Antelope Canyon 55k Race Report #TheRunningWriter

Aside

ANTELOPE CANYON 55K

Antelope Canyon was put on by Vacation Races, and the race sells out fairly quickly, so I signed up what felt like ages ago. So, when race day came, I was extra excited. Seems like the longer I train / wait for a race start, the more hyped up I am.

The race was Saturday March 9th, but we chose to leave on Thursday the 7th to avoid any rushing/issues that might pop up. We wanted to get settled in and then have Friday for a relaxed prep-time for the race! Page, AZ is a pretty town. With the red rock is kind of reminded me of Sedona.

Friday the 8th we went to the expo. It was wicked-windy so they moved it inside, which was nice. We talked to some people about the race course, specifically the sand I heard might be a big issue. After talking to them about it, we decided to duct tape some of our shoe vents that our gators didn’t cover (I used pink tape of course!) I would definitely recommend Desert Gaiters vs the normal gaiters. They cover all of your shoe. But the tape did help!

We also found the start and figured out how long it’d take us to get there from the hotel. Which brings me to the lodging issue. I wouldn’t recommend staying at the marina for a couple of reasons. Mainly, it felt far away from everything, including the pre-race exciting atmosphere. I’d get a hotel in town if possible. Second, they have poor customer service.

One interesting thing about the race sag bags (the bags you pack with your stuff and have at specific aid stations–also called Drop Bags.) You had to get your bags to the expo on Friday. You can’t bring them race day morning, like most races. So that was weird, but I liked it! Didn’t have to worry about forgetting them race day morning. you know, because of “race brain” forgetfulness. Or is it only me who suffers from that?

Friday before the race, I spent most of the day feet up, resting, drinking, preparing. Got my “Flat Lynn” all set out. For those of you who don’t know what that means, here’s a picture. Basically it’s just laying out what you’re going to wear.

I rarely sleep super-awesome the night before a race. The key is to sleep good two nights before. So, Thursday I was able to sleep fairly well. 

Race Morning. It was COLD. I suggest having a throwaway blanket at the ready if you can. Wrap it around you and then just before race time, you can set it on a chair, and it’s no matter if it gets taken. Unless you have a great Sherpa, which we were lucky enough to have. Traci’s hubby, Nathan, was instrumental in taking out the stress of race day morning by driving, holding our stuff, and just being all around awesome!.

For me, this wasn’t a true race. What I mean by that is that it wasn’t a race where “I’m going to shoot for a great time, wanna run fast.” This was truly a sight-seeing-adventure for me. I’d heard the views were amazing. And they were.

The first 15 or so miles were great. Horseshoe Bend and the slick Rock canyons.
A M A Z I N G
.
Traci and I ran the first 20 or so miles of the race together, and that first 16 or so, we stopped and took so many pictures. Great memories made for sure.

After that, it got a little harder. Up to the Page Rim was treacherous. Straight up super soft sand for almost a mile. Once up there, the loop was 10 miles long. And all packed, single track trail. PERFECT.

The first five had great views over the desert and Lake Powell. The last 5 miles, not so pretty.  It overlooked the city and went through some golf course sights, which normally are pretty, but I was so tired and ready to be done, I was needing spectacular views to distract me from my pain. LOL!

At the end of that Page Rim 10-mile loop, there was about 1.3 miles left. Down that sandy, almost a mile, hill. It was nuts. I felt like I needed skis to get down it. On tired legs…it was rough, but the knowledge that I was a mile from the finish, and the fact that I had my sweet hubby on FaceTime…got me through to the end. 

I pretty much stuck to my normal racing routine as to what I ate and drank during the hours out here. And I was out there for about 8 1/2 hours. The stress level wasn’t super high, meaning I wasn’t going all out, climbing massive hills, etc. So, I didn’t need TONS of calories per hour.

Tailwind was the number one source of calories and hydration. I held true to keeping a 17 ounce collapsable bottle of Tailwind and one of plain water. That way I can tell just how many calories I consumed. I carried tubes of Tailwind with me to mix at the aid stations as I needed. Also, in my sag bags I had pre-made bottles of Tailwind ready to go. That’s helpful, I don’t have to mess with ripping the top off the TW tube and then pouring in the bottle, then filling with water.

But sag bags aren’t always an option. This race had TONS of opportunities to access your sag bags, so that was nice. Their aid stations were amazing. Stocked full of water, ice, and food of all varieties. They were so helpful, too, with filling our bottles, and always asking, “What can I help you with.” Really was well done.

All in all, I probably did about 150-200 calories per hour. I supplemented my Tailwind with a little butter/honey sandwich a GU a couple of times. Mostly to change it up from drinking. Or if I found myself getting behind on my calories, those are options that work for me and my stomach.

My shoes: Topo UltraVenture shoes. 5mm drop. I switched to those about a month or two before the race. And let me tell you, I LOVE THEM. I did not have one hot spot after running 34 miles in them. Never changed socks, nothing. I did take ONE of my shoes off to check sand levels in there after seeing other runners pouring tons of sand out of their shoes. But I didn’t have any in that shoe, so I didn’t take the other one off.

I’m weird about taking my shoes off on races. I never have. Don’t like to. But again, it’s individual to the runner.

Overall, this was an amazing experience. Difficult, and that sand…oh my goodness that sand. When talking with my trail sisters, we agreed that it was about 13-14 miles of hour glass like sand. And that really does make things hard. BUT, the views, aid stations and overall experience WAY WORTH IT.

It’s a one and done for me, though. And I think that’s the standard with this particular race. It was 83% first timers. So, it seems I’m not the only one with the one and done attitude with this race. I do think, though, that every ultra runner should give it a go. You won’t regret it.

Thanks to the following for helping me finish this race successfully.

