Race Wrap Up

by Richard Friday, April 18th 2014

8 events, two running packs, one running belt, 4 or 5 pairs of shoes and many lessons learned, it has been a great running season for me.  A few mantras carried me down the trail; relentless forward progress, pep talk!, just keep moving, it doesn't matter if you hurt you have to get back to the car, that's probably not a mountain lion…, and my latest favorite Run Hard, Eat Chili Dogs.   

 Here is a quick recap of the races and lessons learned:

 

1.       Cave Creek Thriller 31k- A great way to start the year. This race is challenging enough to let me know I need to train more but is still fun and motivating. Temps we're warm this year for October but time spent running in in the heat always pays off later.

2.       Pass Mountain 26k- I can run after I camp without too much trouble. I also need to be mindful of how fast I start.  I tried to "just relax and run" and I went out too fast. It was also a reminder to run with my head up and look for course markers. A couple of my                friends missed a turn and it cost them a couple of miles.

3.       McDowell Mountain Frenzy 25k - I learned I can run while I'm sick. Actually, I can run a lot better than I thought when I’m sick.  Also, Shoe changes are in interesting option for long events but I'm not sure if it's for me yet.

4.       San Tan Scramble 50k - I can do it!  This event was a great confidence booster for me. I learned the importance of starting to work on having a positive attitude when I started to taper. It was a 50k PR by and the confidence I got after that race carried me through OP50. It also allowed me to get over the mental challenge of running through the start/finish for another lap and was good drop bag practice.

5.       Cold Water Rumble 50k - This was a real mental challenge for me. It was my plan to start tired and I almost over did it. I learned that no matter how sloppy or heavy my legs feel, I can still hit a running stride, albeit a slow one. I also got to run with a couple of 100 mile racers.  It was interesting to hear what they were thinking about around mile 40ish.  I really worked on my mental expectation of fatigue and reminded myself that I could go farther.

6.       Elephant Mountain 22k - This event turned into a final shakedown run before OP50. I only did the 22k but it was just enough to leave me wanting more (perfect). My girlfriend also came out and ran which was awesome. It was the only race I did without a pack or belt, relying completely on the aid stations. At the last water station I grabbed a cup of water and realized how bad I had been feeling after I drank it.

7.       Old Pueblo 50 mile - my first 50 mile race. 2.5 inches of rain, howling winds up to around 45 mph, hypothermia all around me, it was an epic day.  But all said and done, it went better than I had hoped. I was ready mentally and physically and I'm actually thinking about doing another 50 mile race, maybe. 

8.       Mesquite Canyon 30k – The last event of the season.  The previous year I ran this as my first 50k so it was fun to only do the 30k this year.  The course is challenging but rewarding.  I had enough time to think about the miles ran over the past 5 months and really enjoy the day.  I was hurting a little but was still able to put down a good time and feel satisfied at the day’s effort.

All of my races and training runs can be found on my Movescount page, http://www.movescount.com/members/richardallen

 

Here are a few favorite pictures from my events and adventures:

 

Bear Canyon Arch

Bear Canyon Trail above Seven Falls

Elephant Mountain 22k

Green Mountain Trail in November

Mesquite Canyon 30k

Mesquite Canyon 30k

Mesquito Pass, half way through the Leadville Half Marathon

Sabino Canyon parking lot before a long run

Santa Rita Mountains training for the OP50 with Jeremy Davis

Sunrise over Phoenix

Tortolita Mountains

Activities | Events | Trails

An Easy Overnight Loop On Mount Lemmon

by Kirsten Tuesday, April 15th 2014

Last week I decided that I really wanted to do some backpacking on Mt. Lemmon. I wanted some water and shade to escape the heat of Tucson and my partner wanted some easy mileage as he had just done 15miles the day before we headed out.

As we approached the Catalina Highway we were still unsure of what trail we wanted to take… our indecision created a random loop of shorter trails that made for an amazing two day trip! We decided to park at the Sunset trail and take Sunset to Marshall Gulch and then from Marshall we could hike down the Wilderness of Rocks Trail to camp.

After just over a mile on the Sunset Trail we looked down the canyon to see a gorgeous series of small waterfalls! I was so excited that I made Jace hike down to the first one we saw. It had an awesome beach area and a little cave feature that made it a wonderful place to stop and relax.

We got to Marshall Gulch in no time and jumped onto the Marshall Gulch Trail – this was my first time actually taking the trail beyond just spending time in the water at the Gulch. It was incredible! I did not feel like I was in Arizona. The trail was narrow and winding, shaded and followed a stream nearly the entire way. Needless to say I was blissfully snapping way too many photos and playing in the forest like a little kid.

Next we hiked down into the Wilderness of Rocks area and ran into quite a few folks who were either rock climbing, bird watching or just out for a day hike. This area was also breathtaking, the rock formations reminded me of castles looming above the tree line in the distance or towering above us along the trail. I have definitely been inspired to try out the climbing routes there.

