Ultra Marathon #6
Weather - WINDY and COLD
The short recap of the event is that it was pretty much the exact opposite of last year. (Last year I trained, this year I didn't. Last year was a billion degrees, this year was Arctic, etc etc).
I was SO happy that my sister in law Lisa agreed to join me for the weekend. I had forgotten it was my niece's birthday and my dad said he couldn't come with me. All week long we had been watching the weather and it looked like we might hit some trouble in the mountains. Snow was in the forecast the WHOLE weekend. We took A to school and immediately headed out. There were some icy sections but it was not nearly as terrible as we imagined. However, we did get stopped for a bit near Vail for avalanche control.
And then by the time we finally got through, we of course had to use the bathroom. We stopped at a rest area on Vail Pass. There was a TINY bit of snow:
Lisa fell asleep and I had a fairly uneventful drive. I was STARVING by the time we got to Grand Junction. We put some gas in the car and after getting a bit lost, we found a Chili's. I had some delicious Cajun pasta.
We were touristy enough to take some pictures at the state line:
From the state line it wasn't that long until we got to base camp. Thankfully, I vaguely remembered the location from last year, plus it not being dark helped a lot. The plan was to get the tent set up and then go into town to get some dinner and food for the morning.
It was windy. I was doubtful about our tent pitching skills in PRISTINE conditions. This did not go well.
And then we finally got it up...
We ended up putting about 300 pounds of rocks inside the tent to weigh it down. The ground was so hard that only 1 of the 4 corners spikes was even in the ground. Crossed our fingers that the tent would still be there when we got back and headed into town. We had dinner at the Moab Brewery. It was DELICIOUS, along with a local beer, Dead Horse Ale. Tasty. We picked up donuts for the morning at City Market and then headed back to camp.
The wind had not died down at all and it was FREEZING. I had brought the same sleeping bag I took with me to Peru and figured I would be nice and warm. NO. I was NOT. Once it got dark there was nothing to do and we were both pretty tired so "lights out" was around 9. I barely slept. The wind was insane and LOUD. I kept waking up because of the noise and the cold and the fact the tent was pretty much collapsing in on us.
I woke up WELL before my alarm went off. Turned out to be a good thing as apparently I don't move too quickly in the cold. I wasted probably 20 minutes just hovered in front of the heater in the car trying to get warm. When I had been looking at the forecast I figured with highs in the upper 40's that I would be fine wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Lisa thought I was insane. It WAS a bit chilly so I figured I'd dress a bit warmer for the first loop and could adjust later as necessary. I did NOT use any body glide (anywhere) and I wore a brand new long sleeve shirt as my base layer. Turns out, that worked out nicely.
Lisa had not registered yet for the 6 hour nighttime "fun run" and I needed to get my packet, so we headed over around 6 to get that taken care of. I was still SUPER slow getting my stuff together. I was still scrambling at 6:44, and barely made it to the mandatory pre-race meeting. I wasn't too concerned about it since I had already been through this all last year. Lisa got a picture of me at the start and then headed back to the car to stay warm.
In addition to NOT wearing shorts, can you tell I have ALL THE CLOTHES ON?? I had on a long sleeve shirt, short sleeve shirt and a jacket. Capris with compression socks, a ski hat and my awesome CIM bandanna/tube thingy for my face. Turns out, I would keep this ensemble on THE ENTIRE DAY. That should tell you how cold it was.
Start was at 7:02. This year there was a 50k added to the distance series so there were a few SUPER fast people out on the course. Like last year, I started in the back. Knowing the course, I had a conservative plan for the day. Jogging or walking up the inclines, running the flats and downhills at always an easy pace. I knew better than to care how "fast" everyone else was going. I knew how easy it could be to overexert myself.
The cold was brutal. I was wearing gloves and yet my hands were still freezing. I wanted to get some pictures on the course again, especially during the first loop when the sun is coming up and the rocks look especially red.
It was so cold that when I went to take my first drink out of my hydration vest I couldn't because the water in the bite valve was frozen. Gross. I kept hoping that once the sun came up that it would get warmer. It didn't. For 2 loops during the day, I took off my jacket thinking I would be more comfortable. It wasn't. The winds made the already cool temperatures even colder. I was doubting my ability to even MAKE it to night, much less 24 hours.
