Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cave Creek Marathon Fun Run

The 7th annual Cave Creek Trail Marathon Fun Run...

Dallas and I headed up Northeast of Phoenix again for our 2nd running of this course. We had to leave at 4:30 am to get there for a 7:30 start.

Last year, we went as friends....

This year, we went as a couple...
Catching up with all of our Phoenix area peeps before the run!

Jody Chase was the Run Director.
She came down from Lake City, CO to RD the run!
Here is her report from the WRMC site (with pictures inserted by me!):

The weather was perfect for running. Chilly at the start and then warming slowly to 70 degrees with intermittent clouds. The water crossings were low and the trails were in fairly decent condition this year.

Last year, we had a lot of water crossings - our feet just stayed wet...

Hardly any winter rains this year...
Dallas, me and Stephanie

There were quite a few return runners from previous years and some new runners to make things interesting. Jamil raced in first again this year and lowered his time from last year by 24 minutes. Nick, his brother, came in second and Andrew took the third spot. For the women, Honey ran in as first women and also bettered her time by 15 minutes from last year. Stephanie took second place and Renee from Tucson rounded out third.

Renee ran the entire way this year with Dallas, whom is also from Tucson. Renee told me an interesting story after she finished. Renee and Dallas carpooled from Tucson last year. They were just friends and chatted all the up to Cave Creek, ran the run separately and then chatted all the way back to Tucson. After my run, they continued to stay in touch and talked frequently. So much so that during the holidays of 2010, Dallas asked Renee to marry him. She gladly accepted and they are planning a spring wedding in 2011. Congratulations Renee and Dallas. I'm glad I played a small part in bringing those two together.

{You did Jody - thank you!!!}

I have raised enough money from last years race and this years race to be able to help Desertfoothills Land Trust buy two acres of land with the money raised from donations from the CCTR. DFLT are $700,000 strong and still gaining by fundraising the necessary monies to buy up the surrounding land around Spur Cross and Cave Creek Park. Right now, the land could be sold for development. Let's hope they are able to buy the land before developers do.

Thank you to everyone that got up early and came out to enjoy the day. Hope to see you next year for the 2012 Cave Creek Trail Marathon Fun Run.

Thanks again everyone, it was a pleasure. Jody Chase

Well, that's pretty much the story! Dallas and I went up there last year as friends, and this year as an engaged couple!

Total time: 6:57
Distance: 26.83 miles (we took a slight detour for a few minutes)
AEG: 3,550 ft. This is elevation corrected using Garmin Connect, so it should be pretty accurate. It felt like more than that, I think because much of the climbing seems to be isolated to some steep sections.

Great food at the aid station!!!!

Dallas and I were 20th and 21st out of 33 finishers. My time was longer than last year. [Bummer...sigh] I am still dealing with a shin issue, which slowed me down a bit - otherwise, I'm not sure? I thought that many steep downhill sections had more loose scree-type rock than last year, which made it hard for me to want to run the downhills with abandon. I still ran pretty good when I could.

This run is so hard! We got really hacked up from catclaw, and the trails at points were loaded with ball-bearing rocks.

I'm getting pretty sick of it by now. Just ask Dallas. :\

There are some steep climbs, but lots of runnable trails. Some sections go through riverbed washes, but there were some neat tree covered areas that we enjoyed a lot.

Oh, and we saw a dead cow. :( It wasn't good. We smelled it before we saw it.

Yes, we took a pic of the dead cow, but I'll spare you that.

We visited with everyone afterwards, which was great. So lucky to know a few runners up there now - Honey, Jeff, Jamil, Nick, Stephanie, Jody, and Robert. 

We got back on the road down to Tucson (2.5 hour drive) and stopped at In 'N Out Burger in Casa Grande, just like we did last year. Dallas said I impressed him last year, because I ate two burgers and fries!! (Hey, a girl that can eat!)

Last year, after I dropped Dallas back off in Tucson, he emailed me and said, "Thanks for the scratched up legs and the sunburned face!"

This year, Dallas emailed me at work the next day and said about Cave Creek, "A year since the day I walked on clouds!  Thank you for asking me if I'd like to go with you on this run last year.  It truly, forever changed both of our lives!"

And, that's Cave Creek for ya. You are welcome, Dallas. :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

TTR Bear Canyon Loop PR

Dallas watching me finish...
Total time: 3:41. It was 3:49 the last time. Woohoo!!
Total distance: ~ 17 miles
AEG: ~3,000 feet

Nice to get a PR.

