Race Report

McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50K Race Report: Success Redefined

….and My Story Runs On….

This is the 3rd year in a row that I do this 50K. It’s one of my favorites and perfect timing in my 100K Training Schedule to have a nice long training run.  This has been my 2nd, 5th and 9th 50K!   Still unbelievable to me that I swore I would never run more than a 5K when I started running!

McDowell Mountain Regional Park has some of my favorite trails and Aravaipa Running always puts on a great event.  This was meant to be a training run but since I was doing the same race for the 3rd year in a row, I did have it in the back of my mind that PRing (personal record) would be an added bonus. I went into the race with that idea but was also detached from it since technically this was supposed to be a training run.  I normally don’t have a race pace but I definitely get into a different mindset if I’m wanting to PR or “race” an event.  I also had to consider that I had run 20 miles the Sunday before so I didn’t taper for this race and I did a tough marathon downhill marathon 3 weeks before.  I was so close to PRing and made a “fatal” mistake which cost me the PR…but all good and that story is down below….

Miles 0-12.5

Rachel’s 2nd 50K and Joan’s first one! Waiting for the start….

The energy before a race is always exciting, especially when you realize how many friends you have out there!  Several of them were doing their first 50K.  It was great to start out the race after getting so many hugs from friends!  I love the Escondido trail as it’s rolly polly . I knew I could easily get started too fast here so I tried to keep a nice pace, walking the uphills and running flats and downhills.  The last third of the race is the hardest and I’ve struggled on this part the last few years.  My goal was to not let that happen again.  I immediately started focusing on my ChiRunning form. At about Mile 5, I decided to listen to some ChiSchool lessons so I could continue focusing on my form. I put this on shuffle and even though I listen to some of the same lessons, there are always some great aha moments.  This time it was with the lesson “The World’s Largest Treadmill” and some cueing from Danny (the founder of ChiRunning) about feeling your leg get swept back by the trail every time it hit the ground.  I’ve heard this lesson many times and it’s one of my favorites but something different clicked with me this time.  I skipped the first aid station strategically so I didn’t “waste” anytime as I had plenty of water and fuel. The 2nd aid station was at mile 12.5 and I knew there would be a 10 mile gap until the 3rd one and it would be during “the hill”.  Refueled and filled up water and was off again.  I knew I had to keep under a 14:58 min mile to PR and I was doing great!  At this point I was averaging a 13:23 min mile and I knew I would be hiking that hill.  My goal during the first third of the race was to run as much as I could without using up too much energy because I had that last third of the race always in the back of my head.

Miles 12.5-22.5

I had forgotten about the part of the course before “the hill”.  Pretty runnable and great scenery.  I was still feeling pretty good here. Ran into my friends Jennifer and Rachel and took this quick selfie.

The hardest part of wanting to PR is that you need to stay focused as any extra minute can add up.  I felt leaving them so quickly but I was on a mission.  It’s also hard for me to do this as a coach as I always like to give words of encouragement and hang with people but sometimes I have to run my race and I was determined since I was on track.   I had stopped listening to ChiSchool from the aid station and at mile 18 decided to listen to a few motivational TED talks I had downloaded. Sometimes I like to listen to stuff on long runs but I only listened to a few as I was truly enjoying being out there and present on the trail. The weather up to mile 15 was perfect. There was cloud coverage and we even had a few sprinkles. After my last Black Canyon experience (my character builder run) I was no longer worried about running in the rain but it didn’t happen. At about mile 15, the clouds were gone and the sun came out…I immediately stripped off my sleeves and the weather got hot really fast.  I think many of us were impacted by that change during this race.  I hiked the entire hill and ran the downhill more than last year…I remember it was rocky so I was careful but was still tracking to PR.  Even though I completely filled my hydration pack, I went through my water and couldn’t wait to get to the aid station. I was out of the water for the last 1.5 miles and it kept getting warmer.

Bottom of the hill…it’s not steep but a long hill…you can see runners on the other side of the trail

Beautiful chollas and Rockknob in the background

I think this is Rocknob..its the name of the trail but beautiful rock formations!

