Saturday, May 19, 2018

Dam Good (Dam Insane) 40K Run - April 22, 2018

"They weren't Scottsdale cougars, they were hyenas," Sara observes as we leave the second stop of Friday evening, "They weren't even from Scottsdale." She is giving Emaad and I a tour of the night gathering places of Scottsdale's beautiful people. Her observation is well taken, as there are several women trying to contain too much flesh with too little fabric. But we have had a drink and a bite to eat and we are ready for more nightlife.

Our next stop, the Ocean Club (the Pacific Ocean is 300 miles away, so why the name?), is quite different.  It is located in Scottsdale's version of San Jose's Santana Row. Walking in is like being in a movie. The main floor is a couple of steps down, so we can see the entire floor.  It's packed, with a small band playing on the left, tables on several tiers to the right, and a semi-circular bar protruding from the back wall. As in a movie, the crowd seems to part as we make our way to the bar.  Drinks in hand, we observe the groups and couples around us. A younger woman sits with an older man next to the piano. His hands rub the outside of her thighs; her hands massage the tops of his. She slips a $20 into the tip jar for the band. I don't see if it came from her purse or his wallet. We speculate on the nature of their relationship. Greg, Sara's husband joins us at the Ocean Club.  After another drink or two, the band with lead male singer Giovanni winds up its sets, and we call it a night.

Earlier on Friday, Emaad and I had take a road trip to Sedona to view the red rocks, hike a bit and visit the vortexes to recharge our . . . whatever energy one gets from vortexes. Sedona is crowded and while we get close to a couple of the vortex locations, we never quite get centered on one. But the scenery is good and we have a tasty lunch, including cactus fries, at the Cowboy Club Grille. We stop at a craft fair in a parking lot in Oak Creek, just south of Sedona, where a vendor tries in vain to sell us crystals, "you put this next to your bed and it blocks the harmful rays from your cell phone while you sleep. And it cures headaches, too."

Saturday Sara takes us on a quick tour of her horse-friendly neighborhood and points out Hoover to us when we drive by where he lives. Hoover is a Bactrian (two-humped) camel. When we ask why anyone would own a camel, Sara gives the obvious answer, "Because they can."

Dam Nice Run
Emaad and I are up early for our drive to Lake Pleasant Regional Park, where the Dam Good Runs are being held. There are five of them:  40 Km (Dam Insane), which I am doing; the  26 Km (Dam Crazy), which Emaad is doing; the 13 Km (Dam Tough) which Sara is doing, and the 4 Mile (Dam Challenging) and 2 Mile (Dam Fun).
Emaad and I at the Start/Finish Line Pre-race

Since we arrive for the first race we park less than 50 yards from the start, pick up our bibs, slather on sunscreen and watch the sun come up over the mountains to the east of the lake. It is sunny but the temerature is in the upper 60s, although we know that won't last long.

At 6:30 the sixty-one 40K runners set off.  The 26K starts a half hour later and the 13K 30 minutes after that, so I won't see Emaad and Sara during my run. I'm comfortably near the back of the group.

We run on a road and then over the New Waddell Dam, built in 1993. The first dam was begun in 1895 and finished in 1927 and each subsequent has gotten longer and higher. The dam is generally not open for traversing.  A road continues on the other side, and after about two miles of pavement, we double back on the other side of a fence on the dirt trail. A left turn takes us onnto the Maricopa Trail and down a dry wash away from the dam. Some gentle up and down for a few miles takes us to Agua Fria aid station (mile 5.3).  I get there in 1:02, drink some water, eat some chips and M&Ms and move on. I'm surprised to see a timing mat there, something unusual for a trail run.
Typical Trail Scenery with Saguaro Cactus

The trail crosses the Agua Fria River on a small wooden bridge, more like some planks, through dense overgrowth. It is a bit of a run through a jungle as the growth forms a canopy over the trail and the temperature is appreciably cooler. But that lasts for only 50 yards or so and we come out on the Old Lake Pleasant Road, run uphill on it for a short bit and cross it onto the Beardsley Trail on the other side.

It's approaching 8 a.m. and the weather is definitely getting warm under a cloudless sky. The trail is not technical, but there are plenty of small rocks embedded in it as it winds through the scrub..  We encounter a couple of bicyclists coming in the opposite direction, but everyone is polite. A couple of miles past Agua Fria the first of the 26K runners fly past, and more will do so as we go on.

On the Maricopa Trail
(courtesy of Aravaipa Running)
I say we, but by and large I'm running by myself. The 54 runners have now gotten fairly spaced out, and although I occasionally catch up to someone and someone catches up to me, it is a day to run alone.
In five miles I arrive at the Two Cow aid station (mile 10.3) in an elapsed time of 2:07.  I refill my Nathan get some more things to eat and head out again.