Bear Canyon Loop is a TTR Classic. This was my 5th running of this set of trails, although I've only done the TTR version twice (I've gone out on the entire Bear Canyon trail, come back Phoneline several times, and recently, taken a detour on Sycamore reservoir.)

The TTR version heads out on the road and then picks up on the trail and then heads back on the tram road.

I was proud of myself. Especially since I had just finished a 38.5 miler the week before! :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ghost Town 38.5 Race Report

Dallas and I took off Saturday morning for Hillsboro, NM, the site of the 6th annual Ghost Town 38.5 mile race. It was my second running of this race. I hoped to beat my last year's time of 8:27, but with a tweaky shin the last few weeks, I wasn't so sure.

This would be the last running of the Ghost Town 38.5 - Susan, the RD, was moving on to other pursuits in life. I was glad I signed up. Plus, it is a great precursor run for the Old Pueblo 50 miler, which I'll be doing March 5th.

We got our bib/goodie bag about 3pm, left our drop bags and headed to the Black Range Lodge in Kingston, about 15 minutes away, where we planned to stay both the night before and after the race.

We were staying in a 'house' across from the lodge. This meant sharing our space (kitchen/living room/bathrooms) with other runners (which ended up being awesome!!!) However, I was worried when the manager (George) took us downstairs to the basement to the absolute yuckiest room there was - a prison cell.
Yes, we had to put our bags outside the room while we slept...there was no space!

The rest of the house was nice and other runners only paid a little more than us for much better rooms with windows, etc. And, we were charged $75 a night!

Later, we heard one of the runners upstairs was vacating the next night, so we asked George if we could switch rooms for Sunday night. He was good with that, and I was happy; we'd have our own bathroom. We still had to spend Saturday night before the race in 'the cell' - needless to say, the bed was awful, and we did not sleep good. At least we knew we would be upgraded the night after the race!

Okay, on with the race report!

Before we went to bed, we got to chat with the other runners in the house - Christian, Ed, Erik, Shannon, Ryan, Tom, Bill and Jeff. It was exciting waking up on race day with all of their rowdiness in the air. Lots of ruckus and mayhem, and finally, we were all headed to the race start.
'Da corker NM stylee' and 'King D' (Christian's nicknames for us!)
The race started at 6am and we were off in the dark, but shortly thereafter, a beautiful sunrise was happening behind us. The first 6 miles are on road and are uphill, but I hardly felt it with the dark hiding the gentle incline.

After turning off the road at Junction aid station, we were headed down a dirt road with lots of rollers.

I love the Gila forest!!!

Before long, we arrived at Stone Hut aid station - mile 9.5. Nice volunteers at these aid stations!!!

That's Scout from Tucson on the left - we met her out there. Scout - if you read my blog, email me so I can get you connected to the Tucson trail running community!

My shin/calf problem seemed to be staying in the background for now, which I was happy about.

Onward to the spur. The spur is an out and back trail off the dirt road, which was loaded with snow. I had a hard time enjoying it, because I couldn't get good traction in the snow. But, it was so beautiful, and I secretly was having a good time. :)

I did enjoy seeing all of the new friends on the trail that we had just met in our temporary house. We didn't know anyone else doing the race, so I really enjoyed the comraderie we had with our newly found friends.

New friend/housemate Tom from Arkansas

New friend/housemate Shannon
Crazy new friend/housemate Erik from Texas

Dang, the last part of the spur is steep.

We topped out on the spur and were treated to this:

Beware of the scary guy (Steve) and the crying towel

Yikes! That got us moving along! :)

Onward to Hilltop aid station at mile 16, where I saw Adrian from last year's GT! I ran with him a while last year, but he was volunteering this year. We saw our friend Erik drinking a Tecate. You see it all at ultraraces...

I wasn't eating much at aid stations, but they had lots of food. A banana, some V-8, and we were off! We ran into our new friend/housemate Christian, who was already on the way back from the 'out' point.

He finished in 9th place! Check out his website -

After this is when things started getting hairy for me.
I started having an asthma attack and we were headed uphill  and dowhill endlessly on rocky trails and into more snow.

Hey, at least I try to look good doing it!!