It was getting later in the day and we had made it as far as we had intended so we started to look for a good camp site. Jace found a pretty established area with a very large, well-built fire pit and we took our packs off there. I was excited to see that in the area there were quite a few trees that had been cut down or fell down (not excited about the death of a tree – excited about what the meant for my evening) they were perfect for shelter building! Shelter building is my favorite outdoor skill – and I had opted out of bringing my tent so I was pretty excited to have all the materials. I do not get to practice too often because I will not cut down or destroy any plants to build them – unless in a survival situation so I made it fancy.

The next day we had planned to hike up to the Lemmon rock lookout and spend another night out on the trail but we were tired and decided to head back. This time after hiking out of Wilderness of Rocks we took the Aspen Trail back to Marshalls. The Aspen Trail is now hands down my favorite trail in Southern Arizona. Sadly my camera died about halfway through but I did catch some of the amazing views.

The trail took us first to an amazing view of the Wilderness of Rocks area we had just hiked out of.

Then it wound along the side of the mountain before plunging down into the aspens that lead us back to Marshall Gulch. This was the perfect loop and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an easy overnight vacation trip!

Activities | Events | Trails | Trips

2014 Old Pueblo 50 mile Endurance Run Report

by Richard Friday, April 4th 2014

The morning started for me at 2:30 am with an alarm clock.  I managed to get more sleep the night before than I would have guessed considering what was looming for the day.  2 scrambled eggs, one Eggo and a bottle of Gatorade went down quickly and I was off to meet Jeremy Davis for the ride down to the start.  We arrived more quickly than we expected and waited in the car for a while before heading down the hill to Kentucky Camp and the check in. 

The weather would be the defining variable for everybody that day. 

At 6:00 am, we had a rather informal start and the pack of runners headed up the hill and out onto what would be a truly challenging day.  It was in the mid 40’s that morning and the wind was building quickly.  By the time the sun came up, I was on the first high point of the course and the view was amazing to the east.  Rich rose and orange colors, silhouetted mountains and low silvery clouds were everywhere.  The wind was howling but the morning was great.  I caught up to Jeremy and we were discussing if he should pick up his jacket at the next aid station or when we came back through at mile 29.  We quickly came down the backside of the ridge and found the mile 7 aid station.  Jeremy decided to grab the jacket, we topped off on water and snacks and headed off. 

Somewhere after the aid station it became apparent that someone had removed the markers showing where to turn and if you were still on course.  I was lucky to be running with a few people who had been on the training run a few weeks earlier on this section.  It was (and still is) very hard for me to understand why somebody would remove the markers.  Some runners thought it may have been some of the other people who were in the same area that day.  Other runners thought it was just random people out to cause a little havoc.  Either way, it was an awful thing to do and could have put runners in real danger if it had occurred later on the course. 

Jeremy and I made our way to the next aid station (mile 19 I think) where we found two other Summit Hut runners.  It was nice to see some familiar faces.  We didn’t stick around though, there were too many miles to cover and I was feeling really good.  We made our way up and over Gunsight Pass and started working our way back down the north side when the rain started.  The forecasts were calling for steady rain starting around 11am, wind 20-30 mph gusting to around 45 with a total accumulation of around an inch.  It was 9:55 when the first sheet of rain hit me.  There was no gentle shower first, no light sprinkle build up.  It went from dry and windy to sideways rain instantly.  The rain was cold and unrelenting for the rest of the day.  I had a very light sil-nylon jacket with me that went a long way until I got back to my drop bag at mile 33 for my real rain jacket.  Jeremy and I got to the 25 mile aid without any real problems and celebrated the half way point.  I had a really gross waterlogged PB&J and we started looping back toward the 7/29 mile aid station.  

From here on out I actually don’t remember much.  The weather dominated my thoughts as it continued to rain hard and steadily get colder.   I tried to stay mindful of eating and drinking enough to stay warm and to get moving faster at the first sign of cold in my feet or hands but it was a losing battle.  I made it to my drop bag at mile 33 and was able to pick up my rain jacket and refill some food.  The jacket made a huge difference for a while.  I was able to mostly dry out on top and got a lot warmer until the jacket was overwhelmed by the unrelenting rain.  At some point at the aid station I had unknowingly hit the pause button on my Ambit.  I covered almost 5 miles with it paused before I caught another runner who was asking how much farther the mile 40 aid station was.  When I looked down and saw the time wasn’t moving I was crushed.  Normally that kind of thing would be frustrating but no big deal but I was exhausted and cold and it was just enough to push me over the edge.   My pace slowed and I got cold and hungry as I hit my mental low for the day.  It took a few minutes but I pulled it together, ate a ProBar and got moving down the trail again.  The ProBar was close to 400 calories and I think I really needed it. 

The last few miles into the 40 mile aid station were tough.  Stream crossings started to pop up everywhere as more and more rain was washing down the canyons.  Most of the streams were swollen up to or beyond their banks.  The water was ice cold and full of mud and was really taking a toll on my ability to stay warm.  I came into the station and tried to eat some warm chicken chili but once I stopped moving I could feel the cold really setting in.  Staying still was not an option if I wanted to finish.  I topped off my water bottles for good measure and started shuffling down the road toward the aid station at mile 46.  The volunteers at 40 let me know that it was closer to 7 miles to the next aid and about 11 to the finish.  I really appreciated the honesty, the extra distance would have been a moral buster if I didn’t know about it. 

