Sunday, October 28, 2012

Palo Duro Canyon 50K

Palo Duro Canyon 50K
Canyon, Texas
October 20, 2012
6:25:11, 3rd Overall Female

For years, I have been hearing great things about this race. Not only a gorgeous course, but many of my trail running friends make the trip from DFW for a weekend of trails, fun and friendship.

The weather forecasts kept getting warmer and warmer the closer we got to the race. I knew it was be hotter on the canyon floor the forecast for Canyon, Texas.

Martin and I loaded up the ultra SUV and headed 6 hours west on Friday. As an added bonus mama and papa Guthrie drove down from Kansas to join us for the weekend.


Martin Guthrie Suann Lundsberg
Martin and I hanging out with good friends at the pre-race pasta dinner.
 Chilly Start
My friend Danyah, described the canyon perfectly as "two-faced". It was freezing at race start but I knew the heat was on its way and fast.
Because I knew it was going to heat up, I didn't even think to wear gloves, but sure would have been nice to have had warm fingers for the first hour.

I  took my place in about the upper 1/3 of the pack, while Martin went to the front to race with the fast ones.

Mark, a seriously fast bad ass runner made this his first ultra, and we started together. I took the lead, passing runners with a polite excuse me. Later he told me he was thinking to himself, "shit we are running a 50K at this pace?"

I felt great. I soon found Tony who was running the 50M and Mark and I inched by that group. Mark took off ahead of me right beofre the first aid station.

The first loop went exactly as planned, I arrived in 1:04, right where I wanted to be. I grabbed my new water bottled and headed out.

The Fall
Not long into the second loop, I see my sweetie walking back toward me. I stopped and asked him what happened. His calf seized up on him. He told me to go and that I looked great, gave me a kiss and off I went.

My heart sank when I saw him walking back. His calf hasn't bothered him for quite some time. I knew he was one of the top 3 runners at that point and it broke my heart.

I saw Corina and Julie who were running the 20K, they said I was first female. I said there is no way. They told me they hadn't seen another others. Knowing me, Corina says something to the effect of "how is that for motivation." Of course, it lit a little fire under me.

Not long after I said bye to Martin and saw the girls, I fell. Have not idea on what. But I landed on my wrist. Because I was still frozen, it didn't hurt that bad at the time. I was just shaken up. I told myself "you get one mile to slug it out, then back into race mode."

During that mile, my fingers and wrist swelled pretty good. And the throbbing started. I slowed down considerably.

I finished the second loop and saw Martin waiting at the drop bag area. I told him about my fall and he looked at my wrist. I told him it slowed me down and I don't know what my problem is. He said he expected me about 15 minutes ago. I said, I know. I just need to finish now. My goal time is done. He made me take some Tylenol before I set out on my final loop. I'm so glad I did.

I told him, I'll see you in 2 and a half hours or more. And off I went.

Dragging My Ass Through the Desert
Loop three sucked. It is now hot. Flashbacks of Zion went through my head --slugging through the desert in 95 degree heat.


Coming in for the finish.

I got to the first aid station and stood there for awhile contimplating ripping my bib off. I was not having the race I wanted. I didn't want that time next to my name.

I thought, well it's a two-mile walk back or 9 miles to finish. I thought, it would be nice to sit in the shade and watch my friends finish drinking a beer. Then I thought, hell, I'm not injured, just finish it. Training run. It's only 9 miles. Wait, that's going to be a long ass 9 miles.

I opted for the long ass 9 miles and left the aid station with a handful of chips.

I walked for bit. Then I finally stopped walking and said, you'll be done sooner if you run, dummy.

My last 6 miles ended up being pretty decent despite having an annoying sitch high up in my tummy.

As I made my way to the finish line, I see the RAW crowd cheering me on. It was so sweet. I crossed the line in 6:25:11 happy to be done. The RD tells me to wait he has something for me and hands me a duffle bag telling me I was third.

I tried to hand it back to him telling him there is no way. He went to double check and I was third female.

Martin stood there shaking his head at me and laughing at my antics.


My 3rd place bling.
 No matter how many ultras I run, I always learn more. This time, never quit. Don't get off that course unless you are injured. Tired and not your expected time doesn't allow you a DNF, in my book. There are races where a DNF was the smartest thing I did to avoid further injury. But a sucky time doesn't qualify.


What I liked, What I hated
Palo is great fun and a very well run race.

The good
  • Free pasta dinner the night before
  • Post race meal
  • Aid stations are close together so you don't need a hydration pack
  • Gorgeous trial
  • Rolling hills and pretty tame terrain can make this a fast race

The bad
There are too many people on this course, 500 -- 300 in the 20K and 200 in the 50K and 50M. It's single track and the back of the pack 20K runners are difficult to pass. Many were wearing headphones and could not hear you if you politely asked to pass.

While they made a big deal about the Dos Locos aid station ladies, I have to say they made me mad. I run in and I asked if the container was water, she said Heed. I said, I need water. The jug was positioned toward her on the other side of the table so only she could fill your bottle.

She put her hand up to me and said, "Hold on," as she chatted about nothing to a guy on a bike.

First, I don't expect people to fill my water. Turn the damn thing around so I can do it. Second, you NEVER tell a runner to wait while you are gabbing about what you ate for dinner. I know I'll catch heat for this because these people volunteer their day for this. Um, well, yeah, I have volunteered too and I would never make a runner wait. Have two containers -- one that you can fill and one that is self service.

On top of that there was NOTHING at that aid station but 5 gels and a small container of chips. Needless to say, I was just in a bad mood from this.

Will I be back? Oh heck yes! Great race with great friends. Besides, I have a little revenge I need to get on my time out there!

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