FKT: Kate Olson - Verdugo Mountains Traverse (CA) - 2022-05-21

Route variation
Double Traverse
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
3h 27m 20s

I used the Verdugo traverse as a training run before my race season started in March and I noticed that despite the heat, which pretty much knocked me on my butt, I was still relatively close to the FKT time so I told myself I'd see what I could do on a nice day in January, which is when the previous FKT is set. The Verdugos are scorching when the sun is out after April. I used to run the first 6 miles from Chandler trail every week when I worked in Burbank and it got *hot* doing that in the summer.

Last week I dropped from a 50-miler to avoid the impending heat exhaustion after 28 miles. By Monday night, I had spent 2.5 days rehydrating and my legs were BEGGING me to do something. I was going to go out for a fun adventure run in the city but when I looked at the weather, I knew Saturday was my opening. The high today is 71 and the May Gray of Los Angeles has been lingering until midday. That makes for very humid mornings (82% when I started) but no heat.

I planned to get out of the house and start by 5:30, lofty for someone who hasn't been feeling going to sleep early. I wasn't far off, I started at 5:45. Wore my Salomon S/lab Sense 8s and used my (whoops, unwashed from last week) Salomon vest with a water bottle on one side and Nuun endurance bottle on the other. Brought honey stinger chews, a HS waffle, and a Lara bar. A lot. More than I needed. An MTB and a man walking his dog started just before me. I passed the bike less than half a mile in and never saw him again.

The first Mile of the course is hard. It's a slog of a climb. I think 800 feet or so. Then you dip down a little and then start (mostly) climbing again for another 5 miles or so. Once you hit the top, it's gorgeous. And it was beautiful out. The clouds made the view out to Los Angeles a little eerie. At a point, there were somewhere between 5 and 10 drops of precipitation from those clouds. I kept those first 6 miles very controlled. Low effort but consistent. I started drinking early, sips from the electrolytes, sips from the water.

The next 3 miles, mostly down with some flat were breezy. There's a short bump (it's paved) at mile 9ish but it didn't phase me. The next 3 miles are down - I didn't take them fast because I know I have to head right back up them. Saw a few people on that section - I'm really glad I started early because it's a nice day up there and can get crowded on days like today. Took out my phone to take a pic of the turnaround but it had been disabled from hitting my vest. It does this a lot.

Turned around and started back up, opening my HS waffle (half now). I think I was a little off pace to hit the FKT at the turnaround but I wasn't actually concerned because I was hoping to be able to do what I know I can do on the back half. Onward, my goal was to get up that next 3 miles without having to stop or walk. It's a real tough section of the course. I didn't look at my pace but knew I was strong there.

I cruised the 3 miles after that - I've run it a lot and while it's some climbing, it's really gentle and comfortable. I can turn it on there. Finished the second half of my HS waffle. Then started the down. I calculated how much time I had left and figured a pace I needed to go (but I forget what it was). I thought I would be cutting it close, especially if the three bumps (my nickname for the three steep but not long hills the last 3.5 or so miles) hit me. On fresher legs, when I'm only doing a 6-out-6-back, I've done that section at a 5:45 minute/mile pace so I thought I might be able to hit 7s.

I flew. I have never climbed the three bumps as strong as I did today. I was talking to myself out loud, cheering myself on. Every time I arrived at the top of one of those hills I yelled, "Let's go!" or "Come on, O!" At a point, I knew I just had to keep doing what I was doing because I was definitely sub 7. With about 2 miles left I knew I didn't have to do anything crazy to get it. But my legs felt good enough to fly! So I did. It kinda feels like you're slamming when you go downhill there. My legs will probably feel it tomorrow. But I was light enough on my feet so maybe not.

When I finished, a guy walking his dog that I'd passed came down and told me I was flying! Always feels good to hear that. Super stoked though! Felt great out there! Had to wait 15 minutes to get my phone to work again cause it had again disabled. Took a few pics and sent a video to my family (tried to upload these but not sure they went through). 

Happy morning! I feel great and feel like I've sufficiently given my legs the push they were looking for!