Dam Good Run 26k

I ran again. It was hot. The End.

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photo by Sweet M Images

After spending 4 hours getting quite toasty in the Arizona sunshine, I think I’m kind of glad to be wrapping up the racing for the summer. I feel a bit like an endurance horse who is probably ready for a break at the end of a season — I’ve crammed quite a bit into the last quarter, and could use a breather and some recovery time.

I did really well to get through this whole running season without any significant injuries or needing to take time off…so now it’s time to take that time off voluntarily and let whatever cumulative micro-abuses that are dwelling (I’m sure there are some) take care of themselves.

Aside from the unexpected heat at Crown King two years ago, I’ve not done much deliberate running in the heat. (Nice to know there’s some level of crazy I haven’t hit yet.) Since I run a lot with the dogs, I try to get them out as early as possible to avoid the heat, and generally my idea of heat training involves just existing in Phoenix in the summer.

So when temperatures decided to jump from “pleasant” to “oh, look, it’s summer” right before the race, I wasn’t overly enamored of the idea. I admit, the “No refunds” policy kept me from dropping, either down in distance or altogether, since otherwise it would have been very, very tempting.

However, I really wanted to do the Dam Good Run, because how often do you get to run right next to a lake in Arizona?

And so it was that I found myself once again back at the shores of Lake Pleasant, only this time starting 2 hours later, 20 degrees warmer…and only having to go half the distance.

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start/finish area

I was running again with my friend Cristina — we did the Javelina Jangover 7k back in the fall together, as well as one of the Black Canyon training runs in the winter, so we knew we paced well together. And once it warmed up out there, it was a really good run to have company. Our strategy basically consisted of:

  • run for a bit
  • decide “that’s enough of that nonsense” once we hit a climb or enough cumulative heat built up
  • attempt to dissipate heat by bitching about it
  • decide walking didn’t generate enough airflow and the faster we moved, the faster we would be done
  • run again
  • lather, rinse, repeat
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heading down to the New Waddell Dam. this race is unique in that this one day is the only time any kind of “civilian” traffic is allowed on the dam. 

The trails around Lake Pleasant are a lot of fun — mostly singletrack trail (with the exception of the 3 miles of pavement from the start, across the dam, and to the trail), lots of ups and downs, twists and turns, and not too much overly-technical or rocky stuff (for Arizona, at least…it always involves rocks around here, just varying degrees of them).

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pretty sure I’m contemplating jumping into the lake at this point and swimming around to the finish

Pitchers of water and scoops of ice handed out at the aid station were lifesavers — at the turnaround point and final aid station, I had them dose my whole head with water, and I stuffed ice anywhere I could manage (hat, neck wrap, bra). I may have sounded like a dysfunctional ice machine rattling my way down the trail, but it kept me cool(ish).

The trickiest thing for me to manage was my stomach/eating. I knew the heat would make it harder to find foods that appealed. While I didn’t do as well in the eating department as I do when it’s cooler out, I did okay on a mix of Huma chia seed gels, Clif Bloks, and Skratch Labs exercise mix on-the-go, and watermelon and oranges at the aid stations. I stayed hydrated, didn’t crash, and didn’t have any kind of heat stroke…which is about as good as you can ask for in temperatures that hit 97* along parts of the course.

And the best part was the finish line at the edge of the lake. Through the finish, and straight down to the water, with just enough pause to drop the pack and shoes.

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best natural ice-bath ever

Time was 4:03. As soon as I saw the weather forecast, any time goals went right out the window and the goal was simply to just finish and not keel over. Since I managed that, I’m happy with it.

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Gear Roundup:

  • InkNBurn “Chameleon” racerback. This is the lightest-weight, coolest shirt I own. The material is really silky and light, and it has pinhole-sized holes in it, so it’s really breathable.
  • InkNBurn “Wings” shorts. Ended up needing to bust out the Bodyglide to keep the chafing in check, but I can’t say I expected anything less with the amount of water and sweat.
  • Balega merino socks, Dirty Girl gaiters, and Hoka Speed Instinct shoes (not pictured). All good except for that same perky blister on the side of my right big toe. But I also didn’t do any preventative taping on my toes at all. Speed Instincts were really comfortable and a good choice for the trail. They have a lower profile and are a little more streamlined than my Challengers, so I have really good ground feel in them for rougher/rockier terrain.
  • Nathan VaporHowe vest (pictured up at top race photo). Yep, still love it. With the amount of sweat and dirt on it, I will be forced to test its washability coming up here in very short order (like, before the next time I wear it).

I think that’s it for now…hoping to return this blog to its original intended purpose as a horse blog as I taper off from the running season. Running might be my sidebar distraction, and a way to get in some trail time, but the ponies are still my passion.

4 thoughts on “Dam Good Run 26k

    • Thank you! Not much shade at all — the spot where the race photos were taken was the shadiest area of the whole thing, a brief 1/4-mile stretch through a riparian area.

  1. You’re a running machine. Heat is the worst; my 100 on Q was in 94-98 degree temps last year so I’m all too familiar with how shitty it is to be out in it for long lengths of time. I also bitch about it to make it seem not as bad lol.

    I’m on a quest this year to be a lot better at functioning in the heat. Had a talk with a friend about it at length over the weekend and think I’m going to start trying to electrolyte the snot out of myself because in the past (the 100) it’s the only time I felt okay in the heat. Maybe I’ll have to come torture myself in Arizona biking if I succeed ;-)

    • Yesyesyes, electrolytes! Experiment with them, since there are different varieties out there. For years I used the S!caps from Succeed, but this past year have switched over to the Hammer Enduralytes. They’re not as concentrated, so you have to take more of them, but they have an interesting addition of rice bran and ginger in the caps, so they’re very gentle on the stomach and I’ve not had any problems with queasiness from over-doing it with them, and that’s with taking up to 4 in an hour.

      I also supplement with SaltStick Fastchews every so often — they’re a fast-dissolving chewable elyte and they actually taste really good when you really want something salty but the idea of food isn’t that appealing. I don’t function on them entirely (would probably be too strong) but they’re a great little back-up.

      If you come out this way again, I can definitely show you some of the good biking spots and can probably even round up an extra pony to explore the riding spots.

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