The biggest danger of this race is that it's so very runnable. It can be hard to pace yourself appropriately, and you maybe tempted to go out too fast. It's also easy to underestimate it. In terms of difficulty there's no big elevation gains, no high altitude running. It happens all on the Pemberton trail outside of Fountain Hills, AZ.
We chose instead to stay in the comfort Inn off Shea that gives a free breakfast and every room has a microwave and fridge.
The pre-race "banquet" is one of those uninspiring pasta meals--we chose instead to eat at Jimmy's Krazy Greek restaurant, where I had a Greek pizza, and Sweet Baboo had pistichio, and hummus, for the same price as the "banquet".
Loops two, four, and if you do it, six reverse, heading up a long, shallow climb again. That long climb is soul-sucking. It ends with a downhill that you take somewhat gingerly because of those loose angular cobbled and boulders.
- What I did right: Hiked up, jogged easy down. Changed shoes at the end of loops 2 and 4. The last pair I put on we're Hokas, to provide some cushioning for my feet, especially the second run down that rocky climb. I made up five drop bags for myself, which I labeled, and so when I cam in, I just said, I need my loop 3 bag, please.
- What I did wrong: somehow, I did not wear enough lube. I have a band of angry red chafe under the band of my bra, front and back, and around my lady parts. Ouch.
There a lots of cholla cacti and teddy bear cholla. The ground, if you try to sit on it, is littered with sharp pebbles and cactus needles and tiny baby cacti. Only on the first half of the odd loops and back half of the even loops might you occasionally find a flat rock wide enough for your ass. Even fewer if it's my ass.
- What I did right: as always, I wore a loose, white wicking shirt and lots of sunscreen, and a wide-brimmed REI sun hat. Eventually, I wrapped an ice in a bandanna and wrapped it around my neck.
- What I did wrong: I didn't train for moving in the heat. It slowed me down pretty dramatically, and sapped my strength. I couldn't come back from it.
There's a costume arty going on, so you'll see some clever running outfits. The one that puzzled me for a while was a woman in a cow-spotted costume with wings and a halo.
Holy cow!So because of the way it's set up, you're rarely alone on the trail. There are three full aid stations and a water stop. The full aid stations each have a porta-John and cots and chairs, and I used them.
Eventually as the night stretches on, the party atmosphere disappears out on the trail. A few people run along, chattering with their pacers. The rest are silent except for the muttered
To which you mutter back:
But nobody notices.
Every aid station is fully stocked and at night, the food really comes out. I had a couple if slices from a submarine sandwich at two different aid stations. I think I might have gotten a little behind in calories but overall, I did we'll.
- What I did right: after every lop (15.4 miles) I drank an ensure clear and ate a larabar, giving me 400 or so carries almost completely carbs. I carried a 60 ounce pack and drank it empty on every loop.
- What I did wrong: I didn't take enough calories at aid stations throughout the day. On loop three I tried to make up for it with the sub sandwiches before running downhill. They made my stomach a little queasy. I don't think that salami and American cheese are good running food.
Eventually I started sitting down at aid stations, which would buy me enough recovery time to get to the next one. i sat down at the last aid station, pretty desperate to get off my feet, and pulled them up onto a cot, and wham--I fell asleep. I don't think for very long, maybe ten minutes. I woke up when I heard a cowbell, but it was just the boost I needed to get into the finish line, where I was too exhausted to say, "I'm done," so I drew my finger across my throat. They wrote down my number and handed me the Javalina Wimp-out option: a 100k buckle.
We snagged a primo spot along the course about 20 yards from the start/finish/turnaround.If you go: this is a runner's course. That's what you do, you run. There isn't much for scenery; it's kind of an ugly course. But, it has its own challenges and it's a fun race to do as a group, particularly with the wimp-out option.
It's an easy race to crew, because the crew stays in one place, and the runner comes to the crew. You have to rent a spot through the race, and then show up early to get a good spot (we showed up at noon the day before the race.)
I recommend this race for the reasons above, and also because it's good to have on your running resume. Most ultrarunners in the west have done this, or know someone who has.
So, this was my second A race for the year. Let's take inventory for 2012:
- 5 marathons:Bataan memorial at White Sands Missile Range; Shiprock Marathon in Shiprock, New Mexico; Memorial Day in Massachusetts; Seghahunda Trail in New York, and Taos.
- 4 ultras: 100k in Vermont, this one, and 50k runs at Mt. Taylor and Angelfire Resort
I'm hoping to gain five new states in 2013, states that Baboo has and I don't, to bring us even. Baboo wants a break from 100s, unless he gets into Hardrock. If he gets in I'll crew for him.
We like marathons. They're like little sight-seeing trips. The states I need are: Washington State, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, and a fifth I can't remember. We also want to do the Marine Corps marathon.
My plan is to incorporate more speedwork into my training. Oh, and to do some training!