Insomniac Night Trail Run Series: Sinister 27k Recap

I had mentioned this race last week and how I was excited about it–well, it lived up to it all, lol!

Phoenix is either cold (for us) or hot and there’s usually no in between. But on Saturday afternoon, clouds were coming in.

And wind.

In fact, about two hours before the race started, the wind was pretty bad and several of my friends decided to skip the race as they didn’t want to run in basically a twister. The gusts were super strong, but like one of my friends said, it’s what makes the race Sinister, right?? 😀

I got to the race early to pick up my bib and swag

Swag: Arm sleeves, visor, and finisher's cup

Swag: Arm sleeves, visor, and finisher’s cup

and my buddy and I hung out with the small crowd of runners. Amongst us, people were chatting how cold it was. I know, I know, us Phoenicians shiver at anything under 60, but it was cold for us, lol!! The wind was giving us a little chill and a sprinkle had started. I had planned accordingly with a long-sleeved and there were others with even more coverage, but I knew that once I started running, I’d warm up. Which was exactly the case.

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There was a 9k race (one loop), a 27k race (3 loops), and a 54k race (6 loops). I knew quite a few people doing the 9k, including my BRF, Foxy Jen–I call her that not only because she is a hot mama, but because she’s a fierce fundraiser for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Foxy Jen and me at the Start :D

Foxy Jen and me at the Start 😀

I tried to convince her to upgrade to the 27k but like a smart woman, she declined.

Anyway, the 54k people went first. Then, it was my turn.

Go time!

Go time!

 

Promptly at 7:30 p.m., the race began and I was off. The sun was finishing setting and I settled in behind a guy who seemed to be running at a good pace, which pretty much meant I was running too fast.

I was flying through the rolling hills behind this guy who was essentially lighting and paving/pacing the way for me, until we reached a hill towards the end of the loop (each loop was around 5.6 miles). I saw him start to get away from me on that hill between mile 4 and 5 and as his body dimmed from my view, so did the light. Alone, I realized my light was dim! My batteries were dying!

I finished the loop, passing through the start line and the aid station thinking I could manage with the little light I had, but as soon as I passed the crowds and was back out on the desert, I could tell that it was not going to be easy.

First Loop (Mile 5.6)– 56:20

I had to run with my head down because all I could see was the ground immediately in front of me. My neck started to hurt, my body was already aching, and I knew this was going to be a long loop.

When I reached the aid station that was nicely positioned in the middle of the loop, I stopped for a break. They asked if I needed anything and I spotted a liter of Coke. I took a small cup of the amazingness and continued on. It was then that I realized I could text Foxy Jen for help! She should be finishing her 9k loop and I could just get her light! Luckily, I was in an area with phone reception because she responded that yes, she would definitely hand over her head lamp!

I was approaching the uphill at the end of loop and just told myself to get to Jen. Once I had my new light, I would be able to finish the last loop stronger. I ran carefully, only tripping a few times but never actually having a conversation with the ground.

And finally, after what seemed like forever, there she was. I handed her my light and she handed me hers, and I was back on the trail for the last loop. It was almost 10 p.m. at that point and I knew that I would be finishing, if I was lucky, around 11.

Second Loop (Mile 11.2)–2:01:16

With the new lamp, it was night and day. I was running more confidently but still slow, as fatigue had really set in. My entire body was aching. My arms from using them for balance, my ribs and core from keeping my body upright and steady, and my legs from the rolling hills and pounding.

But I forged on. I knew this was the last loop; I just had to make it to the aid station and I would be almost done.

It seemed to take forever to get there. I was by myself the entire last loop, whereas before, I would encounter other runners along the course. Not this time. When I reached the aid station, it was so nice to see people, lol! I drank a little bit more Coke, grabbed some gummy worms, and said happily, “I’m almost done!”

But I knew the end would be the hardest part with that damn hill. I could feel my calves and shins start to ball up and that worried me. I had been taking salt tablets the entire way and was frustrated I was beginning to cramp. I can’t seem to avoid it!! They never fully came thankfully, as I kept running and telling my brain to tell my legs to shut up.

