Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Moab 240 (Race Recap)

Moab, UT
Friday, October 9 - Tuesday, October 13
Ultra Marathon - #28 (?)
Weather - Lots of temperature fluctuations, but no rain or snow!

Like Tahoe, I signed up the morning registration opened, New Years Day. Remember back when the world wasn't a complete shit show and we thought we were going to do all these things? I kinda do. So I had big plans to do lots of training and running and other hard things to prepare for another LONG race. Ben signed up on the wait list and was moved onto the entrant list not too long after.

Then COVID happened. The only races we ran all year were Bandera 100K in January and a small 30K in Telluride in early August. Not to mention, Ben was HIT BY A CAR (while on foot!) in early September - which had him not running at ALL leading up to the race.

You might say that all these things were a recipe for disaster... 

Thursday, October 8

We were up early and had last-minute packing and loading up the truck. We dropped A off at school and then we headed west, stopping in Denver-West to pick up Zach on our way. The drive was pretty uneventful, only delays were construction zones in the mountains. We stopped in Palisades at the brewery for lunch - it was DELICIOUS.

Because of COVID, we had only an hour window to check in for the race, clear medical, get mug shots taken and drop off our one drop bag. (Because we had a big crew, we opted to not do a sleep station drop bag or multiple drop bags). We arrived towards the end of our check in time - around 2:45. Everything went pretty smoothly, and before we knew it, we were ready to go. We made the risky decision to buy the Moab 240 hoodies before the race because they were already running out of sizes. I really hoped this wasn't going to jinx anything!
Photo: Scott Rokis

Photo: Scott Rokis

Photo: Howie Stern

Photo: Howie Stern
We still had some time before we could check into our BnB, so we planned to get a beer in town. We couldn't find anywhere we could sit on a patio with a drink, however, so we just picked up some beer from the brewery. By then, it was time to check in anyway.

The night before a big race always seems like a blur. Finalizing what you want to wear, looking at the weather, getting everything laid out and ready to go. We were waiting for Heather and Josh (coming up from Telluride) and Jandy to arrive before making dinner plans. Finally, we decided to just order pizza. Jandy and I ran into town to get more beer, and then it was just time to wait (and wait and wait) for our pizza to deliver. It took over two hours, wtf, never again!!!! I was up MUCH later than I wanted to be. Ate a few quick pieces, then headed to bed.

Race Day

I didn't sleep well. Again. FitBit claims I got around 4.5 hours - wheee, just the perfect amount heading into 5 days of racing. Ugh. We had originally set the alarm for around 4:30, giving us about an hour to get ready. I woke up 45 minutes before the alarm and we just decided to get up. Good thing we did, we actually used all the extra time to get ready. Because of COVID, we were not having a mass start. Based on our estimated finish times from registration, we were separated into waves of 40, starting 15 minutes apart. We were in the second wave, starting at 6:15 am, and we were not supposed to arrive more than 20 minutes before our start.

We got out the door on time, parked, and then headed over with Jandy and Zach. We had just enough time to get our spot trackers and use the bathroom before it was time to line up. We got a quick pre-race picture, and then the count down started. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, goooo....

Start/Moab RV Park to Hidden Valley (0-9.3 miles)

Unlike Tahoe, we had an "easy" start to the race. We started towards the back of our wave, in the dark. Opting to skip the use of the Kogalla to save weight, we were just using our headlamps. We figured we would only need the light for the first few miles.

The course started on the bike path, heading west out of town. With it being paved, we were doing a run walk - hoping to start banking time very early on. The early miles were also going to be a gauge of how Ben's knee was going to hold up - and so far, so good.
Sunrise #1
We remained on the road for maybe 4 miles before entering the trail. The sun was up by this point, and we were already hiking more than running. We were also starting to get passed by the faster people that started in waves behind us. Nothing too memorable along this section. 



I had to use the bathroom at the aid station and it was a few minutes wait, which was annoying, especially since the person I was waiting on was just a casual hiker. We topped off water, grabbed a bite to eat and headed out.

Hidden Valley to Amasa Back (9.3-17.8 miles)

Don't remember too much about this section. It was definitely getting hot, and there were portions where it was pretty steep. I definitely remember catching up to the lady that was hiking that took forever using the bathroom. It was hot, and we were moving pretty well. Some hard times finding course markings on the slick rock, and the first time we had to pull out the Gaia app to make sure we were still on course coming down the Jeep road with some running on the road until we got to the aid station.



