I just love it when races / destinations that you aren't super pumped about turn into a fabulous weekend- almost as pleasant of a surprise as Delaware was back in October. We actually did quite a bit, so to keep this short I'll do a "before and after" race of all our adventures tomorrow
I believe Becka's sister L had originally told me this summer about the Las Cruces race, and due to medals + not having a lot of options in December- I was sold as there was nothing on my radar for the month and I didn't want to race there when temps are unbearable in spring / summer/ fall. Although L ended up doing a different race this weekend, I did manage to rope Mark into coming, as well as B to do her first half marathon since her hip injury last January.
Getting to Las Cruces is a breeze- fly into El, Paso TX airport (RIGHT on the border of Mexico and New Mexico) and you drive west 45 min to 1 hour, easy peasy. B and I flew in on Friday afternoon and basically ate a lot and shopped in El Paso before Mark's flight came in the evening.
6th in AG
Racing the states? I'm sure you've noticed when it comes New Mexico:
- There are slim pickins' to choose from
- They are in the middle of no where and hard to get to (flights there can be pricey)
- Few and far between are medals offered for this state (weird I know)
Although this was my last race of the year, I had zero game plan going in. The course read as extremely flat, however the altitude was around 4500 ft--- Nashville is 500 ft. I guess my one goal was to not go out too fast and just keep a steady pace, yes not a lot of motivation going in.
Southern New Mexico has PERFECT temps during the day, however in the morning and in the evening its quite chilly and unfortunately the Salvation Army website lied and said they were open till 7pm on Saturdays, yet when we went at 6:05pm to get a throwaway for the morning the sign said they were closed at 6. LIARS. Since the race start wasn't far from our hotel we drove and stayed in our car for as long as we could then made our way outside around 7:20 for the 8am start to stretch and use bathrooms. (indoor ones which were glorious!)
The standing around area was at the school track where there was plenty of sun and the opportunity to warm up on the track--- which I did to get the blood flowing.
10 minutes to race start they walked everyone over to the start area in the middle of an unmarked parking lot- no frills here. Although I LOVE LOVE LOVE running in cold, I am such a pansy when it comes to standing around in it, and of course the start line was in the shade. I call my new racing hairstyle the 'flyaway'
Once the siren from the megaphone went off everyone just kind of started. Although the cold felt great for running, I had to remind myself not to get too carried away with going out too fast to let my lungs adjust so I don't have any breathing difficulty like I did when I ran in Utah.
I get annoyed when people say "oh I just run for fun and for the joy of running" because that is opposite of me--- why run with no purpose?? Even 'clearing your head' has some purpose. Today was probably one of the first races where I had zero purpose except to cross off another state. I had nothing on my mind, no targets, no motivation... just trying to get from point A to point B in hopes of potentially scoring a few scenic photos.
Unfortunately nothing epic or memorable happened in the race, so instead of boring you with a mundane recap of miles I barely remember I'll fill you in on what I did learn during the race.
- Although Las Cruces has some GORGEOUS views, my camera does not do them justice.. Somewhere around mile 3 or 4 I managed to get this shot- to which a guy stopped and asked me why in the world I would take photos during a race of such a boring mountain. I told him I was from TN and he explained that New Mexicans don't take photos during races... weird (and noted )
- The course was an out and back which majority of it was on pavement, however about 4 miles (2 out and 2 back) were spent on this rocky terrain. (below) I apparently have some weak ass ankles so even though there were no hills, running on uneven surfaces / terrains / trails really wipes me out since I'm working harder for the same pace. Several times I thought about pushing through and picking up speed so I could spend less time on them, but after a moment's thought I asked myself 'why bother'--- yup real motivated molly here.
- As a side note I was looking at a trail half marathon to complete Nevada, but I may have to rethink that or have zero performance expectations for that race. Probably need to run on some trails every once in awhile too.
- Call me
maybecrazy, but I actually enjoy races where you are around the same people as it provides a better gauge of how you're doing in relation to individuals around your pace. (plus its extra drive to not let certain folks beat you and spars a bit of competition) This one had a field size of about 400, and I managed to play leap frog with the same individuals the entire first part of the race. I would walk after water stations, get passed and pass them right back up. I could see Mark the entire race anywhere from 100-200 meters ahead, so if that was still the case in the last 2 miles I would make an effort to catch up to him.
- Although blurry in this photo, I have much more photo friendly running form from the front
vs. from behind. First one Mark took on his way "back" from out and back, 2nd one was when I passed him around 10.5 miles in.
- I've lost a lot of my stamina to go fast during an entire race, but what I have developed over the last year is the ability (when I want to) finish strong. I caught up to Mark at the water stop about 10.3 miles in, we talked for a bit - he's still sick from catching what my nephews had over Thanksgiving so it was making it harder to breathe (not to mention he trains at 100 ft elevation- + his hamstring was tightening up---- it may have been a different body part, I don't recall.) After our chit chat I just kind of took off and progressively got faster each mile with a strong 7:30 finish.
- I don't know if I could manage a race without my garmin. The mile markers were spot on until mile 8 then they started to get short. We hit mile 8 and my watch said 7.65--- it was like this for every mile after. Part of me thought, maybe the race will be short? Once we got to the 12th mile sign, which was no where near the original 1 mile sign, I knew the last was going to be the longest playing catch up for all those other ones being short--- sure enough I was right and I must have passed 10 people who just picked up the pace way too early and died due to running longer than they had anticipated... for once I played it smart.
- I really, really don't like non chip timed races. I crossed what I thought was the finish line at 1:55:03 and then walked over to the individuals tearing off the detachable form on your bib--- apparently your 'official time' was when you handed that information to them so my time increased by 9 seconds (not that its a lot, just principle)
- After race sttretching in the sun on the infield grass of a track totally makes up for lack off after race replenishment (I had a water, gatorade, and granola bar)
- If you wear bright colors, people will come up to you after race with some form of thanks in regards to keeping up with you. Although I had 3 come up to me, my favorite was from a guy who said he was focused on "the giant in pink"--- little offensive, but his intentions were good.
- Races in small cities makes it easy for leaving and getting to hotel. Pretty much right when B finished she grabbed a water and said 'let's go'', so we were back at hotel and showered in record time.
The race itself wasn't very exciting, however when racing 50 states you're bound to come into some that just aren't memorable. I did enjoy the PRISTINE weather, the sights, and the low key of everything PLUS we got a pretty nice medal!
I know most people when they think of NM would automatically pick a bigger city, but all 3 of us agreed that our location couldn't have been more centrally perfect for sight seeing, wineries, farmers markets, good food etc. I HIGHLY recommend Las Cruces for a New Mexico adventure!