Thursday, July 2, 2015

Week in Review (June 23 - June 29)

Tuesday (17,704 steps) - Didn't feel like going to the gym so we didn't. Packed up the last remaining items in order for the house to be photographed for inside pictures for the brochure and website. For sale sign in the yard and listed in MLS!
Wednesday (18,845 steps) - It pretty much typhooned in the afternoon so no plans on run club. Went to the gym and walked a few miles on the treadmill, just to get moving.
Thursday (18,077 steps) - Same deal, a walk on the treadmill after work. Very last minute prep of the house - showings starting at 9 am Friday morning!
Friday (10,367 steps) - The house is officially OFFICIALLY for sale, meaning this was the first day of showings. I started receiving text messages the day before for me to "approve" - if I didn't respond soon enough they were on the phone calling me.
 
As best as I could tell, we had close to 30 showings and more scheduled the next day. Dinner/socializing with Jessa until we could go home.
Saturday (25,406 steps) - We had to be out of the house before 9. So we went to the gym first. I attempted my first run since getting back from Desert RATS and it was pretty terrible. Logged 4.1 miles, which at "best" was a run/walk. I had to shower at the gym since we couldn't go home. Quick trip to Dunkin and some furniture browsing and then on to the next adventure - Skate City! A convinced me to join her and we skated for a few hours.
Then we headed to the mall for lunch (Panda Express) to walk around to kill time. We were invited to our friend Jandy's house for a post-wedding celebration. She was married a few weeks in Mexico! We had a great time hanging out and it was fun to catch up.
Sunday (10,839 steps) - Yep, we had MORE showings, so we had to be out early again. We went on a slow walk around Lake Arbor where we looked at all the local wildlife. Then a trip to Target to wander around until our brunch date with Jessa, Jackson, Lisa and Ricky. After brunch we went to the park for more socializing until we eventually went to Jessa's house when the weather got iffy. Lisa and Ricky just found out they are moving to Florida and this was the last chance for ALL of us to get together before they left. Sad.
Monday (16,259 steps) - Got a lovely gift from one of the attorney's for my "assistance" with the trial that we were just in (and won). I didn't do much, but now I have some really pretty flowers to look at for the next few weeks.
After work I picked up A at a play date and then we went to the gym. I managed to gut out 2 (not so fun but not the worst ever) miles. THE HOUSE IS UNDER CONTRACT... now to sit back and hope that nothing goes wrong with the inspection and appraisal. It's only been about 6 years, but I had forgotten how stressful it is to sell a property.

Stats
  • 117,497 steps
  • 6.1 miles "run"
  • No cross training (but 2 days of walking on the treadmill)
  • No strength or stretching
Everything Else
  • Obviously the big thing right now is the house sale. Now that it is under contract... there are still many other hurdles to get over. Like where am I going to live??? Originally I thought it would be easy to find somewhere. Turns out, it's not. It looks like I will end up couch-surfing (not really, we will likely be staying in Jessa's spare room) until I find something. I really hope this is just temporary (as in no more than a month), because this is the most unbelievably stressful situation I have been in for a LONG time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Week(s) in Review (June 9 - June 22)

Tuesday, June 9 (19,412 steps) - I really cannot remember this far back and looking at Strava doesn't do much to refresh my memory. I wrote that I did a mile and a half, but I have no idea if that was on the treadmill at home or at the gym. I think I vaguely recall doing it at home.
Wednesday, June 10 (18,450 steps) - A finally FINALLY got her (second) cast off. However... she is now in a brace, at least through the end of July, which means one more doctor's visit and another set of x-rays. Run club!! Traffic was a wretched horrible mess so it took forever to get there. We ended up missing starting the run with the group but walked about a mile with Heather, who injured her collarbone and can't run anyway. I ran a mile loop when I got home.
 
