What a great weekend! After several days of single momming it while Troy went snow cat skiing in Utah I was ready for an adventure. I really wish Troy and Annie had come on this trip, I always forget how chill and welcoming the ultra community is.
Moab has quite a bit of snow and the race director sent an email the day before the race stating that we would encounter a bit on the course. He said the starting area had the most snow. When we got there that morning there was a fair amount but the road we were to run on was crusty and seemed like it would all be very runable.
The race director did a really cool thing for this course which I think more ultras should adopt (as long as they communicate it to the runners). He marked the course with pink, and he marked where you don’t go with blue. You know when you get to a point in a race and you aren’t quite sure which way to go? That blue “don’t go” marking was genious!
Keith and I were running the race, and Andrea and Steve were along with us for their own adventure. They were getting in a 13 mile run, a mountain bike ride, and cheered throughout.
Before I knew it they said “go” and I found myself starting at the back of the group, still taking video and not knowing that we were about to start. Oops, but good too. My guide advised me to go out in a non taxing way and then unleash the “Wieck Fury”. Haha, I love that, and it’s not “Weeeek Furry” it’s pronounced like “Wick”. We started on a road that was snowed over but the traction was good. I ran a little ways with a guy who had one leg. Dang! He rocked and was awesome to watch do his thing.
We turned upwards towards Gemini bridges and I had a lady pass me. After confiding with my watch I let her go and watched her run out of sight. I remember coming down this hill on a mountain bike 8 years ago when I brought Troy to meet my parents. I remember my dad and I hooting and hollering down that hill while Troy remained silent, it was a sign of the future (Troy is a rather quiet guy). At the first aid station I decided to strip down. I went from tights, long sleeve, and beanie, to shorts, short sleeve, and Trakkers hat. I can’t tell you how awesome it was to be running in just a little clothing.
Then we hit crazyness! I call this the “snowshoe race” section of the course. Several miles of mid calf powder. Slick, choppy, gnarley, ankle killer powder. I would have paid $500 for a pair of snowshoes at that point.
It was at that point in the race, the point that comes in every race where the racing gods ask “who are you”? You can respond with frustration (as most did, and believe me, I understand it), you can give up and slowly walk through it (a few took this path), or you can smirk, groan, and dig in, cave[wo]man up. You can guess where I was here. I Grrrrred my way through miles of that stuff. It took 100% focus and constant reminders to keep my chin down, to pull in my core, and to use my snowshoeing skills to put my feet in the right spots. I didn’t dare look at my HR monitor, I think I would have freaked myself out. I passed many people through here, heard lots of groans, and a few F-bombs as well. The Wieck Fury was staring to seep out. I found and passed the lady that took off on me in the beginning, but i completely recognized that I was handling this snow better than most and expected her to reappear.
Around mile 12.7 we hit an aid station and got back onto a snow covered jeep road. While still snowy, it was more manageable and of the 10 or so people that I passed on the “snowshoe” race section, a few passed me back.
Around mile 14 I knew something wasn’t right. My nutrition plan was the same as my 45 miler but I think bc I was going so much harder, I had problems. I’ve never pooped in a race, but I had to bad. I was in the middle of a field, no trees in sight, but well, there you go. I watched 10 people pass by while I huddled behind a bush.
Shortly after that I pulled into the next aid station at about mile 15 and dumped out my entire bladder of EFS. I replaced it with NUUN, and knew I would have to focus more on blocks/beans since nuun is calorie free. Believe me, I will be hitting up the Team First Endurance site big time this week to get this sorted out and get some help with dissecting what went wrong.
Pulling out of that station, the lady that passed me in the beginning and then I passed back in the snow had caught back up to me. She must have cranked out a great pace on the flats.
After a quick descent we were into the strength section of the course. Up lots of hills, down lots of hills. No trail, just the course markings, single track, ledges to jump, snowfields everywhere to cross. There was a section of several miles that I didn’t see a single runner. No one ahead, no one behind, just alone. I hit a low point in there and decided to pull out my camera to take a little video. I suddenly saw someone catching up to me. Yea!
His name was Ryan, he was from Albuquerque. He passed me and I just latched onto him. I just went with him, and within a mile he had managed to pull me out of my funk. We exchanged names, and where we lived and then we ran together the rest of the way. We took turns leading and it was so helpful to have him.
When we hit the final switchbacks and I knew we were close and I just let it go. Knowing that it would all be over too soon, I let loose and ran free and happy all the way to the finish singing and laughing the whole way. Ryan and I finished pretty close, and he probably thought I was a crazy chica those last few miles.
I was really pleased with my time for this course, 5:38, for 32.5 miles and 4,500 feet of gain. I felt like given the conditions, this was more challenging than the November Moab 50K. The relentless up and down of the slick rock, combined with the early “snowshoe” conditions made for a particularly challenging day for most. I was also stoked that Ms.Western States, Anita Ortiz ONLY beat me by a little under an hour, hahahaha! I feel like that’s a big feat, to get within an hour of Anita! Still, it’s ultrarunning, so at the end, and for the entire evening, everyone pretty much drinks beer and chats it up.
This was a great experience for me. I ended up 3rd overall which was a complete and utter shock for me. First and foremost I am a triathlete, that’s where my heart lies. But a huge chunk of my soul lies in the hills and mountains, running. I am really getting my trail running “fix” this winter and all this time to think in the mountains brings me strength when I am head down on my trainer trying to keep my heart rate dialed into 140 or 150 or 160… Trail Running gives me a peace and calm that helps me battle the more mundane sessions of doing what I need to do to be the best triathlete that I can. It gives my mind a place to wander off to when I am in the pool, or on the treadmill.
Lastly, I raced this race, I put it out there, I ran smart, it wasn’t conversational (my Avg HR was 168), and I know a little bit more about myself after this race. I am really thankful for that.
I made a video of my day, I hope you enjoy it.
I ran the Moab Red Hot 50K on 2/13/2010 and this is a video of my experience as a runner in the race.
Results are here.