I can’t begin to describe the thrill I got from running the La Luz Trail Run. It is simply a beautiful trail. I wish I could run there all the time. I didn’t spend too much time admiring the vistas, but the little I did see was awesome.
The night before the race I was so pumped up I think I only slept for an about an hour. I had never even seen the course, had never run a race above 6000 feet, and had never run up hill for so many miles at a stretch so I had no idea what to expect. Based on pure speculative guesstimation I was thinking I could finish in two hours, maybe less. I just made it at 1:59:52. Not bad for a flat lander. I know, 8 seconds doesn’t sound like much, but the psychological difference between 1:59:52 and 2:00:00 is enormous.
The first 1.8 miles was on a steep paved road. Even though it was uphill, I assumed this would be a very runnable surface and a good place to put some distance between me and the rest of the middle of the pack runners. This strategy seemed to work ok. Once I hit the narrow single track I was able to relax the pace a little. At first I was passed by a few runners, but I later passed quite a few as well. The course was pretty much continuously up hill until about mile 6.3. Then there was a slight downhill for perhaps a quarter mile. The down hill was too gentle to get a good gravity assist and besides by then my legs were in no way ready to sprint and I really didn’t want to take a dive on this trail. At one point early in the single track a guy behind me yelled “on your right”. He passed me with no problem, but he got greedy and decided to pass the woman in front of me at the same time. Well, he lost his footing on the steep trail side and his feet came out from under him taking that woman out at the ankles as well. With two bodies in the trail I had no choice but to stop. They both got up, appeared to be unharmed and continued running. If that had been me he had taken out I’m not so sure my reaction would have been as calm and reserved as that woman’s was.
Sometime after the brief downhill came a section called the rockslide. It’s essentially a boulder field that is somehow clinging to the side of a cliff. Very rugged, very difficult to run. I was certain that my next foot plant would be the one that knocked out the keystone that was holding this whole thing together. A short time after coming out of the rockslide area there was a set of stairs, about 35 steps; my thighs were on fire by the time I reached the top step. The trail then leveled off just enough to recover from the steps. In the last mile I was still going strong power walking mostly but breaking into a trot in the less steep spots. I passed several people. As I neared the finish there was a runner right behind me, I asked if he wanted to pass me. He declined saying he was giving all he had just to keep up with me. That’s good, because I was giving it all I had just to stay ahead of him. He had run the course before and told me we were very close to the finish and still had a chance to beat two hours. You couldn’t see the finish until you were right on it, so without his encouragement I may have given out and not beat two hours.
Bottom line is this, if you get a chance to run this race, do it.
Here is a picture of me with the Sandia Crest behind me. The other picture is at Yanni’s Mediterranean Grill. Left to right it’s Angie, Aynslee, Donald, Regina, Konrad, and Me. Of course I need to thank Donald and Angie for putting up with me for a week as well as driving me to the start and picking me up at the finish of the race. They dropped me off a little after 6am. I then had about a half mile walk to the start. They had a 30 to 45 minute drive to the finish up at the top of the crest. It was nice to have a whole crew there to cheer for me as I crossed the finish line.