Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cave Creek Marathon 'Fun Run'

A 'fun run' is a semi-supported (some aid stations/flagging), typically no-fee (some have donations for the food) run. It is not a race, but often participants 'sign up' as these types of runs do not have to purchase permits as long as they follow certain rules, one being a limit on participants. This is how the Tucson Trail Runners does their runs. These types of runs are becoming more popular, as the economy makes it more and more difficult for people to sign up for races.
Plus, it is FUN! That's why it is called a fun run!!! Yeah, I know, it is hard to explain that to the office co-workers and some non-running family and friends... :)
One of my fellow Tucson Trail Runner members, Dallas, rode up with me to Spur Creek Conservation Area in Cave Creek (2.5 hours North of Tucson) to join some Phoenix ultrarunners for the running of the Cave Creek Marathon fun run. Dallas is just about one of the most upbeat and friendly people you would ever want to meet, so I had great company for the long drive up and back.
Of all the other ultrarunners up there, I only knew Jamil, who finished first, in 4:50, but everyone else was super friendly.
Distance: 27 miles (I had 2 moments of backtracking, so it really is just a bit longer than marathon distance.) I missed one turn and then later dropped my camera, so I had to backtrack on both counts and that added on around a 1/2 mile total. The run was around 26.5 miles according to the run director.
Time: 6:41.
There were 48 people who started, and 42 finished. I was 24th to finish, and the 4th woman out of 11 women who finished.
Cumulative elevation gain/(loss): 5,777/(5,791) feet. The run director and others reported around 6,200 feet gain. Usually the Garmin GPS watches 'over-report' gain, but mine was either more accurate or under-reported. Either way, it was a lot!
I ran with or near Dallas for about a mile or so and then he pulled away.  Dallas is on the left in this picture:
We ran through multiple creek crossings right at the beginning and the water was very, very cold!!!!!
In this picture, I'm in the pink, of course, and Dallas is still right in front of me. I think this was one of our first crossings.
We had wet feet for quite a bit of the run. As soon as the feet would dry a little, or I would regain some feeling in my toes, we would run into another creek crossing! No blisters or feet problems as a result of wet feet, though. :) I think Dallas said there was around 18 crossings. Felt like 36! The crossings sure were pretty.

Where there is water, there is mud, though. Lots of mud. My legs felt heavy for miles because of it. But, it added to the fun. :) Can't be a real trail runner without a little dirt and mud. Oh, and blood. That's coming up.

After mile 6 or 7, I was not passed by another person until the last 1/2 mile of the run. I passed about 10 people over that time.
There was a super well-stocked aid station at mile 13. I ate some potatoes (I'm posing with one below), peeled some clothes off, and off I went!
The course was really not  in great shape from all of the recent heavy rains. Creeks were up (thigh high in some places) and a lot of the trails were washed out. But Jody, the run director, had pink tape everywhere and that made route finding fairly easy. Without the tape, I would still be wandering around out there...

I ran out of water 6 miles out from the finish. It was smoking hot by this time of the day. I was drinking water much faster than I expected. As soon as I ran out, I caught up to another runner. He offered to give me some of his water, but he didn't have much, so I turned him down (isn't that nice, though?) He said we still had a ways to go, because, "WE STILL HAVE TO CLIMB OUT OF HERE." That's how he said it. Yikes! I just decided I would head on and see what happened. I got a burst of energy, got moving and 1/2 hour later, ran into a large group of hikers. They were kind enough to give me about 16 ounces or so of water, which was perfect! Needless to say, it took over 1.5 hours to do that last 6 miles - it was definitely a climb.
Dallas smoked the course in his usual style, finishing 12th in 5:56. He ran over 80 miles this week!!!!! It was great to see him at the finish.
Dallas and I compared the cat claw marks on our legs and chatted with the other runners a bit. Cat claw is a very heinous plant that will tear your clothes and your skin. I had about 50 pretty good scratches on my legs (hence the blood). Lovely! Battle wounds. I always have fun showing them off to co-workers the next day. They usually have a look of horror on their faces. :)
This was a beautiful course. I'll do it again.
We finished off the day with In and Out burgers and lots of good conversation.
It is always a good day spent on the trails, with other trail runners and with a good friend. It was a lot of driving, but it all made sense in the end. :)
I just love an adventure. And, if I can drag a friend along for it, all the better!
"There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness, when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy. Today is a gift, that's why it is called the present." ~ Author Unknown.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Snow. And no long run.

Big Winter storm hit Tucson this week.

So, the TTR Sabino Canyon run was called off. Then the 20 mile training run for OP 50 was called off. What's a gal to do?

Sleep in. Run a little over 8 miles at noon time with my dog Taos on the Rillito. I love this dog! She doesn't pull as much anymore when we run - plus I try to run faster! The sun sure felt good.

We took a little detour off on the 'Coyote trail'. 

Kept checking out the snow covered Catalina mountains. I also spent a lot of time with friends today, which was healing.
Now THAT'S a day off.
"You gotta have a little rock 'n roll music, to get you through the stormy weather..." ~ Boston, one of my favorite bands of all time. :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

CFR Winter Trail Series Race #1

It has been raining for days in Tucson, but it cleared in time for the race. :)

Distance: 9.9 miles
Time: 2:15 - Slow, but hey, I just ran 38.5 miles 6 days ago!!!
Cumulative Elevation gain/(loss): 2,066/(2,062) feet
This course does climb a bit and is a little rocky, but once the 'meadow' section opens up, it is super runnable.

It was a beautiful day in the Tortolita Mountains - didn't get to enjoy the sweeping views as usual because the mountains were socked in, but running through the clouds was surreal and peaceful...

