Monday, July 14, 2014

Chase the Moon 12 Hour Endurance Run (Race Recap)

Highlands Ranch, CO
Friday July 11 - Saturday July 12
Ultra Marathon #10 (?? Who am I??)
Weather - Humid, warm

I was BEYOND excited when I heard that the same people that put on the Bear Chase Trail Race were going to be putting on an ultra AT NIGHT. I was so excited for Chase the Moon that I set my alarm and registered the second registration opened at midnight (obviously, there is something wrong with me). Like all the times in the past I have signed up for something crazy, I had grand aspirations of training. That didn't really happen, but I was still excited to see what I would be able to get done.

The race started at 7:00 pm on the south side of Denver in the bluffs of Highlands Ranch. I took the day off from work in hopes that I would be able to sleep late (lolololol), relax, and then head down to the race. I pretty much have no recollection of how I spent the day, but I left for the race around 4:35 on Friday afternoon. We have been having some really hot, humid and moist weather in the metro area. I was relieved when the temperatures began to drop a bit (from mid 90's to upper 80's) for the forecasted high for the day.

Pretty much the minute I pulled out of my driveway, it started POURING. There was thunder, lightning, TONS OF RAIN. The temperature dropped about 20 degrees. Well, I would obviously run in cooler weather, however, I didn't especially want to get struck by lightning or end up on a muddy trail.

Oh wells.

So apparently, even if you are driving on the outskirts of town, Friday is still Friday and traffic was AWFUL. I had planned on getting there early (before 5:30), so I could get everything situated. Traffic was CRAP and my 38 minute drive took closer to 70 minutes. PLUS, it was still pouring. This was starting to not sound like the most fun ever.

I found Mountain Vista High School with no problems, parked my car, and walked over to get my bib. I like the "no waste" races where you just get your bib and your shirt. The shirt is gender specific, and the Chase the Moon logo on the front glows in the dark. Cool!!

I still had over an hour to kill before the race started. I texted my friend Dan (the guy that paced me during my 100) to see if he was there yet. After using the bathroom, we wandered around the start area chatting with other runners and locating the tents where we could place our drop bags. We ran into Luke and Courtney and they offered to let Dan and I leave our bags under their tent.

Me, Dan (in grey), Luke (in orange), Courtney
By this time, it is almost time for the last minute course instructions. I finally see my fellow INKnBURN ambassador, Jeff, and we get a quick picture together before heading over to the start line (where I used the bathroom one last time).

I seem to have missed some of the instructions, but I wasn't too worried. I would be starting towards the back and I could just follow everyone else, right? Of course... The race included solo runners, as well as relay teams of either 3 or 5 runners, and it seemed like there was about 100 of us standing at the start. Dan and I had briefly discussed running together, but he decided to run alone to start with, and would decide later if he wanted to slum it with me in the back.

At the start line
The first section of the course was on pavement heading up to the trail. It was uphill and I was already jogging slowly. I still managed to have the fire calves early on in the race, and within the first 10 minutes, I was already one of the last runners in the back. No big deal, I had plans to be out there allll niiiight.

(Flashback from memory AFTER the race). I had been thinking I had never run this section of trails, and I was sort of right. The super flat sections that were not single track I actually HAD run before on a training run with Runners Edge last summer.

Anyway, like usual, I had not looked at the course at all before the race and I really had no idea what to expect. I figured that the bluffs were going to be mostly exposed (which it was) and not too technical (which it wasn't). However, I always get confused with "elevation gain" and I was thinking... oh, 774 feet (or whatever it was) per loop... that's practically flat. (LOLOLOLOLOLOL).

Basically, the course was much hillier than I expected and I was taking it very easy. We took the first turn on the the trails maybe a half mile in. I was planning on taking all my pictures in the first loop while it was still light out.

Jeff managed to get this picture of me as we are heading out on the trail
I ended up chatting with the gal in front of me quite a bit. She was so nice!
Dusk is coming...

Finally, after about a half hour, my legs started to feel less angry and I started to pass some people on the course. I still was stopping to take pictures - the sky looked amazing.

There was (what felt like) the longest out and back section ever to the Grigs aid station. In the runner guide it said that it was a fluid only station, although they did also have some pretzels and gels. I was feeling great at this point (you know, 3.7 miles in) and turned around at the timing mat to head to the next section of the course. We got more single track on the way down and part of the trail was actually somewhat shaded.

I'm really not a great trail runner to begin with, and frankly, running at night on trails does freak me out a bit. I have no idea what might be on (or off the trail), I don't want to fall, etc. etc. I was hoping to get as many miles in as possible while it was still light enough to see, and before I got too tired. I passed a few more people before getting to aid station. Most were very gracious about stepping to the side. However, one woman (wearing a Marathon Maniacs shirt) said "you can pass but I'm not stepping off the trail." Oh. Super. Thanks so much.

