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.

Desert RATS Stage Race, Day 1 (Race Recap)

Sunday
 
I had to be in Moab by 6:00 pm to pick up my packet. My dad was planning on volunteering at the race for the first three days, so we were taking separate cars. I had a few hours with A before dropping her off with my mom around 10:45 am. I met up with my dad in Dillon for lunch at the Smiling Moose. Drive was mostly uneventful with very little traffic and some rain near Vail.
 
I arrived at the Gonzo Inn for packet pick up around 5. Showed the staff all my required emergency equipment, spoke briefly with the doctors and picked up my bib and "journal." My dad showed up right as I was finishing up and we went to the Moab Brewery for burgers and a beer. My dad was attending the volunteer meeting at 6:30 and my pre-race meeting was at 7:30.We had a LOT of information to absorb - mostly from the medical staff. Bed around 9:30.
 
Monday, Day 1
 
We were staying at the Super 8 down the street and had a quick breakfast before meeting up at the Gonzo Inn at 7:30 am to load up the trucks. Shuttles to the start line near Loma, Colorado left the hotel around 8:00. It was a nervous ride out that took close to 2 hours. I sat next to a woman, Becky, who WON the Trans Rockies stage race, and she brushed it off like it was no big deal. Um, yes it is!!!
 
We arrived at the start line just before 10:00 am. It was already pretty warm. We took a few pictures and then after a few words from the race director, we were off. I spent the first six or so miles running with Cindy. The first miles were roughly on the course that we ran in April at the Trail Running Festival (only in reverse). We were told to use our daily course maps and journals to avoid making any wrong turns. We nearly made a wrong turn fairly early on, but luckily I double checked my map and crisis was averted.

Me and Cindy

After the first aid station around mile 6 Cindy started to hang back a bit and I figured I should run as long as I was feeling ok so I pulled ahead a bit. We almost missed another turn and were saved by Gene who was using the GPS Gaia app. (Looking back, this may have been worth the $20 investment).
 
I was doing mostly ok - running the flats and downhills and hiking the climbs. The heat was actually not bothering me too much. If I had to guess, we maybe hit high temperatures in the upper 80's or low 90's.
 
The views were amazing. There were some switchbacks around mile 11 that took us all the way down to a bridge... and then we had to climb back up. By this time it was FREAKING HOT and I was struggling to get air on the climb. I felt like I was working crazy hard, it was hot and I was tired. After many false summits, I arrived at the top with Sheri in front of me and Cindy and Trish somewhere behind me. I was super happy to see the second aid station around mile 13. We moved off trails and onto a gravel road. There was a lot of downhill and flats and I didn't find this section too awful.
 
And then I made a STUPID rookie mistake. I was assuming that we were running about 20 miles. Somewhere around mile 18 I could see the flag for camp. I turned to the left as it looked like that was where the trail marking was pointing. After about a half mile I was starting to wonder if I had gone the right way. I could see the flag to my right and the road I was on was kind of winding away from it. when I realized the road was NOT going to connect on that end I realized that I should not have turned off the main road. D'oh! I called the race director to confirm that I was NOT on the correct path and then headed back. I still made it into camp with almost an hour to spare before the cut off but I was pretty annoyed that I had made the wrong turn about a quarter of a mile from the finish and logged over 2 extra miles.
Garmin Time - 6:02:21
Garmin Distance - 21.20 miles
Elevation Gain - 2,175 feet
Mile 1 - 14:46
Mile 2 - 15:28
Mile 3 - 12:48
Mile 4 - 16:38
Mile 5 - 14:46
Mile 6 - 20:59
Mile 7 - 16:00
Mile 8 - 19:21
Mile 9 - 17:15
Mile 10 - 15:43
Mile 11 - 17:26
Mile 12 - 19:03
Mile 13 - 25:30 (the hill that almost killed me)
Mile 14 - 19:47
Mile 15 - 16:46
Mile 16 - 17:33
Mile 17 - 15:42
Mile 18 - 15:37
Mile 19 - 15:13
Mile 20 - 17:30
Mile 21 - 14:57
Mile 22 - 17:28
 
Turns out, I wasn't the only one who got lost. I think close to half the people were "lost" at some point during the day. Lucky for me, it didn't cause me to miss a cutoff. For our two international racers though, it did. Leira (from Spain) and Jim from Canada made a wrong turn very early on and ended up doing MILES AND MILES extra. They both missed the cutoff for the day and would not be official finishers for the event even if they were to complete the entire distance.
 
The confusing nature of the trail markings and people getting lost and making wrong turns sort of set the race off on a sour note. We were told during our nightly meeting that we were all responsible for paying attention and following the markings and that no exceptions would be made for missing cut off times. Ok then.
 
