Sunday, September 30, 2012

TTR Mt. Hopkins run - PR!

12 miles up to Mt. Hopkins and 12 miles down. I've previously done this run two years ago in 4:57 and 3 years ago in 4:54.

My legs were still feeling wiped out from the Flagstaff 50k, but I knew I needed this run. 3 weeks until the Grand Canyon R2R2R. 

We all took off at 7am in the slightly cool air. The run starts around 4,200 feet elevation. You can barely see the summit in this picture - Whipple observatory is at the top.

I got to the aid station at 8 miles in 1:43 and got to the top - 12 miles - at 2:43. It is 8,585 feet at the top of Mt. Hopkins. 

At the top! Proof!

Mt. Wrightson view - from the summit of Mt. Hopkins

I got back down to the aid station at mile 16 at 3:20. Jim filled up my pack, I ate a little and left at 3:24. 

I had 8 miles to go, and I really wanted to beat my prior years' times, so I ran like crazy! This run is very hot at the end. Plus, I had some gut issues (not sure why?) and had to stop several times on the side of the road. :(

Total distance: 24 miles
Total time: 4:36 - PR!!!
Total elevation gain: 4,450 feet

All done and happy - PR and my best friend and some shade!

A 18 minute PR! I was happy about that. However, it took almost 5 days after this run for my legs to stop hurting - my calves were trashed. The 24 mile round trip has about 10 miles of pavement and the rest is hard pack dirt road. With faster speeds downhill, I really wrecked myself. It will surely help for the GC once I heal up from this run and get stronger.

Friday, September 28, 2012

AS 18 at the Monster

Dallas and I manned the 18 mile aid station at the inaugural Mogollon Monster 100 today. We drove up from Tucson to Payson in the morning, leaving around 6am, and arrived around 9:15am at the Pine TH, the start of the race. After seeing the 37 starters take off at 10am, we loaded up all of the aid station supplies and headed to Geronimo TH. 

Jeremy, our good friend and the Race Director, arrived in a U-Haul with the larger aid station supplies. He helped unload with me while Dallas was doing some last minute marker checks on a portion of trail between Geronimo and Washington Park. A Forest Service person was out doing some clearing and let us know (after talking our heads off) that the trails were in pretty bad shape. Runners later confirmed this. Jeremy took off to attend to other race duties, and we finished getting set up.

About 2 hours into the race, crews were starting to arrive, waiting for their runners. Jamil Coury was the first runner through around 1pm. 

He mentioned that runners were already off course and we got worried. With no cell phone reception, we had no way to communicate to the RD. Runners kept coming in, reporting that they had gone off course. We felt helpless to do anything but refill runner's bottles, give them food to eat, and provide first aid supplies. We hoped for the best.

Dixie and Elvis were the aid station dogs, and enjoyed drinking the creek water and licking the runner's already salty legs.

Hey, why can't I taste the salt on this runner? Ed - the Jester
I wonder what Elvis is thinking here

After almost 6 hours into the race, almost all of the runners came through. We had one runner to account for out of the 37. Finally, a car drove up. We asked this person if he was here for the last runner. He said, 'No, I am the last runner'. What!?!? Due to some questionable course markers, he turned down West Webber trail like many other runners. However, he never realized he was off track and instead, ended up back at the parking lot, the start of the race. He decided his race was over and drove over to let us know he had dropped. We talked with Jim for a while; he was definitely upset. We listened to him and shared some of our trail stories for quite some time. We felt so bad for him.

So, we had 3 drops overall. We packed up the supplies and headed down the control road to the Washington Park aid station (the next one), site of the race headquarters. After letting them know about the drops and unloading, we headed back down to Tucson. We arrived at 10:30pm, exhausted but excited about the day's events. 

How exciting it was to meet the runners and see some new and old friends! 

Dallas is considering this race for next year. With only 9 finishers out of 37 starters, it is apparent it is a tough course. If that happens, I will be his crew. 