Finally, I saw the tent lights. I picked up my pace as all I wanted to do at that point was finish. I got closer and closer and then… I crossed, triumphantly, before putting my hands on my knees…lol!

Third Loop–(Mile 16.8) 3:12:47

My official stats: 

3:12:47
7/31 Female
27/65 overall

I’m really happy with how I ran as I went in with very little expectations. I felt strong and felt that my mental game is growing. I was using this as a training run for R2R2R in a few weeks but was worried about running 17 miles with having only a 10 mile training run under my belt. I finished though, albeit extremely achy, lol!!!

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Elevation

I’m still sore two days after and this week will consist of many foam rolling sessions and massages and very little running. To be honest, if any.

If you’re ever in Arizona, you gotta do an Aravaipa race. They are stellar, so well done, and just perfect trail races with many distance options for everyone. Not all of them are night either, lol! Can’t rave about them enough!

–How do you recover from an achy run? 

–Is a trail race on your list of to-dos?

 

 

 

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Adrenaline 27k Night Trail Race {Recap}

I’m alive!!

Let me tell you something, that. was. brutal.

I’ll start at the beginning.

We didn’t do much on Saturday so I wasn’t exhausted by the day thankfully. I was planning on leaving my house early as I didn’t get my bib the two days prior so I was out the door by 5 p.m. Bib pick-up started at 6 and the race location was almost an hour away–yes, an hour!! Game time was 7:30 so I wanted to make sure I got there with plenty of time.

I drove the 45+ minutes to get to the middle of nowhere aka: McDowell Mountain Park. I had never been there before so I had no clue what to expect. I also hadn’t looked at the course map or elevation chart before (<–um yeah, that would’ve been smart).

Started with the 10 mile loop followed by the 10k loop (see mountain).

Started with the Long Loop 10 mile (bottom) followed by the  Short Loop 10k (top–see mountain).

After glancing at the elevation chart(wha??!!),  I picked up my bib and shirt (love!) and then headed over to my running group’s tent. There were about 40 of us that had signed up for the 10k and 27k. (Btw, there’s been much talk amongst my blogging friends on how cool running groups are. Mine is pretty amazing and will write soon on how I found them.)

AZTNT at Adrenaline :)

AZTNT at Adrenaline 🙂

As we all chatted, we said how nice it was that it had gotten below 100 degrees. It actually felt pretty good out lol!

Pre-race pic!

Pre-race pic!

Go time was right before sunset:

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And we were off!

I started the race having absolutely no idea what to expect. I had never done a trail race and I had never raced at night. I figured I’d just go and see how it went.

I began with three teammates who are pretty fast. I knew I wasn’t going to stay with them long at all but it was nice to be around familiar faces at the start. After the first mile beeped though, I knew I was going too fast: 9:48. With my personal experience trail running, my easy comfort zone is way slower than that so I immediately slowed down.

I was looking around taking the scenery in. It was pretty cool to be out there in the desert watching the sun set and hearing nature. I think I got caught up with all of it because what I was hoping wouldn’t happen happened a lot earlier than expected. I flew into the air and almost fell flat on my face! I had tripped over a rock, hard, but was able to catch my balance mid air to escape disaster. Then, not just a few minutes later, I slipped and tweaked my ankle! Luckily, it wasn’t anything serious–but this was barely mile 2!!

Wouldn't this distract you too?? Photo Cred: B. Swanson

Wouldn’t this distract you too??
Photo Cred: B. S (AZTNT)

I told myself to get it together; I still had 14 miles to go.

I slowed down considerably and was battling the up, down, up, down portion of the course. It finally settled into just up and I took my time as I climbed the hills.

A little after mile 5 was the first water station. I had heard from my running group that the stations were well stocked–as in, they had an assortment of candy, chips, watermelon, soda, water, gatorade. It was pretty cool! One of the volunteers even refilled my hydration pack for me!

I gobbled a watermelon slice, took a salt tablet, and got going.

Finally, I was at the downhill part of the first loop and it was nice because the trail was finally clear. No more jumping rocks 🙂 I settled in and cruised the next couple of miles. By this time, it was dark and my head lamp was on. It did a good job of lighting the path and it also helped that I had other runners around me. Like the guy in front running barefoot.

