Elinor & I at the finish this morning
I took a little break from skimo racing this weekend and ventured to Fruita/Loma for the Desert Rats 25 mile trail running race. Taking advantage of the great technical singletrack of the Kokopelli Trail, racers can choose from a 25 or 50 mile race. Two years ago I decided the night before to race the 25 miler and suffered through much of the race. This year I have had a much more consistent winter of racing and training and actually signed up for the race a few weeks in advance.
As Elinor Fish and I made the drive very early this morning, we discussed how we would like to break the 4 hour mark. Elinor raced last year and finished in 4hr 17min while I had finished in 4hr 13min two years ago. Telling myself I was not going to start too fast and blow-up like I did last time was easier said than done. Elinor and I stayed with each other chatting over the first few miles in order to keep a brisk but comfortable pace. Helen Cospolich (racing the 50 miler) and Anita Ortiz (also racing 50) were just ahead of us with fellow Carbondale runner Ashley Arnold out in front.
Throughout the next 15 or so miles, I kept a consistent pace and ran many miles with Anita. Anita is coming off an injury with this just her second race back. Any other day, there’s no way I would be running with her even when I’m running half as many miles. I was very relieved that I was feeling tens times stronger at this point than I had last time and was ahead of my previous pace. I passed the 18 mile mark where I fell apart two years ago and felt myself getting stronger.
Once off the Troy Built Trail, the largest climb looms ahead up to Mack Ridge and the final miles. Last time I think I ran 20 steps of the climb. This time I ran it all. Managing to keep the same average pace I had all race, I finished very strong along Mack Ridge and back along the road. Not only did I break the 4 hour mark, I finished in 2nd place behind Ashley and managed to beat all the 5o mile women to their turnaround point (something I did not do last time). My time was 3hr 42min 33sec over the 25.92 miles. Elinor finished in 3hr 56min. The top 3 women were all from Carbondale!
Anita Ortiz went on to win the 50 miler in 8hr 16min while Duncan Callahan won for the men in 7hr 38min.
My Garmin info can be found here. And full results here.
All week I had been considering racing in the Desert RATS 25 mile trail run on the Kokopelli Trail in Loma but didn’t make the final decision until Friday afternoon. Although I really wanted to race this course after hearing so many good things from my friends Mike and Joy, I wasn’t sure I was up to 25 miles after the last month of being sick and very little training. Finally I decided to get out there for a training run and just enjoy it. After all, I know every rock, incline and turn on the course from years of mountain biking in Loma and figured this was a great place for my first marathon, trail or road.
Even though I tried to persuade against it, Joy decided she was going to come and cheer me on just two weeks after having her first child. No wonder we get along so well – we are both very stubborn and motivated. The wake-up call at 3am came quickly but I needed to get to the start in time to register and get organized.
Having Joy and Selah with me kept me relaxed and my mind off the race which prevented the typical pre-race jitters. Both the 50-mile racers and the 25-milers started together at 630am with a short countdown from the organizer. I chatted with Keri Nelson for a few minutes before she stepped it up a notch and dropped me on Moore Fun. Despite tripping and banging my knee on a rock in the first 4 miles, I was feeling well and looking forward to the remainder of the race.
Todd Kennedy (left) passing through the first aid station.
I continued to run well and steady for about 17 miles but started to slow a little at this point. I was very aware of the large hill (I always make a point of biking down it and not up it) we had to climb and was trying to save a little energy to get up the hill and finish the final five miles. Despite feeling well, the lack of training and preparation was kind of catching up with me. My mind, lungs and muscles were feeling great but my hips, knees and ankles were becoming sore. Maybe I’m just beginning to get old.
- Finishing Troy Built Loop around mile 18.
My friend Todd Kennedy passed me at this point and normally this would have motivated me to push harder but this time I was very content to run my own race. For the first time that I can remember, I had no interest in being competitive with the other racers and learned what it was like to race just for me. I finished the race slightly slower than I had been on target for but was happy to have experienced my first marathon on such a beautiful course. I think my time of 4 hours 13 minutes was good enough for sixth place. Next year I hope to train a little for the race and get out there with Joy and Elinor (her baby is also two weeks old). Maybe I’ll even try to drop a little time since I doubt I’ll be able to stay uncompetitive again. Results are posted here.
Finished and ready for some lunch.
Todd & I at the finish. I think was his fourth time finishing this race.