Amasa Back to Base Camp (17.8-32.8 miles)


Our crew came! We had told them they didn't need to come since it was so early in the race, but it was nice to see them. Since they were there, we had them fill our packs and grab food for us. Also went ahead and changed shoes - sadly I was already getting blisters! Ugh!! As happens every time crew is there, the stop took longer than planned. We grabbed our night/cold weather gear and headed out, marveling at how freaking heavy our packs now were. This section had a lot of slick rock and was pretty technical. AND IT WAS HOT AF. 



What sort of deceased creature is this??
We arrived at the Jackson's Ladder trail, and Scott Rokis got some really cool pictures of us at the top. Then of course, we had to go down. This section was really steep and technical, but thankfully, not that long. We had been able to see the trail down in the valley below and it seemed like mere minutes before we were down there.

Photo: Scott Rokis
This section was hot, hot, hot. I was glad to have the sun hat, but it was also irritating on my head. (I am usually good wearing a hat for a few hours, but after that point they really bother me and feel tight and itchy). I managed to run out of water in this section, which freaked me out since it was "only" 15 miles long.

We were really excited to arrive at the next aid station.
Base Camp to Breaking Bad (32.8-57.3 miles)

Until we actually GOT to the aid station, and then we were annoyed and angry. First off, there were no cold beverages at all. They were completely out of all sodas and had no caffeine. Other than a daily cup of a coffee, I don't drink or consume a lot of caffeine, but I'm definitely notorious for struggling to stay awake in long races and I was pretty irritated that they didn't have anything that would help going into our first night on the trails. We also really struggled with getting our packs filled. The volunteer overfilled both of our packs, which led to our stuff getting wet (we weren't allowed to touch the water jugs because of COVID) and there wasn't anywhere dry to put our bags down to re-stuff all our stuff back in. We were at least able to finally get some real food, and I grabbed a hot dog to eat on the way out. We did see the local giant tortoise - which was really cool!
This is Kobei!
The section immediately leaving the aid station was SO sandy and pretty steep. I already felt like half the desert was in my shoes. I was walking next to Ben and looking at my handy dandy elevation chart cheat sheet when I slipped on a rock and landed decently hard on my right knee and elbow. Ben immediately panicked and thought that I had hurt myself, but I was fine, just needed to walk it off. We had about 4 miles until we got to the unmanned water station - which thankfully actually had water, so we were able to top off our bottles.


At this point, I also pulled out my Kogalla, as it was going to be getting dark before we knew it. Weirdly, this 20 mile section between the unmanned water station and Breaking Bad was probably the worst mentally for me. I don't know if it was the heat, the general annoyance with the aid station not having what I wanted or WHAT, but I had a melt down shortly after it got dark. I felt like crap, like I should be at mile 80, not at mile 40 or wherever we were. After a short pity party, we both threw in headphones and headed out into the night. This section was surprisingly not technical or steep or very challenging, so it was actually the perfect segment to do at night. EXCEPT... we were both SO TIRED. It seemed like very early on we were negotiating nap breaks, and I was getting super discouraged with how this was going. Ben was also not doing well - not because of his knee, but because he was dry heaving and hadn't been eating or drinking anything. 

He was starting to lag behind, and since we had made the decision prior to the race that if either of us was really struggling and holding the other back, that we would separate. Ben will tell you that I left him at 1:18 am and he immediately used the inReach to text the crew and tell them that they were to ensure I finished and to not move resources around. I definitely felt bad about leaving him, but I knew that I was quickly losing my buffer and I would not be able to make that time up if I took too long. 

It was also still insanely warm out. I still had my sleeves rolled up and was wearing a skirt and I still felt hot. HOW was it still so warm in the desert at 1 in the morning??! I ran some sections here and ended up passing a half dozen people in the dark. I was still super tired, however. I remember finding a really cool slab of rock that was slightly angled and I laid down on it and looked up at the stars. I wasn't able to sleep, but I did have some moments of clarity about how cool it was that we were even out doing this event.

