Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pemberton 50K Trail Run: Race Report

What a great event. About 160 people competed in the trail run including a relay.

Each loop was 15.5 miles with two aid stations. Boy, was I excited to see each aid station. I only stopped running at the aid stations during the first loop and felt great. Nothing hurt. I was never out of breath. And looked around at the amazing landscape.  I completed the first loop in 2:33, which I considered quite good for me.

The weather was perfect; overcast skies threatening rain all day with just a few sprinkles. Here is a picture I took of some finishers and what the sky looked like all day.

The Pemberton Trail is a wide hiking path with gradual ups and downs, and many gorgeous mountains in the distance with Saguaro cactus. The trails is in McDowell Mountain Regional Park; a beautiful recreational park just outside of Phoenix. It was a treat to have real bathroom at the race venue instead of porta potties.

During the race I chatted with a few men and women. I like that the two women I ran behind for a bit were talking about their Ironman races. At the finish line there were many Ironman fisher jackets and hats. I like that Ironman folks are doing other races like trail runs. I like being around endurance athletes who try different things.

During the race I heard coyotes whining and initially thought it was women cheering, but we were pretty far from crowds like that. The sounds made me run a bit faster and stay close to people.

The last loop was the hardest and my right knee started hurting. The same pain from the Xterra Trail run from a few weeks ago. After 15 miles it hurt and after 20 miles it was hard to pick up my left leg, the pain coming from my thigh. What can you do but walk a bit, and keep going – I walked a lot during the last loop. The aid stations seem to have moved further apart. I looked at my watch and was hoping to finish under 6 hours. At the start I figured 5-6 hours, not really sure.
The volunteers were amazing and took good care of the trail runners. At the half way aid station I was treated like a queen, my pack taken from me and filled with water. What do you need? What can I get you? Awesome-ness.

When I finished – everyone made me feel amazing.

The finisher bling – a pint glass. I love it. The winners got a Growler. Fun.
Would I do it again? After the race and until today, the day after, no way. The pain was too much.

But the thing is – I trained badly. I tried to follow the training plan for a 50K trail run, but I missed a few long runs. I was able to run two long runs on Saturday and Sunday; I did this many times since the training plan said to learn how to run on tired legs. But I only ran over 20 miles once. During the race my body started to wear down after 18 miles. I think I can do better. Now, it seems to me that it’s not all about time, but feeling good at a race because my body adapted to the distance.

I’m not sure I’d do a 50 mile run, maybe.

But as of today, I love running trails and discovering new places. I never would have imagined such beautiful mountains and trails so close to a desert city like Phoenix. I love learning about places and seeing their beauty up close and personal.

Here's my fridge:

I want to run more trails in Arizona. In the southwest. In the US. And maybe, maybe someday, in another country. Stepping out of my comfort zone is a continual process I need to keep doing.

My next race is the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race next weekend and I think I’ll give running a break for a week. Then a Half Marathon in Phoenix the first weekend in March.

Here’s a great blog post about the race from a few years ago with more photos, but nothing has changed much:

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