Shortly after passing through the Outlaw aid stations, I decided I better get my headlamp ready. In the past, I've been wearing it around my waist as it seems to light up the ground better for me. I don't know what the deal was, but I could NOT get it to angle right and after about 5 minutes I decided I better adjust it to just wear on my head. That was a catastrophe. Every time I adjusted it and put it on my head, I would try to tighten it and the band would come out of the gripper and I had to start all over. At least this kept me occupied for the greater part of the THREE MILES until I got back to the starting area. Back at the start, I refilled my Nuun bottle, grabbed a PB&J sandwich and a fig newton, and headed right back out. I have learned that if I am not careful, I can easily waste a LOT of time at aid stations. I might as well eat and walk at the same time.

The date of the race was chosen specifically because of the "super moon" we were supposed to have - the moon was supposed to be "bigger and brighter." Unfortunately, because of the storms we had earlier, it was fairly cloudy, and I don't remember seeing the moon much until well after midnight.

The first section back to Outlaw didn't seem too bad, although I did almost step on A FROG, but luckily it jumped out of the way. I did scream an outburst, which seemed to amuse the runner heading towards me. After that, I was REALLY looking at my feet more often. I did notice that all the creepy crawlies were out, and the bugs (specifically something that looked like a cross between a roach and a beetle) were disgusting and were scuttling around.

Grabbed some peanut butter pretzels at the aid station and headed out toward Grigs.

I have pretty much no recollection of much of this section. I think this might have been where I was thinking, wow, I don't remember there being so much downhill on the way out. This is pretty steep. I was running alone the entire time and never felt like I could get lost. It did get a bit lonely out there by myself, but I was still feeling pretty good. I was still making decent time. I used the bathroom at the aid station and on my way out, the volunteer asked if I was Rebecca. I said I was, and then she pointed to Dan, who was lying on the ground next to the table. He was suffering from a migraine and was dropping. when I left Grigs and headed back into the start/finish. On the flat stretch, I saw a buck jump across the trail - that was cool. This time I just grabbed more food and then headed back out.

And here is where things went horribly awry.

I was heading back out for the third loop. I had left the start/finish area before midnight and felt that I was making good time. I was following some runners heading up the hill, and that is when I made a classic rookie mistake....

I knew that we were going to head out on the trail to the left... We were going up the giant hill, and I see a turnoff. Two women are heading up the hill and I hear them talking about a "missed turn." I stop and turn... something doesn't seem right. But I see the tape and there are glow sticks... I ask a guy behind me "is this where we are supposed to be going?" He says, it's obviously the course and jumps on. I follow. I see runners heading towards, me, I'm obviously on the course. I am running well, and then all of a sudden... I'm on pavement. Wait. What? There should NOT be pavement here. I had, in fact, re-run the last section of the course for EVEN loops, not the correct direction for the ODD loops... I realized this for sure when I got back to the split in the course. WTF. I'm ready to cry. I have just been running (in essentially a circle) for the last 45 minutes. I'm pretty much BACK at home base. I immediately text Dan. I'm disoriented now, I don't know what to. Had I been thinking clearly, I should have just turned around, ran back up the hill, skipped the trail section altogether and headed to the aid station.

What I did INSTEAD, was get back on the trail, going the "correct" way. So basically, I ran an extra 2.4 miles... This completely messed me up for the rest of the race. I was in a crappy mood now, and I had no idea how long it was going to be until I got to the aid station. I hadn't had any fuel. By the time I got to the aid station at around 1:20 in the morning. My 3.7 miles from the start/finish to Grigs had taken over 1:45 with the detour (instead of the 46-50 minutes it SHOULD have taken).

Dang. It.

I'm running a lot less now, I'm just sorta bummed about my "free miles." I'm thinking it is now IMPOSSIBLE to get my 5 "official" loops in, and now I'm wondering if I can even do more than my four loops. I'm doing a bit better by the time I get to Outlaw, and the run back to the start is not memorable. I did, however, put on my tunes (for the first time on a trail race/run in MONTHS), which helped a tiny bit.

I'M STARVING by the time I get back. I grab a full half PB&J sandwich, more peanut butter pretzels and fig newtons. I've been downing a cup of Mountain Dew or Coke at EVERY aid stations, and this is no exception. I head back out and I'm able to run pretty decently until I get back to Outlaw. The hills between Outlaw and Grigs pretty much kill me. My legs are hurting pretty badly and I have to keep stopping to rest because my calves are SCREAMING.