Shortly after I stood up, I finally FINALLY saw the sign that Breaking Bad was a mere mile away.
Breaking Bad to Indian Creek (57.3-71.3 miles)

I was definitely not in great shape when I arrived. I was determined to be in and out of the aid station quickly. This aid station was ALSO out of soda and ice?!? Ugh!! They did, luckily, have some instant coffee, but it wasn't the same. I was still hot, and drinking hot coffee was not on my list of things I really wanted to be doing, but I definitely needed the caffeine! I know I ate something here, but I can't remember what. On my way out I told the guy checking numbers to watch out for Ben and make sure that he ate/drank while he was there. He assured me that he would get Ben in and out and that he would make sure he caught up to me.

I was still pretty tired, and this section continued to be long and not technical. I continued to have to lie down in the dirt and take super short naps. 
Taken after sitting up from a dirt nap
Much to my frustration, I could not sleep, but at least the few minutes of closing my eyes seemed to help. FINALLY, the sun came up and I was looking forward to seeing crew and hopefully getting some sleep at Indian Creek.

We had to run down a really sandy section to get to Indian Creek, and I was really glad I'd soon be out of my stupid shoes.

Indian Creek to The Island (71.3-87.1 miles)

The crew seemed a bit surprised to see me, but immediately jumped into action. I gave them the quick run-down of what happened with Ben, even though I knew they had already heard from him. Had some quick food, got my feet cleaned up and then went to lie down in the back of Josh's truck. I wasn't optimistic about getting sleep because it was pretty loud and HOT, but I still requested a half hour (or an hour? I can't remember).

All of a sudden... Ben shows up! 

He ended up napping after I left him on the course, was able to get back on track with his hydration and nutrition and made up some time to catch me on the course. I told him we should head out together, but of course he wanted to sleep as well. We agreed he would take 15 minutes, then we would head out with Zach.
Wings were fun!
We headed out of the campground on a dirt road, stopping at the bathroom since there hadn't been one at the aid station. From there we had to run along Highway 211 for a few miles. I actually didn't really mind this section that much. After all the dirt, paved road actually felt pretty good. Like in Tahoe, I got my first bloody nose of the race with Zach - is there a correlation?? We had to cross the road to get on another dirt road that would take us to the next trail section. Two young guys that were working at the Island aid station came up behind us - and assured us that cold sodas would be waiting for us.

We were both SO TIRED and SO HOT in this section. We gave Zach the monumental task of finding us shade - which he did! We called this the magic "Adam and Eve" tree. I still didn't actually nap here (Ben did) but the shade helped a ton. 
We struggled on our way through some open washes. 
Most of the conversation here was about all the things we wish we could do that involved colder temperatures and/or cold beverages. I also vaguely remember Zach singing songs from Pocahontas, insisting the aid station was "just around the bend." At some point, I realized that by clicking a way point on Gaia, we could gauge how far an aid station was (although it's how the crow flies, and not trail distance - it helps).

The Island to Bridger Jack (87.1-102.6 miles)

Fun surprise at this aid station was Dulce and Ariel showing up!! We spent a bit more time here (again) than we should have, but at least they DID have the cold sodas, as promised! We got some food, loaded up our packs, and headed out for back-to-back segments with Jandy.

We warned her that I'm defective and still hadn't slept, and told her as it got closer to sunset, that we would likely try to lie down and nap again. The early part of this section was really nice single track, and we were in a good mood here. We also saw a really beautiful sunset.



At some point, segments run together. I have no actual idea what this section was. It was dark, and I feel like there were areas where there might have been steep drop-offs, but I don't actually remember.

Bridger Jack to Shay Mountain (102.6-121.6 miles)

It was definitely cooler than the first night when we arrived at Bridger Jack aid station. The volunteers were making "Egg McMuffins" and I remember thinking - I wonder if that is trademark infringement, lol. The food was delicious, and it definitely hit the spot. I was pondering what food I wanted to take to go when I started putting on my layers. It was at that point I realized I didn't have my warmer pants! Apparently the crew had made the decision to take them out to lighten the load. UGH! Ben also discovered he didn't have his puffy coat. Luckily, we had enough layers that we made it work, but this gave us the incentive to more closely monitor our packs as we left crew, especially for these long sections (30+ miles) where we wouldn't see them again.

