Sunday, June 13, 2010

Everyone's a Winner

Usually, I would disagree; however, when it comes to the Valles Caldera Trail Race, then I'm fine with the sentiment. Because everyone who finishes gets to go home with one of these beautiful finishers' medals, hand-made by a Jemez Pueblo potter.

That's S.B.'s on the left—a quail. Mine is a turkey. Coolest finishers' bling, ever.

This was also the most fun I've had on a trail run, even if the course was wicked difficult. We started at 8,000 feet, negotiating the gentle ups and downs of about three miles of forest trail before emerging in the Caldera valley for a full mile of flat running.

The views were so gorgeous and I was feeling so good, I almost forgot that in trail running, what comes down, must go up. In this case, nearly two miles of slog up a section of the mountain that I swear must have averaged a 15 to 20 percent grade. Parts of the run could easily have been a scramble. Suddenly, all those Speedy Gonzales road runners who passed me in the first part of the race started to drop behind me like flies. I knew a lifetime spent hiking and running the Sandia mountains would eventually come in handy. If not in speed, then in endurance. Even if those runners eventually caught right back up to me . . . Stupid speedy people.

Then the best part of the race: another 1.5 miles of straight down hill, dodging roots and saplings and picking out footholds among sheets of scree and talcum-powder sand. I dug in behind one young gal who danced her way down the slope, following her lead to the bottom in what my Garmin told me was a 9-something min. mile pace.

The last five miles took us back through the valley, then up more high-ass hills, then back down another gentle decline to the finish line, where my step dad and S.B. (who'd finished about 30 minutes prior) were waiting to snap photos. My final time was a few minutes under three hours, my goal for the race.

Had Mother Nature not kicked up gale force winds that coated every surface of our bodies—including our eyeballs and the insides of our mouths—with grit, we would have hung out for the post-race festivities. I feel bad for the race organizers, as just about everyone was doing the same thing, but it was nearly impossible to even stand upright in those gusts. Too bad, because with the exception of some decidedly lacking aid stations, it was a great race.

Even better? This is the first Sunday in eight weeks I haven't had to wake up and head out for a long run. Hellllllllloooo, Sunday. I almost forgot what it was like to be this lazy.


Kymical Reactions said...

I love that you're a runner. I'd so love to be a runner. I'm lucky to get to the end of my block. A personal goal of mine is to be able to run a half marathon by the time I'm 35. Do you have any running tips for beginners with a slightly quirky knee??

moi said...

You are a runner. You're just currently not a practicing one :o)

Seriously, though, first thing is get the knee checked out. Go get a full work up by a true blue orthopedist who treats runners or endurance athletes (the last thing you need is a doc trying to convince you not to run, regardless). Have him/her do a full work up with x-rays, etc.

If you're given the go ahead, start super duper, really, really, REALLY slow. I recommend the Runner's World 8-Week Beginner's program to just about everyone:,

After you finish it, you can stay pain free by never increasing mileage more than 10 percent per week. Ever. Also, do not jump into hill training or speed work. Wait until you have a solid base of about 6-9 months of 20 or more miles a week. Stretch daily. Ice anything that hurts immediately and pop an aspirin.

Once you start, you most likely won't stop because to me, there's nothing more fun than running. Let me know how it goes!

Jenny said...

Kym! Listen to Moi. She's the one that encouraged me to get back into it and it's fun. And she really knows her stuff. Although I don't think there's a 1/2 marathon in me, I'm still enjoying it.

MOI!!!!! I was thinking about you and Man yesterday. Congrats! What a fabulous medal and I loved the description of your run. What happens now? Do you get to rest for a few days/weeks. Do you have a new goal?

I sure you are firmly planted on your couch with a remote, a Fresca and some Cheesy Puffs. You've earned it. xoxox.

czar said...

any time i read "the last five miles," i know i'm somewhere i shouldn't be.

moi said...

Boxer: Mmmmmm . . . Cheesy Poofs. Actually, I don't know near as much as I should. Just enough to encourage anyone thinking of running to go for it. A new goal? Um, yeah. I'll get back to you on that :o)

Czar: Actually, they go by quicker than you'd think. Running is, I have found, like participating in some bizarre space/time continuum experiment.

Gnomeself Be True said...

Sounds like a glorious time.

LaDivaCucina said...

Wow! What a cool medal and what a cool story and what a cool view and what a cool day! I love to run but my body doesn't like to, so I swim instead but I do love hiking and miss my hikes in the mountains of Australia and California. What a beautiful day you had, and so cool you can share your passion with your partner! Thanks for a great post, Moi! x

fishy said...

Beautifully written.
Beautiful accomplishment.
Beautiful spirit.