The race started out like many others - I set my own pace while many folks shot ahead...mostly the elite runners along with first-timers who perhaps didn't realize how long a day it would be. I felt really good out of the gate despite some potential risky gear choices. (1) Compression shorts that have rubbed me the wrong way in the past and (2) a 'newer' pair of my INOV-8's (turns out that old Roclites have been the root of my ankle issues - so it was either deal with old issues or take a chance with newer shoes).
Well, about a mile into the race, I happened to step on a rock just right and stretch out the arch on my left foot. It felt like I had torn my fascia and re-injured my foot. Though somewhat dejected at the pain, I kept moving hoping that the trail would find a way to be more forgiving and less rocky. Turns out my foot would be fine but the terms 'less forgiving' and Aravaipa Running never seem to go hand-in-hand.
I will say that of all the parks we've run at I think White Tank is the most scenic of them all. Sweeping views, massive canyons and the shear magnitude of this park was very awe-inspiring. The trail hugged the side of the mountains and held a gentle incline through about mile 10. I was moving at a pretty good clip and enjoying the mild weather as the sun continued to stay veiled behind a thin layer of clouds. My hopes of the weather staying cool would also be dashed.
After descending some steep trail, we hit the aid second aid station and turn-around at about mile 13. As I tended to some hot-spots on my feet, 2 things happened that I did not intend. (1) I handed my Camelbak to a volunteer and asked for ice and water. What I got was ice and lemon-lime Gatorade. (2) I took both Endurolytes and Speed Legs. (I typically don't take Endurolytes but it was starting to get hot and my face was pretty salty).
Turns out that if you want to get bloated and feel like s*it, take these 2 supplements at the same time. I struggled back up the mountain. I was overheating. My heart rate was skyrocketing. I was massively bloated. I eventually took my shirt off starting splashing the ice water from my pack onto my head and neck...but, oh wait - it's now ice water/lemon-lime Gatorade. Dammit.
Eventually I made it to the peak of the second big climb. My legs were feeling really good and my GI eventually calmed down. I took one final break at the top and crammed down a gel. OK legs, time to run. By now, it's hot. And I had to walk a thin line between using my water/Gatorade for cooling myself down and actually drinking before I reached the next aid station 9 miles away.
I refilled my pack with water at the next aid station (I would have dumped it out if I still didn't have ice sloshing around), grabbed some partially melted M&M's and took off up another climb. In my head, I know that the rest of the trail is downhill but I had no idea that the space in between would be steep, sharp and treacherous. Ford Canyon (partially seen below) is part wash and part massive boulder/outcropping of pure white rock (limestone?) in the middle of this canyon of black and brown rock. I would have loved to take more pictures but I was more focused on getting done with this race.
|The massive white outcrops below the abandoned damn in Ford Canyon.|
Thankfully, the trail between the aid station and the finish was nice and smooth and perfect for cruising into the chute. Though I could tell I was on the verge of over-heating, my legs felt great and I crossed the finish line in 7:38.
As races go, this one turned out pretty good. I can honestly say that I have more discomfort today from the sunburn than from the run itself. Plus, my hair has a refreshing lemon-lime scent. Bonus :)
The overall results are here. My personal Garmin stats are here.