We headed out and it was still dark, and we knew this next section was supposed to be one of the "worst" and hardest sections of the course. I'm still of the opinion that doing a bulk of it in the dark was beneficial - I couldn't really tell HOW awful it was. There were sections that were definitely confusing in the lower wash section - is this even a trail? How would anyone know to go through this tall brush? We had some boggy creek areas that we had to cross that were also confusing. After not having any issues for many hours, I had another massive bloody nose. Luckily, I remembered I had thrown a small spool of gauze in my pack. Using nail clippers I was able to cut it down to fit easier in my nose. Again, like Tahoe, super enjoyed having crap up my nose. For the remainder of the race, I was pretty careful to pull my buff up over my nose and mouth in dusty sections - my cough was starting to get worse, and so were the bloody noses. I certainly didn't want to end up with that debilitating cough like I did in Tahoe! There may have been more attempts at trail naps, but I don't remember.

We still couldn't figure out where all the climbing was going to be after a few miles. And then all of a sudden, there it was, about 10 miles after leaving the aid station. It was now daytime, and the climbing was HORRIBLE. It was steep, it was rocky, and it didn't even look like a trail. I was really glad that I knew this was coming, as it helped me prepare a bit mentally. I did not enjoy this segment, which we later nicknamed "garbage rock" trail. We finally crested the top, and silly us, we thought we were "done" with this segment. We had a nice descent down a groomed road, although I noticed I was having some cramping. I didn't figure this was a hydration issue, as I had emptied my bladder nearly ever segment. I made a mental note to be on top of electrolytes.






We got to the bottom of the road and realized that we would now have to go UP the road. I kept looking at Gaia and thinking we would HAVE to be at the aid station momentarily, and yet it seemed like we were NEVER going to get there. This gradual climb almost seemed worse than the garbage rocks. Jandy's watch was measuring a few miles long, which didn't help our frustration levels. FINALLY, we got to the aid station.

Shay Mountain to Dry Valley (121.6-140.1 miles)

Halfway done. OMG, we have done all this and we are ONLY HALFWAY DONE?! Ugh. We had burned through most of our buffer, but if I didn't get some sleep, we were going to be toast. Luckily, Kristin was our next pacer, and she had TicTac the camper with her. After we ate, she let us lie down. I FINALLY SLEPT!! The 90 minute nap was incredibly rejuvenating. 
Heather made us the most delicious breakfast!!

We changed clothes and exited to the camper to find... completely different weather conditions than when we had gone in! Instead of sunny and hot, it was cool and cloudy and looked like it might rain? This didn't change our packs much, but I think Kristin added some extra gear just in case.

We realized that there were very few people left at the aid station and decided to not let it bother us. I had spent some time heading into Shay looking at the course profile, and we thought with the nap and feeling better, that we might be able to bank some time in the next few segments.
Kristin was a wonderful pacer! She kept everything very upbeat and was fine with our interval running. The first part was on the road, and we were able to get a decent amount of running in before we moved onto the dirt. Even the dirt section was really not that technical. That storm that we thought was rolling in missed us completely, and we still had a really hot and exposed section. 
We moved really well through here, only stopping for a few minutes to sit on a rock and eat the burger we had grabbed from the aid station.

Sunset #3!
Luckily, we had grabbed our lights, as it did get dark before we finished this section.  When we were maybe a mile outside the aid station we saw/heard a family that was cheering us on by name! That was fun! This segment was also really sandy, but it was a cool white sand.

We pulled into Dry Valley feeling a little chilly, but good.

Dry Valley to Wind Whistle (140.1-153.7 miles)

No time to nap at this one. I changed into my tights and put on warmer layers. I remember eating, but also being a little disappointed that there weren't great "to go" food options. I believe we had coffee before heading out.

Zach was going to be pacing the next two segments. After how well things had gone with Kristin, we were sure that things would continue this way.

We were wrong.

Zach started out in thin long sleeves and we were concerned he was going to be cold. He insisted he would be fine, and that he did have other layers he could put on "if" needed. If. HAHAHAHAHA.

We did a few intervals here, but Ben was feeling a bit of pain, and so we held back a bit. This section was a long dirt road that never turned. Ever. It went on forever and ever and nothing interesting happened, which is maybe why it made us both insanely tired.

