Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mesquite Canyon 50K

I have had itchy feet, figuratively speaking, recently and have been wanting to get out of town for a few weeks now. An opportune weekend finally came about and I had a few options but decided to head down to Phoenix for the Mesquite Canyon 50k. As a bonus, my friend and coach Ian Torrence was also going so at least I'd know a one person in addition to the several acquaintances I know from the Phoenix area that I figured would more than likely be running as well.
This was the second year for the race put on by Aravapai Running so I knew it would be managed well and at a good venue. As it turned out, this ended up being one of my favorite races I have done. The location was at White Tanks Regional Park just outside of Phoenix. This is the second regional park, in addition to Mcdowell Park and the Pemberton 50k, I have ran a race at in Maricopa County and I have to say they are pretty impressive. The diversity of trails and beautiful scenery provides Phoenix residents with every kind of training possible save altitude training. And that is available only a couple of hours away in Flagstaff.
About 90 runners started the 50k in addition to those running the other distances that started later in the day. My goal for this day was to just run a solid long run without killing myself as to not jeopardize training for upcoming goal races. Knowing the course was pretty hard and with zero taper coming in I didn't even wear a watch and just tried to enjoy the day.
The first eight miles or so was pretty uneventful passing through mild climbs surrounded by desert sagebrush and giant saguaro cacti. We then descended a steep canyon that can aptly be referred to as gnarly. Soon after the ground leveled off I saw a runner going the wrong way. I then noticed he had a number on and I then realized I would soon be climbing back up that steep nasty little canyon. "That figures," I said under my breath as he ran by.
The rest of the day went pretty well besides getting a bit dehydrated at one point. Another notable section of the course passed through a canyon that made the one earlier look like a piece of cake. This "trail" reminded me more of my canyoneering days than trail running. I kept my mood light though and laughed at how sinister it was for the race directors to put this section so late in the race. I finished strongly and crossed the line in 5:35. A pretty solid time for me given the effort and difficulty of the course.
I would definitely recommend this event to anybody wanting a challenging early season race. It had every kind of terrain from flat groomed trail to runnable climbs to technical, bordering on dangerous, descents. Additionally, the operation was first-rate with excellent aid stations and course markings. Finally, the good company, competition,  and many fine-looking women at the event was like icing on the cake.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

SMUT Weekend

This was a pretty big weekend for SMUT with a lot of people out there racing.

First Paula went out to Malibu, CA for the Desert Dash trail races there. Desert Dash had several distances with a morning and evening options. Paula did the 10k in the morning and the 5k in the evening. She was first female in the 10k and 3rd overall with a time of 1:03. Great going Paula, she remarked how easy these trails felt compared to Bootleg Canyon. From my experience, most trails do.
Paula pulling double duty
Next Peggy and Kathy ran the Calico races out at Red Rock. Peggy ran the half marathon and won her age group with a time of 1:44. In her training for the St. George Iron Man Kathy ran the full marathon and got second in her age group with a time of 4:03. Excellent work ladies. Finishing times on that course shouldn't be compared to other races at the same distance. It is pretty hilly for a road marathon.
Peggy on the downhill homestretch

Kathy at the finish
Last but not least our very own Shane Peterson won second in the Society of Toxicology 5k. Yes, seriously. This race was part of his conference in D.C. this week. Shane's time was 17:10 which is science fiction to me. Unfortunately, Shane got beat by almost 20 seconds by a Canadian. However, in his defense, the Canadian probably trained for a year specifically for this opportunity to beat Americans.

Congratulations to everybody and see you soon