Pass Mountain 50k, Mesa AZ
|Just Before the Start|
Approaching mile 29, I was chasing a six hour finish, the trail was weaving in and out of washes and I found myself being approached by two riders on horseback. They yielded to me so I pushed hard up the little hill were they waiting for me to pass. As I reached the top, muscle cramps in both my calves involuntarily collapsed me to my butt. My first instinct was to grab at my right calf, which was knotted up. I could not flex either of my feet without pain. The two riders looked down at me concerned, and asked if I was okay; I knew eventually the muscle cramps would pass, but for the time being I was lying on the ground embarrassed. They stayed with me until I was able to get up and hobble off to complete the last two miles of the race.
The Start of the Race:
It was chilly and breezy out, thick clouds covered the mountain tops, and the sun was slowly making an appearance as we were minutes away from the start of the race. I started a little faster then planned but was feeling confident, even after pulling a cholla cactus from my left calf a little over a mile into the run. I skipped the first aid station, but was sure to stop at the second one to fill my water bottle before the climb up Usery Pass. The trail was run-able with some areas requiring me to navigate around rocks, pools of water, and mud. This race consisted of two loops, so I was taking mental notes and strategizing for my second trip around.
The climb up Usery Pass was challenging. I hiked some, but for the most part kept a steady pace to save my legs, knowing I would face it again. I took in the view at the top and continued down the back side of the mountain. I reached the Blevins aid station around mile 15 feeling good and with the hope that maybe I could finish the run in less than 5 1/2 hours; which would be a personal best for me. I left the aid station knowing the next 7 miles were very run-able. I was averaging about a 9:30 pace while staying steady and relaxed as possible. About mile 18, I could feel my legs getting heavier with each step.
I hit the wall at mile 20; I kept walking and did my best not to allow any negative thoughts to creep into mind. Visualizing future races and reflecting on my goals got me through this low point and most importantly to next aid station. I had my water bottle filled with a 50/50 mix of water and Gatorade. I chugged a few Dixie cups of mountain dew and proceeded back on trail, moving slowly. I looked at my watch and knew I would have to re-focus on a new time goal - 6 hours.
As I began the climb up Usery Pass for the second time, I focused my energy on catching a runner I had just seen disappear on the other side of first hill. I hiked that hill hard and was met at the top by two women who clapped. One said “I think its amazing that you guys run these trails." I smiled, thanked them and charged on down the trail. Was it my second wind?
Now moving steady and having run this section on the first loop, I had a good idea of the terrain and wanted to get a good bit of trail behind me before the steeper section ahead. I kept pushing, running the flats and hiking the climbs. Finally reaching the top, though out of breath, I felt a sense of peace come over me; I was really enjoying the race.
The next section was a net down hill, so I opened up my stride as best as my tired legs would let me. Hearing the guns from the nearby shooting range and being able to see the flags of the finish line about 2.5 miles away was a relief, but I could feel my muscles cramping. Now I was lying on my butt in front of the 2 horse riders, as embarrassed as one could be. Once I was up and moving again I couldn’t help but laugh, and there was more laughter to come.
About a quarter mile from the finish line, a group of twenty or so teenage boys out hiking, interlocked there hands and I ran through the tunnel they built. Were they laughing at me or with me? I am pretty sure I was not hallucinating. Either way I thought it a good gesture and figured what a great ending to this run. What a day! 6 hour 14 minutes and some change.
|Photo From Aravaipa's Photo Gallery|