We knew Zach wanted us to keep moving, but we were both struggling. When we started sleepwalking, we pulled out our bivvy and took a trail nap. (FYI, two people can't really fit in a bivvy well, but it was about a 15 minute nap I think, and I did sleep). The sleep never seemed to be enough. I put in music hoping that would get me to move better, but it didn't. I don't remember Ben telling me I had to nap again, but they threw me into my bivvy in a ditch and he and Zach risked hypothermia so I could have a 20 minute nap.

I did feel better after that, and Zach led the way getting us to do some run/walk towards Wind Whistle. We passed a runner that looked even worse than I felt, and it was nice to gain some ground on someone for once. We turned onto a road and this section also seemed to go on FOREVER. Finally, we arrived at the Wind Whistle campground.

Wind Whistle to Rd 46 (153.7-167.3 miles)

It was both a blessing and a curse to have a campfire going at this one. I was SO freaking cold here. Zach got us some ramen, which was delicious, and perfect for the temperatures. (We heard later it was sub 20 degrees!) I got a blanket and dozed off in front of the fire. Zach let us stay longer than he would have liked, but I'm sure the extra sleep helped. After having some coffee, we headed out.
This section was no warmer than the last one! Imagine, we are wearing multiple layers of pants, plus an R1 tech hoodie, puffy coat, winter hat, mittens, etc. It was SO SO SO COLD. 

This section was also not technical at all, and rather boring - until we finally saw the sun coming up on the horizon near Needles Overlook! We were SO happy to finally see that. We convinced Zach at sunrise to let us take another nap. 8 minutes was all it took, and we were good to go for the rest of the segment.
What can I say? I like being big spoon...
We did get passed by a few runners here, and even had one runner heading towards us! He had lost his glasses and heard that someone had left them near a marker. We tried to get him to turn around as none of us had a ton of time to waste, but he kept going. Maybe a half mile down the road Zach saw them hanging off a shrub near a marker (that I completely missed, even looking for it). We put the glasses on a pile of rocks on the side of the trail and hoped he turned around soon enough to find them.

With the sun up, we were feeling a lot better. We got our picture taken near the Looking Glass, and briefly turned on our phones to see that we actually had some cell service. Before we knew it, we had to cross the road and were at the Rd 46 aid station.
Rd 46 to Pole Canyon (167.3-184.9 miles)

We had spent a good portion of the race planning to DNF. Between the heat and the blisters we both had, issues with not sleeping, we weren't in a good spot. We HAD to nap here, and knew that we were basically blowing our entire buffer. We both realized that if we didn't get some rest that we would be completely screwed the rest of the race. We allowed enough sleep (and yes, I slept again!) that we only had 45 minutes (!!) until cutoff leaving the aid station. 

We both left fairly upset and pissed off about our circumstances, especially knowing that Heather would be pacing us through the most difficult section of the course, between two segments - nearly 9,000' of climbing to the highest section of the course.

We had a small section along the road that we did some "angry" intervals on, before turning onto the trail. We were back into the exposed rocky sections and it was once again hot AF. Heather definitely tried to lighten the mood early on, but we were both wanting to wallow in our pre-DNF sorrows, assuming that this would be our last segment on the course. So close, yet soooo far away.
We hiked as quickly and efficiently as possibly, making sure that we were eating and staying hydrated. Up, up, up... we realized that the caffeine pills hadn't made it into Ben's pack, so Heather convinced Josh to meet us at Pole Canyon.
This segment was really kind of a blur. We finally caught up to a few runners! Both Ben and I ran out of water, and luckily, Heather had thrown a spare water bottle in my pack (with caffeine in it!) because I ended up drinking most of that as well. It was a funny section where it was still super hot and exposed, and then we went around a corner, and immediately started putting on warmer gear because we were in the shade. The sun hadn't set yet, but it was close, and it was getting cool - especially with being so high up!

Within a half hour or so, we were in full cold weather gear again. We were thinking it was still a while until we got to the aid station, and then all of a sudden we were there!

Pole Canyon to Geyser Pass (184.9-201.4 miles)

Arriving sooner than expected at this aid station was a HUGE mental boost. Maybe we weren't down and out after all??

We told Heather we had to treat this like a non-crew aid station, even though Josh was there, because we didn't want to blow any of the time we had just gotten back. I sat by the fire and ate, while discussing our mandatory gear with the volunteers who were checking to make sure we had everything.

Also "exciting" was the search and rescue team that was heading out the same time as us. We knew him then as runner #192, but I think anyone that watched the live stream will remember him as the final finisher of the race...

