On Saturday, I had one of my hardest, most enjoyable running/hiking days ever. Friday night my DH and I drove 4 hours to Waddell, Arizona, so that I could compete in my first 50k and first trail race the next morning. I got up at 5:00 to travel the hour drive out of Phoenix area into the desert mountains and arrived early enough to get my race packet and drink a bit of coffee.
Me looking pretty derpy as I contemplate what I'm about to do:
At 7, they had an early start for those interested, but I waited until the official 7:30 start time. My main goal was just to stay focused and to finish so I started at the very back of the pack. The trail started out very easy, and I zipped passed 2 aid stations before I hardly felt I’d started, but as the trail had a out and back section, I knew I’d be using these aid stations after a tough 9 mile stretch out, and then the 9 mile stretch back. This section of the trail was a steep rocky incline. As the elevation rose, I tried to be a bit overly conservative with my energy, walking even when I knew I probably could have run. By the time I got to the top of the canyon I was still feeling good. Then as we started back down, I started meeting the fastest runners coming back, those doing other distances that started on a different trail, and those doing the early start. As this was a single file trail, there was a lot of jumping to the side to make room from those who were going the opposite way.
Eventually the path leveled out enough that I could start running again. That turn around area was taking forever to get to! Finally seeing the aid station and the bathrooms was like a breath of fresh air. Someone offered to put ice in my hydration pack, and I threw it to them as I dashed to the restroom. Thankfully, we were allowed a drop back, and I sat down and gobbled down the healthy treats that I’d brought, and took another salt tablet.
I noticed that pretty much everyone I came in with had already gone, so I decided I best get back on the trail. The climb up was hard and mostly hiking, and I passed a couple of people that’d left the aid station before me. One lady says as I go by “I came out here to run not to hike!” as I was passing by. I didn’t care, though, for me it was fun and I was enjoying the challenge as well as the gorgeous, expansive views. When I could, I’d run, and when the incline would get too much and I could feel it in my breathing, I’d go back to hiking. I knew I had 9 more miles back to the next aid station again. Often in this section I felt all alone on the trail. I could see no one before me or behind. It was like I was out in the rugged west all by myself before civilization. For me, this was a very serene part of the race….just me and the mountains. Though I did eventually come upon and pass just a couple of people. Along this section I also took another salt tablet. After covering the unaided 9 miles the 2nd time, once again, the aid station was a sight for sore eyes. The volunteers were so sweet and so willing to help and cheer us on. Plus they were wearing Viking helmets and you really can’t get any cooler then that. Here, I took another salt tablet, ate another snack, and filled up my hydration pack. “How far until the next station?” I asked. “Five and half miles,” the volunteers said “and it’s not easy.” Oh great! I check my watch, and I was just under 5 hours into the race.
I took off, and the trail got steeper, but I was fine, until suddenly, I was not. My jaw and my ears felt funny; my stomach was queasy. I sat down on a rock, and then bent over and puked. Yuck, I continued to dry heave a bit. And once again, I started feeling decent. I think I must have taken too many salt tablets. I got up and went on. Eventually the trail started winding down, and I got to what is supposed to be the most difficult section of the race. It was very sandy with lots of big boulders around. I start up the dried river bed for a bit. I suddenly realized that I stopped seeing the flags to indicate that I’m still on the path. Hmmmm, where did I go wrong I wonder. The loose, dry sand is so difficult to run in that I’m reluctant to go back, but what choice do I have? Finally I go back until I see the last flagged area, and then start looking for the next flag. Oops, I’d gone in the opposite direction than I should have. I’d lost about 20 minutes doing this, but there was no time to cry over it. The boulders got larger. Some were 2 & 3 feet tall and are situated in such a way I had no choice but to climb and jump over. I tried to come over softly so that my calves and feet didn’t take too much pounding. Eventually the boulders became even bigger. Some in fact were huge! To continue on, the “trail” required us to find a way down 20 and 30 ft natural rock walls. Nobody was around, so I realized that I had to rely on myself, and find those foot holds, and slide carefully. It was so fun and scary and I wished I could watch how other people were handling it. These rocks were smooth, white and almost blinding to the eyes with pools of green water in the indentions. They rather reminded me of the polar bear enclosures at zoos, except that I’m much smaller then a polar bear.
It had been almost 2 hours since I left the last aid station. It was amazing how long it took to cover just over 5 miles. I finally came upon the final water Vikings, and let them know how beautiful they were. “3 miles to the end,” they told me. I go on. From there on out most of the going was mostly smooth. I pass a couple more people and we encouraged each other in the passing. I conserved my energy well and was able to keep running. At last I see the finish line. The only one around was the time keeper. I raised my hands and call out “Incoming Cherie ____!” And cheer! Yes, I am a dork, but I was also excited and proud.
I looked around and to find my wonderful, supportive DH. We ate some sandwiches, I drank a beer, and we headed over to the finish line so we could cheer people as they come across. A couple of men who I had passed on the trail came over to congratulate me. They told me that this was the final and hardest of trail races in the series and how impressed they were that I was able to handle it so well. I felt proud and was glad they said it in front of DH.
