Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach 55K Race Report


Starting Line
It's just another race, what's there to be afraid of?

1. Getting lost: because I knew it was a small race and wasn't sure there would be other runners around to follow if I was unsure about the route, this was the part that I was worried about the most.

2. Wild animals: bears, mountain lions, bison, snakes.

3. The elevation: the course starts at 7500', goes up to 8500, down and up a little and down to 6500.

So with those three worries on my mind, who had time to worry about running 55K and whether or not trying fairly new fuel (it worked on an 18 miler so it should work on a 55K, right?) would work out!

Getting There: Since Flagstaff was on the way home back to Texas for my husband and I, who have been traveling in our RV for nearly 4 months, I ran the Stagecoach 55K trail race today which started in Flagstaff. The name of the race mentions the GC, but only the 100 mile racers ran up to the Grand Canyon (Tusayan, actually, which is south of the GC).

Before the Start

Expo/Packet Pick-up: Picking up my big and finisher's shirt at the running store in Flagstaff was easy and only took about three minutes!

Weather: 40's to mid 80's, sunny

Course: Most of the course ran along the Arizona Trail, but not all of it did so I was afraid of getting lost. However, the course was very well marked. I did get lost for maybe just under a mile total, along with 2 other runners (maybe we were chatting and not paying attention), but when we found the course again, I couldn't believe we took a wrong turn with all of the flags marking the right turn.

Fuel Pre-race: pancake (woke up hungry at 2:30 AM and I've heard Meb eats in the middle of the night before races to keep his blood sugar level, fell asleep again), Rice Chex and apple sauce (3 hours before start), which left me a little hungry at the start

Fuel During the Race: 7 servings (almost 2 flasks) EFS Liquid Shot (berry), 2 Hammer gels from aid station. After mile 21, I was really tired of sugar! With only 2 full aid stations (mile 9.5 and 21) and one water only station (mile 24), I needed to be fairly self-sufficient so I wore my 40 ounce Camelback hydration pack, but I still ran out of water twice (before mile 21 and the finish).

Gear: Mizuno Wave Kazan trail shoes (a recent great buy for $50 at Fort Collins, CO, Runners Roost store),  Skirt Sports Women's Adventure Girl Skirt, Thorlo Experia socks, Cabella's XPG performance shirt that wicks moisture.


Zoe Anxiously Awaiting the Race or Wishing She Was in the Warm Car
Summary:

I'm happy that I didn't run into any wild animals and getting lost wasn't too bad - bonus miles, or one anyway! I only wish I hadn't gotten lost in a hot and unshaded place! The elevation didn't seem too bad. I was so busy trying to run a fast pace during the mountain section and enjoying the shade and trees!

I loved running through the forest for the first 20 miles, but the section after that was unshaded and desert-like and seemed to go on forever once my Garmin died and I didn't know what mile I was running in was tough. There were sections so full of rocks that I had to walk. I'd rather be running! At least I wore a regular watch (I thought my Garmin 220 battery would die), so I knew the time.

The End:

When I finally saw the finish line and checked the time (3:53), I realized that I needed to hustle to make it in under 8 hours. My husband arrived at the finish just in time to see me. I heard him cheer for me, crossed the line and Ian Torrence, the race director, shook my hand and congratulated me. I finished in 7:55, giving me a sub 8 hour race. All I felt was happiness and exhaustion!

Comments

  1. CONGRATULATIONS Tina!!!! I loved reading this! Well I love reading all your posts about running. What a fun race and even better to finish sub 8! Has it been 4 months already? Are you ready to go home or not quite yet? You've had some amazing running adventures on your trip!

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    1. Thanks, Kate! Traveling has been fun, but it will be nice to be home and to be in one place for awhile!

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  2. Wow, kudos to you for running for over 7 hours! I don't even know if i've ever been on my feet standing for a full 7 hours without sitting down!

    I think my biggest fear would be seeing wild animals. Glad you didn't encounter any!

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    1. Towards the end, I might have dreamed there were horses wandering around the trail or maybe they were real! (We ran on some ranch land.)

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  3. Congratulations! I'm amazed that you ran what sounds like a really tough race and did great, all after being on the road traveling for 4 months. That's so awesome!

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    1. Thanks, I think the traveling was good training- lots of hills!

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  4. You guys have had such a wonderful 4 month adventure, capped off by this great race! Congratulations! We looked up the race website and you are right - the first 20 miles looked lovely running through the forest but the part through the bare, open, unshaded desert - well, looked HOT. Too hot for us! Thank you for sharing your terrific summer adventures!

