Monday, February 4, 2013

2013 San Tan Scramble (50k)

I've always had a love-hate relationship with the San Tan Scramble. One one hand, it's my home course - gotta represent. But on the other, making 3 loops around the park and climbing Goldmine Mountain even once (let alone 3), makes me tired just looking at the map.

Given my DNF at this race last year however, I was bound and determined to overcome and really push myself to see what I could get done. It was like playing that game 'would you rather?' with yourself...

Would you rather summit Goldmine 6 times or 3 times?

Would you like to summit Goldmine 6 times or run a gradual-grade-smooth trail (Dynamite)?
Again, duh.

I set out to run this as best I could and mentally overcome the loops as well as the climbs up Goldmine. Turns out, it would be something very different challenging me during the final stages of the race.

Like anyone else who's coming off a reasonable taper, I was excited to get the race going and so my splits in the early stages of loop 1 were a little faster than I knew I should. It felt good and I was able to sustain it so I kept going. Eventually however, Mr. Miller caught up with me and we chatted for a while as I tried to keep up with his 9-9:15 pace. Turns out I'm not that fast and it left me a little drained as I started out on loop 2.

Loop 2 was fairly uneventful however. Even though the sun was starting to warm things up, the run up Dynamite was great and I was feeling pretty good. I was eating well and consuming at least one water bottle in between aid stations. What I didn't realize however is that the sun (and heat) were doing a number on me...

At that start of the last loop, I peeled ff my shirt and grabbed my other bottle filled with Vitargo.  I munched on some food quickly before heading out (clockwise) on the San Tan trail. I think what most people don't realize is that there is a fair amount of elevation change on the southern end of this course. While it's mostly rollers, that eventually adds up and zaps you for when you really need it on Dynamite and Goldmine.

About mile 23, I was overcome with fatigue and hunger. I slowed to a walk and threw my hands up exclaiming out loud, "I'm f-ing tired!"

Having got that out of my system, I put my head back on my shoulders and buckled down until I came to the  San Tan aid station. Cow bell, food and great volunteers make such a huge difference to any race. They sent me on my way in better spirits as I came into view of Dynamite and the last 6 miles of the course.

There was a bit more walking going on given that the heat was driving up my heart rate a little more than usual. I can honestly say that I have not been running while it's (this) warm so my gauge for water consumption was off during the last 10 miles. Yep, I started cramping up in my hamstrings and calves.

It wasn't pretty.

Imagine you're running along and your calf seizes up. It was pretty clear what was going on but I had to pace both my speed and my water consumption for fear of running out of water and/or falling off the side of the mountain while clutching my cramping hamstrings!
Check out my expression - classic.
Over the last 5 miles, the cramps got a bit worse but I managed to change my stride just enough so that it minimized the contraction of my hamstrings. In the back of my mind, I was really hoping to break the 6-hour mark but given my cramping, I resolved to doing the best I could after departing the Goldmine aid station.

Freely admit, that last climb of Goldmine was pretty tough. I just put my head down and plowed up...

I would bet that in the last mile to the finish line, my legs cramped up about 6 times. It forced me to stop, stretch and walk it out. I think I scared several hikers along the way...they thought I was going to fall over :)

Coming through the finish line I knew I knocked out a PR for my 50k distance. It wasn't the sub-6 I was hoping for but I know I have it in me.

Finishing in 6:06 - 18th overall, 5th AG

Finishing with the kids Gangnam-style...
Turns out my time was good for 18th overall and 5th in my age group (results are here). Kudos to Aravaipa Running* for another great race!

*all race photos courtesy of Aravaipa Running

No comments:

Post a Comment