Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Mount Taylor 50k

Jakeb got me into this mess. He told me that we had to run a trail race. A 50k. So we looked and looked. We had to find a race that happened in the fall but it had to be before October because a baby is coming. We found a race in New Mexico - The Mount Taylor 50k. It was at the right time. It is a 50k. It is run completely on dirt, in the mountains, all over 9000 feet elevation, over Mount Taylor at 11301 feet with 7000 feet elevation gain overall. So we signed up and started to train.

Very early on in the training Jakeb hurt his foot and could not run the race. But he told me he still wanted to come along. I flew to Lubbock and then together we drove to Grants, New Mexico for the race.

Race morning was awesome. Jakeb and I stood at the starting line and the weather was cool, the sky was clear and there were more stars in the sky than I have seen in a long time.

Pre-race instructions were given through a bull horn. I hugged Jakeb and someone yelled “Go!”

We ran downhill for a really short distance and then headed uphill immediately toward La Mosca Lookout. Running was not an option. It was a power hike all the way up the hill. The idea is that you will top the hill as the sun comes over the horizon as the Navajo tradition is to run to meet the sun. But by the time I got there the sun was well over the horizon so I met it but I was just a little later than the Indians.

After topping the lookout at over 10000 feet the trail went down and then started rolling for the rest of the loop back to the start finish at mile 16. The Continental Divide Trail is part of the course and it is soft single track that was fun to run when I could and walk when it was too steep.

Leaving the start finish aid station I knew I would have to climb up to Mount Taylor but I had no idea how brutal it would be. I ran/walked the trail to the Gooseberry aid station at mile 21. Trader Joe’s was responsible for the aid station set-up and they had turkey, cheese and mustard wrapped in a tortilla. I was grateful for something savory because Gu, fruit and candy was getting old.

Leaving the aid station at mile 21 the course immediately sloped up. A mile and a half later the course breaks out of the trees and goes straight up. I would walk 10 or 20 steps and have to stop and rest. After hiking this way for what seemed like forever the trail turned into a series of switch-backs that provided some relief but not much. I was in a foul mood. Who designs a course that makes you run (and walk) 21 miles and then sends your worn-out self straight up an 11000 foot mountain? Someone who is sadistic – that’s who.

After toping Mount Taylor I was able to run down to the Caldera Rim aid station. There were veggie tortillas with avocado at this aid station and they were awesome. Then the aid station volunteer told me I had to run a four mile loop through Water Canyon before I could run the 2 miles to the finish. This didn’t make me any happier and I mostly walked the loop. It was three miles down, which I probably could have run but didn’t, and one mile up. So needless to say the one mile up was crazy steep and again brutal.

Once I finished the loop I only stopped at the aid station long enough for them to record my number and then mostly ran the last two miles.

I finished in 8:34:22. My only goal was to finish. The time I ran reflects the training I put into this race. Could I run it faster? I am sure I could. Will I try? I don’t know. There are other races to run so I may not come back to this one. If Jakeb decides he wants to try it I may come back because it is worth it to hang out with him. Am I glad I did it? Absolutely!