In honor of today’s run I cracked open a bottle of Sonoita Vineyards Sangiovese wine made right here in Sonoita, Arizona. There are so many incredible areas of Arizona but Sonoita is one of my favorites. Fiona and I ventured here the first weekend we moved here back in July 2017. And I’m also drinking it out of a fantastic new Wine Glass that my mother in law brought us from Stawell, Victoria, Australia. It’s special because it’s from that very winery that Fiona and I had our wedding reception. So there are many wonderful memories drinking this wine tonight.
So what did I do to deserve this?
I’ve already written about how a switch had been flicked after IRONMAN Arizona where I had been able to improve my run by 3minutes over the prior year but have been struggling to get out of the 3:40’s and down to the 3:20’s of where I really want to and need to be! It was one week off, a 12 mile week, and then a 49.5 mile week where I’ve pretty much been hovering around since. There are two main reasons for this.
1) My first ever 50KM Ultramarathon (Oracle Rumble, Oracle, Arizona) and my first ever 50Mile Ultramarathon (Old Pueblo, Sonoita, Arizona). Of which I have been fearing.
2) Improve my muscular endurance in preparation for improved running into IRONMAN Cairns (Where I hope to set a sub 9:22 PB), and IRONMAN Hawaii (Where I hope to go Sub-10).
As a self-coached IRONMAN Athlete, I have tried different approaches. 2 seasons ago where I went 9:44 at IRONMAN Arizona I didn’t do any runs longer than 15.6miles (and it was only 4 runs of more than 15 miles). This past season where I went 9:34 at IRONMAN Arizona, I did multiple 5 runs of 20 miles or longer including a 3:17 downhill marathon at Sandia Crest, New Mexico; but I only increased 3 minutes.
So this season I was motivated after finally being fed-up with myself and I said I’d take it to the extreme. By focusing on Ultra-marathons in the early part of the season, I would be able to get the volume, strength, and mental attitude to remove the suck. So far, it has been working. I took 7th in the 50KM of 77 finishers and have improved my 5K parkrun to 20:39 by working with HR and focusing on Tempo and Threshold work.
So the weekend…
Saturday I ran with my friend Matt in our 2nd attempt at running up Mt Lemmon after getting rained out last weekend. It was a 21.08mile run taking 6hr8min. We started at Sabino Canyon and ran up Phoneline into the great wilderness. We saw one person the whole time. Just before him I saw I saw a Mountain Lion run across the path 25meters in front of me and then I saw it run back again. The man didn’t have the balls to go knee deep across the river which I most definitely was going to do. At mile 14, the running turned into walking as we ascended 919’ in 1 mile and another 458’ in the mile after that. By this point the winds were 20-30mph winds and snow was all around. At around 7,500’ I waited in ankle deep snow for Matt to catch up. We then traversed across to some other trails in above ankle deep snow under cloudy skies. I had Altra Olympus shoes with some calf long socks, under armour shorts with TYR leggings over that. On top I had a triathlon Zoot singlet with an Ironman Sugoi Thermal, and a Boston Marathon Jacket over that. I had a 3 liter camelpak of which I only drank about half that. I ate about 200 calories per hour including 2 Larabars, a gel, and 3 packages of Clif Shot Bloks. Soon, we were in an area burned out and totally barren.
“The Aspen Fire burned from June 17, 2003 for about a month on Mount Lemmon, part of the Santa Catalina Mountains located in the Coronado National Forest north of Tucson, Arizona, and in the surrounding area. It burned 84,750 acres (343.0 km2) (132.4 sq mi) of land, and destroyed 340 homes and businesses of the town of Summerhaven.
Damages to electric lines, phone lines, water facilities, streets and sewers totaled $4.1 million. Firefighting cost was about $17 million, and the Forest Service is spending $2.7 million to prevent soil loss.
In 2002, the year before the fire started, Congress had been requested to allocate about $2,000,000 to cover the implementation of fire prevention measures in the Coronado National Forest. However, that allocation was reduced to about $150,000 in the Congressional budget process.” – Wikipedia
And guess who held Majority in the House and the Senate? The fucking Republicans. FFS. Researching that just now, really pisses me off..