I do NOT remember there being so much uphill. I swear, I have amnesia. The course does not look at all like I remember. WHAT IS HAPPENING :(

I know I'm ON the trail, I keep seeing runners, but I am very disoriented due to my extra mileage and feel like I will never get there. My Garmin is still running - surprising, since I thought the battery life was 8-10 hours. Finally, I get a low battery beep on my watch... unlike the 405, it does not, however, tell me how much battery is actually left. I stopped it and saved my run just over 10 hours in. My head was still hurting from my headlamp, but it was bright enough now that I could take it off. Headed into Grigs and I know for sure that I am going to be done after this. For a brief mile or so, I thought that if I got back to home base with at least an hour and 10 minutes to spare that I would try to get more official miles by going back to Grigs.

However, those last miles back to the start would tell me there was no way that was going to happen. Finally, the sun started to come up... the wind had picked up though, and for the first time during the race, I was a bit chilly.

The last few miles lasted FOREVER. I had managed to go most of the race without being passed and I had a few runners pass me on the single track. I just had nothing left in me. I hit the pavement and thought I might be able to run the downhill, but it hurt too bad. Finally, when I turned the corner and I could see the finish area, I tried to jog it in. Can you tell how much pain I'm in???

I managed to cross the line, and they asked me if I still wanted to head out for another lap, as I had 10 minutes before they would not allow anyone to go back out. UM NO. 

I stopped and grabbed some cookies at the aid station because I WAS STARVING. Glad the photographer caught that on camera:

Cookies make me happy
I'm guessing I'm scowling because it looks like the Flappin' Flapjack people are tearing down!
First order of business after some initial calorie intake is the medal. I saw a volunteer with bags of medals, she asked how many laps I completed and I told her 4. She pulled a medal out and then slapped a "sticker" on the base of the medal:

Womp. That was disappointing. I actually ran an official 41.2 miles, so to have it say 50k when it was a "12 Hour Run" made me a little sad.

Official Miles - 41.2
(With bonus miles) - 43.6
Time - 11:24:12
Overall Place - 49/92
Division Place - 7/14
Lap 1 pace - 13:22
Lap 2 pace - 13:50
Lap 3 pace - 16:05 (thanks to the detour)
Lap 4 pace - 16:37 (thanks to the walking)

I dropped off my gear at my car and then sat with "Elevated Legs" for a wonderful and much-needed massage. I managed to meet up with the girl I had been talking to at the beginning of the race and we walked the 1/4 mile to the post-race party at the nearby park (since there is a "no-tolerance" policy for beer, we couldn't have it at the start/finish area). You know what makes me REALLY happy? Kiddie pools filled with beer.

So. Delicious.
I stuck around for 2 beers, food and the awards, and since it was already after 8, I figured I better head home.

  • Overall, this was pretty fun. I have only run one other race that started at night. I really had no idea what to expect. I knew I would be slower at night since I'm a scaredy cat, but I was really planning/hoping on running 5 loops (51.5 miles).
  • Related: LOL
  • The course was tougher than I imagined and I didn't get nearly the training I needed done to seriously be able to tackle that many miles. I had not done any runs longer than a half marathon since March - so I don't know why my A goal was so ridiculous.
  • I am NOT upset with where I finished. I am upset that I made the rookie mistake of not looking MYSELF for the course and markings. I KNOW BETTER.
  • With that said, the course WAS very well marked. There were flags all over, markings in the dirt for the light hours, and glow sticks on the trail or hanging from trees for the night hours. Me screwing up is just on me, but I'm still a bit disappointed by it.
  • I'm a bit disappointed in the aid stations - only because of how amazing the Bear Chase aid stations are. After being out MUCH longer than expected, I really needed some real food, and there wasn't anything there. Again, I probably should have had my own fuel on me.
  • I ran in the Pure Grits I won a few weeks ago - they were just fine! My toe tips felt a little tender when I was done, but no blisters and still have all my toenails.
  • I LOVED running with my Orange Mud vest. It is really the greatest.
  • I don't know if I would run this race again. I enjoy the ultra experience, but running alone, at night, in the dark, is not the most fun ever.
  • FREE FREE FREE race pictures!!
  • Overall, really good for an inaugural race!


  1. Sounds like a tough run! Great job getting in 41 miles. I am always impressed with your ultra runs, I think that is pretty bad ass :)

  2. This actually looks REALLY fun.

    I'm not stepping off the trail<<<< WHO DOES THIS. Jerk.

  3. This does look fun! But sorry about the mix-up. That's terribly disheartening.

  4. my eyes play tricks on me when i'm in pitch black (aka no street lights) so I can't imagine spending hours on end in the blackness. Its funny to me when i look at your photos while running and how the sky looks so close- then i remember you're way high up in elevation where here I am at 500 ft lol.

    Good job on finishing- very impressed.

  5. That sounds like a fun race! I wish I lived closer so I could go on these adventures with you.

  6. I could never do that - first off, I'm nearly blind at night, and second I was pissed off that I over ran my last 1/2 by 100 meters by missing the turnaround in broad daylight! That was a great post - you did awesome! Congratulations!

  7. Great write up and awesome job out there!!!


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