XTERRA McDowell Mountain Trail Run - Run

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Fountain Hills, Arizona
United States
39F / 4C
Total Time = 1h 42m 40s
Overall Rank = 1/196
Age Group = 35-39
Age Group Rank = 1/13
Pre-race routine:

Once again the awesome folks at Tribe Multisport were offering carpool to the race site and although they were rolling out at 5:15am (8am start) I decided to tag along with Julie, one of the owners. Before heading out the door I shoveled down my traditional cup of oats with bananas and brown sugar along with a cup or two of coffee. I wanted more coffee, especially considering the earliness of the day, but my Starbucks doesn't open til 5:30am on Sundays. Something to note for the future, Julie!

We were at the race site by 6am, got the canopy set up and just hung around chatting with friends and teammates as they showed up. It was pretty cold so I was thankful for the numerous propane heaters strung about and set up shop next to one at the Muscle Milk station where my Zoot teammate Jenna was working. A little later Bryan Dunn (BryanCD), our Team Zoot captain, showed up and we all hung out chatting for a bit.

At 7am I had a banana and 15 minutes before the start I took a peanut butter Hammer Gel. There wasn't much gel to it though as the cold had turned it pretty solid. Pretty much like squeezing a tootsie roll out of a toothpaste container. Duly noted for the race!
Event warmup:

Mile and half run through the park with a few efforts into race pace.
  • 1h 42m 40s
  • 15 miles
  • 06m 50s  min/mile

Super fun, that's the only way to explain this and it has less to do with the final result and everything to do with executing and racing with some great friends. On the Men's side of the race I had my Team Zoot Captain Bryan Dunn to line up next to along with my good friend and Tribe Multisport running guru Jake, two guys I've never had a shot at running alongside. We all lined up at the tape and off the gun the three of us, joined by another guy, established the pace at the front.

A mile in and Jake had established himself at the lead followed by someone else, and then not too far off their heels were Bryan and myself. I had made a mental note to sit in right around 160 on my heart rate as I felt that would set me up good for a strong finish. Around the two mile mark the one guy up front with Jake fell off pace and was gobbled up which left Jake, Bryan and myself running in 1,2,3. It was also at this point I, and probably Jake and Bryan as well, was waiting for the real runners (you know, those ultra studs out of Flagstaff that always win these things) to show up and go around us. We kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting and nothing. Holy crap, it's us three!

As we began the first real climb the mountain goat Jake started to put a bit of distance on us and another runner (come to find out his name is Todd) went around and was side by side with Jake. I was still following Bryan as we climbed to Dixie Mine and was sitting right around 155-158 on my HR. Following Bryan through the climb to Dixie Mine proved invaluable as it allowed me to keep my effort in check and not overrun so soon into the race, something I struggle with on trail races and climbing. Just kept telling myself "keep sitting in, keep sitting in and you'll hit Coach Whip fresh and perhaps you can start reeling in some real estate on the others".

At the 5.5 mile mark I decided to make my move around Bryan and I was back to running in third, with first and second a solid 30 seconds to a minute in front. Plenty of time and miles left to catch them, if I can. The awesome part about dropping into Dixie Mine is the turn around and subsequent climb back out. Well ok, the climb out really sucks but it gives you a chance to see everyone you are racing with since you are now back tracking. At the turn Jake gave me a high five and offered some words of encouragement and as I passed back by Bryan he did the same thing. "Dude, BryanCD is telling ME nice job!" He's been an idol of mine on here since I joined BT so it was that much more awesome hearing it from him.

As we continued to climb out the words of "nice job" and other exclamations from the other racers was absolutely awesome and I felt like a rock star. No worries, any time now one of those ultra kids from Flag is going to come blowing past me. Passed my friend Erin who was leading the women, then my teammate Robin running second and not too long til Julie from Tribe came running through as well. So great to see all the smiles and high fives from friends, this is what it's about.

