Moab Red Hot 33K (Race Recap)

Saturday, February 18
Moab, UT
Weather - Overcast, rainy, windy
Everyone knows that Moab is pretty much my favorite place outside of Colorado. The Moab Red Hot is one of the few races that I hadn't run before - mainly because I've always been worried about driving in the mountains this time of year. I bit the bullet and signed up last fall when a friend signed up. I was on the fence about which distance to sign up for, and chose the 33K because I wasn't sure if I would be ready for a challenging ultra so soon after Across the Years.

Friday

A had an early release from school. Initially, I figured that she would want to take the entire day off, but for some reason she wanted to go for a few hours. While she was in class I went to Target to buy last minute supplies, went home to finish packing, and then picked A up at school shortly after 10.

We made a quick stop at the liquor store on the way out of town so that I could have "real" beer (all beer in Utah is like 4%). Other than a few bathroom breaks, we drove straight through to Moab. We had decided to be super frugal this trip and brought groceries and a cooler with us so that we could brown bag our lunch and have food in the hotel so we would not need to go out to eat as much.
We stopped to pick up my packet and ran into Jared and his family on our way out. Then we decided that we had time to get a quick hike in - before the forecasted rain hit and before it got dark. I had done some research to find a new hike for us and we chose Hunter's Canyon. It was only about 7 miles outside of town, but we did have to drive on a hilly dirt road (maybe wide enough for 1.5 cars) down a canyon. Not my favorite drive, a little scary! We parked the car around 4:30 and headed out. It was a fun hike - lots of water crossings. We jogged some and hiked some, and completed the 4.5 miles in just over an hour, finishing before it got dark.











Stopped in town at the grocery store to buy a jug of water and a quick stop at Gearheads to buy adhesive spray for my rock tape. Checked into our hotel - the Moab Valley Inn (an upgrade from where we typically would stay, but I had a free night from hotels.com and it had an indoor pool) and then walked across the street to the Brewery for dinner. We were told the wait would be 45 minutes, but we were seated at a booth in about 15. After dinner I got all my gear ready , watched Finding Dory with A, and in bed fairly early.

Race Day

Our hotel was only about 10 minutes from the start, which wasn't until 8:30, so I didn't have to get up super early. I woke up before my alarm at 6:40 or so, and had slept VERY well, which is actually pretty rare when I travel. Got dressed and all my gear ready before heading down to get breakfast. I settled for an English muffin with peanut butter and jelly and a hard-boiled egg. Back at the room I filled my hydration pack, grabbed my gear, and headed out (a bit late) at 7:25. As I was driving to the start, I noticed that people were walking and jogging to the start of the jeep trail - which meant we were NOT starting at the Gemini Bridge lot. I had hoped to watch the 55K runners start since I knew a lot of friends that were running. I decided to skip sitting in the warm car to head over to the start area, although the race literally started right when I walked up. Of course that meant I was now stuck standing around for a half hour. Used the bathroom and then wandered around looking for people I might know until the pre-race meeting at 8:15. All I took away from that was that we were following pink/black flagging.

The wind picked up and I put on my Ultimate Direction rain/wind jacket, even though I was already wearing long sleeves. I even put my hood up! Right as we were starting, so did the rain. It was coming down hard enough that I had water pooling in the creases of my jacket. So that was fun. For a very brief moment I contemplated just going back to the car/hotel. I saw Francesca and we talked a bit until the start.

Ugh. I was just NOT feeling this at all. Knowing where we starting, I knew that the first mile would be uphill, and since I'm the worst at climbing, I started in the back. The very back. Seriously, I turned around a few minutes in and I was dead last. I would remain in last place until we reached the top of the first climb.

Then it was downhill for a bit, and I managed to pass a few people. The first 4 miles or so were the same as the Dead Horse I ran in November (with the exception of not starting at the Gemini Arch parking lot).

The Egyptian bird rock
Where there had been an aid station at Dead Horse, there was simply a sign directing 55K runners to the right (which is where Dead Horse went) and the 33K to the left. I was getting warm so I took my jacket off and shoved it back into my pack. There was a water only aid station that I skipped completely.

This section of the course was flat for a bit, but it was SANDY. Not "loose" sand, but kind of sticky sand that was sort of hard to run through. I hate sand. Eventually, we headed onto the "Goldbar Spike Spider" - which is where it seems we climbed endlessly.
I finally saw Francesca ahead of me, but couldn't seem to catch her. The next aid station was at mile 8 and I arrived at 1:54 (according to the timing mat). I didn't take anything except for a cup of coke. I did, however, put on my jacket. It was super windy and I was getting cold again.

 


I think this one looks like a cartoon character 
This may have been where the first 55K runner passed me


At the top of the mesa, looking down on the visitor center for Arches National Park (A said I was too close to the edge)

Climbing, climbing, climbing. Caught up with Francesca and we took a selfie.
There was a long section of slick rock (think, 5 miles?) that was tough. Some of the markings were tough to see and I wasted a small amount of time looking for markings as there were times that there wasn't anyone visible.
Puddles on the trail - and OH MORE CLIMBING
THIS was super steep
My teammate, run club friend, Michael, passed me at 3.5 hours in. He was running the 55K. Arg.
Finally, arrived at the last aid station at mile 15. Don't really remember much after this. Took a cup of coke and one Reese's peanut butter cup. The course was super wet and muddy at this point, especially on the slick rock. We had a section that was on a jeep trail, and I really hoped I would be able to run most of that, but I was just so tired that I walked more than I would have liked.
There was some technical descent, and then finally just some dirt/rocky section. I knew I was getting close-ish, but how close? Nothing I run in Moab ever measures right.