Congratulations to Jamil Coury for killing the course, finishing 1st place in 22:24. He even had time to change a tire for an elderly couple on one of the backroads during the race. :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Flagstaff 50k race report

This was perfect timing for this race - one month before Dallas and I attempt our first Grand Canyon R2R2R. After taking 6 weeks off after Zane Grey 50 because of an aggravated anterial tibial tendon, I slowly worked my mileage back up. 

To get ready, Dallas and I ran Mt. Lemmon (Sunset Loops, up to 9,100 feet elev.), 21 miles of Esperero Loop (up to 7,000 feet elev.), 22 miles of Mt. Wrightson (a double - 9,400 feet elev.) and a 24 mile loop up Mt. Humphreys (12,633 feet elev.) We progressively did longer and longer runs, increasing our elevation and elevation gain. I trained smart this time, and did not increase my mileage too much on any given week. By the time of the race, my longest mileage week was only 40 miles. But, with the long runs at elevation, I was as ready as I was going to be. I was also doing the stepmill once a week at the gym, as well as 1-2 weight/kettlebell workouts a week. I was looking at this as more of a training run for the Grand Canyon double crossing, but was going to give it my all nonetheless.

There was a 50 mile option and a lot of Tucson people did that one. 50k would be hard enough. 

I showed up to see the 50 milers off at 6am, as I had to get my drop bag in before then. Tom, Christie, Tim, Mike and Korey were running the 50 miler from TTR. Mike commented that this course probably wasn't too technical. Right...more on that later.

Sun peeking up right before the start

The flat start and finish. The only flat part of the race. :)

We started at 7am, one hour after the 50 milers. I wore a short sleeve shirt with a long sleeve over the top. Within 2 miles, I was burning up, so I pulled the long sleeve off. Even with cooler temps in the morning, it was looking to be a warm day in the mountains. Most of the 32+ entrants were zooming past me in the first 5 miles to the Sunset aid station. It was the first climb of the day - 2,000 feet - and I was doing my usual strategy. Slow at the start, save some for later. It can feel bad to be in the back of the pack at the start, but for me, it is the smartest thing to do. I need to have something in the tank for later.

I ate 2 dates and potatoes after topping out at the 1st of 3 passes at Sunset aid station and off I went-downhill 2,000 feet on the Heart trail. Jamil Coury was taking pictures in this section along the course as was Bret Sarnquist.

Lululemon skirt flapping in the wind 

Flying downhill - both feet off the ground!

I did pass a few people here, but they soon passed me once we got to the bottom. I was running well on the downhills, even though they were really rocky (a lot of small, loose rocks - so much for this race not being technical Mike). The views of the mountainside were amazing - a kaleidoscope of Fall's changing leaves.

 The race followed a dirt road for quite a while, and I got into a groove following Deb and Andrew. It was slightly uphill, so I used my friend Troy's method - 50 steps running, walk for a partial minute, 50 steps running, and so on. I finally arrived at the next aid station - Schultz Tank - at about 13 miles into the race. 

This aid station was familiar as it was used at the other Flagstaff 50k several years ago, and it was also where Dallas and I started our Humphreys 24 mile loop 3 weeks ago. 

I ate another date and some potatoes, got some water in the pack, and off I went. This is the second climb of the race. We jumped off the dirt road and back on single track. I honestly don't remember much about this section! It was fairly rocky in spots, but I remember it being pretty runnable. 

Still behind Andrew and Deb

Heading back up to Sunset aid station

I arrived back at Sunset aid station at about 19 miles into the race. I got some more water in my pack (more on that later), mixed with Hammer Endurolytes Fizz, but could not eat. I downed some Perpetuem that I had in my drop bag, which paid off handsomely later. Once I got going, I was behind Andrew again; this time, running through the trees full of changing leaves.

Andrew and I chatted for the whole descent. It was nice and runnable for a mile or so, and then the horrific, monster rocky downhill started. It went on for quite a while.

