Aravaipa Coldwater Rumble 50K Race Report
The night before the race as normal I was anxious and a bit absent minded. I laid out all my gels and tried to picture in my head how many I would need to maintain 200 to 300 calories an hour. I had an idea of what I wanted to wear taking into consideration that it would be chilly at the start.
My buddy Giles told me he would be picking me up between 5:30 and 5:45 a.m. I set my alarm for 4:45 but snoozed until about 5:00 a.m. Once I got up time seemed to fly. I got dressed, drank half a cup of coffee and ate a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich. Giles picked me up and headed to Estrella Mounting Regional Park.
We pulled into the parking lot of the Rodeo Arena, where the start and finish of the race would be. We had about 40 minutes until the start. After picking up are race bibs we walked back to the truck to prep for the race and stay warm. I pinned my race bib, #19 to my shorts. I was curious about the live web cast. So using my I-phone I went on the “Aravaipa” web site and clicked on the web link. It took a few moments to load then I could see a live feed. In the back ground was the finish line. I had told some family and friends about the link the day before, in case they were interested in tracking my progress.
With about 7 minutes left to the start of the race we both jumped out of the truck. Seeing that Giles had on a long sleeve shirt, I decided to put mine on under my black shirt. I then quickly tossed my beanie on the floor board and grabbed my visor. When I got to the start line there was under a minute till the start.
There were instructions being giving over a loud speaker, then as seconds ticked till the official start time, I heard a hurried 3, followed 2, 1 go. The group seemed to all go out slow. As we turned away from the rodeo arena we were on this gravel road. It was still a bit dark out but I could see a pack of front runners slowly begin to spread out and disappear. I kept telling myself to take it easy. The gravel road soon led to parking area for the mountain trails. We passed a fence and continued running on single track trail. The sky was beautiful as the sun begin to appear from behind the clouds. I fumbled in my left pocket for my sun glasses. I would not wear them very long as majority of the morning we ran under an overcast sky.
The single track crossed various washes before turning south on a wide trail then heading back into the wash. I was running a few feet behind a male runner and could hear someone behind me. The sand was challenging to run in as my feet seemed to sink with each step. The three of us came out of the wash back onto a single track trail run in the same formation. A little over 4 miles into the race I tripped, quickly recovered, and got back into stride as I heard the voice of female runner behind me ask if I was alright. I told her I was fine and joked about my fall. In my mind I was thinking about my first 50K and how this situation mimicked my fall at in the beginning of that race. That fall did however open the door for conversation between the three of us.
Aid Station #1 (6.3) Miles
As we ran into the first aid station, I grabbed a Dixie cup filled with Mountain Dew. My water bottles looked good and I really wanted to keep moving. After leaving the aid station I thought to myself I should have waited, but soon enough the 2, I had been running with caught up and we were back running together again. Conversation helped to pass the time as we ran. The discussion turned to pace and I explained I was going faster than I had planned to this early in the run, which they also agreed too. Before I knew it we were at the second aid station.
Aid Station #2 (13 miles)
I asked one of the volunteers to fill up one of my bottles with water. In hindsight I should have filled them both. I ate a few potatoes and a handful of chips. I searched the table and found some salt tablets. Soon after leaving the aid station I found myself running alone again. I began to see runners from the 19K race. From this point on we would all be on the same trail as they headed to the finish and I headed for aid station 3.
The trail begun to climb; it was steep but manageable. I wanted to conserve some energy so I tried not to push too hard. As the course flattened out we begin to pass lots of hikers. I said good morning to all as I passed; I was in high spirits and really enjoying the race. As I looked to my left I begin to see some monuments I recognized from training runs. I was just getting my bearings when I looked to my right and saw a line of runners hiking up this step mountain. I was like “holy crap” knowing we would have to run this section twice. I kept a steady pace but my thighs and calves burned. I was relieved to see the top of the mountain where a group of women were celebrating the climb and enjoying the view.