Thursday, June 11 (16,562 steps) - Again, it says I ran about a mile on the treadmill. No recollection. Things kicked into high gear with the packing - fast tracking the sale of the house to two weeks earlier than planned - sign (hopefully) going in the yard on Tuesday, June 23.
Friday, June 12 (8,396 steps) - No exercise. More packing. Dinner and hanging out with Jessa.
Saturday, June 13 (13,659 steps) - Jessa was so kind as to spend most of the day with me and A packing and cleaning. Turns out there was a bit of water damage from when the basement flooded in the spare room so we had to rip out the carpet and padding. Bought fans to dry the flooring. Smells a bit musty but caught it all before there was any lasting damage. The most progress was in A's room. Wish she always kept it this clean and uncluttered!
Sunday, June 14 (17,592 steps) - Skirt Sports 5k with A and then driving to Moab.
Monday, June 15 (51,044 steps) - Desert RATS Stage 1.
Tuesday, June 16 (77,537 steps) - Desert RATS Stage 2.
Wednesday, June 17 (32,030 steps) - Desert RATS Stage 3.
Thursday, June 18 (99,377 steps) - Desert RATS Stage 4.
Friday, June 19 (15,236 steps) - Sleeping. Drinking beer. Tending to blisters.
Saturday, June 20 (63,235 steps) - Desert RATS Stage 5.
Sunday, June 21 (12,825 steps) - Long, long, LONG drive back to Denver. Lots of cleaning and continued packing.
Monday, June 22 (13,928 steps) - Back to work. More cleaning, more packing. House 85-90% packed. My realtor offered to have cleaners come in so that I didn't have to make time for that as well, thankfully. We weren't able to get the carpet shampooed (and honestly, anyone who purchases this home will want to replace all the carpet anyway), but the place looked good enough for interior pictures for the online listing.
 
Week Ending 6/15
  • 145,115 steps
  • 28 miles run
  • No cross training
  • No strength/stretching

Week Ending 6/22
  • 314,168 steps
  • 113.75 miles run
  • No cross training (although, let's be real, I did a LOT of hiking/walking)
  • No strength/stretching (I had two 30 minute massages though!)
Everything Else
  • As of the last date in this blog the house was mostly in selling condition, just waiting for some cleaners to come in and do things that I did not have time for. That's the big thing going on in my life right now!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Desert RATS Random Tidbits

Had some questions regarding some of the more "logistical" aspects of the race.

Transportation

After getting myself to Moab, all transportation was included in my entry. The race is a point to point from Loma-ish, Colorado to just outside of Moab, Utah. All our gear was hauled in a U-Haul trailer and the runners were transported in big vans.

Lodging

We were told we could bring our own tent if we wanted to. I chose not to because I hate putting up/taking down a tent and I didn't want to have to do that every night. We were provided with big tents - I shared a tent with four other women. There were volunteers that put up the tent and took it down for us - which was fantastic.

Food

Gemini Adventures uses the services of John Graham for food. This man is fantastic. He has many years experience in "back country cooking" and we had plenty of food every single day. He was happy to take special dietary requests, including vegetarian and gluten free options. I enjoyed food ranging from pasta to grilled cheese to burgers. There was always more food than could even be consumed, no one went hungry. All meals were provided, and on the long days we were able to make sandwiches to pick up at an aid station for lunch.

Charging

There was a charging station available every day at base camp where we could charge our phone and Garmins. I believe this was powered through one of the trucks, but I'm not positive. I do also have a small battery powered charger that I brought with me and used only one time to charge my watch. The charging station was VERY cool and very appreciated!

Clothing

So as you could probably see from my pictures, I had my arms covered every day. All of my long sleeve apparel is YMX by Yellowman. I first discovered this brand about 3.5 years ago when I was training for my first 100. The fabric is so silky and thin it is almost like wearing nothing at all. I have worn these tops for years as a base layer to keep warm, but had never considered wearing them to "keep cool." This fabric was pretty much designed for running in all climates, per the website "as perfect as base layer on the winter slopes as it is for sun protection on a high desert run. With a UPF of 30+, it also serves as a lightweight rash guard that feels like a second skin, light as silk, but totally fuss-free." I did notice that I "felt" hot when I first started each day but within a few miles I didn't feel "as hot" or "any hotter" than if I had bare arms. Not to mention, no sunburns on my arms or shoulders, which I am VERY prone to as I'm very fair-skinned.

In addition to the long sleeve tops, I was using a buff - in the early miles just to protect my neck from the sun, but as the day wore on I would tie off each end and fill with ice - that was HUGE in keeping me "cool."