Just a sampling of the fun looking back up

We were pretty slow on this section, but were careful to not trip and fall. Once we got to the bottom, after dropping 2,000 feet, we had to climb back up - you guessed it - 2,000 feet! Back up to Sunset AS.

It was on this 3rd and final climb (which was our first descent of the race) that I found my mojo - around mile 23 or so. The Perpetuem kicked in or something! I told Andrew that I felt like running a bit, and unfortunately,  after that, I lost him. I  think I passed 3 women and 2 other men during this section. One switchback after another, in the blazing sun, I power hiked up the steep incline with enthusiasm. I can do this! 

I finished this brutal 8 mile loop, getting back to Sunset about mile 27. I found out later that many people ran out of water in this section. I'm so glad I had stayed hydrated throughout the race until then and that I had filled my pack up well with water - I was almost out when I reached the aid station. Todd from Sedona was there, having finished a separate race earlier in the day - the Flagstaff trail marathon. He was so encouraging, as were all of the people at the Sunset aid station. They said, 'you are doing awesome!' It made me feel so good and got me really pumped up to finish. 

I was wiped out from the climb, but stayed a few minutes to catch my bearings. I got more water, ate a few more dates and potatoes, and got the heck out of there. I ran my butt off for the next 5 miles. I did not want all of those people I passed on the uphill to catch up to me. I had worked too hard. There is a little uphill on the last 5 miles and it was difficult, but otherwise, it was 5 miles of downhill. I looked behind me a few times - and ran as fast as I could.

I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. Nick Coury handed me a finisher's pint glass and my 3rd place female award! Oh my gosh! I couldn't believe it. I was so happy that I passed those women. No wonder they said I was doing so well at the last AS.

Total time: 8:28
Total distance: Around 32.75 miles. It was a 'heavy' 50k
Total elevation gain: About 7,000 feet. 3 climbs of about 2,000 feet and a lot of up and down in between. I need to get my new Garmin uploaded to my computer to get the actual.

I also ate 6 gels during the race - a few more than I wanted to, but I needed the sugar boost. Overall calories - about 1,500 with the dates, potatoes, Probar and Hammer Perpetuem. I think the Hammer Endurolytes Fizz tablets might be helping, too. I normally use Nuun (no sports drink) in my pack, but the last 2 runs that I had a PR on I used the Hammer product. Maybe I'm superstitious, but I think I'll keep it up. 

Training, good nutrition/hydration (no blisters, ma!) and smart race strategy made for a race finish that I'll never forget. 3rd place female! It felt really wonderful. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

TTR Sabino Basin Run - PR!!

TTR Sabino Basin Run - Out and back on Phoneline/Sabino Canyon trails to the basin (junction with East Fork trail)

Distance: 13.8 miles

I made it to the Phoneline/Tram Rd. switchback trail junction in 1 hour even - fastest ever!

To the basin - 1:27 
I touched the sign and back I went in a hurry. I ran with a few new people the rest of the way back. Made me a little nervous to have two people behind me the whole time - they wanted to stay at a steady pace, so they said they were fine. Problem is, I start tripping and not watching what I'm doing when I talk too much. I did trip and lightly fall on my hands once, but luckily, nothing too dangerous. Phoneline trail can be dangerous - 5 years ago, I got a severe avulsion on my forearm. Nicked an artery; it was a real squirter! I was taken away in an ambulance. Anyway, you have to be careful with the pointy rocks.

Total time: 2:50 - PR!! Fastest time before today was 3:05.

No pictures. I was busy running fast! :)

My running is going really well. I'm ready for Flagstaff 50k. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

TTR Mt. Wrightson Ascent - PR!

First TTR run of the new season! This is a timed ascent only. Everyone reports their time to the top only, so it is one of the few times that people actually hang up at the top of Wrightson - 9,453 feet - for any length of time. It is always good to reconnect with TTR friends after a long hot summer in Tucson. We had a lot of new people out on this run, too, which was cool.

