Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Jemez Mountain Trail run 50K, 05/16/09

The Jemez Mtn. Trail runs caught my attention several months ago and when Tom Bowling mentioned he was thinking of running this race I said count me in! Kelli Newlon and Brian Ricketts also said they'd like to run so we planned what turned out to be a great trip.
We arrived in Albuquerque on Thursday and ran some of the Sandia trail Friday morning. We were not planning on this run but I am glad we did run. I think this helped prepare my lungs for what was to come the next day. I felt like I really experienced the saying "sucking wind."
Saturday morning we arrived at the start early enough to relax, prepare our gear and hit the port "o" potties. I met Lino from Austin and Amy from El Paso. We talked about the running venues in our areas and how the altitude might affect our performance, but we agreed we were out to have fun.
I no longer run for time, "I run for a good time."
I wished Kelli and Tom a good race and asked them to take care. Brian has been at this altitude before having run White River and paced at Leadville. I wished him well.
The race began on the road but quickly, we turned off on to the trail, through a short tunnel and started the climb up Guaje ridge. The trail was soft single track dirt. There must have been a recent rain because I noticed animal tracks. As I paused to check one out more closely another runner stopped and said "Mountain Lion." Think so? "Yup" he said that's mountain lion. A bit further I saw a bear print. I know it was a bear print. The claws were well defined on a print about 8" long and 6" wide. I regret not taking a photo.
As we climbed I met another HCTR. John from Austin. We talked and mostly power hiked up Guaje ridge. Brian was closely up ahead. Tom was feeling it and moving out of sight. Kelli, well, kelli just took off as she usually does.
Soon we were running along a mountain stream. We caught up with Lino, another HCTR, who had sprained his ankle and said it was now going to be a walk for him. Crossing the stream several times with short jumps we quickly were at the base of Caballo Mountain. This WAS going to be a walk! Very narrow,steep single track. Runners were descending the mountain as we were going up. My quads and hammies were working! Trying to give way to the runners coming down was tricky at times. Here I saw Joe, Diana, Michael and Henry. Kelli was looking good running down the mountain and said " I feel good, but my legs are shot." Tom was still smiling as he descended. Up at the top of Caballo the view was spectacular! Brian and I took pictures. We checked in, posed for a pic and we were off to descend the mountain. I felt great and was moving pretty good going down. Some of the turns on the switchbacks were sharp and a bit tricky with loose dirt.
No sooner had we run down Caballo we were on the way up again on our way to the pipeline aid sation. Here we saw Robert Heynan. On to the Ski lodge. Approaching the Ski lodge we ran through a beautiful mountain meadow. Pine trees and aspens in the distance made for a lovely sight. At the Ski lodge I ATE! On long runs I prefer real food instead of gels, bars, and gummies. Here I had three portions of turkey cheese and ham wraps, boiled potatoes and two cups of coke. I headed out back to pipeline but was too full to run. That was fine with me. I was enjoying the views and wished for a moment that I could stay up on this mountain meadow for a little longer. I saw Amy again here and she was still smiling!
Back at pipeline it was only 11 miles to the finish. Brian had pulled away from me and was moving well. I realized I may not make it to the finish under the 9 hours I had hoped for, but at this point I didn't care I was enjoying the experience. It was mostly a power hike from here on out. I was alone enjoying the cool breeze and the beautiful views, occasionally stopping to take a picture. The photos don't begin to show the true beauty of these mountains. Suddenly a strong wind blew through the trees making a noise that sounded like a screeching animal. I dismissed this as just the wind, but I did look over my shoulder several times just to make sure. Another runner came upon me and mentioned the wind whistling through the trees, saying it was God saying "good job, keep it going, you are doing well."
Reaching the next to the last aid station I decided to finally remove my left shoe to remove the rock I thought was under my foot. No rock there, it was a blister!
Oh well, it's almost over. Almost over? OH NO! Although the course was challenging I was enjoying it.
The last 6 miles were descending down Guaje ridge. Rockier than most of the trail I had covered. A portion of rocky Jeep trail seemed like running on uneven concrete.
Coming up to the end, the trail went over and through boulder like rocks. I made it to the finish line. I heard Lino yell at me "TONY!" What a Great feeling to finish among friends. 9:25 and change. Too bad it had to end.
What an incredibly beautiful and challenging course. Words and photos cannot describe the true beauty of this course.
Beautiful, challenging, rough and tough trails along with camaraderie. Isn't that what you want from a trail run?
I do.

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