Monday, April 25, 2011

Catalina State Park 5.2 Mile Trail Race

I woke up at 5am to a gray and sleepy morning. It was pretty chilly outside, but I assumed it would get warmer (more like desperately wanted it to get warmer) so I dressed in shorts and a tee. Only sort of regretted that later. 

Chance and I drive up to the State Park. I was bugging Chance the night before about getting there early because when I was helping out with packet pick-up the day before, everyone was telling me to get there early or I’ll have to park down the road. And since I have never been there before, I had no idea how far that would be. So, we ended up getting there at around 6:30am and the parking lot was pretty much empty. Oh well. Better safe than sorry!

Since the race didn’t start until 7:40am, Chance decided to take me for a little hike. We walked up the road, down a wash and then walked along a trail to Romero Ruins.
But I forgot to take photos of it. Maybe next time. 

During our hike, the sky seemed to be getting a little darker, making me nervous, but I thought, “hey, it’s Tucson, it won’t actually rain.”  

We got back in time to see some of my Ragnar teammates, Dave and Kendra, who were running the 10-miler. Basically, the 5 miler is one loop of the trail and the 10 miler is two. It was no easy loop. I definitely have respect for those 10 milers now.
The 10 miler started 10 minutes before the 5 miler. So, as it was starting we headed over to the start line to watch everyone.

Right after the race started, I started to take off my warm clothes.  I striped down to my shorts and t-shirt. Super cold!

 I headed over to the start line with minutes to spare and did some warm up stretches to get me ready. I saw a few people with gloves on. I remember wondering if I should have brought some but kept talking myself out of it because I heat up so fast. Then we were off!!

We ran down the paved road for about 30 seconds and then hit dirt. Yay! My first trail race. It was all very exciting. But then we took a left and suddenly had to asend a HUGE hill. We were in single file and shuffling for a little while because the 10 milers were coming down the other side. We were really packed together at this point. Finally, we go to the top of the hill and ran along the top of a ridge. It was so gorgeous! The clouds had moved in through the ranges in the mountains. The air was so fresh and crisp and cold and almost prefect running weather. Soon we made a turn around and headed back the way we came. Finally, the rain came.  It wasn’t hail or anything, just a light sprinkle. It felt great! After all that hard work up the hill, a little bit of rain was just what I needed. :)  It didn’t last long though and only got me partially wet.

I flew down the hill and took a left down another trail. Actually, it more like a wash. It was very sandy and extremely hard to get a good footing. A bunch of sand got in my shoe because I don’t have gaiters yet. Lame. It’s on my to-buy list. I saw the photographer up ahead so I tried to look like I was having fun. 

Ran down this trail for a bit. Then the rain started to pick up again. My shirt and shorts were starting to get soaked. I could feel the water in my shoes building up. Every time I took a step I felt the squishiness.

Dislike this photo. I look old. And tired. And pale. I definitely need to work on my trail race photo face.

And then I saw the stair climb. And immediately I realized I should have done some more trail training before this. I did what I could which was walk up it…slowly. I turned around to see if anyone else needed to pass me but instead what I saw was this long line of other runners…all walking up this hellacious stair climb.   I imagine it wouldn’t have been so bad if I just ran it before. I’ll learn one day. :)
I wish I took more photos but it was so wet and so cold it was almost impossible to get the camera out. My fingers were numb at this point so just taking it out for one photo was hard enough. It was even difficult to get my camelback closed! And don’t even get me started on my shoelaces. I swear, I had to bend down to tie them every few minutes once they got wet. 

A water station was at the top of the hill. I took a breather and went on my way. At this point, I was soaked though to my underwear. The rain didn’t feel like ice pellets anymore. It actually felt really good. I felt alive. The next mile felt the easiest. I was taking in the sights, the smells, the cold rain, I was loving every minute of it! My mind was no longer focused on my body, but instead everything else around me. On another section of trail I was able to see everyone in front of me and that helped to distract me as well. I really liked getting a look at everyone. It’s cool to see how many different people come together to run. LOVE IT.

Flew down another hill. I remember feeling how cold the wind was. My thighs, my fingers, my arms were so numb but I couldn’t really feel it. My shoelaces  came untied a few more times before I finished. I couldn’t even really tie them near the end, my fingers were so numb, so I shoved them into the sides of my shoe with my knuckles.

I came out from the last loop, on to pavement and saw the finish line.  I ran as fast as I could when I saw it. It hurt but I love feeling completely exhausted when I cross a finish line. It makes me feel like I accomplished the task I set out to do.  

Miles- 5.2
Time- 1:03:50
Avg Pace- 12:16.5
Overall Place- 156
Age group Place: 3RD!!! So awesome. :)

Chance brought me a towel (thank goodness I keep those in my car for the dogs) while I stood in line to get my t-shirt. Pretty cool design. As soon as I picked mine up  headed back to the car to get changed. Since I wasn’t moving as much anymore it got cold…fast. I began to shiver like crazy! Chance helped me over to the port-a-potties so I could change inside. Not as gross as you may think. It was a small race so they were fairly clean. Also helps if you have a towel to sit on. I warmed up my hands with the towel the best that I could before trying to change. It is impossible to do with numb fingers! I felt stupid and helpless. Finally, they started to warm up a little but it had already taken me about 20 minutes. Poor Chance, standing in the rain, waiting for me. I love you!

I came out and I went to go get the free Mexican breakfast and smoothie that always comes with this race. SO AWESOME. I love Steve Landaus races. They are the best. Especially since they usually have free massages. Unfortuantely I looked over at the ,massage tent and it was empty. :(   I doubt I would have stayed for one anyway. Definitely next time. I took the food back to the car and ate like I was homeless. Seriously. That food was gone in a few seconds.

6 things I learned about trail races:
1.) ALWAYS bring a change of clothes in your car. No matter if it looks like it will clear up or even if it’s a beautiful sunny day. You never know what will happen. This is something I always try to do, no matter the race. It would have been a major bummer if I had forgotten it for this race though.

2.) Bring a towel while you’re at it. So glad it was already in my car. It really made the difference, especially since I had to change in a port-a-potty.

3.) You should probably buy shoes without shoelaces.

4.) Gaiters would have been helpful.

5.) I didn’t wear headphones for this race and I LOVED it. I recommend you leave them at home for trail races. You’ll miss too much of the experience! I believe there’s enough variety in a trail such as turns, rocks, hills, animals, etc to keep you focused and not leave you feeling bored.

6.) Not sure about other races, but this one thankfully had lots of food for the runners afterwards. When I run another one, I’ll be sure to bring my own food just in case. As soon as I finished I was so hungry, I felt like I could eat a horse!!!

That weekend, I also ran the Race for the Cure 5k. I didn't take any photos because personally, it's my least favorite race. It's for a wonderful cause and I support it entirely but the course sucks. And there's too many people for it to be a fun race. So, I concentrated on finally breaking a 30 minute 5k and guess what? 

Time- 29:49
Avg Pace- 9:36
Overall Place- 431

A New PR!!!  

You can fight without ever winning, 

but never ever, win without a fight.


  1. this is such a great recap. good job and thanks for posting!

  2. Great job on 3rd place AND achieving your 5k goal! Sorry the weather sucked for your race, but good job on pushing through...

  3. Way to go! That looks like a tough race and a CHILLY one!

  4. Great job!! Congrats on getting 3rd!


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