Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mesquite Canyon 50km

I just got back from Phoenix where I ran the Aravaipa Mesquite Canyon 50km in the White Tank Regional Park. Originally, I was signed up to run the 50 miler but about two weeks out I emailed the race organization to ask if I could drop to the 50km. Fortunately, it wasn't a problem because I hadn't run anything longer than a 30km in many months so I felt I wouldn't be able to do very well in the 50miler.

Race morning started much like all the other races except instead of getting ready in a hotel room, I was at my friend's house. It worked out perfect because I was going to leave Addie with my friend for the day while I used her car to go to and from the race. That was the plan we came up with the night before. But, that morning as I was eating my peanut butter & jelly and getting my hydration pack together my friend came out of her room and said that I could take her husband's car. She said this would be better because she and the girls would then be able to come up later on to see me finish. I was a little scared about driving her husband's really nice Audi but I also was happy that they were going to come see me since I was feeling that it was going to be a little lonely to finish and not have my daughter and friend there. So, at 5am I left the house, drove very carefully all the way there and as I  entered the park to pay for parking I felt and heard an awful noise.  I immediately backed the car up and asked the attendant if I did any damage although I knew I had. She said "yeah a little". So I continued driving to the start of the race which was quite a ways in the White Tank park. When I got out I took a look and saw I had scratched the rim of the tire a little. I felt bad but I had to hurry off and pick up my bib and get ready to start since I only had about 15mins. 

As in all of my races, I went into it with the mindset that I would push hard but run my own race. I would go by feel and listen to my body. As I toed the line, so to speak and listened to the race brief I was feeling the adrenalin and excitement that I always do right before the start. The countdown began and 10 secs later we were off! I was following the guy in front of me who happened to be Charlie Ware, there was also a guy running along side me named Doug Aroca. As we were running, I saw signs for the 50mi/30km race and I had a feeling we were not going the right way so I asked Doug. He told me we were and that we shared the same route as the 50 miler course. After about another mile or more the lead guy Charlie said he "didn't know about us, but he was turning around". At that point I also did not think we were going in the right direction so I told Doug, "I'm going with him". The three of us headed back in the direction we came and got back on course right before the first checkpoint. The two guys went through, as did I but, I was the LAST person to run through it. I didn't stop at it but, I did ask how far ahead everyone was, the nice lady there said "not too far, don't worry". Easier said than done. I was worried. I didn't see anyone ahead of me but as soon as I started running up the mountain I passed a lady and right as I ran by her I noticed my nose was running and then I realized it was blood. Luckily, I ran by another lady who I saw had tissue so I asked if I could have a piece of it. She saw my situation and gave me a clean piece and asked if I was alright. I told her I felt fine, thanked her and kept going. I was feeling good and was able to run a good pace up the mountain. I didn't feel the need to power hike at all. At the second checkpoint, I didn't fill up my pack and they told me as I was leaving that we had 9 miles to the next checkpoint. Since I was trying to make up the lost time/distance, I felt I could get by with the amount of water in my pack.

The next 9 miles went by really easy but as I started to get close to the turn around point I felt the heat getting to me a little and my stomach felt a bit queasy. At the checkpoint I filled up my pack and ate a couple pieces of watermelon and took off. Right away the nauseousness came back, I wanted to ignore it so I still tried to run a little. About a half a mile down the the way I began a violent episode of vomiting.  A female runner asked if I were alright and I told her yeah and that I thought it was the heat...she just said "good, keep going!" So, for the next mile I power hiked, which was ok because it just happened to be a pretty steep climb. By the time I got close to the top my stomach had settled and I felt good again, actually I felt great! I ended up running from that point on and didn't have to power hike again. I felt strong and as if I were still running within my limits. I continued to pass runners and move up in the field. Right as I was getting to the 4th checkpoint I fell hard. I landed on both knees and elbows and slid a little. I was able to get up and shake it off, got to the checkpoint, filled up my pack and took off.  I was running really well at this point and then what do you know, I fell again. This time wasn't nearly as bad but it slowed me down for a second.

The final section of the race was crazy. We ran in a dried up riverbed that had huge rocks you had to climb down on and at times slide on your butt. In between the rocks were sections of sand and mossy water pools. It was a lot of fun but at times I felt like I was running two steps forward and one step back. This section lasted quite a while, I'm not sure the exact distance but I remember thinking that I couldn't wait to get on solid ground again.


Once the trail did head back up in the Canyon I ran up behind a girl named Lora that was in my race, she was in 3rd place. I ran right behind her and we arrived at the final checkpoint at the same time...and boy oh boy, this checkpoint couldn't have come at a better time...I was out of water and SOOOOO HOT! The temp was about 94 at this point and it felt like it. Lora left the aid station about a minute before me because I had to finish putting Tailwind and water in my pack. I knew she was right in front of me so I tried to run as well as I could. I ended up not catching her and finished 4th for women and 9th overall. You can check out the results here!


What I love about this sport is that it challenges each and every one of us in different ways and we're tested every time we race. There aren't many things that test the human body and mind as an ultra distance race does. But, it's the times when we overcome the obstacles, that we win. I didn't do as well as I wanted in this race but because I had so many obstacles I overcame and made it to the finish, I felt like a winner :)

Some things I would like to say about this race is:

1. It was challenging but so beautiful. The Spring flowers were in full bloom and they really made it a sight to see!
2. The organization was really great despite my getting off course...that was my own mistake and something that can happen when you are in the front.
3. The volunteers were soooooo amazing. They were all so kind and helpful. They filled up your hydration pack for you while you got something in your stomach so as to not waste time and it was great.

Would I go back? Absolutely!


A BIG THANKS to all those who helped me! I couldn't have done this without my friend, Suany, who watched my daughter! It was so awesome of her to bring two toddlers to the finish and wait for me in the heat...she's a true friend. I wouldn't have felt as good as I did without Tailwind, so thanks for getting me through another long day. And thanks to Ryan, who was so understanding when I told him I ruined his rim.


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