After having been in Hawaii for 10 days and not doing a lot of running, it was time to get back on board with my marathon training. I was having some issues with my calves being really tight & until the Tuesday before this race, I hadn’t really run more than 6 miles for over 3 weeks so I was a bit nervous about my ability to run 15 miles out at the 4th of the 5 Xterra series races here in Arizona, McDowell Mountain.
I knew I could run it but how fast, with how many walk breaks, I wasn’t sure, but I wasn’t really that concerned with that – I just really wanted to get in a decent run and start my SuperBowl Sunday with a race.
Sean came over that weekend so we could run the race together. I picked him up at the airport Saturday morning and we headed straight out to go on a shake-out run in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve over near Norterra, which is in North Phoenix. We did a nice 4 miles where I walked most of the hills, to save my legs, but then had a great time on the downhill & flats.
After our shake-out, we headed over to Sole Sports, a local running store, in Scottsdale to pick up our packets. They were offering $15 off new shoes & 10% off everything else in the store, which if I hadn’t just ordered 2 new pairs of shoes, I might have taken them up on that. We got a few power bar snacks, our bibs, a nice red Xterra shirt and a huge Rubio’s catering bag. (I forgot to take a picture of everything – oops).
After getting our bibs, we rested our legs at a movie and then we carb-loaded with some super yummy pizza from Sardella’s. I love pizza and am a bit of a pizza snob. I really like Sardella’s because they have a wheat crust pizza. We almost finished an x-large pizza between the 2 of us before heading off to bed.
Because it isn’t too hot here yet, the race started at 8:00a, which meant that we didn’t have to get up until around 6ish to leave around 6:30. I am much more of a morning person than Sean so I got him up around 6:10. We got ready, I always lay out my gear the night before so I don’t have to worry about it the morning of. I got our bottles filled and made us each 2 pieces of wheat toast with peanut butter and had a bit of water. I’ve been really trying to focus on fueling properly for and during my runs so I made sure to eat both slices. We were only about 10 minutes late which was awesome!
It was a little foggy out when we got past Fountain Hills and closer to the McDowell Mountain Regional Park. We made good time, arriving probably around 7:30a. They had said on the website that the 15 milers were going to be able to park near the start area, which we did, but I think we heard that there was a bit of confusion on that and some of the 15 mile runners had to park down the way, near where we had camp for the Ragnar Trail Race in November, about 1 mile away.
Once we got settled there was plenty of time to use the bathroom, get a little something to drink and stretch a little before heading to the start line. They had a few port-a-potties and this year the real bathrooms were open as well so there weren’t many lines.
We finally made our way to the start line around 7:55 and then we were off at 8. There were quite a few people that were running the 15 mile race. It was interesting after having been at the Hurt 100 and looking at the shoes people wore there and then at this race, definitely a different sort of crowd :).
It had rained a lot over the week before the race so they weren’t really sure how muddy it was going to be, but fortunately save a few puddles, the course was mostly dry.
I swear that the course looked different from when I ran it last year. I didn’t remember it being as flat, but when I look back on my gps map from last year, it looks pretty similar so I guess I was mistaken or it just looked different because of all the rain we’ve had this year. It really is a beautiful course.
They had 3 maybe 4 aid stations on the course with water, gatorade & a gels. It was funny because Sean was expecting more things, but I had to remind him, it wasn’t an ultra so they didn’t have all the fun snacks they do for races like that. I just ate a few ProBar Bolt chews and had a bunch of Nuun during the race.
How did my race go? I was doing fine the first mile or so and then my calves started locking up so I had to stop to stretch them out. This happened a few more times and then we were able to finally get going. Sean stayed with me the entire race even though I know I was not very fast. He is super amazing, he ran the uphills and then would come back down for me and then run up them again.
I wore my Altra Olympus shoes, they were awesome, I couldn’t feel any rocks under my feet at all like you sometimes can with some shoes. It started out a bit chilly, but as we got going it got warm fast. I was really glad I decided to wear shorts and about 1/2 way or less thru the race, I got so hot, I had to wear my long-sleeve around my waist. Arizona weather is deceiving, because it might only be in the 60s but it feels a lot hotter in the sun.
I had no expectation for how the race was going to go, I just wanted to finish, enjoy myself and we did. My official time was a few minutes slower than last year, but I think I had a lot more fun this year since Sean was with me.
We finished the race, hand in hand :), got our medals and then grabbed some post race food. They had a decent selection, oranges, bananas, bagels, muffins, eggs. We didn’t eat a lot but it was nice.
We didn’t stick around for much longer, they were just announcing awards, which we did not win, lol, so we headed off to get breakfast and to enjoy the beautiful day.
If you are looking for a fun, not super crazy trail race, this is a great one to try. In addition to the 15 mile race, they also have a 7km which is just over 4 miles of fun on a beautiful course.