I normally wear the compression socks for all races, but with the blisters I had I wanted easier access to my feet so I wore the lower socks, and it was fine. Considering this was a lot more hiking than running, my legs felt abnormally "good" after everything was done.

Nutrition/Hydration

There was plenty of "snacks" at the aid stations, although I found that my appetite was greatly diminished with the heat. For pretty much the first time ever, I had to force myself to eat. I fueled with a handful of gels, but primarily used Honey Stinger waffles. By the end of the week they tasted "too sweet" and it was a little rough getting them down. For electrolytes I was putting Nuun in my handheld, taking Endurolytes (by Hammer) and using BASE electrolyte salt. I'm a firm believer that BASE saved me on my last day when I was so hot and feeling pretty dizzy and sick - a few licks of that and I for real felt like a new person. As for hydration, I was back to using my Nathan hydration vest that holds a 70 ounce bladder. I was also using my Orange Mud handheld which holds 21 ounces.

Other Supplies

We had mandatory supplies that had to be carried at all times, and we were subject to random checks to ensure we had them on us. Among the supplies were 1000 calories, a safety blanket, whistle, compass, knife, salt tabs, emergency strobe, emergency mirror, disinfectant spray and at least 80 ounces of water upon leaving each aid station. Carrying all these supplies was definitely tough with the pack I had and it was a bit uncomfortable to carry, especially when the bladder was full.

Course and Trail Markings

The course was NOT marked by the race director. Each evening we were prepped with special instructions regarding any hard to follow turns and given a map of the course. The issue is that the Kokopelli trail IS marked... but the markings are very old, some of them are not clear at all, and there are no "confidence" markers of every kind. We also were told we could purchase a Gaia app that had an interactive GPS map that we could use. The two people that had this app were the only ones (I think) that made no wrong turns. After the first day I contemplated purchasing but didn't have the internet connection (or my debit card) to buy. Using the printed out map was not ideal but it did give a pretty good idea of where to go. We had an "expedition journal" with a handful of instructions, but these were problematic as they didn't seem to match up to the miles on my Garmin. It was good as a "suggestion" and warning to look for certain sections.

Everything Else

This was not for the faint of heart. In addition to the heat and the remoteness of the course, this experience required some "out of my comfort zone" situations. No running water, showering, shaving, etc. for a week. And being in such close quarters with strangers meant a lack of privacy and learning to get along and deal with uncomfortable situations. With THAT said, I had the pleasure of running with some of the most amazing people EVER, and I would not have traded this group for anyone else. I don't know that I will ever tackle something like this again, but I am glad I did this.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Desert RATS Stage Race, Day 5 (Race Recap)

Friday, "Beach Day"
 
Thankfully, we had the day off on Friday to recover from our long day. My legs felt surprisingly good, but the blisters on the bottoms of my feet did not. We didn't have a scheduled wake up call but I can't seem to sleep past sunrise so I was up early for coffee and breakfast. I got another massage - in the back of our UHaul van. Classy! I took a walk down to the nearby creek and cleaned off my feet - the water was so clean and clear.
 
After lunch most of us took a shuttle down to the beach. I had already taped up my feet so I didn't go down to the water. I spent the afternoon drinking PBR and dozing off in a lawn chair. This is the closest to a relaxing day off I probably have ever had. We had our slide show after dinner where we got to see all the pictures our awesome photographer had taken for the week (and videos he had taken using his drone). There were unfortunately not that many of me :(
 
At the race meeting we were told that we were going to be starting in waves the next day. The "slower" half of the field would be starting at 7:30 and the "faster" half would be starting an hour later. Somehow, I was picked to start in the second half, which meant I would be "losing" an hour of the cutoff time of 8 hours. INSTANT STRESS AND PANIC. Tried to get to sleep for the last night of camping, but I tossed and turned.
 
Saturday, Day 5 (Marathon Stage)
 
Even though I didn't have to get up early, I did - again, because I can't seem to sleep past sunrise. I was up having coffee and breakfast before most of the early starters. It was a bummer that I would not be starting with them - I would have loved the "cooler" temperatures as well. We saw them off and then there was really nothing to do but sit around and wait. I expressed my concerns about the cutoff and it was the general consensus that I was worried about nothing.
 
My blisters were not feeling much better but I hoped that I had taped them well enough that I could get through the 26-27 miles for the day in under 7 hours. You might be thinking - sure that's not that big of a deal.
 