The asthma attack would lay on me for another 4 hours. Mentally, I was in a dark place! Dallas kept being the usual positive guy he is and I kept on with relentless forward motion.

Back at Vista aid station - draggin'....
I think Dallas is leaning on me? :)
Truckin' along around mile 30 or so...

Somewhere in here, I swore off ultrarunning! Dallas said we would discuss this matter after the race. He knows the deal...we all swear off running/ultrarunning from time to time during a race/long run.

And before long, we were back on the road for the final 6 miles. We passed a few people - one was Mary B. from CO, who said, 'No, that's not in my plan!' I laughed - I understand that feeling! She came in right behind me, though.

The runner's cars came into view and we knew we were almost done! All of our new friends were waiting there at the finish and slapped our hands as we came in.

Felt good to be done. We picked up our finisher awards - a pair of Moeben sleeves - I got the tie dye ones to match the Moeben skirt I have. I'll be stylin'!

There was a lot of food to eat post-race; Susan makes the best enchiladas, and there was also soup, chocolate chip cookies, bread, king cake (yum!!!), you name it. Later that evening, we went back for grilled burgers and a lot of other food. Susan knows how to do race food. We were stuffed.

Total distance: 38.5 miles (Garmin said 38.27)
Total time: 8:40:47
AEG: 4,542 feet
Highest elevation: 6,915 feet
Lowest elevation: 5,312 feet

Not quite as good as last year's time, which was 8:27. But, all the runners agreed that the snow was heavier this year, and with my 4 hour asthma attack, I think I did pretty well. I came in 5/19 women, and 37/69 overall. I'm sure Dallas could have finished top 10, but he ran with me and talked me through the mental demons when it seemed like I couldn't overcome my own mind. Thank you Dallas! ♥

Oh, and it all looked different in the days following the race. I am an ultrarunner, and a few days after GT, I was putting it all in perspective, realizing that I did have fun; that I had met some really cool, awesome ultrarunners, who were now friending me on FB; that I met myself out on the trail once again and overcame that dark voice; that I truly could not wait to get back out there on a trail, doing what I love - experiencing the beauty of the great outdoors with people that I care about and who care about me.

This trip was one of the best race experiences I've had. Staying in that house with those other runners, talking race/running shop with them all evening after the race - I wouldn't have missed it for the world!

Ryan, Tom, Shannon, Dallas, Christian and Renee

♪ "Let it in,
Let your clarity define you
In the end,
We will only just remember how it feels..." ♫

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Superstition Wilderness 50k

Dallas and I decided to skip the scheduled TTR run and instead, headed up a little Northeast of Tucson (~2.5 hour drive) to join a group of ultrarunners (10 of us total) for a 'fat ass' 50k in the Superstition mountains. We had never run there before. We love trying out new places to run.
Total distance: 31.55 miles
AEG: 4,547 ft.
Total time: 9:01 - jeesh!

Thanks to Jeremy for setting up this run! His fiancee and sister did the aid station.

It was below freezing at the start of this run, but we warmed up after a bit. Dallas ran with me the entire run. What a guy! He said that he wants to run all 'out of town' runs and races with me.
♥ How sweet! ♥

Right off the bat, we were in the rear of the group. Several times, Jeremy stopped and regrouped everyone to wait on us. After a while though, we were left in the dust - some top AZ ultrarunners in this group - Honey, Boone, Jeremy, Paulette, Jon, and a few others we hadn't met yet. We were okay with that - I hated making all of these fast people wait on us!

This was one pretty run.

Amazing rock formations.
Took FOREVER to run this course, because it was very rocky and the trail was fairly iced over in spots.
Lots of slip 'n slide action
Unbelievable views,  awesome people to run with, an aid station set up at mile 19, nice singletrack -...however - the trails were loaded with catclaw, sticker bushes, cactus, etc. We were torn up from head to toe!!! It got pretty painful at one point. I also slipped in the creek a banged my shin a little and soaked my gloves. Oh, and I did fall later in the run, just banging my elbow a tad. Did I mention the mud? Yes, we call this fun
My deep in thought 'Julie' pose
Great fun (well, if you don't mind 1000's of little razor cuts all over your legs). Thanks to Jeremy for the run, his fiancee and sister for the aid station (yum, rice crispie treats w/peanut butter!!!) and to all of the Phoenix area ultrarunners who are always so gracious to me and Dallas.
Ultrarunners are just cool people.