My watch beeped mile 8 and I was so glad to know that I was halfway done. I absolutely love trail running but it’s definitely a different type of running. A lot more concentration is involved–i.e. not tripping, twisting your ankle, getting lost–which i don’t mind but  I learned that’s doubled when you’re trail running at night. I was already so exhausted!

We had to turn off the trail to start the second loop and this was SO confusing. I, along with several others, had missed it and had to turn back. We had to get on a trail that took us to the start line where we would get on a the 10k trail. It meant that for about a mile, those in front were running back and those still going were on the same trail. Not cool and this would be the only black spot I’d have on the race.

Plus, having to pass the start/finish line made me want to stop. Knowing I still had 6 miles left was tough. But, it was nice to hear the cheers from everyone.

The 10k loop was absolutely awful. From the very beginning you were climbing a mountain. The trail had gotten rocky again; I didn’t mind walking but I did wish I knew how long I had to the top– it seemed never ending. I started Lebronning (cramping) around mile 11 and I never fully recovered. My legs were so tight and I was fighting some serious pain.

It was around this time too that the crowd had really dissipated. I was alone for a long time with the exception of one girl who I’d pass and who’d catch up–we went like this for a while until I passed her and didn’t see her again.

It was very dark out. The moon provided some light but out there in the mountains it was difficult to navigate. Several times I had to stop and look around to make sure I was on the right path. I’d taken an extra hand flashlight (thank goodness) and that helped provide me with extra light to figure out where I was going.

Everything was hurting. My legs continued to cramp off and on and my feet hurt so bad. I was concentrating so hard on the trail but even then I found myself sailing forward again! I was able to catch myself for the second time and avoid any battle wounds.

I did a lot of jog and then walk, jog and then walk until I saw mile 15 and then I just told myself to try my hardest to keep running. Not seeing the end anywhere near was tough but when I was at halfway through the mile I finally heard life. I was close! I picked up it up (ja!! I was limping at this point) and tried to finish strong. With whatever strength I had, I lifted my arms up in celebration as I crossed the finish line 3 hours and 19 minutes later–I was finally done!

SO happy to be done! :)

SO happy! 🙂

This was a great race put on my awesome people. If you’re ever in Arizona, definitely check out Aravaipa Running. I had so much fun although I do think I was ambitious in attempting the 27k as my first trail race (at night). Two days later, I’m still really sore and with marathon training 10 days away, it was poor planning on my part.

But all in all, it was a great experience and something I can cross off my list–and I love doing that 🙂

–Have you tripped during a race?

–What race exhausted you the most?

 

 

A What’s Next Update

I hadn’t planned on doing any summer racing but my running group advertised a popular trail run that many said they were participating in.

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So I’ve never done an actual trail race.

And I’ve never raced at night.

Totally seems like a good idea to do both for the first time together, right?

The race is put on by Jamil Coury, the guy I wrote about a few weeks ago who did the Barkley Marathon. He founded Aravaipa Running and I’ve heard nothing but good things about their races. I’m super excited to finally have a chance at participating in one.

I’m pretty excited about it actually. Nervous too, but definitely more excited. There’s a 10k, a 27k, and a 64k option and I decided to go with the 27k. AZTNT, my running group, has a ton of people signed up for it so it’s going to be a great time running with friends. I don’t have any goals or expectations with it; I just plan on enjoying myself doing something different.

I feel like I need things to look forward to to kinda help the days go by. With this 100 Days of No Soda starting, I’m going to need all the motivation I can get. I plan on also looking around for a 4th of July run. August will be plenty busy with me going back to work (this news will be elaborated on in a later post 🙂 ) and once fall gets here, race season comes with it full throttle.

But for now, this trail race in a couple of weeks has me counting the days. I’ve got my head lamp ready and we’ll just see what happens!

–Have you ran a race a night? What tips can you give me?

–Do you schedule races to have something to look forward to? What’s the method behind your planning, if any?

Have a great weekend! Tomorrow’s the last day to think of something for the 100 Days of Summer Challenge! Keep me company (and help hold me accountable) as I try to go without soda 🙂

The challenge starts June 1st and ends September 8th.

The challenge starts June 1st and ends September 8th. Click here for details.