At Two Cow aid station outbound
A couple of miles and 25 minutes brings us to the aid station at Scorpion Bay (mile 11.9). This is the turn-around point for the 26K runners and we see a number of them headed back while we are still headed out. Once again it is a chance to refuel before heading onto the Pipeline Canyon trail for the turnaround at the Cottonwood aid station.

In about a mile we come to the floating bridge over Pipeline Cove. The bridge is steel decked and doesn't bounce around while running across it. On the other side there are a number of horseback riders and we are careful to let them know we are there and to ask permission to go by, as horses have the right of way.

After about two miles I come to a trail intersection and become a bit confused.  The trail to the right seems to lead toward Yavapai Point, and I can see runners over there, but a sign says "wrong way."  I consult with a hiker and head straight but don't see any ribbons marking the trail so I stop and double back toward the intersection. A couple of runners come toward me and indicate that straight is correct and we head that way. I leap frog with them, as one is starting to get tired from the heat.  I get the the Cottonwood aid station (mile 15, elapsed time 3:26) ahead of them. As I replenish the fluids in my Nathan, dunk my hat and handkerchief in water, apply sunscreen and eat some oranges and watermelon they arrive.  The one woman sits down and declares her day done.
Floating Bridge at Pipeline Cove

The other woman introduces herself as Siggy and we head out for the return journey which includes a 400 foot climb to the top of Yavapai Point. Another woman passes us as we begin the ascent.  Siggy drops back. The other woman stops to give her water pack to a runner coming down.  She explains that he is her boyfriend and his waterpack had sprung a leak and he is out of water. Given that the sun is high in the sky, there is no shade and the temperature is reaching 90 degrees it is not a good situation to be in.  I offer to share my water with her but she happily explains that she is carrying plenty of extra.
Headed Down from Yavapai Point
(courtesy of Aravaipa Running)

It is a long climb up the single-track and switchbacks to the top but the views are well worth it.  Just as I head back down I meet Siggy coming up.  She get to me and sits on a rock. She does not look good.  I ask her if she has taken any salt.  She says only in Gatorade.  I give her a Succeed salt tablet and suggest that she might want to sit under the bench at the top to get some shade.  On the way down I cross paths with a couple of hikers and ask them to check on her when they get to the top.

Fire-scorched cactus 
 On the way down I pass several more runners still on the way to the summit. We exchange greetings and continue of our respective ways.

On the trail I grow weary of the hard rocky ground. With some experimentation I conclude that stepping on the horse pies (not the fresh ones) provides much softer footing.

Cactus in Bloom

Riders Ahead!

Another view of Lake Pleasant


Another cactus bloom.

 I make the turn onto Pipeline Canyon Trail and head toward Scorpion Bay.  A woman sits fishing on the floating bridge and I joke with her that I might take that up as a new pastime.  She reminds me that she had to hike in to the bridge.

Pipeline Canyon Trail from the Yavapai Trail.
Approaching Scorpion Bay aid station (mile 20.2, elapsed time 5:04) the shadow of a buzzard crosses the trail in front of me. Ominous perhaps, I think, although I can see the aid station. I repeat my now familiar aid station routine of oranges and watermelon and hat and hankerchief dipping, and get a bonus from the aid station workers who put ice in my hat. I comment on the advantage that a female friend has of putting ice in her running bra, and the female aid station volunteers agree that it is a definite plus.

Two Cow Aid Station inbound. Siggy on left.
This time it takes 31 minutes to go the 1.6 miles between Scorpion Bay and Two Cow( mile 21.8, elapsed time 5:36), compared to the 25 minutes in the opposite direction earlier in the day. and while I go thru my now familiar aid station routine, Siggy comes in. and she thanks me profusely for the salt tablet I gave her up on the point. It's rejuvenated her.

Lake Pleasant from the trail.
We head out together for the last three miles to the finish. A little bit of leapfrogging, and not a lot of taking, but just being together helps keep both of us moving.  I give her an estimate of how long I think it will take to finish. We head up what seems like a long climb that actually isn't and her friend who had dropped at Cottonwood walks toward us.  In a little bit I see Emaad coming toward me.

I get to the Park Road where a Maricopa County deputy is stationed to assure safe crossing. I stop, face him and launch into a rap inspired by Junior Brown's Highway Patrol:
"You have a star on your car,
And one on your chest,
A gun on your hip,
And the right to arrest,
You're the boss on this road,
So I do what you say,
When you tell me to cross,
I'll be on my way."

He waves me across and with that I run the last 100 yards to the finish.
I finish in 6:31:17, first (and only) in my age group; 35 of 39 males; 48 of 56 finishers. Five runners did not finish.

Siggy is about 40 seconds behind me. After meeting up with her husband, child and dog she comes over to me and thanks me again for the salt tablet.  I resist the urge the take a dip in the lake. Emaad and I get in the car, drive back to our hotel, clean and rest up and go to Sara's for dinner.