Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cactus Cha Cha Trail Run

Race Report: Cactus Cha Cha trail run by Chad Sayban.

Anyway, Eric, Lori and I arrived at the parking lot about an hour before the start. The wind was blowing pretty hard off of the mountain side and it felt pretty darn cold. I know, all of you northerners are going to say 'cold, what are you talking about?' True enough, but when you have just lived through an Arizona summer of 100+ degree days and all of a sudden it's in the 50s, that is a big change...and cold.

Lori headed off first running the 3 mile race and did very well. Eric and I got ready to toe the line for the 7-mile race. I had some anxiety going in. Not only hadn't I raced in more than six months, I was 15 pounds heavier, had only been back running for three weeks and hadn't run anything longer than 4 miles on flat pavement yet. Ok, now that I have laid out all of the excuses, on with the race.

I staged myself towards the back, not wanting to get in anyone's way. I ended up passing a whole bunch of people early as I tried to find space on the narrow trail. I ended up running with Eric for a little while. The first mile and a half are a gradual uphill and was right into the teeth of the wind. I decided about halfway to back off my pace because I knew that the effort of this course was closer to running a 10-miler than seven. Eric was feeling good and continued ahead. I never saw him again until after the finish. He has made such amazing strides in the last two years, it is hard to describe. I settled into a conservative pace and really thought of the run as a long workout rather than a race. I knew I would even approach the 1:02 I ran last year. I was just happy to be out with all of the other runners. The group I ended up with was very quiet, which was fine because I was doing a lot of thinking about where my running had gone and where I was now heading. I had no real trouble with the largest climb and cruised through the first five miles. The last two miles were more of a struggle. Nothing hurt, I was just really tired. That was to be expected given my current level of fitness. I felt awesome as I crossed the finish line, knowing I really was officially back in the sport.


One big surprise was at the awards ceremony and raffle. Near the end, John the Race Director - who is a wonderful man and does so much to support running in the Phoenix area - gave out a special award to the 12 people who have competed in all 5 runnings of the Cactus Cha Cha. I now have a long-sleeved, hooded sweatshirt with the race logo. Such a very cool thing for him to do for all of us. The race has really evolved over that time from an almost club-like run to a fantastically run race with prize money and a loyal following. You can be that I'll be running the next five just to find out what he does for the 10-year runners.

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