The volunteers set up the tents for us and we got all our things ready for the next day. I did not have a sleeping pad as I didn't have room in my bag and did NOT have a good nights sleep. I had ended up in the middle of the tent and being a light sleeper I woke up every time someone got up to use the bathroom. Every rock in the desert was jabbing into my back. And THEN there was a freak storm. Around 4 in the morning there was a thunder/lightning storm and RAIN (which caused the tent to leak as we had not put up the rain flaps). Going into day 2 I was NOT going to be well rested.

Skirt Sports 5k (Race Recap)

Sunday, June 14
Louisville, CO
Weather - sunny
 
A and I registered for the Skirt Sports 5k when we got an awesome deal. It was only $50 for both of us AND I got a gift certificate to use on Skirt Sports apparel (I was able to get TWO skirts so I'm not sure how this race is even profitable for them...)
 
The 5k started about 30 minutes after the half marathon, but we still had to be up early to drive to Louisville and pick up our bibs. Pick up was fast and easy and the bathroom lines were short. Spent some time before the race chatting with Maureen, a fellow Runners Roost teammate.
 
The race started a few minutes late to allow for people in the bathroom line to start on time. I had every intention of running "easy" since this was just a shake out run before heading to Utah. A and I lined up towards the back and we ran the first mile together. I was not feeling it. My legs were tired and I was trying to take it easy. After the first water station (at mile one), A took off up the hill (and it is a decent size hill, a few hundred feet of gain). She made it look SO.EASY.
 
Happy and fast!
GORGEOUS view of the foothills
I could not even pretend to catch up to her. I was even sort of struggling on the downhills. A friend of mine was running up the hill on my way down and she yelled "she's killing you!" It's true. She was. I took another long walk break when I got back to the aid station. I had her in my sights and she kept stopping and turning around to look for me, wondering why I was so far behind her. (Because I'm old and slow, that's why!)
 
She ran it in to the finish, passing a few people on the way. I came in about 30 seconds behind her.
 

My stats
Garmin time - 33:57 (A ran a PR of 33:29)
Garmin distance - 3.10 miles
Garmin pace - 10:58
Mile 1 - 11:07
Mile 2 - 11:18
Mile 3 - 10:39
Mile 3.1 - 9:10
 
They had CAKE at the finish line. A said her stomach was kind of hurting so she didn't have any, but I had a delicious slice of red velvet cake. We stuck around for awards just in case she placed... and she did! She ended up with first place in her age group (and there were at least two other kids in the under 10 division). So proud of her and she was SO happy with this certificate.
 


Thoughts
  • I didn't especially like the half marathon course when I ran it a few years ago. The 5k was pretty fun, and since it was so inexpensive I would possibly run it again. (They also have a 10k).
  • The post-race food was pretty great. They had Evol burritos, cake and the best chocolate milk ever (well, according to A, I am not much of a milk drinker).
  • The gift certificate incentive was pretty great - made the deal even sweeter.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Week in Review (June 2 - June 8)

Tuesday (26,478 steps) - With A being out of town with my parents in Yellowstone, I had time after work to get some "real" running in. FINALLY, we were experiencing warmer temperatures. I was hoping to gauge how I would feel in the heat. This weather did not disappoint. It was about 90 degrees when I started my run at Green Mountain. For the first time ever (well at least since I've been running) Green Mountain was GREEN. It was really pretty. I stopped a lot, took a lot of pictures. Had a great time.
Wednesday (18,323 steps) - I went for a run in the morning because I wasn't optimistic about the weather in the evening. 4 miles. 4 not so great miles. Not the most fun ever. Went to run club with Heather - where we didn't run because she is injured. Still had a great time.
Thursday (16,744 steps) - Met up with Lisa after work for Happy Hour! We went to a new location in LoDo - Tap Fourteen. The Mexican Chocolate beer I really like was on tap. We had a great time catching up.
It was thundering and lightning like crazy on my way home. Within minutes it was POURING. Again.
Friday (12,520) - Ate pizza. Nothing else.
Saturday (34,439 steps) - Up early for the Run the Rockies half marathon.

So it has been raining like crazy pretty much non-stop for over a month. When we got home it was actually NOT raining, so I quickly mowed the lawn and then headed inside for a shower. When I was getting dressed I noticed the carpet in my room (in the basement) was wet. Thanks to all the rain our basement was flooding... AGAIN. So I spent much of the afternoon cleaning up water. Spent the evening over at Jessa's house.
Sunday (34,299 steps) - Denver Trail half marathon in the morning. 
Immediately after getting home I took a super fast shower and took A to a pool party for one of her friends from school. After THAT, we went with Jessa and Jackson to see San Andreas (which I liked even though it was completely unrealistic), and celebrating at Fuzzy's Tacos for dinner. More cleaning up of the flooded basement.
Monday (16,629 steps) - It ended up being a VERY chaotic day. Without going into any drama or details, I am selling my house. We had the realtor over until it was decently late and A and I had to do some grocery shopping. We ran a mile together and A was super happy to have her first run to write about in her running journal.

