Lake Hodges 50k Race Report


Well… this really wasn’t supposed to be a race report since I went into the race with no intention of racing. My plan was start out mellow, which I did, and then finish strong… which I did. I just managed to run quicker than I thought I would and snag the win doing so.

I didn’t taper at all for the race and had a solid week of running, riding, and strength work in my legs heading into the weekend. On Saturday Maggie and I did a mellow 2 hour ride and followed up with an easy 4 mile jog around the hood. Even though it was pretty big week and I was looking forward to running 50k on Sunday morning.

I started nice and mellow and felt good from the start. I was holding back and running about 8-10th place during the first mile. I was in 6th at the 4.5 mile aid station and about a 90″-2 min behind the leaders. Just cruising at high 6 min pace felt easy so i just rolled with that and never felt like i was pushing the pace. I even resisted the urge to chase as the top 5 rolled away from me.

I hit the 9 mile aid station still in 6th but was catching 4th and 5th (first woman) so i took my time at the aid to let them get away. I didn’t want to get caught up in racing. So I ate a gel at the aid station, filled my bottle, and retied my shorts. I rolled out of the aid and just got back to my pace. At about mile 11 I passed 5th and then caught 4th (first woman). I was still cruising high 6’s and not pushing. I went to go around as she was slowing down at bit through the sand sections. she stuck with me and we were running shoulder to shoulder so i took out my headphones and we chatted for a couple of miles… slowing down to low 7 pace. she’s the woman that won WIEM and it was good to just jog and talk.

We hit the aid station at the base of the raptor ridge climb at mile 13 and i just rolled through it while she stopped. I gave it a good effort up the climb and was feeling good (got the strava CR for the climb). 3/4 of the way up the climb i could see the leaders just reaching the top. I thought they’d be further ahead at that point. I was now in 4th alone and cruised the descent. That was the first time that winning the race crossed my mind… but I wasn’t going to lift my pace to do it. I caught 3rd at about 15 miles and then 2nd right before the turn around at 18.6 miles. I was still running “MY” pace and not surging or speeding up to catch up. I could see 1st place ahead of me going into the aid station.

out of the aid station 1st only had 45″ on me and I took my time getting to him. I got to him at mile 20 but i just sat on him. I hung about 10 yards back from miles 20-23. I didn’t want to lift my pace yet and he was setting a solid tempo. i noticed i was having to force myself to slow down on any small climb we’d hit to stay behind him. So I decided I’d go for it at mile 23 at the base of climb heading back over raptor ridge.
Shez Photography: Lake Hodges 50K/15K &emdash; markii0718

so that’s what i did. I made a strong move and hammered the climb getting a gap right away and it just kept growing (got the strava cr for that climb too). I filled up at the mile 24.5 aid station and then kept cruising. I was still finding high to mid 6 minute pace pretty easy and had the best energy I’ve had that late in a 50k. I had to make a quick “bathroom stop” at about 26.5 and i felt much better after. I stayed on it until I crossed the bridge at mile 30 and then just cruised to the finish still feeling awesome and looking forward to seeing Maggie and Ruby waiting for me.



Paul put on another awesome race. It’s been rad to see his race grow over the past 3 years. There’s nothing better than being able to sleep in your own bed and have a killer race a short drive away. Thanks Paul!

I’m so stoked with the effort on Sunday and what a difference starting out mellow makes at the end of a race. Who knew?.. well Maggie knew.. she’s been telling me that for quite a while now but I’ve been too stubborn to listen! It’s by the far the best I’ve felt at the end of a 50k. I’ve never been able to close like that. It was good lesson heading into The North Face 50 and going forward… and it’s much more fun to be in hunting mode than running off the front.

i ran this race (same course) in 2012 in 3:47 and I was crushed the last 6-8 miles and gave it everything. this year I finished in 3:41 holding back and felt like I could have run another 18 miles. I am really happy with the consistency of my splits. The only miles that were much over 7 min pace were on the climbs and when I had to make bathroom pit stops. I’ll take it. I wasn’t sore Monday morning and have been able to roll back into to training so even though I went a bit faster than I anticipated on Sunday I know it wasn’t a full on effort.

After some internal deliberation and after talking with Maggie I am going to bag the SJT 50k this weekend. I just don’t feel like getting up mega early on Saturday to get in a “training” run. I love to sleep. I also don’t think I need another 30 mile run this week. It seems like what I’m doing is working and I’m going to stick with it and err on the side of being conservative with my build up to The North Face 50.


Maggie and I celebrated 2 years on Sunday as well. She’s incredible.


  4 comments for “Lake Hodges 50k Race Report

  1. October 30, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Here is a casual ‘That A Boy’ as to flow with the attitude from the post….. And a huge ‘Way to Go Maggie’…. Start slow and dominate later…. Awesome…. See You Next Year…. Cheers

  2. November 1, 2014 at 4:02 am

    Congrats again on a great race dude! You’re such an inspiration and an awesome example on how to mix elite sports with a well-balanced life! Way to go bro!

  3. Dan
    November 6, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Hey James,

    Congrats on the win. I’ve been visiting your blog since checking the race results from Oriflamme. I couldn’t believe your finishing time given the gnarly climb back up the canyon. I recall pretty clearly when you passed me heading back up the hill and I was still a good 2 miles from the turn around. Impressive.
    In this most recent race report you mentioned strength training right off the bat. Could you please elaborate or share what you do to work on strength.

    • November 24, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      dan, just saw this. i am planning a post on my strength training right after north face.

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