Another angle of Rocknob

Miles 22.5 to 31

I knew I had to stay focused on the aid station.  A friend of mine, Suzanne was there and she hooked me up right away. Helped fill my pack, put some ice in my buff and hat, I grabbed some munchies and I was off again.  At this point, due to the hiking, I was averaging a 13:58 mile so I knew the PR was closing in on me.  I did something I don’t advise people to do but decided to take two ibuprofen.  I figured even though my legs weren’t too bad, they were a bit achy and I knew this would help me run more.  Unfortunately my TomTom died at mile 24 so now I had no idea how I was doing.  There is an uphill after the aid station but then a nice steady downhill, although a bit rocky.  My goal at this point was to keep running as much I could. I was doing a lot of body sensing since I didn’t have a watch to tell me how I was doing (this is truly a better way as the GPS watch can be a distraction and play into the ego more than listening to your body)  I listened to music for a bit but my MP3 player died.  I just keep running as much as I could until I reached the last aid station.  My first question was how much longer do I have to go. They said 3.4 miles,  I looked at my phone and it was 3pm.  I had to be done by 3:44 to PR and this was cutting it pretty close but doable.  I usually don’t do much sugar until the last aid station (thanks to my nutritionist)  I drank some Coke, had a piece of potato with salt, and handful of peanut M + M’s.  I left and took my phone out to text a few friends that were waiting at the finish line for me.  Here is where I made my mistake.  I wasn’t paying attention as I was texting and walking…Before you know it, a guy yelled out “What distance are you doing?” I said the 50K and he said, “You’re on the wrong trail”.  So grateful for this guy as I would’ve kept on that wrong trail for who knows how long!  I was 4-5 min in so I turned around right away but I knew this set me back and I would’ve been cutting it even closer.  Even though I ran as much as I could towards the end, I knew it wasn’t happening.  I could start hearing the finish line (they have a DJ!) and knew I was almost there.

One of the several hills on the last 3.4 miles on the technical trail..

It’s a great feeling when people could say they recognized my running form from far away.  As I finished through the last section on the technical trail, I was getting excited to be done.  Always great to finish and see friends cheering you on at the finish line…even though it was my 9th 50K, finish lines never get old!

Biggest Learning Moment

So how do you define a successful race?  Everyone has their own definition. I think it depends on the race too.  Although I didn’t make my PR on this race, it was a great success for me. First of all, it was the first time doing this race that I felt strong on the last third even though I ran into some challenges.  I crossed the finish line feeling really good!  And considering I didn’t taper last weekend and have been building mileage, I was very happy with how I felt at the end!  I attribute this to my race strategy and more importantly my ChiRunning technique. As I was by myself for this whole race so it was easier for me to focus on my form and adjusting it as needed to the environment coming at me.  I may have conserved to much energy since I finished strong but I’ll take that over being miserable and injured any day!  As mentioned, I follow my fueling plan that I learned from my nutritionist and that makes a big difference too!

The After Party

Much like the beginning of the race, at the end of the race there were so many friends around. There is always a beer garden for people to hang out and it’s right by the finish line so you get to watch people coming in. I for wanted to wait for Joan as I had been training her for the last 3 months for her first 50K.  She finished strong as well and we shared a celebratory beer (ha, she drank the koolaid and is already talking about her next 50K! She done 20 marathons but moving on to the ultra/trail world 😉 )
This year, Aravaipa added night races and I love the fact that several women from my recent Ladies Training Program, had decided to either do the day or night race!  I missed the morning ladies but had a chance to see those at night time as they got ready.  Is it bad when your running coaching is encouraging you to do a Fireball shot before you go?  Even worse that they listened to you?!  Ultimately this is about enjoying the experience!  I/we (my peeps) are never going to win the race because that’s not our goal…the goal is making friends and having fun, while staying in shape and doing some crazy things along the way! This is how we roll…….

Gorgeous sunset!

Joan finishes her first 50K! So proud of her!

Oh no….here comes the Fireball 😉 LOL

And encouraging others? Bad coach, bad coach!

It didn’t take them long to succumb to the peer pressure…although this was pre race!

One of my proudest coach moments?!

Part of the Ladies Training Program reunited! Thanks for volunteering Kisha! I better have good finish line pics 😉

 

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

Race Report

Race Report: Inaugural Revel Mt. Lemmon Marathon

….and My Story Runs On….

I have learned that I have to write these within a few days of the event or I lose the event mojo 😉  Like my normal race reports, I’ll break this down into a few sections so you can skip through the parts you need to know about depending on why you are reading this. Continue Reading →


My Next Big Running Goal on my Birthday Weekend!

