First Gaspin’ in the Aspen for this girl. Very first 15K, too. For the record ~ I was very nervous!
Packet pickup ran smoothly outside of Kickstand Kafe last night. The technical Adidas shirt in a women’s cut is just awesome! Here is a quick pick of the race’s logo on the front…
I woke up to my alarm at 6:00 after a miserable night’s sleep: mishaps with the covers and our neighbor’s crazy dog. Last minute decisions about what to wear for the race were made (long sleeves? arm sleeves? water belt? hand held bottle?). I drank a cup of coffee and packed a cup for after the race, ate a slice of toast with PB&J, and we were on the road by 7:20 for an 8:00 start. Our IPhones said the weather was supposed to be sunny, but that wasn’t the case. It was cool, crisp, and overcast. To me that is perfect Flagstaff running weather.
Local High School students helped us with parking at the Flagstaff Nordic Center. I put on sunscreen, took a trip to the port-a-potty, and then made my way over to the start. Everyone was warming up, or jumping up and down trying to stay warm.
Ian Torrence, our race director who did a bang-up job, made a few announcements right before the race and we were off!
The 5K split from the 15K right away. The trails were varied: wide, narrow single track, tire tracks, grassy, rocky, smooth… but all were very well marked throughout the course. We had three large hills to charge through and they did not disappoint. “Gaspin’” is right! Not only were the hills no joke, but the race started at 7,976 feet according to my Garmin and peaked at 8,319 feet. I can only imagine how it would have felt for an out-of-towner to have to climb 684 total feet at that elevation! I know how I felt! Running down those hills made me feel like I could fly…
The race was peaceful – runners around me, but not crowded. I love that about trail racing: solitude, quiet, and peace. There were 4 aid stations with folks handing out Gatorade and water. The volunteers were cheerful and prepared.
At one point in the race a girl who had passed me only a few minutes earlier took a wrong turn. I stopped and a few of us shouted to her to come back. Thankfully she wasn’t wearing earphones and she heard us and turned around. Crisis averted! Right around that time I met a friendly woman named Corine who writes the blog Zucchini Runner. She stopped here and there to take pictures. I’ll be looking for them on her blog!
Nearing 2-3 miles left in the race we came to a place in the course that this race must be named after. My friend Stephanie took this picture (I will NOT be shy about bringing my camera next year!)…
Running through this thicket of Aspens was enough to take my breath away. The race started us off in the pines, and there were Aspens scattered throughout the course (lots of them in some areas). This place in the race, however, was unlike any other. Stunning.
With about a half a mile left Stephanie and I fell into stride with one another. All of her picture taking had put her behind me ~ heaven knows she’s much faster! As the trail wound around and the finish line came into sight we both began to speed up. Soon enough we realized that we were both pushing hard and trying not to let the other pass. I heard her say, “Let’s Go!” and we both ran full out for the remainder of the race. The crowd at the finish was super supportive and cheered for us as we came through.
I felt like a little kid again!
(How cool is the slideshow insert? I haven’t tried that before now!)
As we crossed the finish line we were handed an awesome Nathan water bottle with the Gaspin’ in the Aspen logo on it.
In addition to happy post-race chatter the food tent had bagels, fruit, soda, Gatorade, water, and hot pre-purchased breakfast burritos plus coffee from Kickstand Kafe, I had a chance to chat a little with Cristy, a few of my other Team Run Flagstaff buddies, and one of the Step Into Running participants who was also there running the 10K.
My conclusion? It was a fantastic, beautiful, community-filled morning. When Glenn sent me the pics he took on his phone it made my heart swell. I am so blessed to have a husband who came to support me. I am so blessed to have friends at these events of all shapes, sizes, ages, and speeds to share these experiences with race after race.
The Run Flagstaff Summer Series was worth it ~ I look forward to next year!
Did anybody else race today? How did it go?
Do you listen to music while you run on trails (if you run on trails)?
Breakfast burrito or bagel?