This morning was the Mesquite Canyon 30k race at the White Tank Mountains in Waddell, AZ. Folks that have run this race, know that the warning given on the race website that says, “This is a very tough, rocky, mountainous trail run!”, is no exaggeration. And with a sudden shift in temperatures in the last week to soaring heat, and a forecast for 94 on race day, this was going to be another doozy.
Though I live and train in the Arizona desert, it usually takes at least 2 weeks to heat acclimate to the increasing temperatures and build up extra hemoglobin reserves to help combat the heat. But there was no time for that this year. Fortunately, the good people at Aravaipa Running, decided to up the start times. Mine shifted from 8am to 6:45am. Even with this wonderful change, I knew that today would really challenge me.
I’ve been fortunate to have some time over the past month to spend training on the course. And even got a chance to run the full 30k loop a few weeks prior to the race. It was much cooler that day, but re-familiarizing myself with the course was extremely helpful. And so, bright and early, we headed off onto the course.
The first 5 miles are relatively flat and untechnical, nice rolling hills. I did my best to reign myself in knowing what was to come. Still, I arrived at the first aid station manned by Squirrel’s Nut Butter, almost exactly on last year’s pace. As I headed out of that aid station and started the slow climb up Goat Camp, my hamstring reminded me that I had strained it last week, and it was still mad. Not wanting to completely wreck my summer racing plans, I shifted between wanting to push the pace, and not wanting to destroy my leg in the process.
With the soaring heat, this climb up Goat camp was by far my worst ever. Despite all of my training, I was working much harder just to keep a steady rhythm and my lungs weren’t happy. Fortunately, I’d packed my inhaler and was able to continue on after a few puffs.
I’ll be honest, like childbirth, I think I blocked a lot of the Goat Camp climb out today because it is all a bit of a haze. And fortunately, it was over relatively soon and I could focus on not falling on the rocky descent down the back side of Goat and Mesquite. I was completely alone most of this time, except for the occasional passing in the opposite direction by 50k and 50 mile runners. Also fortunately, my hamstring stopped yelling at me and I was able to settle into a nice rhythm, soon tucking in behind another runner and hanging at a comfortable pace for a few miles. I’d run out of water during the 9.3 mile gap between aid stations, and my stomach was starting to complain.
But, we made it into the aid station, filled up on the wonderful water that had been carted up to this remote spot, and headed back out. Before I knew it, we were nearing the bottom of the mountain and I knew it was time for me to pick up the pace if I wanted to finish in under 4 hours again.
Those last two miles in the full sun exposure were the worst! At this point, I was just hoping to avoid losing the Honey Stinger gels I had managed to consume and finish under my goal time. And I did. I was super consistent, finishing with exactly the same finish time as last year, to the minute. 18 miles of brutal trail running in soaring heat completed in 3:56. And one super tough race that I was glad to be done with.
As this race was the final event in the Desert Trail Series, I’ll find out soon where I land in the Masters podium mix and will post an update below. Thank you to everyone for your continued support and encouragement! I am so thankful for the great family and friends that make this sport so enjoyable!
***Update: I did achieve my series goal of becoming the first place Masters female for the Trail Series and will receive my podium award in a few weeks.
***Special thanks to all of my wonderful sponsors: Aravaipa Running, for putting on a great race and moving up the start times to keep us save; Squirrel’s Nut Butter, for keeping me chafe free; Honey Stinger, for keeping me fueled; Acel Compression, for keeping my legs, feet and calves healthy; and SolRx Sunscreen, for protecting my skin in the brutal sun today. And to my husband, son, and parents, for being a constant support and sounding board for all of my crazy running adventures.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free or at a discount. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”