The course for the day began on paved road - A SIX MILE CLIMB. No, really. It was almost 100% uphill for the first 6 miles. I did a run walk up some of the more flat sections but I really did walk most of it. I spent a few miles chatting with Gene - what an unbelievable athlete. The man is 67 years old and THIS YEAR ran a 3:08 marathon. He came in 3rd in his AG at Boston and 2nd at the London marathon. He said this week was his "silly fun" in preparation for his next 100 miler. I can only HOPE to be that active at his age.
 
I spent only a minute at the aid station to top off my water and then headed out - leaving Gene and Traci at the aid station. The views from the top did not disappoint and I was headed into 20 "mostly downhill" miles to the finish.
 

For a few miles we had blissfully "easy" terrain to run on. There were not that many rocks and it was downhill. I was so hot and tired from the week that I still did not run this entire section. I kept waiting for Gene and Traci to catch up to me, but I didn't see them. There was a confusing fork in the road that was made more confusing by the race director's instructions to not go the wrong way. Luckily I did NOT make the wrong turn, however, the Three Amigos and Fran did. They ended up going miles extra (and as a result, missed the evening cutoff). While I was in the middle of waffle and a walk break Sada and Jim came blazing by. They had also made the wrong turn, but as faster runners it didn't cause them to miss any cutoffs, just got in a few extra miles.
 
I made it to the water drop around mile 10 and Reid and Pete were there - wondering if I had seen the Three Amigos. That's when I found out they had missed the turn and even though they had started an hour ahead of me they were actually now behind me on the course. Such a bummer :(
 
We stayed on dirt for a few more miles and then moved to a nice section of paved downhill - easier on my blisters, easier to run down and MORE amazing views.
 
 
Traci caught up to me on the downhill section and offered to get a few shots of me - which was really nice of her. So yay, a picture of me that is not a selfie :D
 
We arrived at the Porcupine Rim aid station where we would head out for a 2.5 out and back section. I filled up, but again, losing that extra hour I was worried about not making the cutoff so I did not spend a lot of time there. Porcupine Rim was TOUGH. It was some of the most technical parts of the entire course with slick rock, big rocky sections and of course, HEAT. There were also two sections where the course split and there were more wrong turns made, luckily, not by me. The view from this part of the trail was pretty cool, it seemed like you could see FOREVER.
I saw lots of people on this section with it being an out and back, which was really nice. Pretty much the first time during the entire race where I didn't feel totally alone. The turnaround was unmanned so all runners grabbed a special rock to bring back to the aid station to prove they had gone the full distance. Thankfully, the rocks were small and I threw one in the front of my pack and headed back. I finally saw the Three Amigos and Gene.
I got back to the aid station and for the first time, I had a really shitty attitude. I had about an hour and a half to run 6-7 miles. Again, not normally a big deal. I was stressed about the time, I was stressed about possibly not finishing by 3:30 and I sort of stormed out of the aid station. No way was I going to let lingering at the aid station waste more time. As I was leaving, I noticed Traci coming in - she had made a wrong turn on Porcupine Rim and was also angry.
 
The last six miles or so to the finish were all on wide dirt road. It was completely exposed and THE HOTTEST EVER. A breeze had picked up but that just felt like I was in an oven with the door opening and closing. It was so hot. So So So So hot. But at least it WAS downhill and I did a lot of run/walk. With it being a Saturday the road was "busy" with ATVers cruising up and down, kicking up dirt. That added to the fun. Traci passed me with maybe 2-3 miles to go although I had her in my sights most of the rest of the way.
I had no idea where the finish was, but Ryan told me it measured closer to 27 miles. With only a few miles to go I knew I would come in under the cutoff and I just wanted to be done. I saw the finish with about a quarter mile to go (downhill) and I took off. About a tenth of a mile before the finish Gene came BLAZING PAST ME (an example of his speed, I had checked my watch when I saw him on Porcupine Rim and he was at least 1.5 miles behind me then). He beat me by probably a minute. Crazy.
 
Crossing the finish line of the last day, making the cutoff, was the BEST EVER. I did my brief video interview with the race director, grabbed a beer from the cooler and sat in the shade waiting for the rest of the runners (best I can tell, temps were around 103-104).
 