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    1. It would be a great 20 mile race course! I don't know how the hundred mile runners do it unless it becomes forested again. At least it would cool down later in the day and through the night. But if the trail is as rocky as what I ran on, I'm pretty sure I'd have a few falls then!

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  5. Wow! GREAT JOB! I am too nervous to try something like that on my own. I am kind of known for getting lost. When I did my only ultra, I took a wrong turn--the kicker was that it was a 5k loop through a state park. I took a wrong turn on lap 5--how does that even happen??? I was very thankful that an official saw me head off in the wrong direction.
    How do your legs feel now? I can't imagine running that long!
    PROUD OF YOU!!

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    1. Now that I've taken a wrong turn twice, I can tell you that getting lost with other people is so much better than being alone! ; ) My legs are okay unless I sit for too long. Moving is good!

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  6. HUGE CONGRATS!!!! That is awesome, what a fun way to end your trip with a race like this!
    Your photo's are like always, beautiful!!! Trail running is a lot of fun, but so much more work than a street race, I think you did fabulous!!!
    Great job, and great way to begin your trip back home!!!

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    1. Thank you! I'm so glad that I was able to do three races on this vacation. Too fun!

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  7. Holy crud, that is so stinking amazing. I can not even imagine running an ultra.

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    1. Oh yeah, Abby, you could do it!

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  8. Congrats on a great race! Beautiful course as usual, I'm sure even with the small detour :)

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    1. I loved running through the trees even though that was the hilly section. Getting lost in AZ- bonus miles!

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  9. Wow!! Congratulations on a great race :) You are amazing. The course sounds great expect for the dessert like part, shade makes such a huge difference when it is warm, it is the best part of trail running.
    What am awesome 4 month adventure! I enjoyed seeing all your pictures from your travels. Do you have a favorite spot? I really loved the your CO and Utah pictures..really beautiful.

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    1. Thanks! A couple of my favorites are Rocky Mountain and Glacier National Parks. I love the woods!

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  10. I like what you said about being tired of sugar - that's a good point. I'm a dietitian and I'm always coaching runners on their pre-, during, and post- race nutrition. I love Meb - but I need my sleep. Pre-race or long runs, I usually have an extra carb pre-bed snack. Congrats on your race!

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    1. Thank you! The only good thing about waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep was that I could test out middle of the night eating!

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  11. Wow, excellent race, Tina! Heck, I get tired of eating GUs while running 26.2 marathons! I can't imagine fueling for an ultra. I would probably pack some cold pizza in my backpack and try to fuel with that ;)

    Beautiful place to run! Congrats on the sub-8 hour finish!
    Amy @ http://www.livinglifetruth.com/

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    1. I wish I would have had time to take pictures of the woods for my blog. There were lots of good snacks at the aid stations, but this time, I was hoping the EFS would get me through nicely... I did want some Coke, but they didn't have flat Coke. Maybe next time I'll give Coke a try- flat or not!

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  12. What beautiful country to run a long run in! I am glad the trip back through worked out for you to race.
    Great details about fueling. I have better luck on mostly just sugar so far. Coke is THE BEST after long run, I might drink too much at an aid station though. Maybe you can put a cold stash for yourself if they have a drop station?
    Looks like your long runs did the trick! Hopefully you are recovering well!

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    1. So glad I got in 3 great races on this vacation- 10k, Marathon and this 55k. Yes, recovering now and taking it easy!

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  13. Wow Tina! Great job! And under 8 hours? I can't believe they didn't have more fueling stations then that. I guess for a long race like that you really have to do your homework and come prepared! Congrats on the finish!

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    1. Sometimes it's hard to estimate how much water you'll need. You don't want to carry too much weight during an ultra, but you don't want to run out either. Still learning! I'm so glad I ran this one!

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  14. Congrats on finishing what sounds like a very tough race! I've never heard of an ultra having so few aid stations (not a criticism, just an observation). I do not think I would do well with running out of water while running an ultra in a desert.

    Pretty cool way to cap off your epic RV trip! You have run so many cool races and in so many awesome places these past few months. Awesome!

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    1. The races were great! I miss running somewhere new all of the time, but I'm not missing all of the planning. It's nice to be home!

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  15. Love race recaps... I lap up all those little details! Enjoyed reading this and congrats on such an awesome achievement!

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    1. Thank you! It was a great experience!

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