in my opinion. Once I made it to the top I refilled my water bottles and set out to find one trail in particular…the rattle snake trail. This trail is pretty rocky and steep and leads to an epic set of stairs to climb up to the top. After a couple miles and asking a few people I finally found it and conquered the stairs. Back at the top I decided to head back to my car grab some snacks and refuel at about the halfway mark.
Still feeling good I made my way back up this time the climb was a lot harder and I was forced to walk it. Despite walking I managed to catch and pass a couple of mountain bikers who commented on my power hiking skills. After what felt like forever I made it the top checked my strava I was at 35k only 15k to go sweet! I started back down feeling good. I was totally gonna crush this Run!
Then I hit the wall at 40k I had to make my way up some steep climbs. I did not want to do this so I opted out and hit the road. I walked the whole way to my car “man this sucked.” “What am I doing out here?” All these thoughts were going through my head. Back at my car I was at the marathon mark. I sat down ate some croissant and cracked open a previously frozen Gatorade that was now slushy consistency. I was done, stick a fork in me. I thought of all the people in my life I’d let down I thought about my group of friends I never met at LHRL. At that moment Wilson Horrell’s voice came in my head loud and clear “,come on man! You didn’t come all this way to stop 8k short! Get up let’s go!”. Well that was it. I grabbed my Gatorade slushy and set out for the beach this time. I really needed a change of scenery. Made it to the ocean and back up, only 45k. Damn! I needed 5k more. So I set out to the trail and I would take it to where it meets the road and then take the road back and that should be enough. Only 48.7k! Damn! Well all I need to do is make it to the trail head. That’s good I’ll just get back to my favorite sign with the coyote on it that says “keep me Wild” man I love that shit! I turned the corner and saw some hikers about to hit the trail. I was ecstatic they could take my picture! I made it 31 miles1 A full days work with a lot of emotions, a little sunburned, but I feel great!