Garmin Time - 6:49:45
Garmin Distance - 26.39 miles
Elevation Gain - 2,858 feet
Miles 1-5 - 16:12, 17:15, 17:06, 14:19, 15:01
Miles 6-10 - 16:47, 17:59, 12:57, 15:31, 14:43
Miles 11-15 - 15:20, 13:16, 14:05, 13:30, 13:17
Miles 16-20 - 21:34, 20:18, 20:52, 18:42, 16:20
Miles 21-26.39 - 15:05, 11:42, 12:17, 13:02, 14:03, 14:19, 10:49
 
The Three Amigos missed the overall cutoff for the day which SUCKS. They have finishing times but are not considered official finishers. When all people were done we were shuttled back down to the Gonzo Inn. In exchange for a ride to the Grand Junction airport, Cindy offered to share her room with me. I went to the grocery store to buy a new razor (I can't believe I not only went a week without a shower, but a week without shaving, I looked like a Yeti). Showered and then got ready to go to the awards dinner at Milt's.
 
There was a lot of mushy gushy talking and then the awards finally came. I was SO HAPPY to have been an official finisher (one of only SIX), and got 3rd place female. Doesn't seem like much of an award considering the number of finishers, but it really was so awesome. I don't think I have ever been more proud of myself. This was something I really was not sure I could finish.
 
We were all supposed to go out to a "dive bar" afterwards but a few folks stayed back for various reasons. I was really in the mood for conversation and drinks and ended up staying out past midnight. CRAZY. Got the best night's sleep of the week (even if it DID cause me to be somewhat hungover the next day).

I'll do one more post (maybe) regarding the nitty gritty details - or feel free to ask if you have any questions.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Desert RATS Stage Race, Day 4 (Race Recap)

Thursday, Day 4
 
In years past the expedition stage was over 50 miles. Apparently this year there was a course change and we were "only" scheduled to run about 43 miles. The day was to start at 7:00, and it was SUNNY. Dewey Bridge was looming on the horizon as the start line.

I had the same goal of running what I could and hope that I wouldn't be too hot and/or tired to make the afternoon cutoffs. There was some climbing right off the bat to the first aid station at just past 5 miles "Top of the World." I know there are some amazing views from there but the viewing area was not directly on the course so I cruised on through.
I could see the trail winding down a valley and snaking around some small hills. I knew by looking at the elevation profile that this day was going to have a ton of climbing. We spent a lot of the day running down a hill only to climb back up minutes later.

I stopped to take a selfie in a shaded section - and I'm glad I did. It was only going to get hotter as the day progressed.
There were some nice sections that were runnable and then there were fairly steep sections with a LOT of loose rocks. These sections were the worst for me. Every single step I took I could feel like rocks jabbing into the blisters on the bottom of my feet.

I encountered some weird rock sections that were almost like slick rock but not quite as hard of a surface. The "wavy" rocks were a bit tougher to run on as it wasn't level. The heat out on this section was horrendous. I was trying to conserve water as the Onion Creek aid station was about 13 miles after the first aid station. This was by far the most remote part of the course.

 
 
I'm not sure why I didn't take any pictures of the "Rose Garden." It's a funny name for a section of the course that is a steep downhill filled with rocks and boulders. The bike sweep said he wasn't even crazy enough to try riding down it.
 
I saw a piece of paper at the top that said something to the effect of "Desert RATS water drop top of mesa." I looked around and didn't see the water. Did that mean I was too "fast" and had missed it??? I WAS SO HOT AND THIRSTY. I looked over the Rose Garden and saw Gene hiking up a hill across the valley. OF COURSE WE WERE GOING TO ALMOST DIE GOING DOWN THIS HILL ONLY TO CLIMB UP ANOTHER ONE...
 
So I start climbing. And I'm thirsty. So thirsty. And so hot. I keep checking my watch to see how much further I had to go to the aid station at Onion Creek. FINALLY, once the trail leveled out to more of a runnable "road" I saw the water drop (about mile 17) and I almost cried tears of joy. It's crazy, I have never spent so much time thinking about water and worrying that I was going to have enough.
 
