Saturday, April 23, 2011

Desert Rats 25 Mile Trail Race Report

Well it's a week later, but it's official I am a Desert Rat! I figured I would still give a run down because it was such a brilliant experience.

We went down to a SUPER SECRET camp spot on Friday evening and met up with WB and Funderson. Got to bed early and then the alarm went off at the arse crack of dawn. The race was slated to start at 6:30 AM and they suggested to be there an hour early to pick up a number...it seemed similar to going to an airport. I got dressed, grabbed my pack and a banana and slapped some peanut butter on a wheat bagel and was ready to roll. Funderson being the unbelievably amazing friend that she is wheeled me down and got me there about 40 minutes before the fun began with a temperature of 37 degrees. It being 5:50 in the morning was still quite dark, but I was Johnny on the spot and brought my headlamp. I kept pressing the dang button and couldn't figure out why it wasn't working. Opening the battery area, I determined the malfunction...no batteries. So, I just crossed my fingers and hoped that it would be light enough for me not to kill myself by the time 6:30 rolled round.

The sun was just about to crest the hill as we began and was perfect sans headlamp. There were around about 200 people doing the race either 25 mile or 50 mile. The 50 mile just repeated the 25 mile course twice forwards then backwards. I cruised at the way back on the road starting out and things had cleared out substantially by the time we arrived to the first trail. This trail is mostly uphill for about 2.5 miles and comes to a ridge which you skirt along with a stellar view of the Colorado River. Then, downhill to the next trail and an aid station at mile 4.9. These volunteers were AWESOME and the offering at each of the aid stations was great. 'Tis yet another reason why trail races are near and dear to my heart. Off on the Moore Fun trail, which rolled and had a sharp uphill just before aid station 2 at 9.2. Went back and forth on the trail with a lovely woman, Cheri chatting intermittently between breaths. We were upping the final hill before the aid station (which we couldn't see) and Cheri mentioned that she hadn't see a flag and was worried we had maybe gone astray, but a few steps further and a flag was in sight. This race was a cup-less race, which worked just fine as I was wearing my camelback. So, I cruised through aid station 2, grabbed a Hammer gel and shouted thanks. Down the first hill and quickly ran in to a spectator walking a dog up the trail who asked when I was slated to finish. I said I hoped for 1:00 PM and she asked how many hours that was...my mind blanked and math seemed to be something of a conundrum. I apologized for my lack of info and kept on down the trail. The next stretch I was pretty much on my own for most of which I drank in the beauty of the day and the wildflowers that were EVERYWHERE. Aid Station 3 came along at mile 12.6 and again I didn't let grass grow under my feet and kept my turtle-like speed going. We climbed again out of the aid station and I got a rush of energy that I cautiously capitalized on. My mantra for the day seemed to be "Feelin' great, doing good." and "Pick up your damned feet," as some might say that I "shuffle" my feet at times. I didn't fall, but stubbed my toe wicked hard and had another close call right before I passed someone coming the other way, DOH!

I saw a gentleman before the start that looked well on in his years and wondered what his pace would be. Low and behold, I found him again and his name was Bill, 72 years old. He is no stranger to trail races and was like a jack rabbit hopping from rock to rock with ease. I felt the urge to go and said farewell. Then, rolled up and down the trails that were high above the river. Shamus, the brats and Funderson's sweetheart WB were hanging at mile 17.8 and a welcome sight they were. Shamus dumped another bottle of water in my backpack and smiles all around then I was off. Unfortunately, the brats thought they were also now racing and followed, but Shamus corralled them much to their chagrin. I felt GREAT and came upon more racers coming to the final aid station. We also started seeing the leaders of the 50 mile. Duncan Callahan in the lead and in the zone. Simply amazing to be out on a course with people of such elite ability. Ducked into aid station 4 at mile 19.5, grabbed some goodies and was off. Until this point there was a lovely breeze and it wasn't too hot, but I started up the final, never-ending hill and it was stagnant and hot...okay well 70's, but it's 30's here and snowing so that's hot to me! I scarfed down a piece of PB&J on tortilla and started power hiking up the hill. I actually laughed aloud twice as I rounded the corner and the trail continued to go up. I knew what the elevation profile looked like and was ready, but I still laughed...see here's proof.



As we neared what I believed to be the top, I came across a woman bent over and in obvious pain. She looked at me as I came closer and her cheeks were thoroughly flushed. I asked if everything was okay. She said she was having some cramps, but trying to make it to the cut off for the 50 mile. I said I have water, gels, bars and an Ipod... you name it you can have it if it'll get you there. She grabbed a gel and took off again. I've felt the digging down deep for races myself, but now have truly seen it in the eyes of another. Alone again and enjoyed the flatter section of the trail, then passed a few steadily more and more of the 50 milers heading back out to include a local Gunnison Valley ultra-running hero (of mine) Allen Hadley, who was hooting, hollering and high-fiving as I passed. Then, switchbacks down began and at about a mile and a half before the end a vision in red greeted me with shouts of "JP." My friend, Funderson met me to run out the last bit even with a sore foot, which as usual made that mile and a half feel like a flash. I crossed the finish line in 6:31:25 and these are the wonderful shoes that carried me through.

The photo just doesn't do them justice...

We stayed and cheered as each racer came in. Love to be there and see the joy and relief as people cross the finish. We waited patiently for our other MAJOR local hero Duncan to finish and he cruised in at about 7:38, AMAZING!

Sorry to be long-winded, but this was a wonderful experience. I will do this race again and would suggest it to anyone looking for a spring race/kick in the pants. It was so inspiring that I've signed up for my first 50k on Memorial Day weekend, JOY! I told Shamus that he better look out because jack rabbit Bill and I have a date for the Sage Burner.

Peace...

9 comments:

sbrt said...

Nice one Jessie!
Great write up. Looking forward to reading about you and Jack Rabbit Bill burning up the sage.
I wont tell Shamus:0)

magbueno said...

Brilliant report. Congratulations for your race!

Pam said...

Fantastic. That elevation chart looks crazy.

Greg said...

Jessie,

Between your report and the Runner's World Trail Running Special Edition that I just got in the mail, I really feel the urge to hit some trails. I wasn't a runner as a kid, but I growing up in WV, I spent a lot of time in the woods and on trails. Road running just can't compare.

It sounds like a great race! I am glad that you could share that last bit with Funderson. Having a buddy to help you take it home is just a huge lift. Glad that your back and everthing went well.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Wow, that is pure awesome, congrats on the race!!!

giraffy said...

So awesome, that sounds fantastic!! Good times :D

JessiePants said...

Thanks all!
Greg, stoked for you to have the bug, it's bliss I tell ya!

funderson said...

I can't WAIT until next year!
I'm starting to worry about you and your running "dates"... : )

Trail Woman said...

Oh man, this sounds like an awesome race run by an awesome woman. Congrats!