It was starting to get dark as I came into 46.  I grabbed a handful of M&M’s and kept moving.  Still raining, getting colder and the trail kept getting worse.  This section was on the Arizona Trail again and the trail is cut into the hill side above the road.  The trouble is the trail was below the ground level of the slope of the hill so it just filled up with water like a trough.  The choice was to slosh through more ice water or risk the high grass on either side.  I knew there were prickly pears in the grass and rocks on the trail so I trusted my instincts and took each trough in stride, in the water sometimes and in the grass others.  I had really wanted to finish the race without using my headlamp at the end but that was getting tough.  I could occasionally see a runner in front of me as they went through gates with their headlamp but I was convinced I could get there without another stop to dig into my pack.  I knew I was getting close to Kentucky camp and when I saw a light on one of the buildings I couldn’t believe it was almost over.  I made my way up to cheers and smiles as I crossed the line at 12 hours 40 minutes.  My girlfriend was waiting for me on the porch of the main building and I could barely keep it together as she congratulated me.  Inside there was a fire and a place to sit and that was all I could have asked for.  I got changed, ate a hamburger and started to try to process the day. 

Since the race I’ve heard that there were around 140 people who started the race but only 61 finishers.  Several people were found on the trail in bad shape from the cold wet weather and I can’t say thank you enough for the volunteers working this race.  There was always somebody at each aid station, no matter how crowed it was, asking if I need anything, filling my water bottles and helping me get moving again.  It was an amazing effort on their part, THANK YOU!!!!

Activities | Events

San Tan Scramble 50k

by Richard Wednesday, March 19th 2014

I'm sitting, resting after completing the Elephant Mountain 22k, waiting for my girlfriend to come through the first lap of her first 50k enjoying the beautiful weather and recounting the past three races that have lead up to the Old Pueblo 50 mile race one week from today.

San Tan Scramble was my first 50k of the year and it was fantastic.  Everything lined up that day for a fantastic race and PR.  The morning was cold and dark as we huddled around the portable heaters waiting for the race to start. 

 

The course was three laps of just over 10 miles of mostly flat and rolling hills with wide smooth trails.  There was only one difficult climb and it was very steep.  The first lap was run clockwise, the second counter clockwise and the third clockwise again.  It was just enough to keep things interesting.  

I’m in the gray jacket and hood under the heater

I started the race I the dark, feeling great and looking for a fast time.  My previous best 50k time was 8:15 on a challenging course.  I knew I would be faster that day if for no other reason other than there was much less climbing.  I told myself to shoot for 6 hours but realistically I would be happy with anything under 7. 

Starting in the dark

The first 10 miles went by fast.  Really fast.  I had committed a cardinal sin of running and was wearing a new pair of tights and by mile 6 I was having some "issues" with some of the seams.  Up until this race I hadn’t used the small body glide stick I always carried my pack but today I was so thankful for it.  A quick stop behind a bush and a liberal application of the stick and most of my issues were solved.  The course started with rolling hills leading to a short climb to a ridge.  From there the next few miles dropped away to the last aid station where the tough steep climb began.  Over the top, it was a fast decent back down to the desert floor and a quick few minutes back to the start/finish line.

Great views southwest near the start

The first time over the high point

Lap 1 done

The second lap required more effort.  I finished the first lap right at 2 hours and I really wanted to keep the 6 hour finishing time an option.  The second lap started with the steep climb which was nice.  I put my head down and hiked up as fast as I could.  The back side was loose and rocky which wasn’t much of an issue on the way up but on the way down it was like running on big angry marbles that threatened to break your ankle with every step.  I slipped and slid my way past a couple of people on the way down and started to focus on getting back to the start/finish line for the 3rd lap.  I was running well.  There was a great breeze most of the day and even in the full sun, it wasn’t too hot.  A couple of rolling hills and an aid station later and I could see the finish line and the start of the third lap.  I kicked the last quarter mile and made it in again just over the 2 hour mark.  Below, finishing the second lap a little more focused on the effort.

Cool crested saguaro on the course

Lap 2 behind me

I was feeling great.  I got out of the aid station quickly and starting running down the guy in front of me.  As I caught up to him, he looked back and said "Did you see that guy?"  "What guy?" I replied.  The he told me that the winner had just finished.  Now I know that I'm a middle of the pack runner on my best day but it really deflates me when I hear that the winner is 1.) Done running and  2.) Over 10 miles ahead.  I think I ran about 3 more miles and I hit the wall.  It took another 3 or 4 miles of walking and slow running to get out of my head and get caught up on fluids and nutrition before I could muster up a running pace again.  By the time I reached the last climb of the day I was feeling good again and I caught two more people power hiking up the slope.  One more fell behind on the way down (road shoes suck on trails!).  I was on the last leg with one more runner in my sights and about half a mile to go.  I told myself "go get him" just as he looked back and took off.  We both pushed hard and I closed the gap but I couldn’t get there in time.  I finished in 6:35 and it was great.  

Done!

Activities | Events

The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!

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