I spent a decent amount of time at the aid station, which was at mile 18 of the course. The tape on my blisters had started to come off and was balled up under my toes. Traci had DNS'd for the day and was hanging out at the aid station and offered me blister powder. Not sure if it helped or not but it was great to get the sand out of my shoes and the tape off.
 
I grabbed the sandwich I had made and started walking for the next section, which again, had a VERY long distance until the next aid station around mile 30.
 
There was more climbing (of course).
 
This section also had a lot of weird bees/flies that came up out of the ground out of what looked like anthills. That was terrifying.
 
Around mile 20 I was getting ready to go through a gate at the top of the hill and then I see Reid (the race director) drive by me in his truck. It's a rough trail but apparently he was driving all the way to the aid station. I was surprised that this was accessible by vehicle and why the race was not able to place a water drop if people could drive on it.
 
I would find out a mile or so later when I came across Reid by his truck, stuck. He was digging himself out by moving rocks around.
 
It was HOURS before he drove past me, I was probably closer to mile 25 and was finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was so hot I was stopping every quarter of a mile to take sips of water out of my pack in the teeny tiny bits of shade. The views from the top of the mesa were pretty cool though.
 
 

A group of ATV'ers came cruising by, kicking up dust and dirt. I would encounter them shortly, around mile 27, as they were trying to dig Reid out - he had gotten stuck AGAIN. I ended up on a better road and finally could see the aid station (but not after seeing a cow and her calf on the side of the road. While I was hallucinating and trying to focus I thought it was a big bear and a little bear with a laser pointer. Don't ask).
 
It did not come as a suprise to me that even with my rationing of water that I was COMPLETELY out of water when I filled my pack. I sat at that aid station for a LONG time. At least 15 minutes. I was starting to feel sick and I was cramping. I drank like 4 cups of coke and ate a handful of grapes before heading out. I knew I had made the cutoff but I just wanted to finish as soon as possible. I took 2 salt tabs and a few licks of Base salt and actually felt pretty good when I got about halfway through the long climb to the Beaver Mesa aid station. Crossed a waterfall and thought I actually SAW a beaver, but turns out it was a marmot. We were finally gaining the elevation and there were actual TREES. And SHADE.
 
And in the distance, sections of the La Sal mountains - with SNOW on the peaks.
The last aid station was at mile 34. I did not stay long. I was told that there was just the climb up the road and then the road would become paved and there would be about 6 miles of downhill. What I was NOT told was that the hill was about 2 miles long. I was met with some UNBELIEVABLE views when I got to the top of that climb. I had seen a doe run across the road, a gorgeous section of aspen trees and this view of the valley (can you believe I had been way down there at the start?)

Pretty much as soon as the road turned to pavement and I was able to run the sun began to set. What a lovely sight to see. The temperatures finally cooled down and I was shocked to find that I really COULD run a decent section of this.
I was required to have my glow sticks out a half mile before sunset and had been holding my flashlight and headlamp since leaving the last aid station although I really didn't have to turn it on until I was maybe a mile from camp. They had put up strings of Christmas lights and I could see it from about a half mile away. I was SO INCREDIBLY HAPPY to have this leg out of the way. I cruised in about 40 minutes sooner than I had hoped and was greated with cowbells and cheering from the whole crew and my running friends. What a cool finish line.

Garmin Time - 14:19:41
Garmin Distance - 42.16 miles
Elevation Gain - 7,405 feet
Miles 1-5 - 15:24, 13:58, 17:41, 17:35, 16:00
Miles 6-10 - 18:38, 22:10, 20:16, 21:03, 24:58
Miles 11-15 - 21:34, 17:17, 20:13, 20:52, 26:19
Miles 16-20 - 23:52, 18:53, 18:25, 32:24, 21:21
Miles 21-25 - 18:19, 22:01, 20:55, 23:47, 23:27
Miles 26-30 - 23:17, 24:46, 23:19, 25:49, 25:20
Miles 31-35 - 38:09, 18:56, 17:20, 16:12, 25:50
Miles 36-40 - 20:37, 17:14, 13:14, 14:21, 12:39
Miels 31-42.16 - 11:41, 11:45, 11:03

We all stayed up until the last person came through, which was after midnight.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Desert RATS Stage Race, Day 3 (Race Recap)

Wednesday, Day 3
 
Shortly before starting for the day I was talking with my dad about how awful it was going to be to run in my glasses with no protection from the sun. He loaned me his "clip ons" and to be honest - it was a MIRACLE.
 