Some slick and steep descending - passed some people on this
There was a group of ATV'ers with their kids that were on the course when my watch read about 18 miles and they said I was "close" - but they couldn't really say HOW close. I estimated a mile or mile and a half or so. Another downhill section where I jogged, but not my typical "bombing" I'm usually able to muster. I did get passed by a few women I had been ahead of most of the race, so that was disheartening.
The gal on the left in purple I had passed at mile 8 :(
Turned a corner and finally saw a some descending switchbacks and I could see and hear people with cowbells. I could not, however, see the finish line, so I didn't really know how far I had to go. When I got to the last switchback, I saw Michael and he said the finish was right around the corner. It was HARD to run it in, but I managed it.

A "tad" bummed that I came in just over 5 hours - I think I would have pushed a tad harder if I would have known the course better, but ah well. My initial goal was 5:30, so obviously I did better than I hoped anyway.

I managed to catch Sean (who ran the 55K) and Francesca as they crossed the finish line.

We went to the beer garden, but it was COLD, and I was barely able to get through one beer before we decided to just take the shuttle back to the car. Brrr.
Bib #371
Official Time - 5:01:28 (14:43 pace)
Official 8 mile - 1:54:00
Overall Place - 237/262
Gender Place - 112/132
Division Place - 69/77
Garmin Time - 5:01:30
Garmin Distance - 19.38 miles (15:33 pace)
Elevation Gain - 2,802'
Mile 1 - 16:12
Mile 2 - 11:38
Mile 3 - 11:18
Mile 4 - 12:03
Mile 5 - 14:35
Mile 6 - 15:56
Mile 7 - 18:38
Mile 8 - 22:45
Mile 9 - 18:05
Mile 10 - 16:48
Mile 11 - 16:57
Mile 12 - 14:39
Mile 13 - 15:46
Mile 14 - 16:24
Mile 15 - 17:06
Mile 16 - 13:59
Mile 17 - 15:27
Mile 18 - 14:04
Mile 19 - 14:20
Mile 19.38 - 12:47

Drove back to the hotel, took a quick shower and ate some leftovers. Took A to the pool, although all I did was sit in the hot tub for a bit. Maybe it was because of the cold temps and rain, but the pool was CROWDED. We stayed about an hour. Went back to the room and tried to nap.

We later went to Eddie McStiff's for the post-race party. We were all crammed into a private room, but it was totally worth it for free food and beer! We were also treated to a cool presentation put on by Ian Torrence. Also in attendance was Scott Jurek, so of course A had to get her picture with him too.


Interesting the beer was provided by a brewery outside of Salt Lake, not out of Moab
On our way back to the hotel we stopped at the Moab Diner and got some ice cream.

Sunday

Got up around 7:30, packed, got breakfast, and then headed out of town. We had enjoyed our hike at Fisher Towers, so we planned on hiking there again before leaving. We arrived at the trail head at 9:45 to find it super foggy. There was a good chance of rain, but it was dry when we headed out, with only a few other cars in the lot.







It would just figure that when we got about a tenth of a mile from the trail end, the rain started. It rained pretty hard on the way down, which made the trails super slick and muddy. Could not even believe the number of people that were heading UP in those conditions.


We finished in just under two hours, did our best to clean the mud off our hands and clothes, and then started the drive back. It RAINED AND RAINED AND RAINED.

The coolest thing happened on our drive through the canyon - we saw a bald eagle sitting on a rock about 5 feet off the side of the road. I pulled over about 50 yards up and hoped to get a close up, but as I approached, it flew away. So cool though! Never seen one so close outside a zoo.
We were both hungry for a second lunch when we got to Glenwood, so we stopped at Vic's for burgers. The rain finally stopped - for the freak snow storm to start just outside Vail. I drive a tiny Mini Cooper that is NOT 4-wheel drive, and this type of mountain storm is exactly what we had hoped to avoid. It was a white-knuckle drive until we got through the tunnel. Even though it was supposed to be dry in Denver, it was overcast, windy and rainy when we got back into town.

Thoughts:
  • This was probably my least favorite race out of all the events I have run out in Moab. I can't even really explain why, although the crappy weather we had may have helped in that decision. It is a challenging course for sure, and there were sections that were just NOT the most fun for me.
  • The course for the most part was very well marked, although there were a few spots where it wouldn't have hurt to have had a few more flags.
  • The volunteers were fantastic. So helpful and friendly - and really good sports standing around in the cold/wind/rain.
  • The race shirt is cute! A royal blue single (that of course I do not have a picture of).
  • No medal/award for this race, just a pint glass. Never can have too many of those?
  • Will I run this race again? Probably not - my fears about driving in the mountains this time of year were confirmed. Even though there was no bad weather predicted, I guess you never know!
  • I love Moab. Even when it is rainy and overcast, it is still just so pretty and I love going running/hiking out there.
  • We had a great "long" weekend and will of course be back to Moab - just not for this race!

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