Another one in the books. This wasn’t my best race but it wasn’t my worst.
There. Is that enough of a summation? No? Oh OK then.
For those that don’t know, the La Luz Trail run is 9 miles up the Sandia Mountains here in ABQ, NM and the elevation profile looks like this:
It was a beautiful day for a race. It was cool and clear in the morning but not cold. How could it be cold in NM? In August.
Race start was at 7 so I went to bed plenty early the night before. I got up at 6, did some light stretching, had a glass of juice and a piece of peanut butter toast. I had two large poops (what is it about race day? My body always knows when I’m racing), grabbed my water bottle and headed for the door.
Lisa dropped me off at the start and headed back to round everyone else up to meet me at the peak. I wandered up to the start, continued stretching and bang! We were off.
The first 1.8 miles are road leading to the trail-head. I think this is the most difficult section. It is about 7-10% Grade, it is long and feels really slow to me. It is also a really crucial section. This is where you determine your place in line when you hit the trail. Once you hit there trail there is still some passing available (if you are assertive) but for the most part you’re kind of in your spot due to the single-track width of most of the trail.
Looking back I could probably have pushed it a little bit harder here and gotten into a better position on the trail but I was actually consciously running with a mind of being able to run strong the entire time. More on this later.
I hit the trail and pretty much found my groove. I kept running and only power-hiked in a few places, primarily the boulder field. I struck up a conversation with a fellow runner whom I knew loosely from the hospital and another who overheard where I was working now asked if we were hiring. It is an amiable world on the trail if you are open to it.
I slowed as the elevation piled on, but I was pretty much able to run it in Except for those god-damned stairs)
and as I crested the peak I was greeted warmly by not only the sun, but many cheering faces, most importantly my family including my mother, her husband and my nephew who were visiting.
So official time is 2:17:54. That’s a long time for nine miles but it is over 4k feet of gain so I’m OK with that. I had hoped to crack the 2hr mark this year. Instead I ended up 3 minutes slower than last year. I could come down on myself for this (and I was tempted) I was really very proud of how the race turned out. Let me tell you why.
That’s my heart rate for the entire race. Apart from the two spikes (which very neatly coincide with hitting the trail and the beginning of the boulder field) I maintained a fairly consistent HR and averaged 165. That seems like solid gains. Upon initiating HR training with the Garmin, the fucking thing would go off if I got out of bed, but I was able to run a 2+ hour race up the side of a mountain and effectively maintain a thresh-hold heart rate.
I’ll count that as a win.
I love this race and I’ll run it as long as I can (and if I get in the lottery). I highly recommend anyone looking for a challenge and some beautiful scenery put your name in the lottery. You just might get in and it’ll be worth it. (There’s always breakfast burritos at the crest so it’s worth a fuck ton of effort).
See you at the top.