Thankfully, it was to be a short day. The first few miles of the course were on paved road. My legs/feet were PISSED. For the first time I was struggling to keep up with the "Three Amigos" (Trish, Sheri and Cindy). I just couldn't do it. It was a gradual uphill of horrible-ness.
 
 
There was a water drop around mile 3 before we turned onto the trail. It still felt REALLY hot and REALLY hard.
 
I caught up with Gene around mile 4 or 5. He is extremely sensitive to the sun and was having a very rough day. In an attempt to cover up he was wearing long pants. Like actual long pants. He was afraid of overheating and overexerting himself so he was walking and taking it easy.
 
I was still hanging back from the Three Amigos and then FINALLY caught up to them briefly around mile 6. We all sort of ran/walked together for maybe a mile. There was a section on the hill where we had to do some climbing and I was in front of them as they stopped to take some pictures. I almost grabbed a snake!! After screaming a minute I kept on and was power hiking up the hill.

 
There was a section down by the river that was a bit difficult to get through with overgrown shrubs. But it was the only section that had "shade." I moved quickly through this area as I was SURE I was going to get attacked by a snake.
 
Another climb out, where the photographer was at the top taking pictures. Then there were a few miles of awfulness.
The trail in the next section was packed down so much it was like running on slick rock. To me, this felt like the hottest day yet. I'm not sure I could have gotten through too many more miles at this temperature. There was NO shade out here.
 
Ran by a ranch (in the middle of nowhere) and saw some cows (that also looked really hot). It was like a glimpse into civilization! I was expecting the course to be about 12 miles, maybe a bit longer, so I was really surprised when I turned a corner at about mile 10.5 and saw the finish area. I was really pleased to have the day be shorter than I expected.
 

Garmin Time - 2:50:19
Garmin Distance - 10.95 miles
Elevation Gain - 758 feet
Mile 1 - 14:07
Mile 2 - 14:47
Mile 3 - 13:00
Mile 4 - 14:48
Mile 5 - 15:59
Mile 6 - 17:32
Mile 7 - 15:04
Mile 8 - 17:28
Mile 9 - 17:46
Mile 10 - 15:37
Mile 10.95 - 14:54

It was amazing to get out of the sun under the tent. However, this section of the course was mosquito central so we had to spray a ton of bug spray. Everyone finished this section under the cutoff.

We headed down to camp at Dewey Bridge where I was able to take off my shoes and assess the damage from my blisters. It was not good. My dad left after lunch so that he could be home before too late.

We had the afternoon free so I spent a lot of the time dozing off in the shade. I also had a 30 minute massage. Yes, this race offers a masseuse for the entirety of the trip. I felt a lot better. During this day the staff also jumps off the bridge into the river. It looked terrifying, especially with how high the river is right now.

We had the staff meeting where the race director said more than once - "you will suffer." He was also keen on saying "this next stage is what this race is all about" and "you will be very remote." Ok. Went to bed early and I think this was the first night in days when I actually slept.

Desert RATS Stage Race, Day 2 (Race Recap)

Tuesday, Day 2
 
Having never really been asleep, I was out of my sleeping bag EARLY. Thankfully, there was instant coffee and hoped I would be able to get more alert before heading out for the second longest day. We found out at our meeting the night before that due to flooding (in the desert, who knew?) that we would not be running the "normal" course and what was supposed to be 39 miles was "only" going to be about 34. We were also told that day 2 is sort of the "make it or break it" stage and that if you could complete THIS day, chances were pretty darn good that you would be able to complete the entire distance.
 
Can you see how hot it is going to be? Millions of degrees, at least
I had NO idea what to expect. I didn't know if my legs were going to rebel completely and if I was even going to be able to run. The "fast" people started out... fast. I figured I would start with a run/walk (no set interval times) to conserve energy. I knew it was (obviously) going to be hot and I had tons of time on the course so I figured I would just take it easy and hopefully not bonk. The first section of the course was relatively flat on dirt roads.

 
There were some amazing views early on and we had a short jaunt through a small canyon where I made sure to take a selfie.