….and My Story Runs On….

This is one of the many things I love about running.  Of course everyone has their own running story and you should NEVER compare yourself to any other runner.  But for me, I love the idea of continuously pushing myself to the next level.  As they say, life begins at the end of your comfort zone and I can attest to this!  Earlier this year I did my first 50 Miler at Antelope Canyon the day after my birthday.  Even though I finished dead last, I felt strong and really enjoyed it (I know, crazy talk)…so of course the next goal is to push myself to the next distance level…sooooooo

I’m excited to announce that I will be doing the Black Canyon Ultra 100K!
Why did I pick this one? In no particular order…

  • 100K is 62 miles so it’s the next step after a 50 miler.
  • It’s on 2/18/17 which is the day before my birthday and I love doing crazy things on my birthday to remind myself how grateful I am for every year I am on this Earth.
  • It’s an Aravaipa event and they are one of our local ultra/trail racing company. I’ve been doing their events since 2011 and they know how put on a good race!
  • I get a buckle! I’ll admit to feeling a bit weird about this because usually you get a buckle for a 100 miler…the other funny thing is that I really don’t wear belt buckles at all (I spend most of my days in workout gear!) but a buckle is like a rite of passage in some strange way.

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  • It’s a point to point race which means I get to cover 62 miles of our beautiful AZ landscape. One of the reasons I love ultra running is the ability to visit places I’ve never seen before and enjoy Mother Nature.
  • Aravaipa is hosting training runs on the entire course over 3 months which means I’ll get to preview the entire course before running it.  Last Sunday I got to run the first 19 miles and loved it.  It was mostly single track downhill.  The hardest part for me is being afraid of heights. Some parts of the single track were very close to the edge of the canyon but the more I practice, the easier that will get….I hope!
  • There is some cool history about this trail:  “This historic trail is of national significance, following a route used since the times of pre-historic Native American travelers and traders.  The Department of the Interior officially established the route as a livestock driveway in 1919, when it was used by wool growers from the Phoenix area to herd sheep to and from their summer ranges in the Bradshaw and Mingus Mountains. The Black Canyon National Recreation Trail was originally designed as a livestock driveway. Many segments of the trail roughly parallel the old Black Canyon stagecoach road between Phoenix and Prescott.”

I still can’t believe I am doing it but as crazy as it seems, I’m very excited. I’ve already started training and have already changed a few things from my 50 mile training:

  • I’m spending even more time stretching and foam rolling.  I’ve added more strength training to my weekly routine.
  • I’m also varying my running workouts more than I did last year.  This course has a net downhill elevation profile with about the first half being downhill and the 2nd half will include uphill climbing as well as several river crossings (which I used to be afraid of before but having done this several times now, I’m much more comfortable with it).  So I am doing more speedwork and hill training. I’m also planning on doing more night trail running as I know I’ll be out there at night time.
  • I still take 2-3 runs a week and listen to ChiSchool on shuffle so I can continue to improve on my ChiRunning form (my running form had the biggest improvement last year when I did this for the 50 miler). And I will continue to use the same nutrition advice I got for my 50 miler.

One of the other big motivators for me is that I’ll be raising money for Girls On The Run Maricopa County again via their SoleMates program. Last year, I raised $2100 so I want to bump that up to $2300 at least.  I am on the Board of Directors and this organization means so much to me.  If I only had this program when I was in elementary or junior high school! I want to help as many young girls as possible be part of the program so they can learn to dream big and activate their limitless potential!

What is the next challenge you are taking to get out of your comfort zone?

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

Race Report: Crown King Scramble 2016

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….and My Story Runs On….

“Come on, you’re already trained” she said.  These words coming from my friend Suzi who years ago swore she would never trail run yet ran me in my last mile of my 1st 50K, just did her first ultra in February (Black Canyon 60K) and now decided to do her 2nd one.  My boyfriend Greg kidded around and said, “Serves you right.  Now you know what it feels like when you’re trying to get people to drink the Kool Aid.”  Soooooo….I signed up for Aravaipa’s Crown King Scramble 50K.

This race is no joke…The Crown King Scramble is a point to point uphill 50 kilometer foot race which starts at 1700 feet elevation and tops out at mile 28.7 at 6520 feet elevation before a final 600 foot descent into the finish.  This is the elevation profile:

Elevation profile!

Elevation profile!

