Elephant Mountain 12k Race Recap

I haven’t been on the trails….well…let’s just say for a loooong time. But I decided to sign up for this race because a ton of my friends were doing it and FOMO (fear of missing out) hit me like a wrecking ball.

It was also a race on trails I’d never been before and I love exploring my little big state. It was an hour drive and I rode up there solo. Luckily, Aravaipa races do race day bib pick-up. Got there early because that’s how I roll.

I’d done my research and saw that it was going to be a glorious day at 80 degrees (you read that right) but the morning was going to be a freeze fest at 45-50. I parked and then ran into some friends at the potty and then we all huddled in a car together to wait for the start. The race started at 8:30 (there were two other distances starting before ours) so when we began, it was warming up and my shorts and tank weren’t crazy pants.

Post potty pre race pic

Post potty pre race pic

At the start!

At the start!

It was a big group of us and we all started together but fizzled out as we ran. I was near the front of our pack with my friend T$ who is a super strong trail runner. The first mile was all uphill and she lead the way. When we reached the apex, I let myself roll with the downhill, and then I was by myself.

It was up and down after that and on the down I was pretty reckless running faster than I probably should have.

holy rollers

holy rollers

On the uphill, I would take it easy but managed to still do a sort of run. This was HUGE for me because I’ve always struggled with hills, road or trail. To see that I was running up them, big ones too, made me feel so strong and like I’ve come a long way from the scared-of-hills runner I used to be.

I finally reached the lone water station that served as a turn around for the 12k. It was a short way back on the same trail as I’d just come on so it was cool to see my friends as I began my way to the finish.

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More up and down, and on the down (as you can see from my splits) it was WHHHEEEEEEEE!!!!! I totally got caught up in my surroundings–the desert does that to me. It was so darn beautiful out. Everything was so perfect. The sun on my face, the weather, the cacti and nature around me, the difficulty of the trail–I was in my own little heaven for 8 and half miles.

Oh yeah, a 12k is around seven miles. When I reached that point, I thought I was close to the finish but then it never came. I kept running and then I saw two girls up ahead. I caught up to one to ask if we were on the right trail– she said we were. I passed her and then made it my mission to catch the next girl. By the time I did, it was well past 8 miles. At a quarter after, I finally saw the finish, and I was glad as my spunky energy was beginning to diminish, lol!

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I ended up averaging a 9:46 pace which for me is hella fast for trails. When I was recounting the race to my husband, I just said that I ran happy and that’s really what it was. I had an absolute blast and enjoyed myself the entire way. 26th overall and 6th female. I don’t know how many people raced but I was pretty proud with the results as I don’t consider myself a strong trail runner. I never run trail races with an expectation to win anything–we have a super strong trail running community–but I know that this race was a good one for me, in many ways, and more so than a placing.

I needed this. Phoenix Marathon training hasn’t been as exciting as NYC since I don’t have an actual goal I’m going for. Running has felt more like something I’ve had to do, and not so much in a fun way. But this trail race reignited me. I had fun. Sooo much fun. 🙂

–Do you like trail running/racing?

–Are you a cautious downhill runner or reckless like I am? (I need to get better about that, lol)

–Are hills your thing? I’m starting to not be afraid of them, finally!

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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?

 

 

 

Next “Race”: Sinister Night Trail Run

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, or not a lot, that I have a race coming up. I use the term race loosely though, as I don’t really “race” trail races. The trail game is strong here in Arizona; I think the trail game is strong everywhere, lol! Those runners are a different breed! So I don’t go in with any expectations other than to have fun running where I love to the most, out in the middle of nowhere.

I love road running, too. But I think it’s easier to get bogged down by the numbers. Out on the trails, I always absentmindedly turn on my watch, mostly out of habit than anything else. Because out there, time doesn’t matter.

The cacti, the dirt, the purple mountains, the breeze, the wild—all of that matters. They don’t care about how fast you’re going.

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On the road, everyone seems preoccupied by numbers. The cars zooming to their destination over the speed limit, the stoplight and its countdown blinking how long I have before I can cross, the people on their phones distracting themselves , tapping their steering wheel impatiently. And me, looking down at my watch, how long have I been running, how far have I gone…

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Anyway, I’m looking forward to my race on Saturday. It’s a 27k out in the mountains closest to where I live, so it’s not too far, and it’s trails I’m familiar with. It’s at night with a start time of 7:30.

Here’s the course elevation (I learned from my first one to look at those things, lol):

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It’s a 3 loop course of the 9k–I kinda like that because that means I’ll pass through the start, and the crowds, a few times. I have a ton of friends doing this race and I know that it’s just going to be a blast 🙂

More after the race!!

–Do you like trail running/racing?

–Have you done a night race before? How’d you like it? (I’ve done 3– two trail and one road one in Canada!)