 
I got passed by a huge group of kids on their bikes (we think it was a Boy Scout troop) and one of them yelled "we think you are awesome!" In fact, I think I am awesome too! There was a decent amount of climbing on this day as well, but nothing that took my breath away like that steep climb on the first day. Unfortunately, as time has passed I already cannot remember a lot of what happened on that second day.
 

 

 
 
 
The first aid station cut off of the day was at mile 17.5. I was never so happy to arrive at an aid station. I was SO DAMN HOT. I filled my buff with ice and draped it around my neck. It cooled me down substantially. We had four miles to the water drop at mile 21. Then we had a LONG stretch until the next aid station around mile 28. I was behind Tara (who power hiked with poles) and I was DYING of heat. It was for real so hot. We were on a boring stretch of road that paralleled the railroad tracks. And it just went on and on and on and on. While the aid station cut off for Westwater at 17.5 had been generous (1:45 pm, allowing almost 7 hours to arrive), the one at Cottonwood at mile 28 was 3:30 pm. I did NOT want to miss that cutoff. I passed Tara with a few miles to go and did a lot of walking to get to that aid station. I made the cutoff by about 15 minutes (although we found out later the cutoff was a misprint in our journal and really had until 5 pm to get there). Leaving the aid station and the bottoms of my feet felt like they were ON FIRE. I walked almost the entire last 6 miles to the finish. On the longest road EVER.
 

Coming into the finish line for this one was AMAZING to me. I was so happy that with completing this day that I had an excellent chance of finishing the whole thing. It really put me at ease for the rest of the week.

Day 2 was unfortunately NOT the day for everyone. There were quite a few drops, including Traci (a super talented runner from Florida that was having difficulty with the altitude and the dry climate), Anita (who got lost very early on) and Jane.

Garmin Time - 9:47:01
Garmin Distance - 34.43 miles
Elevation Gain - 2,172 feet
Mile 1 - 12:58
Mile 2 - 12:54
Mile 3 - 14:23
Mile 4 - 14:22
Mile 5 - 16:50
Mile 6 - 17:39
Mile 7 - 14:34
Mile 8 - 15:08
Mile 9 - 14:04
Mile 10 - 16:48
Mile 11 - 16:32
Mile 12 - 17:12
Mile 13 - 24:28 (climb to the top of the mesa)
Mile 14 - 14:53
Mile 15 - 17:06
Mile 16 - 15:07
Mile 17 - 15:12
Mile 18 - 14:52
Mile 19 - 26:09
Mile 20 - 15:13
Mile 21 - 16:09
Mile 22 - 16:02
Mile 23 - 18:00
Mile 24 - 17:57
Mile 25 - 17:29
Mile 26 - 16:23
Mile 27 - 16:52
Mile 28 - 16:43
Mile 29 - 22:29
Mile 30 - 19:03
Mile 31 - 18:45
Mile 32 - 19:14
Mile 33 - 19:11
Mile 34 - 19:18
Mile 34.43 - 16:14

The end of the day did NOT go well for me. My feet hurt SO bad when I got back to camp. After taking off my shoes I discovered I had the biggest blisters, on both feet, in matching places - on the ball of my foot. It felt REALLY good to sit in the shade. While I hadn't been exceptionally bothered by the heat on the first day, THIS day seemed insanely hot. I was drinking and drinking and drinking and my body was just soaking it up. It was also a bit disconcerting that I was not that hungry. Maybe that can be the new diet plan? Exert myself on the surface of the sun to reduce my appetite?

The other issue I was having was with my contacts. My right eye felt like I was going blind. Over the course of the day my vision got cloudier and more blurry. By the time I took out my contacts my right eye couldn't see color or focus on anything. While my contacts had also bothered me the day before, it was not this bad. I was seriously concerned. Even closing my eyes hurt. I made the decision that I would have to run the next day in my glasses - which was not going to be fun, especially with how bright and sunny it was. Boo.

At the nightly meeting we were told that our short "9" mile day was going to be closer to 12 to make up for some of the distance we were missing from current day due to the course changing. I was really dreading trying to run on my torn up feet.

Sheri's awesome husband, Pete, loaned me a sleeping pad. I still did not sleep great but at least every rock in the desert wasn't jabbing me in the back.