Up most of the night, and barely asleep when I wasn’t. Got maybe a couple hours. Up 5:45. Ate some oatmeal and drank a little chocolate almond milk. Jake and I got to the trailhead in the San Tan Mountain area by 6:30, and then proceeded to freeze our buns off until the start of the race at 7. I ate a section of banana and stripped down to shorts and a T with 5 minutes to go. We are both running the San Tan Scramble 50K, while Jen and Kimball are running the 9K at 8:30.
Feeling good, I started off fast, just as I stupidly do with every long distance race I’ve ever run. It’s a lesson I refuse to learn. Jake hung with me for several miles and then dropped back. I could still see him over my shoulder every time I looked back though. We were both in the top 10 during the first of three loops, which were about 10.7 miles each. There are 2 aid stations, not counting the one at the start/finish line. I didn’t bring any food or hydration with me at the start, so I lost a little time grabbing a drink or snack.
Jake and I feeling good on the first loop
The super steep, grueling climb wasn’t too bad the first go round. And then I flew down the mountain on the other side. Another terrible habit of mine. Arrived at the starting line just as Jenny and Kimball were heading out on their race. My first loop took 1:29:27. Jake was right behind me in 1:30:16. It was still cool out and I made a snap decision not to bring my fuel belt with me on the second loop. Headed right back out, this time in reverse, so I was passing by all the other runners coming in from their first lap. About 60 racers at this distance.
Back up the mountain side and then back down the steep descent. Once again I tore down, passing several runners and moving into 3rd place. There was a moment around mile 13 where I thought I could finish in the top 3. Oh how foolish I was. By mile 15 my legs had seized up—complete pain from the waist down. Jake caught up to me at an aid station and smartly asked the lady for some pain medicine. Popped a couple pills and accidently slammed a cup of Mt. Dew for the second time—looks just like Gatorade.
The Caffeine from the soda and a Gu, combined with last night’s massive meal, and then 15 miles of jostling, wreaked havoc to my system. Things were moving and I was helpless to do anything about it. It’s 5+ miles from that aid station back to the starting line. I was hot, tired, in a lot of pain, and now I had to go #2 in a bad way. I fought it for 3 more miles, hoping I could make it to the port-a-potties at mile 21. A half mile later, I knew that would never be.
[You may want to skip this section if you don’t like tales of poo]
Dashed off course and squatted behind a shrub before unloading. Looked like something a steer would leave behind. Super gross. But not as gross as realizing there are literally zero good options around for wiping. Thorny shrub. No. Dirt? No. My socks? No. Not wiping? Maybe. In the end, I brushed the sand off a rock and gave that a go. I followed that with a second rock and called it good. Could have been worse—I could have crapped my pants.
Shuffled into the starting line aid station, dead on my feet. Starving and thirsty. Spotted my mom and dad who drove out to see us. First I had to wolf down one bean burrito after another, plus a PB&J, potato with salt, and anything else I could cram in my mouth. I had been going on fumes for several miles. More pain med. Strapped on my hydration pack and put on my shade hat. Quick visit with my parents—so nice of them to come out today.
Reversed and headed back the 5+ miles I had just come to the next aid station. I’m barely moving at this point, walking anything resembling an uphill, slow jogging on flat, and painfully letting my body fall forward on the downhill. It would be this way for the remaining 10+ miles. I was being passed on a regular basis, but I didn’t care. It was all about finishing at that point.
The third time up the steep mountain was the worst. Hot and slow. 4 girls passed me. Gave it everything I had left on the descent and final mile into the finish line. I showed 32 miles on my Garmin. Finished in 6:02:08. Meanwhile, Jake killed it, finishing almost an hour faster in 5:04:47 in 8th place. I was 23rd. The first place guy set a course record in 3:57. Unreal. Talked with mom, dad, Jake, and Jen. Ate a couple burritos before driving back to Jen’s with my parents.
The Finish Line!
Group photo back at Jen's house