Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Hanging Out At Camelback Ranch - 48 Hour Race Report

It’s been awhile since I attempted a 48 hour race and so I targeted Across the Years as a challenge to end 2015.  I ran this race back in 2010 when it was held at a different location on a shorter, dirt track.  The new location is at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, AZ, the spring training facility for the LA Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, quite a fancy place.
The course was a little over a mile in length and wound through the ballpark grounds.  At different places, we could see the grounds crew getting the ball field ready for spring training.  Signs warned us to “Watch for flying bats and balls!”  Other places along the course had desert landscaping and a little lake.  Plenty of things to keep me entertained for 48 hours, especially since we changed directions every four hours so got to see whole different scenery then.
My ambitious goal was to run at least 200 miles with about 110-115 miles targeted for the first day.  I started the race very conservatively, walking the “hills” almost from the first loop.  I was hoping that this strategy would leave me with plenty of energy left on day two to hit at least 75 miles.  The best laid plans though did not happen.
The 1st day seemed "easy!"
At the start, the weather could not have been any better.  The temperatures were cool but with brilliant sunshine.  While weather in Cleveland has been ridiculously warm this winter, I knew the nights in Phoenix would be cold.  In spite of knowing this intellectually, the cold blast that accompanied the setting sun was a rude awakening.  Yikes, I sure wanted to stop and get in my warm sleeping bag when the temperatures dipped to 28F degrees.  It took everything in my power to resist this urge.
The course was mostly on gravel paths with short sections of asphalt and concrete.  I have definitely gotten soft and sensitive in my old age.  As the race progressed the bottoms of my feet got increasingly sore even though I had on cushy HOKA Clifton shoes.  Because my feet were so sore, I think I started running differently.  That caused my shins to develop tendonitis and I was a mess.  I was also never so sleepy in a timed race.  Could it have been the time change?  I swear I drank 5 pots of coffee during the night of the first day, guzzled other caffeine drinks, Red bull, etc. and nothing seemed to work.  I felt like the walking, stumbling dead. 
Eventually, the sun rose and the frigid temperatures started to warm.  I am not sure but believe I hit around 105 or 106 miles for the first 24 hours.  I sought out the comfy camper supplied by Mike Dobies (who was crewing for Josh Irvin and Bill Schultz) and immediately zonked out around 9:30 AM.  Mike was kind enough to wake me after 1 ½ hours or I probably would still be sleeping!  Around 11:00 AM, I headed back out on the course.  I did run some but gradually started the dreaded death march.  It was a LONG march.  I listened to two books so I felt I was doing something productive -- Let Me Be Frank with You by Richard Ford and A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy O’Toole -- before my I-Pod died.  Then I walked and chatted with other racers, including Sue Scholl and Bill Schultz, who kept me entertained.  I grabbed two more hours of sleep between 8-9 PM and midnight-1:00AM. 
I knew that my 200 mile vision was nowhere in sight.  My next goal was a 166 mile American Women’s Age Group (55-59) Road 48-hour Record.  I kept slogging away and reached 170 miles with about an hour left in the race.  My feet and shins told me to stop at that point.  By then, my ankles and hands were swollen too.  I sat in the warming tent chatting with the runners who would be starting their race in the next hour, trying to stay awake and so happy I was FINISHED!
My take-away from this race:  Having seen the 6-day race in progress, I can say I have NO desire to do one of them!  Huge respect for the 6-day runners and congrats to those runners who kept on the course for the entire 6 days.    

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