January 29, 2019
32. Angela Holder
I got to know Angela a bit towards the end of 2014. She was part of a trio of ladies who decided to attempt their first 50K at Ridgecrest (the previously mentioned Stephanie Harris and Dulce Barton). All three ladies finished within the time limit of 9:00. Since then, Angela has finished the Avalon 50M and the Born to Run 100M, but what I really want to talk about is our adventure at the Twin Peaks 50M in 2015.
This was a race I had attempted before, but had dropped to the 50K, but as the years went by, I got to know the race director and so developed a plan to have an extra early start with my friend Lauren Miertschin and finally finish the race. In the planning of this, I convinced Angela that this would be her first 50 mile race. Yes, this insanely difficult race. We trained like gangbusters, with several trips out to get to know the course as well as possible.
In August, we planned a 4:00am test run that was a total failure. When Angela’s shoes started to fall apart, she turned around and I continued alone, with the plan to meet up on the opposite hill after she duct taped her shoes back together. Before I got to that hill, I severely twisted my ankle, and had to hop 4 miles downhill on one foot (on a treacherous trail). Oh, and Angela couldn’t find the start of the hill (overshot it). Despite my Grade-2 ankle sprain, we planned another 23 mile training run (with a brace and KT tape) to make sure we knew every inch of the course intimately (that went better).
Finally, the race neared. Lauren dropped out, but Angela and I were still in. On Friday night, when we picked up our bibs, the race director asked us how early we were going to start, “4?” (actual start is at 6; early start at 5) I told her, “We’ll tell you when we get to the finish,” because our plan was to start at 2am.
We drove over and parked in the Vons lot nearby and tried to catch a short nap, but didn’t sleep much. Finally, at 1am, we decided to drive over and start getting ready, which took us to 1:20am. By that point, we thought it was a bad idea to try and sleep another 40 minutes and just get on going.
We headed up the hill past the Korean church and then we started hearing strange howling noises and oddly colored lights. We decided that it was a bunch of space squirrels planning a early morning takeover of Corona, and snuck past without disturbing their otherworldly nut gathering.
The rest of the climb went without incident, save a little stumbling in the dark, and we came through the makings of aid stations (boxes of water and unassembled tables) where we could at least refill any of the little water we had consumed.
Angela was extremely helpful through the Main Divide section (where I had mangled my ankle months before), turning around and helping me see my way through this section without incident. From here, Angela gets ahead of me on the downhills and I eventually re-catch and pass her on the Holy Jim uphills.
We stay separated until I just after I reach the summit of Santiago Peak (where the aid station is just being assembled). Her knee is bugging her and she cuts her losses and will drop to the 50K (probably a good decision on this tough race). She asks that I give her my car keys, OR have on my conscience that she will probably freeze to death at the bottom waiting HOURS for me to finish. (Don’t lose my keys!) Proud to say that we both got a finish that day.
We have had a few adventures since then, but it is the rare ultra when the bulk of your experience is shared by just two, during the 3-1/2 hours that we had the course to ourselves (and the alien squirrels).