Cadence Performance Coaching – Coach Charlie & Coach Tracy sure nail the ultra training. Consistent Training is how you run all the miles. 🙂

Tailwind Nutrition – For providing awesome nutrition without the gut bomb. I’m proud to be on the Tailwind Trailblazer team!

Trail Sisters – For connecting me with some awesome peep to run. Proud to be on the Trail Sisters Team!

Topo Athletic – For great, comfortable shoes. Love my UltraVentures—can you make them in PINK, though? 🙂

Nathan – For an awesome hydration pack with all the awesome pockets so I can safely carry my phone to take pictures! No, kidding. It helps me carry everything I need for long & short runs alike.

Tortoise and Hare Sports – For keeping me all geared up, your awesome staff, and your commitment to the running community.

Hope this race report helps you in some small way! Happy running, my friends!!

Copper Hills 4 Peak Challenge Race Report #TheRunningWriter #CH4Peak

Wow. Another race down, another set of life-long memories made.

This was the third time I’d run the Copper Hills 4 Peak Challenge. And I have to tell you, this race gets better with each year. The volunteers are amazing, encouraging and energetic. I roped my friend Kristin into joining me, and I had a blast running with her!

We started out on Sunrise mountain. It was pretty dark, so I was glad I had my Knuckle Light. The temps were perfect. Cold at the start is exactly where you want to be. Because, especially with running, you’ll warm up super fast. I was already shedding my arm warmers within the first few miles.

I was running this race for my friends Sandy and Glyn. They always participate in this event, either running or volunteering, but this year cancer stole that chance. While I was running, Sandy was fighting for her life–Glyn right by her side. As I’m typing this, it appears she is losing the battle and may very well find herself dancing at the feet of Jesus any time now. It was an honor to do this for them. They’ve selflessly given so much to their church, to their friends, both serving & volunteering without expectation. Those thoughts and memories kept me going when I started struggling.

The second peak was West Wing Mountain. That was a brutal and a very technical climb for sure. But I got to see a couple friends, Hans and Melissa. It was just the boost I needed.

The third peak was East Wing, and that felt more like bouldering. Huge steps (Nature’s Staircase) made it feel like I was doing squats for a mile or two.

Now starts the long run down, around and out to Calderwood Butte, the final peak. I was really struggling during this part. Mentally and physically. My left shin was actually getting pretty fatigued/crampy. It was weird.

What really helped was running into the Embrace Your Pace Crew! Seeing Courtney, Melissa, Terri, Jon, Addie, and Rebecca on the way off East/West Wing mountains was just the pep I needed. Their smiles and their energy renewed me.

By now I was about a solid three hours into things, so instead of a gel to supplement my Tailwind, I opted for a PBJ. I could only manage about three quarters of it, but the two mile jog (flat!) to Calderwood was what my body needed. I tackled Calderwood, happy to be on my former home turf (I lived near there and did that hill a lot the past two years). At the bottom, I was loading up on water and such, looking forward to the two-ish mile jog back to the start.

It was difficult, and I walked a couple times during those two miles, but when I wanted quit and just walk it all in, I remembered Sandy and Glyn. In the hospital, Sandy was hooked up to life sustaining IVs and such, so I pushed on, repeating her name in my mind. Remembering our years as friends.

Even though we hadn’t been in contact a ton the previous handful of years, she is a life-long friend for sure. One of those people who forever makes an impact on your life.

Then I saw my sweet hubby. Only a mile left now! I was struggling with fatigue, but seeing him, hearing his encouragements, renewed my strength!

So, I just told my arms to keep pumping, knowing my legs would follow, and I hunkered down. I didn’t finish super strong, but I finished with a solid PR of about 15 minutes or so. I don’t keep super track, but I think last year according to my watch, I was at 4:44 and I clicked stop this year on my watch at 4:29. So, I’ll take it. And I’ll take the beautiful third place trophy!!

Overall, what got me to and through this race were the following:

  1. Solid/consistent training: Having a coach and using training peaks play a HUGE part in my ability to consistently train without injury.
  2. Healthy eating habits: Daily healthy eating is key. I have a ways to go in this category since I really like my sweets and martinis, but sticking to high quality foods is key. I use the DQS (Diet Quality Score) app that really helps me think twice about eating low quality food.
  3. Calories during the event: I rely on Tailwind the most, but I also supplement it with GU gels and PBJ sandwiches (only I use honey instead of Jelly) during the race. I try and consume about 150-200 calories per hour. That seems to work for the most part for me and my body type.
  4. Trailsisters: And of course, surrounding myself by supportive people is key. I love training with my trail sisters for sure. They keep me accountable, motivated and excited to train. You know who you are, girls!

Well, that was a long-winded race report, but I am an author after all, right? LOL!!! Hopefully it might help someone who stumbles across this and is thinking of trying an endurance event.

Have fun, my friends!

Special thanks to New Balance for awesome Fresh Foam shoes and Nathans for my awesome hydration pack.

 

 

Epic Adventures #TrailSisters #TheRunningWriter

I can’t put into words how amazing this adventure was. It’s days later and I’m still thinking about it. These two amazing women are strong, beautiful, funny, quirky, inspiring, compassionate, loving, self-less, encouraging.

They just make me smile.

I was privileged to spend just under five and a half hours with them running down the Grand Canyon to the river and then back up. It’s not an easy feat as it included more than 6,500 feet of climbing (according to Strava). At points it was so steep we were all but crawling. It was invigorating and challenging.

We kept encouraging each other, our Woo-Hoos echoing off the canyon walls for all to hear. we met some amazing people along the way, too, who were so encouraging to us. A group of them were Wounded Veterans. That inspired me beyond belief.

Thank you, ladies, for joining me in this 20-mile adventure. Love you bunches!!