JonRoig.com | Posted: 2009-02-18 09:21:51 | 3295 hits | View in Hi-Fi Mode
Pemberton... at some point, you pretty much have to run there, if you run in the valley. I encountered it pretty early as I got into trail running and found it... I don't know. A little boring?
Basically, it's a 15 mile loop through the middle of the desert, out kind of by Fountain Hills. It's a great straight-up athletic trail -- well groomed, easy to follow, very runnable -- but it's not, like, somewhere you'd really want to go hiking.
As I experimented with different trails and whatnot around the Valley, I ended up doing Pemberton a few times by myself, just out there on some warm mornings, slowly working my way through the undulating twists and turns. It seems to go on forever. There are always snakes. There are no vistas, nothing really one could call a high point.
So... it'd been awhile since I ran there. Time does wonders for one's memories of a trail. I volunteered during the Pemberton 50k last year, then again at the midnight to 8:00 am shift of the Javalina Jundred, so I was actually feeling pretty good about this race.
Of course, I signed up at the last minute, since I wasn't sure that was something I wanted to do. I mean, two loops around that thing. Ugh.
Still, it's an easy race to get to and it looked like fun last year, so, why not?
It was just a perfect morning for a run. It was 32 degrees before dawn as I rolled through Fountain Hills, maybe even colder out there in the desert. There was a fire to hang out by and keep warm.
About 200 people started the race... according the Race Director, the split was about 50-50 in terms of men vs. women.
I just had a really good run! I got off to a quicker start then I should have, but just kind of settled into a groove behind Honey Albrecht for awhile. There's something about running in packs... it just makes it easier. Plus, she's run that course about a billion times, I'm sure.
The whole thing went really smoothly. I was gobbling down the Gu that I stashed in the waistband of my shorts at a rate of about 1 ever thirty minutes. Since the race is two loops around the Pemberton Trail, I had a bunch of cliff shots stashed there for extra nutrition. At each aid station, I grabbed a fistful of those orange gel candies and kept moving. My Ultimate Direction bottle was more than enough water, for whatever reason.
It's a tough course... it lulls you in, being so runnable and all. Each loop is like 1,800 feet of climbing and descent, so it grinds you down over time. At no point, really, did I have to stop and walk to climb a hill or anything like that.
By the time of the second loop, I stripped off my long sleeve shirt and settled into a groove... I lost Honey at an aid station and just continued forward 'till I hit the next guy, then, the next guy after him.
I felt super strong in the last five, way better than I would have expected. Finished with a smile, although I think I ran head-on into the sign they had over the finish line.
Took sixth overall, first in my age group... only because the guy who won, Josh Brimhall, took the overall winner prize, and the other guys were masters. I received a water bottle for my efforts, which is pretty sweet. The official time was 4:22:17, an 8:27 pace... which for out there, isn't half bad.
So... obviously, I'm liking the Pemberton Trail a lot more now. Old Pueblo will largely be a repeat of this race -- same people, only tougher terrain.
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