Honestly, the race is a blur. I was cold and spent most of the race looking down, trying to keep the wind off my face. As I remembered from last year, everyone was really friendly and I made sure to at least wave to the other runners. I was taking a gel at the end of every loop so I could toss my trash at base camp. I had to pee every time I got there, so even though I wasn't draining my pack, I guess I was drinking enough for the conditions.
|I think the rocks look like knuckles - every time I ran by I'd think - Moab is giving me fist bumps! (See, this is the type of crazy thoughts I have during an ultra. Maybe I've shared too much).|
Sometime early afternoon, I noticed that it looked like storm clouds were rolling in. In addition to the fact it was not supposed to be windy all day, there was also supposed to be a 0% chance of precipitation. Not LITTLE chance, NO chance. And then, the snow started. Thankfully, it was a tiny amount of flurries for maybe a loop. Nothing major and it went away before it got dark. I met up with Lisa around 4:30 at base camp while she was getting everything ready. She snapped this pic of me, which is after 32ish miles:
Lisa had spent the day sightseeing at Arches and I was going to be coming in to base camp around 6:15, so she held off on starting her 6 hours until I got there. We made sure to get some pictures in before it got too dark:
|Doing a zombie walk in my zombie shirt....|
We wandered back into base camp around 10:25 and I had NO qualms about calling it quits. We sat around the heater and ate some pasta. We had ZERO plans of trying to sleep in the tent again, so we warmed up the car and slept in there. Woke up a few times because it was cold, but it was MUCH better than the tent.
In the morning, we stopped by the results tent to get our official finish times. While we were waiting, we got some delicious grilled cheese sandwiches. YUM. Turns out, the cold had messed with a LOT of people and I ended up with this:
|Second place female!|
Loop 2 (10.74 miles) - 9:49 am
Loop 3 (16.11 miles) - 11:22 am
Loop 4 (21.48 miles) - 1:04 pm
Loop 5 (26.85 miles) - 2:47 pm
Loop 6 (32.22 miles) - 4:33 pm
Loop 7 (37.59 miles) - 6:16 pm
Loop 8 (42.96 miles) - 8:14 pm
Loop 9 (48.33 miles) - 10:26 pm
Total Miles - 48.33 in 15:24
Overall Place - 5/9
Gender - 2/4
Last years winner ran 91.29 miles. This year, she ran 69.81. Last year I ran 64.44 and ran 16.11 less this year. I think part of that was lack of training, but most of it really was the weather. Throughout the entire day, I never felt like I was comfortable and my hands were cold all day. Overall, I am very pleased with my finish. Other than being cold, I had a great time.
Of note, this year there were only 2 finishers in the 100 mile division, whereas last year there were 3. This is NOT an easy course for the 100 distance!!
The drive back to Denver was ok. We stopped in Grand Junction again for gas and also got some food and coffee at Starbucks. We hit the snow about 20 miles before Vail. The drive was a lot slower as the roads were pretty icy and the snow was coming down pretty hard. Luckily, we missed the ski traffic and got out of the mountains by 1:30. We had lunch at Smashburger. After showering, it was time for naps. I unfortunately had to take her to the airport around 8:00 since she had to be at work the next day.
- Every time I do an ultra I say:
- This is dumb.
- Why am I doing this?
- I'm never doing this again.
- And then as soon as I'm done...
- Maybe I'll come back next year.
- I am really glad I had brought some warmer clothes for layering. They helped quite a bit, but honestly, there were people on the course in actual ski coats and pants. I could have put on more clothes.
- I really should have brought hand warmers. I might have done another loop if my hands wouldn't have been so cold.
- I only ate 4-5 gels the whole day. I ate LOTS of M&Ms and had some chicken soup after loop 7. I also ate about a billion Mike & Ikes. They are delicious.
- I filled my hydration vest with grape nuun. I only drank about 3/4 of what I had put in there. The entire day. Last year I think I went through 3 filled packs.
- I had some birthday cake after 5 or 6 loops. THAT was delicious.
- I am really happy I had different shoes this year, they were a lot more comfortable.
- I think if I were to do this again, I would need a for real, legitimate "pacer" to get me through the night hours. I get cold, and then I stop.
- I am pretty sure I will be back next year. Moab is gorgeous, the event is top notch and I absolutely LOVE that it is still a small event. I recognized a few people from last year and I know that the same people will be back next year. I just hope there is better weather next time.