The first word is always the hardest to write. Hmmm, ok let’s go for the utterly mundane and say I have completed my third half marathon. I would have tried to bang this post out yesterday, but I was tired and hungry. Oh so very hungry. Where to begin…”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….” Oh very sorry, wrong story.
On Sunday I completed the Winter Trail Frosty Trail Half Marathon that took place in Papago Park in Tempe, Arizona. I get a lot of junk email for different types of races. I searched for races that take place in January in Arizona and the WTF came up. I thought it would be cool to do one closer to home. This race is hosted by 131 Event Productions, who sponsor similar races across the country. I guess it would be safe to say they are a franchise. I signed up originally because I wanted to do another trail race. I have done a few trails before with the last one, the Grand Canyon Half, in 2016. So, I was ready to try another trail run.
About a couple of weeks before the race an update was sent out that mentioned something about insurance and injury and that the run wouldn’t take place through the park but around the lake area closer to the city. I was surprised and a little put out but it was a chance to get some miles in and to focus on PRing my fastest half time.
I had been good with hydrating and eating the whole week. Focusing on good energy foods. The morning of I did have this:
No, it’s not just ordinary toast…it’s cinnamon sugar toast. I had it growing up as a kid and had been craving it so I made it for part of my breakfast. The other part was a Kashi cereal that tastes like Captain Crunch™. Don’t judge. Packed about two gels for every two miles and headed out the door around 7:15.
Arrive at the venue and begin to drive to the parking lot only to see cars driving back. A sure sign that there are no more parking spaces. I was beginning to realize that maybe I should have left a little earlier. I found myself parking in a park down the road with others about a mile from the start. Park the car and realize that I need to step up my game. In other words, girlfren you need to start wogging to the start line. I needed to get there because I wanted to get one last bathroom break in before the race starts. Get to the start line and look for portos. What!!??!! Looking….looking…oh there…they…are…. WTFrack! There were only six portos and the line was out the…well you know. I mean come on!!! Six? Heck, women alone need six! Now we have to share them? So, there I stood and I’ll tell you I wasn’t happy. If I someone shooting the shyster I know my ice eyes were beaming through the back of their heads. STOP TALKING….”five minutes till race start” the announcer bellows. No way was I going to get this done. I made the call to get out of the line and go back to the start. Once the race began I ran to the porto and waited for six minutes, then I started my race. Yeah. Awesome.
The race was a combination of a quarter and half marathon. The half marathoners (me) got to do the course…you guessed it, twice. As my readers well know, there is nothing I hate more than a lapped run. It’s boring. Did I say it’s boring? But sometimes you just have to deal. I start running down a small path and the next thing I know it’s starts to go through the park! A real trail run. Uh, hmmm what about the insurance blah, blah, death, blah blah…??? Yes, ladies and gentleman, we have ourselves a real trail run. I was happy, but a bit shocked. I sure as heck wouldn’t have worn my Hokas ya’ll! But there I was hopping over rock and sand. The majority of the trail was single person wide with a few concrete cross overs and some flat areas. You know what that means right? Here’s a hint:
Can you guess? It was a caterpillar run. Meaning, you’re only going as fast as the person in front of you. A lot of stop and starting. Awesome! One thing I will say, the difficulty was higher than the Grand Canyon Half. You had to be careful where you stepped and it was constantly up and down. I was very careful on descending because I didn’t want to hurt my knee again. That’s what got me in trouble last time. It was a tough course.
Here is a picture I took on one of the few places that was flatter. Mind you I was already halfway up the hill.
This is where things get a little iffy and I really want to say something about this because I have noticed this happening in MANY events I’ve taken part over the years. For the first part there was heavy support. The trail was marked okay, not great. They marked it with bright green tape (the route to follow) and orange tape (where not to go). There were volunteer guides to set you on the right path at some of the more tricky parts. After the first round, i.e. the quarter marathoners completed their race, the volunteers magically disappeared. Now you would think, well you ran it once surely you would know where to go. Not so. Runners were getting tired and paying attention to foot strike. I saw a lot of people get turned around at some of the more confusing points, myself included. Then the ultimate no no, they took away some of the water points. Look, I didn’t bring my water belt. I train with one, but I look forward to running a race without one, especially if there is water support. Right or wrong, we can discuss that in the comments section. A lot of people had their belts or hydration packs. Maybe I should have brought mine. The water points were about every two miles for the first part of the race, but seemed to disappear the second half. This is what I find at a lot of these events. You have the fast people who will finish the race in one hour, but then the other 90% don’t. The other 90% paid for this experience too and therefore, the event managers need to follow through and support until the last man or woman crosses the finish line. Some of these races are expensive. This one wasn’t too bad, but still the support needs to be the same for all. Unless there are some stipulations in the event rules that state support cuts off after a certain time, support the runners. I was really counting on one of the water points only to find it packed up and gone. Not cool. I will be writing 131 productions.
The finish was great and well supported. They had lots of food and water to refuel and the bling wasn’t too bad either. The medal was crazy big and a little heavy! I wonder sometimes if you can get addicted to the bling. My body was a little sore, but overall this was a pain free race!
I was pleased with my performance. I was going to say I didn’t PR but I guess I did because this was my second trail half. I ran 3 hours and some change for the Grand Canyon and I finished this run at 2:59. Granted the elevation differences are not the same with two very different environments. I came in 9th in my age group for this run. Don’t get excited, there were eleven in my age group.
After the run I was really hungry even after eating cake and a banana at the finish, so I treated myself to Culvers. I hadn’t been there in a while and needed something good!
And here I thought they did the pickle like that especially for me….no, it’s everyone.
I completed 27.45 miles this week bringing me to 5110.36 miles completed in my journey with 6204.64 gratefully remaining. I hope this post finds you surrounded by the people you love. Happy Miles to You!!
Once again I felt like I was on the moon. I got in the car to go home and this was on the radio….