Tuesday, March 24, 2015

24 Hours of Utah (Race Recap)

Moab, UT
Saturday, March 21-22
Ultra Marathon #13
Weather - Sunny and warm
After having missed Gemini Adventure's 24 Hours of Utah last year, I made sure to sign up and get there however I could. In the weeks leading up to the event I realized that I was NOT trained for the event. Between having the fire calves and lack of running, I figured it was going to be a struggle from the beginning. But that is half of what makes it fun, right?
I didn't have anyone to travel with me, but the biggest hurdle was going to be getting the time off from work to go. I had plenty of PTO with my old firm but was not eligible for PTO at my new firm since I'm still in my first 90 days. "Luckily," the first week I was employed here was MLK day, which is normally a firm holiday. Because of our move, all of us in the Denver office worked that day so we were given a "floating holiday" for use at a later time. With the time off secured, I was mostly ready to go.
As per the norm, I didn't pack until the night before. Normally I have an idea of what I want to wear really far in advance. This time, I was still deciding at the 11th hour. I took the kids to school Friday morning, did a coffee run with L to Dunkin, and then grabbed my gear and loaded the car. I was on I-70 heading west by 9:30. Luckily the tunnel construction is done and I didn't hit any traffic. I made sure to hydrate on the drive (after I tallied it all up, 5 bottles of water) and stopped in Grand Junction for lunch. Since I was missing #pizzaFriday, I ordered some off the lunch menu and topped it off with a tasty beer.

For the first time the race was offering packet pick-up the night before. I arrived in town too early to pick up (around 3 pm), so I headed to the brewery. While enjoyed a tasty beer, I looked over and thought I recognized fellow blogger/runner Beth from SUAR. I introduced myself to her, finished my beer.

I wasn't hungry for dinner but I knew that once I grabbed my gear and headed to base camp that I would have no other opportunity for dinner. I grabbed a single slice of pizza from the pizza place next to the brewery and headed to Gearheads to pick up my stuff. While getting my gear, there were a couple of new and COOL things for the race. First, they finally have tech shirts!! The other events have all had cotton shirts (which is fine, I still wear them), but I like the tech tee. Also, I found out that they had plans to put LIGHTS on the course at night this year. Music to my ears! Since I was registered for the 24 hour event, I was given one of the lights for free as long as I agreed to carry it on me during the night. Walked over to King Soopers for another big bottle of water and some donuts (one for dessert and one for breakfast) and then drove to base camp.
The port-o-potties had been moved further back into the lot and I parked relatively close to them. I like convenience! Then I took a quick walk down the hill to get a shot of the rock...

I had plans on sleeping in my car. 1). Because I am an idiot. 2). Because I was too cheap to find a hotel. 3). Because I figured HOW BAD CAN IT BE?? (Answers to follow). As I was finishing my piece of pizza, I noticed some Runners Roost teammates and walked over to chat for a few minutes. As it started to get dark I realized I should probably get all my gear ready to go for the morning.

Stuff EVERYWHERE. I was pretty tired from the long drive and decided to start trying to go to sleep around 8:30 or 9. It certainly was dark enough. However. DID YOU KNOW THAT SLEEPING IN BEE RAD WAS THE WORST IDEA EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER? First off, I didn't bring anything WARM to sleep in. I had my hoodie, but nothing else. No blanket, no pillow. So every 45 minutes or so I would realize I was freezing and I'd have to start the car and blast the heat. Then I would finally warm up, turn the car off. Doze off. 45 minutes later, freezing, lather rinse repeat. I barely got any sleep and did NOT feel rested when I got up - I think it was around 5:30. The race was to begin at 7 with a pre-race meeting at 6:45. I waited until about 6:42 to use the bathroom for the last time and drop off my drop bag by the start.

This being my third time at this event, there wasn't anything that surprised me at the meeting. It was a tad chilly and I was ready to get going. (Even though the forecast indicated it was going to be a hot day in the desert).

We started just a few minutes late. I opted to keep my 1/4 zip on for the first loop as I was still chilly. I was carrying just a handheld with Nuun. In the pockets of my shorts I had chapstick, salt and a gel, and my phone was in a small waistpack.

Having barely run in the last two weeks, I knew it was going to be slow going. I secretly hoped for a distance PR (anything over 12 loops), but realistically I knew that was probably not going to happen. I had plans to take it slow and easy and just walk whenever I felt I needed to. I had my iPod on me but I didn't turn it on. As in previous years, I got a bulk of the pictures in the early hours - when the sun is hitting the rocks just right.

First loop was clockwise. I noticed immediately that at the entrance to the trail it seemed like the sand was deeper. I *had* packed gaiters. However, the tape on the back of the velcro would not stick to my shoes so I was out of luck. I realized that the Brooks Pure Grit were NOT going to be a good shoe choice for this course (sadly). Even in the early miles, the slick rock seemed harder than usual. The white markings on the rock seemed harder to see in previous years. BUT I LOVE IT OUT HERE. It is so gorgeous in Moab, it just takes my breath away!
Not that I remember much of any specific loop, but I will spare the details. I kept the long sleeves on for the second loop, although about halfway through I got pretty warm. It was going to be a hot one! I know people get bored/annoyed with loop courses, but I really like them. I like seeing people. I like knowing who is still on course and who is not. I didn't know how many people were registered for the 24 hour distance, but based on bib numbers I had a pretty good idea. I seemed to end up about a loop ahead of two ladies, one who dropped fairly early, and one that I think never ran a single step - but she certainly kept moving.
By about the 4th loop the sun was really getting to me. I was using my Orange Mud handheld (20 oz?) and I was filling it at base camp with water/Nuun at the start of every loop. Most loops I topped off at the unmanned aid station with water on the back side. I could not seem to get enough to drink. The sun was making me feel kinda sick. For the first time probably EVER, I had to force myself to eat - normally I'm really great about eating. I started to get a dull headache early afternoon.