We had an option for the early start at 5am and I’m glad we took it. Not only did it get us out of the heat for the one hour but more importantly, it took the edge off for getting to the first cutoff (disqualification point) at mile 15.3 in 3.5 hours.  (After the cutoff experience at Antelope Canyon, I knew I didn’t want that extra stress again.)

I considered going for a personal record (my best time for a 50k is 8:19 but I knew this race may not be the right one).  And of course, I was “lucky” again and had the same issue as my last 50K (yes, it was that time of the month again!).  I decided I was just going to enjoy the race and our beautiful Arizona landscape.  One of the things I love most about trail running is being outdoors and enjoying nature.

We barely got there in time and got in the start line about 2 minutes before starting. This was the first ultra for Deb and Kerri, Suzi and Krista’s 2nd, and my 4th. Unfortunately Elaine had the flu and wasn’t able to join us (she’s done two 50 milers but hadn’t done a 50K yet).

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I normally like to do my body looseners but didn’t have time for that. My plan was to run the first 15 miles as much as possible as I knew I would be hiking a lot of the 2nd half. The weather was perfect. It was still dark so we had headlamps but we got to see an amazing sunrise!  I love that I know quite a few people that are trail/ultra runners. I ran into several friends along the way and got to catch up with them a bit.  I met Deborah and Mark a long time ago when I co-taught a ChiRunning workshop for the Mountain Milers group in Prescott.  As much as I wanted to run this part, I was in no rush and wanted to conserve energy for later. This first half had some rolly polly hills but nothing crazy yet.  The night before, I had reviewed a few of my ChiSchool videos on breathing and steep hills so I started focusing on my form and matching my breathing with my footsteps.

From miles 15-19 we started getting the harder hills.  I was by myself on and off and totally OK with that.  I love to run with people just as much as I love being alone on a trail.  I saw Chris, Amanda and Mechaela.  I couldn’t wait to get to the Mile 19 aid station as I know several of my friends were volunteering there. It’s always great to see your friends at aid stations (it’s always a hard choice to pick in between running a race and volunteering at one!).  I normally stick to my nutrition plan (thanks to Brooke who helped with my 50 miler!) but the theme of their aid station was Fiesta and they had some Tecate so I had to have a small shot glass of beer ;). Surprise: Baby G Growler was there as well!  He is the mascot of Running for Brews Tempe (a social running club that I’m in charge of) Right before this I saw my friend Krista and she wasn’t feeling too well. We got up the aid station and I told her to cool off (it was getting warm) and get some food down.  There is also an elevation change to consider for this race and it’s easy to feel nauseated (I felt it several times).  She felt better and we moved on.  My TomTom died at some point because the storage was full.  This never happened for me and was a good learning lesson.I hadn’t downloaded quite a few of my training runs apparently so it didn’t have enough storage for my run. I was a bit annoyed at first but it was a blessing in disguise.  When you don’t know what mile you are at, it’s quite liberating. We just kept setting our next goal to get to the next aid station.

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Cooling off and getting food at the aid station with Krista

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Beer shot with a random stranger names Patrick at the aid station

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My good friend Lori at the aid station volunteering 😉

I ran into a few more friends.  Marina and Jamie were doing their first ultra. Marina’s been having some calf issues so I gave her a few tips on how to limit using it.  I also met Becki and ran into Lynsey (both of their first ultras too!). We did quite a bit of leap frogging for the remainder of the race.  At some point, I tripped over a rock and had a little tumble. Not a big deal…it’s actually been a long time since I fell trail running so I was due for a fall.  I normally am able to catch my balance before falling but my hydration pack was full and I couldn’t counter balance the fall.  I barely got a few scrapes on my hand and we kept moving. I heard my friend Tommy coming up behind us and he’s a great runner and positive guy.  He ran with us for a bit, shared his big smile and positive energy and then moved on.

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Selfie with Tommy and Krista

The Fort Misery Aid station was at mile 22.3.  Apparently they win Best Aid Station contest every year and it was evident by the amount of alcohol they had available.  Again, not something I would normally do but I was feeling good so I had a small Bloody Mary and was proud of myself for resisting the Fireball shot.

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Open Bar coming up!

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Why not have a Blood Mary?

