Saturday, October 6, 2012

September Race Recap

September was a busy month for racing, after several months with lighter schedules.  I’ll blog separately about my September marathons, and use this blog to recap several local races.

9/3/12 – Saguaro National Park Labor Day 8 Miler

The first race in September is normally the Saguaro National Park Labor Day 8 Miler, sponsored by the Southern Arizona Roadrunners.  I’ve run “Saguaro”, as local runners affectionately call it, numerous times.  It’s a Monday morning race, which makes planning a bit tricky.  I never quite know how much to run on Saturday and Sunday leading into the race.  This year, I was planning to run back-to-back marathons on the Saturday and Sunday following Saguaro, so I went easy and ran a quick 6.3 and easy 4 miles the two days prior.

I got up early to help with registration, then ran the race.  I purposely held back a little, to reserve something for the marathons, but I was happy with my finishing time of 56:48.  This is a very hilly course, with one very difficult climb from about 4 to 5 miles, so average paces at Saguaro are always slow.  Last year, my time was about 2 minutes faster.  I did manage to get 1st in my age group, and won a plastic cup.  Saguaro is a big race, with over a thousand runners, and I had a lot of fun socializing.  Here's a photo of me about 1/2 mile from the finish, taken by my friend Gilbert:

9/8/12 & 9/9/12 – Salmon Marathon & Bozeman Marathon – Separate Blog

9/22/12 – Catalina State Park Reverse the Course 10.3 Mile Trail Race

I don’t do a lot of trail runs, mainly because there just are not many in the Tucson area.  Trails in Southern Arizona are mostly rocky, rough terrain but I really do love to run on them.  Everyone Runs & Walks hosts two trail races each year on trails in Catalina State Park, with the same course but in opposite directions.  I think the Fall edition is a little harder because it has more downward stair-stepping, but either way has plenty of steep hills, curves, sand, and sometimes flowing water to challenge runners.

I went in to the race feeling a bit weary from the marathons a couple of weeks prior.  My trail shoes are heavier than my regular road shoes, and I had not done any trail training for a long time, so my feet were not feeling too fleet in the race.  There were several spots where the course doubled back on itself, and the 10.3 miler was two loops, so it was fun to see friends and cheer them on.  Here's a photo taken by the Everyone Runs photographer near the top of an especially challenging hill, on the second loop:

I finished in 1:21:18, 12th overall and 1st in my age group, so I won a track bag.  My time was nearly 5 minutes slower than the year before, and the second loop was especially hard for me, but I was happy to run this one again.

9/28/12 – Nike Desert Twilight Cross-Country 5k Citizens Race

The Nike Desert Twilight is actually a huge festival with a focus on high-school cross-country teams.  It’s super-fun to watch the different heats of kids racing their hearts out, but they also have a “Citizen’s Race” for everyone else.  The race is on Friday night, starting at 8:00 p.m., and the course is on a golf course in Mesa, Arizona.  My wife, Pam, coaches a high-school team and they drove up earlier in the day.  Her girls team won a 2nd place trophy, and all of her kids did very good.  I drove up with my son, Jason, who also entered the Citizen’s 5k.

Since the race was on mostly grass, I decided to wear some super-light racing flats.  They don’t have spikes and almost felt like socks instead of shoes.  I thought about going easy, because I was also planning to run a 5k the next morning, but when it came time to start I decided to push a bit.  The start line of this race was the worst one I’ve ever experienced – hundreds of people sprint out from a very wide line, and there is more banging and jostling than any race I’ve ever done.  Most of the early sprinters really don’t belong up front and as the course narrows, it becomes a dodge game to avoid major collisions.  Somehow I made it through with only one near-fatal crash.

The course winds around and there are literally thousands of spectators cheering so it’s an exciting environment.  I crossed the finish line in 19:18, which I was happy with.  It was 10 seconds faster than last year’s time, but this year brought some faster guys to my 10-year age group so no awards.  Pam ran the Citizen’s 5k while her team cheered her on, and got a great time.  Jason also finished the 5k, which was enough to make him happy since he hasn’t been training lately.  This is a high-energy race where many runners wear glow sticks and they have big fireworks displays.

 9/29/12 – Fiesta Sahuarita 5k

I ran this 5k with less than 2 hours of sleep.  After the Nike Desert Twilight the night before, I drove over 2 hours to get home, then had to get up very early to drive an hour South for this race.  So I was very tired, but the excitement of race morning always compensates a little.  The Fiesta Sahuarita is held in conjunction with the Town of Sahuarita’s “birthday” celebration, and the 5k this year was hosted by Anderson Racing Adventures.

I pushed hard right from the start, and tried to keep a strong pace.  The course was an out-and-back and when I reached the halfway point I didn’t feel like it had already been 1.5 miles!  The temperature was cooler than the previous night’s race, and it was on asphalt instead of grass, so it was easier to maintain a faster pace.  I held on for 3rd overall in a final time of 19:11.  There was a nice awards ceremony afterward and I won a $25 gift certificate for being 1st place Masters.  Many of my friends won awards also, here’s a photo of Me, Sue, Melody, Don, and Connie with our loot:

September was a great racing month!

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