Saturday, February 8, 2014
Farewell to Forties...Pemberton Trail 50K 2014
This morning I ran the Pemberton Trail 50K, the race that my friend Brian Wieck has held in McDowell Mountain Regional park near Fountain Hills, AZ, for what seems like the gazillionth time.
Pink, orange and red streaks across the sky. The next photo I borrowed, thanks to Mary Laibe, one of the runners. It really was spectacular, you had to be there of course to experience it.
Being 11 pounds lighter and 3000 feet lower in altitude, it was hard to judge my pace, but I do know the trail and landmarks well, and I hit the one mile mark at a decent pace, faster than I usually start. This being the first ultra since my injury and my last ultra being in the 40-49 year old age group, I wanted to at least run better than last year. Last year I ran 5:06.
I ate a huge breakfast before I left my dad and stepmom's house, so I really didn't feel hungry for the longest time, I didn't even take a gel during the race. All I had was water and some S-caps, and a couple of small cups of Coke. That is unusual for me, I usually eat, but I just didn't need it today. Still burning off the nursing fat, I guess.
I ran in my Pearl Izumi H3s, this is the first time I've run a trail ultra in them. It seems like they worked very well for me, I will know for sure in the next day or two as I feel any sore spots after the race. But I had no problems with blisters or any issues with the surfaces. I did wear my gaiters, which I'm glad I did, the trail was dry and loose, they haven't had much rain.
Once we got on the new section of the Pemberton heading east I felt so good, it feels like a roller coaster with those curves and rolling hills.
I finished the first loop in 2:20, and ran over to the truck to dump my extra clothes and pick up an icy water bottle and gels. I decided to start listening to music at that point, grabbed my ancient MP3 with the trance tunes on it. I might actually upgrade to an ipod this year...
It took me 3 minutes at the truck then I had to pee again soon after I hit the trail. I struggled a little but was able to maintain a decent running pace up the hill again. At the first aid station I grabbed a ltitle cup of coke and slammed it. Then I regretted it, I felt like it was going to come back up. Fortunately it did not. I couldn't believe I still wasn't hungry!
I was running, but dragging ass a bit in the middle section across the park, but once I saw Penis Rock, yes, that is a landmark on the course, I knew I was almost to the turnoff to the roller coaster again. Once I turned back on to the roller coaster section I got a second wind and maintained the same splits from the first loop. I felt great running down that section.
The other boost I got was in the second aid station, both loops, seeing James Bonnett working there. His dad Paul used to be director of Across the Years before Aravaipa Running took it over. I have watched James grow up from when he was a little kid. It's always great to see him and I'm glad he's still involved with the ultra community. They're sort of like family, after all these years.
James told me I looked a lot better than the 4 people ahead of me. Incentive.
I got passed by very few people in the entire event, I think only 3 or 4 men passed me after the first hour, and on the way down toward the finish I passed about 10 people. All men. It was only in the last hour that I started to feel the warm air, I knew I needed to get done before it got really warm. I think my Badwater sauna training might have finally worn off.
I must have been going pretty fast down that trail as it straightens out toward the end. At one point I almost bit it, but caught myself, I did feel a good yank on my left hamstring, yes, the one I injured last year. But so far it seems to be fine. If I didn't catch myself, I would have done a major faceplant and probably some damage to my wrists, face, knees, or who knows what. Lucky.
I saw lots of old running buddies down there, it was fun to hang out at the finish and see everyone and catch up. I also met a new Colorado Team Pearl Izumi member, Mike, who was down here from Leadville.
It was 66 degrees at the finish. A little change from 13 below, that it was when I left Denver on Thursday.
But I was happy with my evenly paced race and my strong improvement over last year, in my first race back. It's a good way to exit my age group in ultras. I'm not sure if I'll do anything short before my birthday, but my next ultra is March 29th in Kansas. And by then I will be officially 50.
I'll be here for another few days, I plan to soak up the warmth like an iguana. I just hope my body survived today intact. Look out, Sally O'Malley!