Monday, February 17, 2014

Moab's Red Hot 55k

Sometimes when you have a really good weekend, it's hard to write about it. When you write about it and finish that very last sentence, it means the whole experience is done. It's been an action-packed last three days, but it's time to jump back into the real world. There will be more experiences to be had in the future, more great people to meet, more trails to explore, more pain to suffer through, and more beer to drink.

On Friday we hopped in Travis Daniels' Subaru and hit I-70 heading west to Moab. Predictably there was traffic to endure, outlets to be shopped at, and Smashburgers to eat. We finally hit the desert and had to stop on the side of I-70 to take some pictures and romp around on some sand dunes. 

Adventure can be found on the side of an interstate.
Of purple mountain majesty! The glorious La Sals.

We made it to packet pick-up in time and stopped to get groceries and a movie at City Market (which we may have occasionally referred to as Shitty-Market...). So after getting to our condo that we were sharing with Travis and Phil we gorged ourselves on pasta and watched Tom Hanks outwit a Somali pirate. That night I dreamed of skinny, hungry pirates chasing me across slickrock and woke up ready to race.

I must say I now have my pre-race routine down. Wake up, go to the bathroom, stare at whatever food I've selected beforehand that seemed delicious but now tastes like a pile of dust in my mouth, go the bathroom 3 more times, debate whether I should take Imodium, be jealous over how calm Cory is and his ability to eat an entire bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee, take said immodium. We finally make it to the starting line in time for me to get in the line for the port-a-potties and as I'm standing in line I see Anton Krupicka five feet away from me. I suddenly felt very embarrassed to be wearing a large majority of the gear that sponsors him... complete with a vest named after him and a thoroughly hippy buff. I wanted to go up to him and explain that I was not trying to copy him, but instead I just tried to hide behind someone's dog. Later Phil explained to me the phenomena that is the rise of the An-twin.

Finally, the gun went off. My iPod was playing Ramble On, the temperature was perfect, and there was a just-right amount of cloud coverage. I was determined that I was going to stay positive this entire race no matter what - even if I tripped on slick rock, even if my shin splints acted up, even if I felt sick, and even if my Imodium didn't do its job. I was also determined to talk to more girls this race. I usually find myself running with a lot of men willing to talk but the girls around me are usually more competitive and reluctant to run together. Honestly I find myself getting a lot more competitive when a girl passes me and so I figured that if I did a better job of talking to the women around me early on, I would root for them if they passed me in the end.

I got my first opportunity to chat shortly after Aid 1. I had been trailing this woman named Colleen that I had run with a bit during the Salida marathon last year. She had kicked my ass in that race, so I was a little bit worried that maybe I was running too fast. We talked a bit as we meandered the rolling jeep roads and she mentioned that she had only been running about 10 miles a week because she had been so busy with work. She tried to tell me not to wait for her and I tried to figure out how to tell her that I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to keep up with her.

As we continued on I tried to focus on my nutrition and hydration. I've been so careless about it in the past so I made sure I took a gel every 45-50 minutes and drank my entire bottle between aid stations. At about mile 10 when we were at the course high point I made some buddies that would be sticking with me for miles, Tbird and Stephen. Stephen was doing his first 50k and hung in with me for about 10 miles. He helped me celebrate when I got past mile 18, my nemesis mile. Tbird and I played tag, running together for pretty much the next 25 miles and having the strangest/ most entertaining conversations. 

I took my first Hammer Endurolyte pill at mile 18 when I normally feel like shit, and surprisingly felt awesome! That's when the fun major slickrock climb began. At that point, though, I was a little nervous because I had eaten all of my personal gel stash and even though the aid stations were supposed to have Hammer gels, they only had Clif products... which tend to make a quick exit out of my body. Finally at aid 4 there was a glorious basket full of Hammer products! After refueling we whooped and hollered as we started the long, downhill slickrock section... it only took a few miles of leaping and pounding to start daydreaming about dirt again.

At that point I started talking to this girl named Sadie who looked like she was out for a casual stroll. She had recently moved to Flagstaff and we talked about how magical Flag and Sedona are. It was a much needed energy boost for me ... I was in need of some girl power. She said she had a cold coming into the race and so she was taking it a little bit easy. Later she dropped the bomb on me that last year she finished in 5:45! Crazy girl!

Unfortunately around mile 26 a lot of things came together to drive me to my low point. First,  my Imodium magic wore off and an extended pit stop made me fall behind my running buddies. The I got super hungry but realized that I only had 3 ounces of water left and 2-3 miles to the next aid station. But I told myself that I was going to refuse to entertain any negative thoughts, took my gel and used up the last few drops of my water. The next few miles wound through this beautiful wash with pretty canyon walls and then up and over some more slick rock. I almost lost the way a few times because I couldn't see anyone ahead of me, but fortunately I could tell by the lack of human footprints if I was going off course.

I got passed by a few people who were also out of water and we were all pretty nervous about how far it was to the next station. Finally it appeared out of nowhere and as I jubilantly filled up my bottle I made the mistake of asking how many miles were left. I was expecting the answer to be three to four miles, so when the volunteer told me that there were only five more miles I wanted to cry a little. The good news was that I caught back up with Sadie and Tbird. Sadie tried to help me rally and looked like she was ready to go 30 more miles. I wished her luck and told her to go on without me. I was feeling a bit dizzy but didn't know what else my body needed to make it feel better. Suddenly I found myself losing the ability to make complete sentences.

Fortunately Tbird led me the last five miles to the finish, pointing which way to go when the slickrock got confusing. If you read this, Thompson, seriously thank you so much because I don't think I would have made it to the end without you. Or at least, I probably would have walked it in.

In hind sight I wish that I would have studied up on the course a little more so that I would have been able to recognize when we were getting close to the finish. I always like to sprint it in, but the finish line just appeared in front of me 100 meters from the finish. There were two girls hot on my tail but I held them off. I was the 34th woman in a time of 6:25.

Thanks, Phil, for being there for me at the finish and taking this awesome picture.

It was fun hanging out with our Runner's Roost friends after the race.

All in all, I'm pretty proud of how the race went. I felt pretty consistent throughout and I don't think I could have run any faster. Cory raced in a very speedy time of 5:05. He was hoping to run a bit faster and was upset that he made some of the same mistakes he's made in the past. He said he started out too fast and was running with Karl Meltzer for a bit in the beginning. Then he fell behind on his nutrition and hydration... he wishes he would have taken another water bottle and some electrolyte pills. I'm still pretty proud of him!

On Sunday Chef Phil made breakfast burritos and we did a shake-out run in Arches before heading home. I ran past Jodee Adams-Moore, the female winner, and realized a few minutes too late that it was her. Still kicking myself for missing out on the opportunity to meet her.

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