I loved this race. Because of all the twists and turns and climbs it kept my mind occupied enough that I never really had time to whine in my head. I was tired, but it was a different kind of tired that I get with a road race. Instead of being exhausted based on repetition and monotony, it was a happy tired because of a full body workout spent in nature.
Silly me, I almost forgot to tell you all how I did! I finished in 7:34. I was 48th of the 66 people who finished, and 17/22 women. I don't feel one bit bad about my time considering how much of the trail was unrunable for me. And the fastest woman finished in 5:32.... Yikes...okay, but I did get lost for a bit! LOL
Running- the real sport. The others just play with their balls.
Wow.............. so jealous. Awesome job and beautiful pictures
*Do It For Yourself, Do It Because They Said It Was Impossible, Do It Because They Said You Were Incapable*
5k - 24:40 (7:57 min/mile pace)
10k - 54:39 (8:48 min/mile pace)
15k -1:24:04 (9:01 min/mile pace)
13.1 - 1:56:38 (8:54 min/mile pace) Sub 2 hours!!!
Wow, amazing accomplishment!
That is so funny because yesterday I was thinking someday I'd like to try a 50k (after I get a few more marathons under my belt). I was just hunting to see what was in the area & I noticed almost all of them are trail races, which I've never done of any distance (or in training for that matter). So if I ever get there, I will come to you for advice.
How beautiful! Sounds like a great experience! Congrats.
Damaris, Marathon Maniac, Ultra Runner
Next: San Francisco Marathon
"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."
I love sponge cake.
Wow!!!!!! That looks like some tough course and what an elevation profile! She Can, that is very impressive! WOW!!!!
Santa Anita Derby Day 5k - 5 Apr
Mountains to Beach Marathon - 25 May
Ball of Fury
Awesome job...beautiful pictures!
PRs: 5K 22:59, 10K 46:54,HM: 1:51:15
Holy cow! That looked tough! Really impressive run, Cherie. Were your legs really sore after? Did you scratch parts of them climbing through the rocks? And when you puked, were you feeling weak? Urgh... you're much braver than I am, that's for sure... I'd love to do that beautiful trail, but not as a race, I'd definitely take my sweet time. :-)
Bravo, you did great and I can see why you are in love!
PRs: Boston Marathon, 3:27, April 15th 2013
Cornwall Half-Marathon, 1:35, April 27th 2013
4 years racing, 14 marathons, 14 BQs
Barking Mad To Run
to Waddell, Arizona
Yeah, that's what I'd do if I tried to do what you just did...I'd Waddell all over Arizona!
Dang, there was a trail in there somewhere? I couldn't even see a trail in your photos! How could you tell where the trail was? I'd probably still be out there wandering around, lol. Congrats on your 50K, you are AWESOME!
"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Theodore Roosevelt
I race in SparkleSkirts
Holy cow Cherie!!!! What an amazing, beautiful, crazy hard course and you rocked it like a champ! Way to go, incredible job!!!
PRs: 5K- 28:16 (5/5/13) 10K- 1:00:13 (10/27/13) 4M- 41:43 (9/7/13) 15K- 1:34:25 (8/17/13) 10M- 1:56:30 (4/6/14) HM- 2:20:16 (4/13/14)
I started a blog about running :) Check it out if you care to
fsocks down in L&Oh ran this same race: (link)
Congrats on surviving. Sounds like it was a real beast.
I'm happy, hope you're happy too...
Thank you for taking time to read/look, free_soul, dave, docket, Jack, and AmiK !!!! It was beautiful in a deserty kind of way.
"Holy cow! That looked tough! Really impressive run, Cherie. Were your legs really sore after? Did you scratch parts of them climbing through the rocks? And when you puked, were you feeling weak? Urgh... you're much braver than I am, that's for sure... I'd love to do that beautiful trail, but not as a race, I'd definitely take my sweet time. :-)"--- happylily
You're so sweet and modest! I've read your RRs and your fantastic vacation story, and I would love to be even a fraction of that woman you are. But even so, you're always so humble and encouraging, and make me want to be better myself. Thank you so much lily!
After I pucked I felt fine, and ready to move on. Today I did my first run after the race--- only 3-1/2 miles, and was feeling pretty good.
Haha@ Scotty, I was Waddling after the race I think, but it was so worth it!
Thank you, Kristin!
Paulski, thanks for posting the link! i didn't know anyone else from here had ran the race.
Very nice! Congratulations Cherie!
STILL HAVING FUN!!!
Susan,Queen of the Crocs
Cherie, as I already told you, I would be thrilled with that time on that course, even more so now that I've read your report and learned the details. What a tough course! I've seen rock fields, but sliding down boulders is completely new. You are bad ass, girl! Congratulations!
Thank you so much fitboy!
Applodder, thank you so much! That means a lot coming from you! *hugs*
Sounds like you ran an awesome first ultra! So when is the next?
Huh, I have a blog?