Saturday, April 20, 2013

Racing in the Desert

While we all know my trail running since moving to the Sonoran Desert has been a little  very subpar, Ed's been pretty darn awesome, attending 4 trail races so far. While I'd opted to stay home and work on the other occasions, this time I decided that we should make a trip of it, and I'm so glad we did.

It's amazing how spending months and months with the traditional, pretty barren desert makes the transformation to spring profound.

Everything was just 

The race was up in Black Canyon City, and area we've driven through numerous times en route to Flagstaff/Sedona, so it was fun to actually stop and explore. 

Ed hadn't had time to pick up his race bib beforehand, which ended up working for the best, as it allowed me to just drop him at the finish. We made it just in time for him to hop on the bus to the start for this point to point course. 

Once he was off, I headed to the Rock City Cafe, a little place I'd read about in Sunset magazine and had been eager to try, mostly for their pies, but I figured breakfast would be good, too. 

So did not disappoint! That biscuit was one of the best I'd ever had, and the home fries and eggs were both also fabulous. It was fun to sit and read (I'm still trudging away through Vanity Fair, an almost 900 page monstrosity I'm reading for my book club). It was super nice to just relax, and brought back fond memories of similar experiences at Stinson Beach. 

The restaurant itself was super cute and had a number of real life cowboys, down to the flannel shirts, 10 gallon hats, cowboy boots, and big mustaches. Was a little too self conscious to snap a picture, but I'm sure you can all tell what I mean. 

After breakfast, I decided the day was far too gorgeous to just wait around whiled Ed was running, so I actually headed out into the desert. 

On a trail. 


Okay, so I never really left view of the parking lot. And there may have been runners warming up going by periodically. But still, I got out there! 

There was also some furrier company. 

Experiences like this make me wish so much there were more firetrails out here. Walking on a relatively even, wide surface really makes the desert so much more approachable to me (considering one of my biggest fears are the many, many varieties of rattlesnakes out here). 

It was actually pretty relaxing to be out there, a feeling that I have definitely not found to be true in general for me. 

The topography around here is just so interesting to look at, as well. So many mesas and buttes definitely give you that feeling of being in a Western. 

And, just about everywhere you looked, there were signs of new growth. 

The ocotillo continue to be one of the plants so foreign and yet so fascinating, especially when paired with their more famous cousins. 

After walking down my firetrail for a while, I decided to check out the actual race trail. The little singletrack made me a bit more happy I was just hiking rather than racing (ugh...who would have thought I'd lose my love of singletrack?!?)

It was interesting to read how massive this trail is. Seems like a great fit for ultrarunners. 

True to form, I got about 20 feet down this trail and decided that was enough for me. Gorgeous, but a little too full of hiding spots. Also, the time was ticking away, and I knew one of the shorter distances races would be coming this way soon, and I wanted to be out of the runners' path. 

Ends up I got of the trail just in time. As I was about to walk around the corner, the racers began flying past. More or less trapped (unless I wanted to cross their path), I decided that the only thing that made sense was to start cheering for them. I was a little out of practice, and felt a bit silly at first, but got some "thanks" and smiles, so I think it was a good call. 

As I watched the last racers begin trailing into the hills, I resumed my walk back to the finish. 

I headed back to the car, grabbed my chair and book, and headed to the finish, surprised that it was only about 20 minutes until Ed's predicted finish time!

I really enjoyed the view from my spot and quite content to wait. And, well, wait I did. Ed's finish time went by (and seemed way to fast, as the winner was only a couple minutes ahead of it). But, when his slowest range time also flew past, I got a little worried. Okay, maybe a lot worried. But I held it together. 

And, finally, he came around the bend. 

He looked strong and determined, and ready to be done. 

Ends up, he took a bit of a tumble out there, scraping up his arm but, more importantly, losing the gel he'd brought with him. These races don't really have much in the way of food out there, so without that, he basically ran himself down to empty and lost steam. 

Luckily, he said that the spectacular beauty of the course made him totally content with his slower time. 

Unsurprisingly, his first stop was to go get something to eat. These races do a great breakfast spread for the runners, complete with eggs, bagels, and other goodies. Totally up Ed's alley. 

After hanging out for a while and getting his fill, we  had one more stop to make. 

We definitely couldn't leave without getting some pie. 

Inside, there were about a million choices. We went with it's well known Jack Daniels pecan pie and the banana cream pie - a slice of each. 

We took the pies home, to be enjoyed later (and they were. Wow). And then we were off. Back to home, civilization, and real life.

But, I have to say, it was fun to be amongst runners once again. 

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