Heading onto Coach Whip and nearing the next climb I could see someone else trailing me and new I had to tackle this climb with some resolve. At that point I told myself "this is where the race begins" and I hit the climb with a good effort, knowing there was plenty of recovery on the back side. Coming out of the climb I dropped into the descent and began to let it all out. When there was enough viewing area I looked behind me and saw nobody so I figured he must have really lost it on the climb up CW. I also noticed 1st place well off up front and Jake was out of reach as well.

"You've got 3rd overall so maybe just reel it in a little, don't blow it up and be happy with that" was the thought running through my mind. I mean one and two were GONE and I was running solidly in third. I considered it and then realizing we still had four and a half miles to go quickly ditched that idea and replaced it with "let's see if this dog will hunt".

The nice thing about McDowell is you usually have a super great view to see where everyone is and I had the best carrot ever in front of me, Jake, with his orange shirt faintly bobbing up into vision here and there. I was running but man, I wasn't gaining, or so I thought.

Things stayed pretty lock step as we climbed up to Tonto with four miles left to go. The Tonto section is super fast, falling just enough to let it out but never really enough to worry about losing control. Mile 12 and maybe I'm starting to catch Jake. Mile 12.5 and wow, I am starting to catch Jake, maybe I can take second instead of third. Mile 13 and Jake is making up ground on the leader but I'm still making up ground on Jake who is now roughly 50 yards ahead of me. It's at this time he is checking over his shoulder whenever there's a turn in the trail and I always catch a large smile from him. We are having fun now!

By mile 14 I pull up alongside Jake, he slaps my ass, says holy @#$@ and tells me to go get the leader. The leader is now just up front and there's a full mile left, it's time to actually win this thing! I'm making up ground huge on first place and by mile 14.5 he waves me past and tells me to go. We cross the road and with a quarter mile left I take a glance over my shoulder and see Jake running second now. "Sweet, we get to go 1-2 in this!".

As I broke out of the trail and headed to the finish line I still couldn't believe that I was crossing the line first. Truth be told, I almost puked in the last quarter mile but managed to hold it in and finish with a smile. Watching Jake and then Todd cross the finish line was amazing as we all shared smiles, laughs, congratulations and exclamations of how much fun those last few miles were.
What would you do differently?:

Not a single thing.
Post race
Warm down:

Congratulated some finishers as they came across, grabbed some water/gatorade and then went for an easy one mile cool down run.

After Bryan finished we met up and turns out his wife Jamie, and Team Zoot member, crushed it winning the 7k female overall spot. Bryan ended up first in his AG and Robin went 2nd female overall in the 15mile next to Erin. Great day for Zoot!

Event comments:

I can't say enough about the staff and volunteers at all these Xterra events. Absolutely first class and so much fun!

Profile Album

Last updated: 2014-02-03 12:00 AM
01:42:40 | 15 miles | 06m 50s  min/mile
Age Group: 1/13
Overall: 1/196
Performance: Good
Course: 15 mile loop through the McDowell Mountain park, utilizing the Pemberton, Dixie Mine, Coach Whip and Tonto trail systems. 80% hard packed trail with some sand washes here and there and a few rocky, technical sections; mainly fast though. First two miles are a slight descent followed by the first real climb into mile four, drop to mile 4.5 and then a good 2+ mile climb up to Dixie Mine. From there it's a fast, technical descent into Dixie Mine, turn around and climb back out. After climbing out of the Mine it's a short reprieve from climbing and then back up one of the steeper sections along Coachwhip, heading back towards Pemberton. The drop into Pemberton is super fast from miles 8.5 to 10 and then a bit of a climb up to mile 11.5 where you connect with Tonto Tank. From there it's let it all loose for the next 2.5 miles with a huge descent, groomed single trek and a wide open view that lends itself to checking out the rest of the field. Reconnect at 14 with Pemberton and it's a mostly sandy, level one mile run back where you came from to the finish line.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5