My legs were a little sore - I had not run all week since GT 38.5 on Sunday. After a while, they got with the program. I had a good time. 
Amy, a trail runner that lost her leg years ago to cancer, was at the race and is absolutely amazing and inspiring! She is doing the Western States 100 mile race in June!!! Amy is in the blue jacket in the picture.
Ott, the RD, puts on great races - excellent course markings and yummy food afterwards! (Love, love, love the mini bagels with turkey breast!!! He had them at the Summer races, too.)

Races #2 and #3 are the next two weekends - I'm not doing the one next weekend, but I'll be doing #3 in two weeks.
Glad I made it out - a lot of people didn't show, probably because they thought it would be cold and rainy. Guess they missed out.  It was cold at first, but warmed up a little bit. I never took my ear muffs off until the very end, and I never needed my sunglasses! Perfect running weather.

"I know that no I'm not alright, but I feel okay,
'cause anything can, everything can happen,
that's the story of my life..." ~ Bon Jovi

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ghost Town 38.5 Race Report

Distance: 38.5 miles (Garmin calculated 38.52!)
Time: 8:27:03 (Goal was under 9 hours - woohoo!)
I finished 51 out of 88 runners who finished the 38.5 mile distance. All 89 people who started the race finished the race (the one extra runner was 82 years old and he was the only one doing the 'double masters' 27 mile distance.) 
Cumulative elevation gain/(loss): 7,562/(7,619) feet
Starting elevation: 5,319 feet
Highest elevation: 6,970 feet
Where: Hillsboro, NM in the Gila National Forest
Fastest mile: 9:38, mile 12
Me (I was pretty tired - didn't sleep that great) and Jerry, a fellow TTR member, before the race at the race headquarters:

This race is an out and back course.  We started the race in the dark, wearing headlamps - temperature was around 28 degrees. I was bundled up! The first 6.3 miles are on road, as are the last 6.3 miles. The road is uphill, going 1,000 feet up in elevation in the 6.3 miles. I didn't notice the uphill, because I couldn't see it in the dark! Before I turned off the road, I was treated to a beautiful sunrise to my back:

The course was on dirt road/trails for the miles between 6.3 and 32.2. It was absolutely beautiful!

The race went off the dirt road on a trail spur and I ran into all sorts of snow and ice.

I ran into the 'boys' - Jerry and Chris, fellow TTR members, on the out and back portion of the 'trail spur'. They were flying!

I also saw Troy, another TTR member, in this section as well, and he was going so fast, my picture was blurry!

I got to run with some great people throughout the race - here is Adrian, who was running an ultra for the first time (he had never even run a marathon!) He was a cutie and very friendly.

The last mile or so of the 'out' portion had a bunch of snow and ice as well.

I started the day off with GI problems (there is an awesome pre-race dinner the night before - should have skipped it and stuck to my normal food routine), but I just dealt with it okay and kept eating plenty of gels, potato pieces, Clif Shot Rocks (protein)  and drinking plenty of water. There was a lot of campfire smoke out there, too, so I had my coughing asthma kick in for about 3 hours. Other than that...I felt pretty good the whole day! Seriously, I am amazed at how great I felt during this race.
I got a new iPod before this race, and it really saved me! There are a few really big climbs and I just turned the music on and trucked up those hills. I don't have any pictures of the hills, because I was sooooooo focused!

The weather turned out great for the day, staying cool enough for running, with the sun tucked under the clouds for most of it. By the aid station at mile 26 or so, I was down to one long sleeve shirt and my skirt.

I had a strong finish, too, and even though a walked a bit at the end, I was still averaging a bit over 10 minute miles for the last 7 miles. The views at the end of the race on the road were really awesome.

The crazy thing is, I am hardly sore. I am trying something new out - I didn't stretch at all after the race. I am going to stop stretching for a while to see what happens (it has been suggested by other runners). My legs felt awesome! I am amazed.
I am proud of myself for finishing my longest distance ever! I hope that this is a good sign that I will do well at the Old Pueblo 50 mile race on March 6th.
This race is highly organized; I'm doing it again next year!!! The volunteers were so friendly and helpful, aid stations were packed with great food and drinks. We got a huge chile ristra for finishing the race, which was neat! 
Thank you to all of the wonderful people who supported me and helped me finish this race. I am thankful to the Tucson Trail Runners, whose runs are helping me reach some awesome goals!
From one of the songs on the iPod that I enjoyed during the race:
'One road to loneliness, it's always the same; one road to happiness, it's calling your name' ~ Yes

Sunday, January 10, 2010

TTR Tortolita Mountains Trail Loops

We all gathered in the dark as the sun was coming up.

I was the only gal out there - I guess another gal showed up a little late. Not a bad deal though - me and about 15 trail running guys!!! ;)

Distance: 16.2 miles
Time: 4:06 (uh, yeah, lots of hiking)
Trails: Wild Burro, Wild Mustang, Alamo Springs
Elevation gain/(loss): 4,566/(4,540) - a little higher than Ross reported with his handheld GPS

Fun: Lots!!
Actually, I was very sore from a deep tissue massage yesterday, so it was hard and I was slow! Many people chose the 10 mile option, but about 6 of us did the 16+ miles.

It is very pretty out there, although the new Ritz-Carlton is now built and can be seen for part of the run. At least they tried to blend it in to the landscape.

Well, that is my last run until the Ghost Town 38.5, which is on Sunday 1/17 in Hillsboro, NM. I ran a total of 28 miles for the week.
This week: one hot yoga class, some stretching and foam rolling, and no running. Wish me strong legs and lots of PMA (positive mental attitude)!!!