Monday, 27 March 2017

A Little Update :-)

With just under 2 weeks until my next race, I am feeling ready to race and ready to race hard. It took me a little longer to recover from the Black Canyon Ultra back in February - a minor niggle going into the race was further aggravated by the 30 mile climb back to the finish line which meant a reduction in both mileage and intensity post race whilst I tried to get my right leg feeling something like normal. Lots of stretching and rolling and shorter, slower runs on flatter terrain seems to have helped tremendously, and although my leg isn't 100%, it is far better than it was a few weeks ago.

Despite me taking things a little easier these past few weeks, I have thankfully still been able to make it out on the trails. With all the rain during the winter months followed by glorious sunshine and higher temperatures, the desert looks lush and green and the spring flowers have certainly put on a spectacular blooming show for us all this year. I have never seen so much colour, and the mix of yellows, purples, reds and oranges has been breathtaking, so much so that I've found myself stopping every 100 yards or so to snap photos of the sheer beauty of the Sonoran Desert right now.





Of course with the higher temperatures, the snakes are out and I have already seen 3 rattlesnakes in the past couple of weeks. The first two seemed pretty dormant and half asleep, but the latest one was huge, well fed and angry! With pretty much all of my runs being solo runs, I always try to stay alert when out on the trails, looking and listening for our slithery friends, but on this occasion whilst I had heard him, I didn't see him straight away as he blended in so well on the trail. He stubbornly sat coiled up in the middle of the trail, head raised, tail raised and rattling away, and we had a standoff for almost 10 minutes before I backed away and left him to his business. 

I'm also excited to say that I have managed to get a run in with Wilson and we spent a whopping 8 miles of running together on one of the cooler days last week. We ran mostly on the roads simply because the trails are very rocky and cause sore paws plus Wilson always runs ahead of me and I worry about encountering a snake and him not stopping in time, but we did manage a couple of miles on the trails and he absolutely loved it!



Our other wonderful pup Brandy doesn't like to run so much these days - she's a big girl and running puts far too much pressure on her joints - but not wanting her to miss out, I've taken advantage of cooler temperatures when they've been here and have done quite a few hikes with both Wilson and Brandy, particularly with Andy working away so much at the moment. These two are amazing company and help me to maintain some level of sanity when I'm home alone, and I love it when they snuggle up with me on an evening and make everything seem alright.





My running is also my therapy and it really helps my body, mind and soul to get in their right place. Last week I did my highest mileage week for a few months and although my legs felt tired, I felt great in general. I have recently been trying to lose a bit of weight and have lost half a stone in the past 7 weeks and I am really noticing the difference when I'm running at the moment. I attempted a bit of a speed session earlier in the week - 4 x 1 mile repeats - and although the 6.25 minute miling pace I was managing is nowhere near what I used to be capable of, it certainly gave me a bit of a confidence boost that with a little work and effort, I may just be able to get some of my road speed back.

Feeling positive and confident about my running, rightly or wrongly I put my name forward for consideration for the British Team at the World Trail Championships that take place in June. Despite having ran for GB on numerous occasions in the past, I am still extremely cynical about their selection process and I was under no illusions that I would get the call up. I wasn't able to compete in the trial race as it was in the UK and I wasn't that desperate to get on the team as to hop a plane to run the Haworth Hobble. However, I HAD done several 50km races during the selection period with the same level of ascent and had finished in decent times. However, with just 6 places up for grabs and with the top 3 ladies from the trials being guaranteed selection, I already knew they wouldn't want me on the team even though my 50k times were comparable. I didn't make the team which came as no surprise (I really AM cynical but I do have my reasons!) and within half an hour of receiving the email, I was already planning a summer of racing across Utah, Colorado and Wyoming.

One of the other things I'm trying to get more involved with this year is volunteering at some of the Aravaipa Races (thanks for the nudge Adam!) something that I have missed doing for the past year or so. As a member of Trentham Running Club, I spent several years as a committee member and helping out with the Trentham 10, and then in Canada, I got involved with trail maintenance and volunteered at the Moose Mountain Races a couple of times. I'm always happy to help out and to give something back to the sport I love and being a volunteer gives you a completely different perspective of the race.

My first volunteer stint here in Phoenix came at the Mesquite Canyon Trail Races a couple of weeks ago. These races are held in the White Tank Mountains, and area I hadn't been to before, and it was absolutely beautiful! It was scorching hot that weekend with temperatures in the mid 90's. I had put my name down to do the final sweep of the 50km course - 10 miles of hiking/jogging whilst clearing trail trash and removing course markings. Starting at 2pm, we were out in the heat of the day, but along with my volunteer partner Hollie, we had an amazing few hours chatting and getting to know each other and having a jolly good time. The views were outstanding and Ford Canyon was certainly impressive - this race is sure to be on the cards for me next year! This coming Saturday is the Crown King Scramble and once again, I will be helping out, this time on race day registration which starts at 4.30am! The nice thing is that I put Andy's name down too, so we both get the chance to be involved and being at Lake Pleasant, we can take Wilson and Brandy with us and treat them to a hike and a swim once we've completed our shift :-)

So with summer plans in progress and with the Whiskey Basin 88km race fast approaching, I am getting a little excited. I'm particularly excited about this race as I love Prescott and I'm feeling pretty good about it as things stand. This year I have deliberately chosen races that bring greater competition which will hopefully make me have a better race, and Whiskey Basin is no exception with some quality ladies - and men - registered, including team mates from the Aravaipa Racing Team. I'm just hoping that Andy doesn't get called away for work as we have booked a lovely little stone cottage for the weekend to chill out both before and after the race with the dogs, but otherwise I'm really looking forward to what will hopefully be a great race and a superb weekend with family and friends :-)




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