This was the hardest part of the run. You can see how far we climbed. We passed creeks which were great for dunking our hats and buffs. I walked through them purposely as the cold water felt really good on my feet.  I had an extra pair of socks for back up but never used them.  We also had to deal with ATVs and cars four wheel driving. We knew this would be possible as they can’t close the forest road down.  It was a bit annoying although most people were very nice.The smell of diesel from their vehicles was worst than the dust they were creating.

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Creeks! We were looking forward to these!

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We came a long way up that hill!

It’s really weird because sometimes you look back and think, wow, what was I thinking/saying for all that time?  Somehow the time goes by chatting with friends and enjoying the scenery.  I have lived in AZ for over half of my life and have never seen this part of our state.

One of my favorite parts was when we started getting into the pines. The tag line for the race is “spines to pines” because we leave the desert landscape at Lake Pleasant and get to Crown King which is at 6700 feet of elevation. I love the smell of pine trees and hearing the wind blow through the needles.  The slight breeze felt good too.  The last aid station was 2 miles away from the top of the hill and we knew we had 2 miles of downhill after that. We were close!  We kidded around about our heavy legs and whether they would remember how to run downhill (free energy!) after doing so much hiking.

Running downhill was no problem and before we knew it, we were in “town” and people were directing us to the finish line.

My official time was 8:45:22.  Considering I had no expectations for this race other than enjoy it and finish it, I’m happy with it!  As a matter of fact, this is a 50K I would consider doing again. I love a challenge and I love hills.  If I do it next year, I may try and PR the course but for now, I’m just happy to have my 4th Ultra under my belt. I will say finishing a 50 miler 6 weeks prior to this definitely boosted my confidence.  I also love to finish a race feeling strong rather than feeling like a truck ran over me.  I finished strong and even though I was a bit sore the next day, I felt great!

I personally would recommend this race. It’s no joke so make sure to train for the hills and elevation (physically, nutritionally and mentally). Read other blog posts to get the scoop but make sure to have a buff to cover your mouth and nose when there is dust being kicked up.  If you are worried about time, do the early start. It was well worth not worrying about the cutoffs and having an hour in the cooler weather.

I would also recommend spending the night. We stayed at one of these cabins (highly recommend them!) and enjoyed Crown King.  We had dinner at the Saloon and breakfast at Prospector Mall (both were yummy).  And last but not least, you cannot leave Crown King without visiting the Cleator Bar and Yacht Club on the way back to I-17.

Not only was this another great race, but another great weekend with good friends!  Love my running friends and the fact that I have more of them getting into trail running but more importantly into ultra running! Thanks to Aravaipa Running for putting on another amazing event!

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At the Cleator Bar and Yacht club and “ran” into Jamil, the Aravaipa Running Race Director

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Hanging with my friends and the Cleator Bar and Yacht Club 😉

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Mascots! Baby G Growler and Baby E-vil from Running for Brews and Vaip Daddi from Araviapa Running chilling at Cleator Bar and Yacht Club 😉

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Sunrise!

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My first finisher jacket! Well deserved I might add!

 

 

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

50 Miles of Gratitude: 50 Posts about my first 50 Miler

….and My Story Runs On….

Here is a list of my blog posts that I am writing after my first 50 Mile race.  It’s combination of what I learned, what I am grateful for and a way for me to keep the memory alive.  It was one of the proudest moments of my life! My goal is to have 50 of these 😉

Updated on 7/30/17:  I’m realizing this just isn’t going to happen.  It was a great idea when I had it but I have other ideas for blogs, etc and too much time has gone by now.  I have found that writing blogs works best for me when I feel inspired and too much time has gone by now to continue with this series.  I hope you still enjoy these 😉

Race Report: Antelope Canyon: My 1st 50 Miler (with pictures!)
50 Miles of Gratitude: (1) ChiRunning
50 Miles of Gratitude: (2) Nutrition
50 Miles of Gratitude: (3) Training
50 Miles of Gratitude: (4) Massage
50 Miles of Gratitude: (5) My Trail Wife
50 Miles of Gratitude: (6) My Boyfriend
50 Miles of Gratitude: (7) My Epic Finish Line
50 Miles of Gratitude: (8) Altras and Meeting the CoFounder
50 Miles of Gratitude: (9) Training & Aravaipa Running
50 Miles of Gratitude: (10) Burning Out
50 Miles of Gratitude: (11) My Celebratory Tattoo
50 Miles of Gratitude: (12) Training & XTERRA events 

 

I've learned this... #neversaynever

I’ve learned this… #neversaynever

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