Race Report: Across the Years 24-Hour Race

Just a few weeks before this race, I set a new PR for the 50K distance at McDowell Mountain Frenzy. I know, a 50K PR doesn’t necessarily mean a ton with all the variation in trails, but it still felt like a pretty good accomplishment and boosted my confidence in my preparation for the Black Canyon 100K in February 2018.

Next up? Across the Years, starting the morning of New Year’s Eve and (theoretically) finishing the morning of New Year’s Day.

Laura put together a game plan to take the race on conservatively and run slower than one might think to run. Overall, her strategy worked out nicely as she and her running partner kept each other going.

My strategy, though, was to not really have a strategy. I’d run a pace that felt good, keep it no faster than 10-minute miles, and see how it goes. I put Finding Gobi on my phone via the Audible app and that got me through most of my race. Sure, the book is less than ten hours long, and I had planned on running 24 hours – right? Well, that changed…

Half marathon: ✔️ #acrosstheyears

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I cranked through the half marathon distance at a decent clip. I had set a PR just months before running sub-9-minute miles, so this was no big deal.

Marathon: ✔️ #acrosstheyears

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By the time I got closer to the marathon distance, though, I was still running a pace that I wasn’t quite used to over that distance, and so I started to fade a bit…

50K: ✔️ #acrosstheyears

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Once I got to the 50K distance, I decided to take my first extended break where I actually sat down and ate a bit of a sandwich. I figured this would be the first of many breaks like this as I ran through the night. No big deal.

Uncharted territory for me.. 50 miles: ✔️ #acrosstheyears

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Yeah, so.. I started taking more breaks. Nothing big, but just decided to take care of myself along the way. Plus, my book was done at this point, so I didn’t even have that to keep me going. Music was fine, but it wasn’t nearly as distracting. Distractions are good with such a monotonous race as this. The people are great, but you can only get so excited about running a 1 mile flat loop, y’know?

By the time I hit 50 miles, I was under 11.5 hours into the race. 100 miles could be doable, but I really didn’t feel like it. My motivation was shot, and I took an extended rest break. The air had gotten cold and I found a heater, and that was pretty much it for me. I’d go back out for a handful more miles, both on my own and to accompany Laura, but I was fading fast.

Happy New Year! #newyears #aravaiparunning #acrosstheyears ?: @happyjubilee

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New Year’s came around, and I celebrated with Laura and other friends. I was talking big heading into this race, in that I wanted to run the underwear beer mile after midnight and all that… Yeah, no. I layered up and laid down in the tent, not to emerge until the sun came up the next morning. Laura joined me some time later when her mileage had caught up to mine, and we crawled out into the next day to hobble around one final mile before turning in our trackers.

I felt pretty good about nailing down nearly 60 miles. It wasn’t quite what I thought I’d do, but it was more than enough for this venture. And I proved to myself that I could definitely run for the 100K distance. Game on, Black Canyon.

Race Report: McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50K

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…

Race Report: Kendall Mountain Run

Not long after getting back from a wrestling related road trip to Los Angeles, I got a message from my buddy Chris about the Kendall Mountain Run in Silverton, Colorado.

He had signed up and was going to make the drive, and was looking to find a person or two to make the trek with him. In my head, I was like “heck yeah!” but I was trying to be realistic and wasn’t sure if it made sense in the midst of that LA trip and the big trip Laura and I had planned for August (more on that later!). When I mentioned it to Laura, though, she did not hesitate in telling me I should go.

It didn’t take me long to figure out her master plan: let me go run around in the mountains of southwest Colorado, then I’ll fall in love with it, and we’ll eventually move there. Well, in short – I think she can raise the “Mission: Accomplished” banner. I LOVED every part of this trip, from riding with Chris and Hayley, scrambling for a last minute camping spot, the run itself, exploring the San Juans, and being tourists in NE Arizona…

But the big takeaway? I loved the feel of SW Colorado – everything was so green. The trails were so soft. The small towns seemed to have a pretty good internet connection – so why can’t I work from there? Hmm… Stay tuned! The Pacific Northwest certainly made its case when we made our trip out there, as well.

Anyway… The run! Oh, the run. To my Phoenix trail running friends – think of Mount Ord with gorgeous scenery and a rocky scramble at the top. That’s pretty much it. It’s a little shorter on mileage, but similar in elevation – so you can count on it being a bit steep. It’s no joke, especially if you’re not acclimatized to the elevation.

And boy, was I not acclimatized! I did what I could for the first couple of miles, but after a while, I resorted to short bursts up the mountain with short breaks in between to catch my breath. It was really all I could do. It worked out pretty nicely, though, as I was able to stop and (literally) smell the flowers – take a few photos here and there, and just overall enjoy the run.

The rocky scramble wasn’t too bad – it was rather exciting moving past other people moving up and down that same section, and finally getting that spectacular 360-degree view at the top. The run down the mountain? Pretty dang fun, too! To a point, at least. For me, that lack of acclimatization came back again with just a couple of miles left. I was moving at a decent clip without a ton of effort but came to realize that I still felt short of breath. I even found myself run/walking a bit as I got into town. Never would I have thought that’d happen – but I didn’t want to make myself pass out or anything.

For the first time at the end of a race, I laid down at the finish in the grass to begin the recovery process. I eventually found my way to the free (!!!) beer tent and waited for Chris and Hayley to come in as well.

Heck of a good time. Would I do it again? Maybe! Would I consider some of the other runs in the area? Certainly! Maybe one day I’ll even be acclimatized to the elevation, and this sort of run won’t take so much out of me. Maybe one day…

Four Corners en route to Silverton! #aravaiparunning ?: @clword77

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Camping at Monument Valley. This'll do.

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Feature Photo Credit ?: SweetM Images