The descent was tough, my legs were wobbly and I noticed my left knee was hurting. The trail was pretty technical and I was soon moving down the switch backs. Finally as the trail somewhat flattened out I felt a sharp pain in each of my calves with each foot fall. I tried to change from landing on my fore foot to Landing on my mid foot but that did not last too long. I was glad when the pain finally eased up.
I could see the Rodeo Arenas parking lot and could hear people cheering. It gave me a surge of energy. As I came across the crowd heading into the aid station, I heard someone say “good job Alex.” I looked to my left to see some friends of mine. It was my buddy Tim, who was not able to do the race because of work, and his wife and kids. They were there to support Giles and me. It gave me a boost!
Aid Station 3 (19.5 Miles)
I handed off both of my water bottles asking that one be filled with Gatorade and one with water. As they filled my bottles I grabbed a cup of Mountain Dew followed by another. I then hobbled to my right and grabbed a peanut butter sandwich and some salt tabs. As I left the aid station I saw a woman behind me. I yelled “I am not looking forward to the wash.” But got I got no response. It took me awhile to realize she was fixing her waist pack. She soon caught me and asked “is there something wrong with your watch?” I said “no” realizing she had heard me wrong. She quickly ran passed me.
I was now passing the dirt parking lot for the second time. At the front of the gate before the trail head, there was a table with cups of water. I poured one on my head and headed out on the single track. I could see the women who had passed me on the trail in front of me. I made it my goal to keep her in sight. As she got further away I then spotted a male runner in a red shirt and decided I would try to catch and or keep him in sight. I needed the motivation.
My left knee was now hurting bad and I had to urinate. I pulled off to the side off trail and relieved myself. My legs felt heavy as I stumbled and worked to start running again. I was now frustrated and feeling a bit emotional. I begin to think about my family and friends and tried to remember why I loved the sport so much. I had been here before and refused to quit.
I was running again and keeping a steady pace when I saw a male runner in blue not far behind me. We were now running through the sandy wash for the second time. The runner in blue caught up to me and soon passed me. I pushed myself to stay behind him. I soon saw that we had caught the runner in the red shirt just before we reached the next aid station
Aid Station 4 (25.8 Miles)
The workers, as with all the aid stations, were awesome, making sure I had all I needed. I once again had one water bottle filled with water and the other Gatorade. I snacked on some chips and ate a few orange slices before eating some more peanut butter and jelly.
The three of us left the aid station together. I knew the next few miles would be brutal. We came to a gradual downhill and I began to open up my stride. I soon passed the runners in blue and red. I wondered to myself if it was foolish to make this push? I also considered that fact that I was not in a position to win the race.
We hit the first of 3 climbs before the finish. The first was steep but not much of a climb. As I came down the back of the climb I worked to steady my pace wanting to make up some time before the big climb. When I got there, I hiked hard cursing with each step. Near the top I passed two female hikers who moved so I could pass them. As I reached the top I yelled YEAH! The downhill hurt badly. I pushed through the pain knowing I was not far from the finish. The last little hill was not so steep but my legs were done. Finally I could see the Rodeo arena parking lot.
The runner in red passed me, I wanted to give chase, but I was moving as fast as I could. I could now see the finish and my wife and daughter in the parking lot. I came through the finish and threw my right hand in the air with excitement. I finished just under 6 hours. 5:58:40. I was then called over to table near the aid station and giving a glass cup for finishing the race in place of a medal. I immediately thought this is cool and could not wait to drink a beer out of it. I went to greet my family and friends and was so glad the race was done. I stood there exhausted taking in the accomplishment when my wife's cell phone begin to ring as family following the web cast begin to call to congratulate and ask how I was feeling.
This is a race I would love to do again. I am also looking forward to Aravaipa’s Mesquite Canyon Trail race in March. Time to rest and recover so I can do this all again!! Big thank you to all the aid station workers and the runners I meet along the way!