Stats
  • 159, 462 steps
  • 40.3 miles run
  • No cross training
  • No strength
Everything Else
  • So now that the cat is out of the bag... selling my house and in the process of selling a bunch of crap and packing. Moving is the worst.
  • My stage race is coming up FAST. Packing and gathering of items has started, as well as the panic of it becoming a reality. I will not have any access to the outside world for at least a few days of the journey - which is probably a good thing. Lots of stress in my life right now and I can use the break.
  • Nothing else.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Denver Trail Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, June 7
Denver, CO
Half Marathon #134
Colorado Half #67
Weather - SUNNY
 
The Denver half marathon was a free race for me. I earned an entry after volunteering at the Westminster trail half marathon on Easter. I picked this one because I figured it would fit into my schedule better than the other events.
 
We drove down to Lone Tree and arrived with about an hour until the start. Picking up our bibs took an extraordinarily long time. Not sure what the hold up was. The race director still uses shoe tags so I know matching the tag with the bib takes a bit of extra time.
 
On the way back to the car I stopped and chatted with a couple that was wearing INKnBURN - for a bit longer than I planned. By the time our conversation was done we had only a few minutes at the car to get our stuff ready and then the bathroom lines (twice) before the start. We started a few minutes late. There was also a 10k and they were scheduled to start only 15 minutes later - a concern for me when running super slow on single track.
 
The first... 5 minutes went well. Then the fire calves started. Honestly some of the worst pain I have felt in a while. I very honestly walked at least half of the first two-three miles. Not fun. For a while I think I was in very last place. Did I mention it was a billion degrees and sunny?
 
 
I've run this trail a few times before - the race I've done twice in November is partially on this course, and the Chase the Moon 12 hour run I did last year was as well. So I knew going into it that there is no shade. I also knew it was hilly but not super technical.
 
Finally after the first aid station (which thankfully, the course split for the 10k and half marathon and I didn't have to worry about jumping off the trail for the faster runners), I felt a bit better. I was still taking it VERY easy.
 
 
This is another trail that has NEVER been green when I have run on it. As much as I will say I am sick of the rain, it makes everything look really cool. I had not looked at the course profile before running so when I saw the leader heading towards me after only about 42 minutes I was thinking wow... I'm even slower than a thought. (I didn't realize that at the fork in the road we would just be on the 10k course).
 
 
Anyway, after a while I was just cruising along, taking pictures, and by about mile 5 I actually started passing people. I took this picture at the turnaround of the half marathon section. Those itty bitty clouds did not move in our direction.
 
 
I was REALLY hot. REALLY thirsty. And pretty tired. This did not leave me thinking positive thoughts for the stage race in the desert. I tried to jog as much as I could and still passed a half dozen people. Went to the turnaround for the 10k, got to the turnaround and... they were out of cups. They were rinsing out cups from the trash and offering them to people for electrolytes. No thanks. I took a gel and headed back the three miles or so towards the finish.
 

L has learned that I get really sad when all the beer is gone by the time I finish. She grabbed me one and had it ready for me when I crossed.

Official Time - 2:45:52
Garmin Time - 2:45:55
Mile 1 - 13:57
Mile 2 - 14:05
Mile 3- 14:16
Mile 4 - 12:25
Mile 5 - 12:17
Mile 6 - 11:54
Mile 7 - 12:34
Mile 8 - 12:35
Mile 9 - 12:10
Mile 10 - 13:07
Mile 11 - 12:46
Mile 12 - 12:07
Mile 13 - 10:52
Mile 13.1 - 8:13

 
Thoughts:
  • ERS races are very affordable - had I paid for this I think it was either $55 or $60. Well worth it.
  • Plenty of aid stations, although running out of cups on a hot day kinda sucks. If I had been using a handheld it would not have been a big deal but since I was using my old hydration vest (to make sure I have it adjusted right for next week), I didn't have anything else to put fluids in.
  • They had food at the finish (I think burgers), but I did not take anything.
  • Jeff (the race director) had boldly stated in his pre-race email that he GUARANTEED enough beer at this race. And he had it! The beer was from Avery Brewing, which is delicious. When I talked to him after the race he asked me if I had gotten my beer. I said I thought his comment was directed at me and he said, "well, I was thinking about you." Ha. Oh.
  • I think the race shirts were probably fine, but again, I'm no longer taking them so I can't say for sure.
  • Course was well-marked and there were markers at every mile. The course measured dead on for me.
  • This is a good course, not too challenging, for anyone in the area looking to take a stab at running on local trails.
  • This is a super busy race weekend so I probably will not be running this again in the near future, but I would recommend it.


East-West Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, June 10 Highlands Ranch, CO Half Marathon #164 Weather - SUNNIEST AND HOTTEST EVER I started watching the forecast about a...