But where there is darkness and death, life comes back and light shines again.
As we emerged from the climb just shy of getting lost for the 3rd time, we saw tracks. These were not dog tracks. These were BEAR Tracks. They were about the size of my palm and amazing. I don’t have pictures as the Mountain didn’t appreciate the snow and ice. RIP Samsung.
Shortly after, I heard a rustle. I looked over, and 20 feet away his tail was up ready to spray his skunkiness right at us. But I got the photo. Soon, we were seeing houses of Sumerhaven, a place I have ridden on my TT to multiple times. The course wasn’t touched and we were falling and sliding all over the pace in Calf deep snow. But, it was awesome and I was having a blast. We ended up at the Cookie Cabin eating a veggie Calzone. So Good.
I ended up the night spending $215 on a new phone replacement at Best Buy and eating a Veggie Firehouse Sub and cookie. In bed by 10pm.
The USA doesn’t have a sense of community like Australia does. In general, people mostly just stick to themselves. It’s been hard on Fiona acclimating to this scene. But with Ultrarunning, I’m starting to build some great relationships.
Robert offered to drive and I gladly accepted who drove another mate of ours Fernando and an IRONMAN legend Billy via his son. I met them at 5:30AM and we drove the 1hr15min from Sahuarita to the middle of no-where past the Sonoita Border Patrol booth. Just outside of Kentucky Camp (an old 1880’s to 1900’s Gold Mining camp that went bankrupt in 1903 after the founder fell from a 3rd story window in Tucson. We joined 20 other runners in the darkness of morning. At 7:15 we headed off for one 25mile loop of the 50mile course I’ll be doing in 3 weeks time. I wore the same exact gear as the day before, and no, it wasn’t washed.
We headed off and the field spread out quickly. The entire run included tough 4×4 dirt roads, single lane track of the 800mile long Arizona Trail, and flowing trails through the gold fields. Roberts son had an aid station at mile 8 where I definitely was not vegan and divulged in the turkey wraps he had. Then, it was up a very steep climb where I said my first expletives on the day. It was only 313’ of climb followed by another 281’ in the next mile. But my pace was holding pretty steady in the mid 11’s and I was thinking I could crack 5 hours. Another aid station at mile 14 and more potato chips, wraps, and a coke. So good.
The light rain started 2 miles later as I watched the snow falling on Mt Wrighston, probably covering the 83year old man who has been missing for 4 days and now is a recovery mission. RIP mate.
The rain continued, I walked up the steeper sections but we had it all. From waist high grasses, to blazing frigged cross-wind, to foresty drops, and crazy technical 4×4 trails. Soon, there were multiple river crossings that I danced across like a little fairy. There were lots of cattle guards and gates. I had a couple near wipeouts but surprised myself feeling quite good at mile 20.
From the beginning I was thinking that this run would be longer than 25miles but that I would make it a marathon. I met the check-in where we started at 4:57 and 20.75 miles. But, I turned around and ran back where I came to make it a cool 26.2 in 5:01.
When I finished the run. I walked back signing in the log book and exploring the 120 year old Adobe huts. I ran 54.5miles this week, training 19hr38min on 935TSS; my biggest in nearly 6 months.
I love pushing myself. And, I realized today that I’m fit, and I’m resilient. I was never good at team sports or skilled sports but when I look back at my life, I realize that endurance was always something that was within me that hasn’t really shined until I found Marathons, IRONMANs, and now Ultra-marathons. The message I leave with you today is not the saying that to me is coming very clique “You can do anything” “Anything is Possible” “You can do anything you put your mind to” etc etc etc. My message would be this: You have a talent. There is something within you, that YOU are good at. It may not involve the Passion that I have, of pushing myself through swim, bike, and run. But YOU have a TALENT. Look back at your life. Cut out the bull shit and honestly see what you DO. Now go DO IT!!!