Pre-Race: Lately I've really been focusing on speed and interval work, getting outside, running trail, and basically being more acclimated for the Summer Series races. I haven't run at the gym since we moved into our new home at the end of March, which is not only a record, but is also way more fun.
Since I had a very decent race at Papago, I was convinced I could PR at Horse Lover's Park. It's a flat course, and there's a long tunnel of shade from sage brush that makes the run much more manageable. However, the course is also very sandy (dusty for those of us in the back) and I just couldn't quite remember the entire course in my mind (which is actually ridiculous, because this happened to be our home training course when I ran cross country at PV High, so I've been through the course probably fifty times).
I read my race report from last year to make sure that my memory was pretty accurate from the race, and it surely matched the race report, but I have to say, the race report didn't have a lot of detail on the course itself. It basically said I hate sand, love sagebrush, and hate the sun.
Lilac and I got up bright and early to drive up all the way to Horse Lover's Park, which is on the very north end of the Valley. We arrived at her parent's house at 5:55am, for a bathroom break, and then drove to the park, which is about a mile from her folk's. Again, it was more crowded than it has been in year's past, though we didn't see Lady Tiara (hope everything is ok girl!). We warmed up, and lined up in th back of the line.
Race: OK, so this race starts out going west through the park to the street where it curves around several times. We spent about .75 mile on the road, and then finally got on the dirt way after I remember getting on the dirt. This year the sand wasn't nearly as deep. It wasn't hard packed clay, but it was a comfortable soft surface that didn't eat away at us. Mile 1 happens on the dirt, and we spent that first mile really toodling along in the desert. We didn't actually get to the tunnel until 1.5 miles in (the water stop was almost immediately when we entered the tunnel.
This is where we noticed that Autam was having a skin reaction - her legs were swollen and blotchy red - generally indicative that she had been bitten by an ant, but in this case we believe it was just the dust - she has such sensitive skin! We threw a couple of cups of water at her legs, which seemed to relieve some of the itching, walked so that her socks could dry out a little (maybe I was a little over-enthusiastic with the water splashing) and then took off down the tunnel. The tunnel is so nice and cool and shaded that you just want to take your time with it, but that's where you can make the difference up. We ran through a good portion of it, passed the mile 2 marker, which is at the very end of the tunnel, and then went back out into the sun.
I'll admit here that it was quite a bit cooler than it has been at this race in past years. I would say that it was in the mid 80's to low 90's, which is a blessing for the summer series.
When we passed the mile 2 marker it said 28 minutes, and I knew that it was not going to be a PR day. I'm not sure what happened, because I felt rather good, but the clock was just moving faster than I was - even with the quick ant scare stop. I'll admit that this kind of took the wind out of my sail, and rather than push for the impossible, I just sat back and let the rest of the race happen. The last mile is on sand and we zig zagged from the front parking lot, zig zagged through the park, finally saw the chain linked fence, and knew that the end was almost in sight.
Post Race: We saw Cindy and Bob at the finish line - both of them still convinced that they aren't going to do the whole series, but both smiling and kicking our rear-ends with the extra 30 years or so that they have on us. We went to breakfast with the Lilac's parents (the buttermilk spice muffin at Mimi's is WONDERFUL) and then came home to finish painting the office.
I think the most challenging part of this course is the fact that it meanders so much and there are really no visuals that you can use to queue run/walk patterns. At Papago, I worked with the high tension wires - run three, walk one. With this it's like "well there's some sage...". The sections that we do have, street, dirt, tunnel, dirt, are too long to use as sections for running, and breaking them up is a challenge. I've learned that I can mentally push myself as long as I have a visual queue. When I'm not working with something consistent and in front of me, I struggle more.
Race Results: 42:47, 648 of 689 overall, 43 out of 46 females in the 25 - 29 category (44 being lilac), results not yet posted for the series - but I'm hoping to move up a little bit. I'll repost once it's listed.