Until I was closing in on one of my later loops - but these weren't going to cool things down at all.

Even the west side of the course seemed sandier than in past years. I had to stop almost every loop to dump sand out of my shoes AND socks. HOW DOES SAND GET INSIDE YOUR SOCKS?? It's baffling. My feet were getting puffy and I was having a difficult time getting my shoes back ON.

Every time I am out here I see this rock that looks like a fist. I either fist pump it if I am feeling good - or I shake my fist at it if I am having a hard time. I think this is about when I realized the race probably wasn't going to go quite as well as I hoped.

I would love to say that if I had a better pair of shoes, or gaiters to keep the sand out of them, that I would have gone for more miles... I don't know if that would have been the case or not. I came into base camp around 5:45 - in time to see the "fun run" runners hanging out by the start. Dave (blog reader) was there and I would later see Todd (who has been out every year I've been to Moab). Grabbed my food, headlamp and long sleeves and headed out. Turns out I could have done that loop without light but I wanted it just in case. About a mile before base camp I saw the volunteers heading out with the course lights. They looked pretty neat!

Put on the long sleeves and changed into capris and then headed back out. It probably wasn't cold enough yet for capris, but I didn't want to change completely in the dark. The loop wasn't too bad and when I got to the backside I was the "fun runners" heading towards me on their first loop. The lights on the course were a variety of colors (red, green and blue) and lit it up SO much better. Finishing that loop got me to 48.33 miles - tying what I had run two years ago.

I could CERTAINLY do better than that... so I headed out again on a moonless night.

The sand seemed worse this time around and the bottoms of my feet were hurting. I came into base camp around 11 pm (shortly after my 920XT beeped a low battery warning - which is weird, because at 16 hours, it should still have over 30% left). I got a grilled cheese sandwich and decided I was going to call it quits with 53.7 miles. The other girl who was still out there was a lap behind me. She said she was going to take a short nap and then go out for two more loops. In retrospect, I totally should have gone out to do one more... but I just... didn't.
I ended up having two sandwiches. I sat and talked with some people until about midnight, when I decided to go to bed. In Bee Rad. For the second night I got virtually no sleep.
I got up early to see how everyone fared for the remainder of the race. For the first year, there would be no 100 mile finishers. All (3?) quit in the night. I had lost victory to the woman who didn't run a step because she was NOT too lazy to go back out. The Wash Park team was running until almost 7 am - logging something like 134 miles between 4 people.
I collected my medal, cowbell and new hoodie (not pictured) and at just after 7 am, started the drive back to Denver.

Garmin Time - 16 hours, 17 minutes
Garmin Distance - 54.4 miles

  • At the time I was totally ok with NOT going the extra mile... now I gotta say that I'm kicking myself. For the solo runners, this was not very competitive field and I could have walked away with a victory.
  • HOWEVER, considering all that I have gone through in the last few months I should probably be grateful that my body held up for the mileage I was able to get done.
  • (A few days later) I'm not very sore and again, annoyed that I could have walked for a couple of hours and won. But anyway!!
  • I love my new hoodie (you all will see it for sure on my blog as I live in these on the weekends!)
  • LOVE my cowbell!
  • LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this event. I will definitely come back for this again, although I would love to NOT have to rush back in the morning or have someone can come with me so I don't have the added concern of driving on little to no sleep.
  • The lights on the course made all the difference. It was so much easier to see where the course was going - especially on the slick rock.
  • Base camp is the best. Grilled cheese is THE BEST. They also had ramen, pasta, hot chocolate, and of course all the other goodies like cookies, chips and candy. (But no beer. I totally need to remember to bring beer).
  • I used my handheld the entire time. It never got annoying! Although my arm is sore - so that is sad and I am weak.
  • I missed a few spots of sunscreen on my back - the race singlet I have apparently doesn't cover my sports bra. I felt the burn in the shower. Owie.
  • Did not turn on my iPod until after 10 pm. I have never gone that long running solo with music EVER!
  • I WAS STILL RUNNING AT MILE 48 OR SO. For me, this is pretty huge. In most ultras, I am pretty much done by mile 40, with just small bouts of running.


  1. Wow 54 miles on minimal training? Pretty impressive if you ask me.

    Awesome photos too. I live about 3 hours north of Moab and have yet to make it down there. One of these days though...

    Your car looks a lot like mine race day too -- with clothing and beverages and such scattered all over the place. Watch out for the empty bottle of adult beverages. That could be construed as driving while drinking in some states even if you are parked and not driving.

    Thanks for the write-up.

  2. Love, Love, Love the shirts this year!!! Very cool. Nice job and good to know they have lights out there now - that's my biggest thing on ever doing a race that goes through the night. It's just hard to find reflective tape sometimes. Awesome job - it was a seriously HOT day in Moab!!!

  3. I have lived in Utah and Moab is one of my favorite places to visit and I haven't heard of this race challenge. Very cool, and you did amazing for not running much the weeks leading into it. I couldn't imagine sleeping in my car for a race, it seems uncomfortable, but at the same time far cheaper than the prices that Moab charges during race season there:) Great job on your accomplishement, I have always wanted to try an Ultra, hopefully one day!

  4. The pictures are beautiful! Hope to get to Moab soon it's definitely on my bucket list.

    You always get it done, WTG!


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