Gene, our run director. I've got my 'camo' skirt on. Ready for action!

My fastest time to the top is 1:52, so I was hell bent on beating it. I had been fighting a cold that was settling in my lungs over the past few days, so I huffed and puffed to the top. I knew I was doing better than before since I made it to Josephine Saddle and Baldy Saddle quicker than I ever have.

To the top - 1:46 - PR!

To Josephine Saddle: 42.5 minutes
To Baldy Saddle: 1:25

Dallas waited for me at the top. He got up in 1:30 and the fastest guy arrived in 1:09! Unbelievable. So, I got to run down with Dallas and Joel, and I ran down about 5 minutes faster than I ever have (and this time, I felt like we were taking our time).

Total time: 3:08 (not including a few minutes at the top)
Distance: 10.8 miles round trip
Elevation gain: about 4,000 feet

Tapering for Flagstaff 50k in two weeks. All of my TTR friends are running the 50 mile option; I'm not quite ready for that yet. The 50k will be challenging enough! It is beautiful up there in Flagstaff. I'm excited. First ultra since Zane Grey 50 in April.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mt. Humphreys loop

This is an approximately 24 mile loop starting at Schultz Tank TH up in Flagstaff. You have to travel 6 miles of the rockiest road ever to get there! We ran part of this with Honey 2 years ago and couldn't wait to get back there again. With my injury last Summer, we had to wait.

We started on Weatherford trail shortly after 7am, but several miles in, veered off on Kachina trail. We took that to Snowbowl and refilled our water (about 7 miles in). The morning was nice and cool. This is a very pretty section, with lots of aspens and ferns.

I think I have this pose down.

From there, we started at Humphreys TH, which was packed with cars for Labor Day weekend. We trudged up the rooty and rocky trail and reached the saddle at about 11 miles in, feeling good. We heard a storm rumbling off in the distance, but hoped we could make the summit before it hit, so off we went.

At the saddle - love running with my best friend

The last mile from the saddle to the summit of Humphreys Peak, the highest in Arizona at 12,633 feet, is a slog. Lot of rocks, very difficult. Not much oxygen!

Dallas on the final climb

View off of one side of the peak

We did it! 12,633 feet!

Looking off the other direction from the peak

It is cool to get to the summit; however, the mile each way from the saddle is so difficult, that if I did this route again, I would probably bypass it. I've got to the summit of Humphreys twice; no need to do it again. I told Dallas I'd wait for him at the saddle next time! 

We made it back to the saddle with the sky rumbling pretty loud. You can see the storm right next to us in this picture...

No sooner had we left the saddle heading back on Weatherford trail when the storm hit. We were pelted with tiny hail along an exposed ridge at about 11,000 feet for approximately 30 minutes. I had a pretty good jacket, but Dallas' rain jacket had seen better days. He was pretty cold and wet. We pressed on, running as much as we could to outrun the storm. 

Finally! It stopped raining and hailing.

Weatherford is about 11 miles long, and is really pretty.  I am not sure how this vehicle got up at 10-11,000 feet, but there it was.

This was down below off of the trail. Weird.

Total time: 8:23 - beat our time last time of 8:43. We were happy about that.

Total distance: Around 24 miles. My Garmin died permanently before the run, but the last time we did it, it showed about 24.5 miles. This is a challenging loop!

We treated ourselves to Five Guys hamburgers and fries and went back to Ft. Tuthill to spend the night. Last time we did this run, we drove right home afterwards, which was exhausting.

I recovered well from this run. Not much soreness and I feel in better shape than ever. If I play things smart, I just might be in great shape by the time OP50 and ZG50 roll around next year.

If those races go well and I stay injury free, I will probably do the Javelina 100 a year from now. Maybe. Doesn't hurt to dream a little. I'm so tired of being injured. I'm working on shin exercises and just in general, watching my mileage and intensity. Playing it safe. It is easy to get excited when I start getting in shape again. Patience. Feels good to feel good about trail running again.