Pass Mountain 25K Race or training run?

….and My Story Runs On….

This morning, I did Aravaipa Running’s Pass Mountain 25K (15.5 miles).
I picked it for a few reasons:

  • I needed mileage as I train for my next big race (another blog on that later)
  • I happened to be available on this Saturday to do it
  • Most importantly, this race was my inaugural debut into trail races back on 11/19/2011 and I haven’t done it since.

I remember back in 2011 how scared I was to do it. I was training for my first marathon (Lost Dutchman, it fell on 41st birthday 5 years ago) but I had also just come back from my first ever ChiRunning Instructor weekend.  It was my first time meeting Danny & Katherine Dreyer and the first time I got to meet a bunch of other ChiRunning instructors from all over the world.  Needless to say, I was geeked out on ChiRunning and was excited/nervous about my first trail race. (I honestly can’t remember if I did any training on trails at this point. I want to say I had but I was not as experienced as a runner or coach at this point so not sure!)  I remember how hard it was…but my favorite part was getting to the last 1/2 mile that was on road and seeing my Dad there with his bike as he rode by my side for that last little bit!


My Daddy and I!

Fast forward to this year.  Not sure why I haven’t done this more often since 2011 but this year was my first time back.  The course was slightly different (it was a 26K in 2011) but most of it was the same.

So my first dilemma was:  do I go and preview the course in advance or not?  I decided to do it and here is a quick 2 min video about that experience:

I am so glad that I did it now!

I didn’t preview the first half of the course because I knew it would be easier but grateful that I did the 2nd half as it proved to help me a lot today.  Not so much physically but mentally.  

  • I knew when the hard parts would be so I conserved my energy on those by ChiWalking more. (yes, I have no problem walking in races either!)
  • I knew one of my bigger challenges would be part of the end of the course because the single track trail was very close to the edge and I am afraid of heights.
  • I also knew that the last 2-3 miles were runnable downhill miles and I was ready to crank on those as soon as I could.  Ironically, my fastest mile was my last one!

As a running coach, I hear people get nervous about races all the time.  I remember I used to do this a lot more…I’m sure some of it comes with experience.  For me it was my frame of mind….I never felt I was actually racing when I did this run today.

I was hanging out with my friend Heather, got to chit chat with a few other people along the way, took some pics (see below) and we just took our time knowing we had plenty of it before the cutoff.

The great thing about treating a race like a training run is that there is no pressure. I also love races as training runs because there are other people out on the course (instead of running alone), they are supported so I know I will have aid stations with water and food (best aid stations ever!) and I get a shirt and pint glass! (50 Miles of Gratitude: (9) Training & Aravaipa Running) I didn’t have to pay for this race because I volunteer with Aravaipa quite a bit so I get race credits…so for me, it was a win-win for sure today.

I didn’t go back to see how I performed in 2011 because it was a different course and really didn’t care.

So my lesson for this race was that I was glad that I choose to do it as a training run rather than race it.  This may not always be my choice but I’m really glad that I did because I had a blast …AND I felt amazing at the end which is always one of my goals: to finish strong and feeling good!

Do you race or use them as training runs? Would love to read your comments below!

Gorgeous views on this course!

Gorgeous views on this course!

Heather and I before we started. Running with friends is always a good way to go!

Heather and I before we started. Running with friends is always a good way to go!

Cholla forest!

Cholla forest!

This was one of the steep uphill parts (I took the pic looking down after I got up it)

This was one of the steep uphill parts (I took the pic looking down after I got up it)



From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

0 thoughts on “Pass Mountain 25K Race or training run?

  1. I prefer to preview trail runs before a race and in the opposite direction. I feel that my memory is freshest at the beginning of a run. I’m always happy when I get a the end of a race and have a better idea of where I’m at. It seems more familiar even if I previewed in the day and the race is at night.

    • Thanks for sharing! Never considered to opposite direction…when I have done trails that way it seems like an entire new course so not sure that would work for me but I get it! Definitely helps to see it in the day for a night race! 😉

  2. Good Effort on your part. I missed the race this year due to conflicts with Tucson events. Had a bad experience and subsequent physical problems from the Cave Creek race which caused me to miss the night race (first time ever, any race) and a poor performance in my next few races. I have great concerns about safety and hydration at Aravaipa events and have heard the same from others. Recent changes in the Aravaipa management team may not be for the best. I’ll be doing the 25K at McDowell but with conflicts and my need for more road distance races and training for April’s Mikelsen Marathon, probably not many more Aravaipa’s for me until the night race in May.

    Look forward to reading about your next “challenge”. Affirms to me that I’m not the only crazy one out there…


    • Always great to hear from you and sorry you had some challenges. I don’t know that I’ve noticed issues with was my fault I didn’t fill up my water as they told us specifically to do it since there was an 8.5 mile stretch where there could be no aid station. My pack was already pretty full and I figured I would be OK but it was the hardest stretch so took longer than I expected. Always a good learning lesson! I hardly do road races anymore…will you be at Girls On The Run on Saturday? Maybe I’ll see you there? And you are definitely not the only crazy one out there! 😉

  3. My water was sufficient at stop 2 (mile 12) but at 95 plus, no shade and a very rocky 400 foot climb over 1.5 miles your body cannot rehydrate fast enough before dehydrating. Pass Mountain has more shade, much cooler, and a much longer recovery route. At least Xterra provides a sag person.

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