Running at McDowell Mountain Park has really grown on me in the last year. From Ragnar Trail to pacing at Javelina Jundred to just getting out there on some flat Pemberton trails… it’s a nice park with lovely single track.
For this particular race, I was feeling pretty good heading into it, and I was particularly excited about the weather. It was set to be in the 40s/50s all race. The morning had a fair bit of cloud cover, and it all came together as the perfect mix for me.
Personally, I’ve discovered that weather is my biggest hurdle. Direct sunlight and heat can really make me overheat quickly if I don’t have the option of ice.
Uphills don’t bother me, and this race is a slow but steady climb from mile 5 to 14. I know it took a fair bit out of Laura, but it was my jam that day. The climb as we headed through the valley towards Thompson Peak couldn’t even get me down, though I know it was affecting many other runners that I ended up passing along the way. I even chatted with my brother via the speaker on my phone for about half an hour, as I was pretty much solo out there for quite a long stretch – something you generally don’t get with the looped courses until later in the day. After hanging up with him, I turned to music, and tested a theory I had earlier that week… The soundtrack to the movie Baby Driver is an EXCELLENT choice for running music.
Crazy as it may sound, I started getting a bit warm by the time I got to the Mile 23 aid station. Nothing crazy, but the sun was out and that was enough to raise my internal temperature enough to threaten slowing me down. I busted out a Hulkamania bandana that I had prepared for the situation – loading it up with ice and using it to cool myself along the way towards the finish.
I got to a point where I thought I might be able to finish within 6 hours, but my mileage was a bit off and I realized in the last few miles that it wouldn’t happen. PLUS, I was headed through what is known to Ragnar Trail runners as the dreaded Yellow Loop – lots of up and down hills through the McDowell Competitive Trails, so I kind of gave up on that along the way. I persisted a steady pace, passing a few more along the way, and ultimately PR’d the 50K distance.
It felt great, and built a lot of confidence in me as I loomed just a couple of months away from the Black Canyon 100K…