The runner's spot hadn't tracked in a long time, so they were heading out looking for him. They instructed us to also keep an eye out.

This section was definitely going to be the hardest section of the course. I am a crappy climber, not to mention we had already been on course over 185 miles! The first few miles out of the aid station weren't that bad. We couldn't see ANYTHING on this section. It was super dark and all we could see was whatever was in the range of our Kogalla. We could see outlines of trees, and we assumed that it was really pretty in the daylight. The trails were covered in fallen leaves. Weirdly, it was not nearly as cold in the La Sal mountains as it had been in the Dry Valley and Wind Whistle sections!

Things were slow going here. Lots and lots of climbing, and not much relief on the downhills, as they were also very steep and technical. We could tell that there were drop offs, and we tried to stay alert and awake. I don't know if it was adrenaline, but I did not feel fatigued most of this section. I think my brain probably knew that we didn't have any time to spare, so I was in pure survival mode.
Every ultra should have an obstacle course!
There were a TON of downed trees - this section was a bit more dramatic

We came across runners here and there, chatted briefly and just kept going. At one point Heather told us to go on ahead because she was going to try to communicate with Josh, and we heard her talking to someone on the course. She later told us that it was a runner that had fallen asleep on a log and forgot to set an alarm and us talking woke him up. (We later realized it was #192, but she had forgotten to ask, and we didn't make the connection until the race was over).
Ben and I were both getting irritated with this section. It was hard, we were tired, and we were just over it. At one point Ben couldn't find something in his pack, and took it off on the side of the trail to dig through it and accidentally stepped on the bite valve for his bladder! The tip of the valve broke off, which caused him to lose all the water in his bladder. We spent a few minutes looking for it and never could find it. "Luckily" it was cooler and it was night, and he still had some in his front flask, but basically he was out of water for hours after that.

Moods didn't improve much as this section basically beat us into submission. We were all incredibly happy to get off the technical trails, only to discover that we had to go up a steep dirt road to the Geyser Pass aid station. Much like the road to Shay Mountain, it seemingly went on FOREVER. We knew we were cutting things close, but we told Heather to go on ahead and let crew know that we were going to try to sleep for a half  hour - essentially eliminating all extra time. Jandy came running down and met us and told us where to go to check in.

Geyser Pass to Porcupine Rim (201.4-223.9 miles)

We arrived and very quickly got our shoes off. I gave very strict instructions to crew to NOT mess with packs at all, other than to add water to our bladders. We got to lie down in the back of Josh's truck. It was a bit too warm to sleep, and I was still coming down from an insane caffeine/adrenaline buzz, so I didn't sleep. The 45 minutes went by SUPER quick and before I knew it Zach was knocking on the back window to wake us up.

I changed clothes in the back of the truck, and we popped out for our last day on the trails.

It was COLD, but we ate some food and had some coffee, all while sitting in front of the heater Josh had brought. It was only maybe an hour or so until the sun would be up (I think, we only left the aid station with 30 minutes until cutoff), and we opted to leave our Kogallas to save some weight in our (still very heavy) packs.

Jandy led us up more of the dirt road. We finally had to shed our outer layers, and then we had a descent and jumped onto the trail.



The goal of this section was to be efficient and get as much running in as we could. It was a beautiful section of the course, and thankfully there were not too many climbing sections, and there were places that we could actually run. I spent a LOT of time looking at my watch in here - wondering if we were making up enough time to finish.

Once we exited off the beautiful single track, we were dumped onto another dirt road, that slowly switchbacked down the mountain. We got a decent amount of interval running done here. It was hot (AGAIN) and we both were struggling with needing to sit and try lower our body temperature.

Finally, we ended up on the Sand Flat road - a section I remembered from when I ran Desert Rats stage race in 2015. I knew this section was long and sandy and dusty. Somewhere maybe an hour or two away from the aid station, I blew a snot rocket and my bloody nose, which had been silent nearly two days, came back in full force. Earlier in the race I'd had Josh and Zach cut me new strips of gauze, which I couldn't find in my pack. I ran out of the tissues I had. And my nose would NOT stop bleeding. I was getting frustrated and took off my pack and sat on the side of the trail in the shade so I could go through everything. I didn't find it. Ugh... new melt down.
Then when I stood up, I realized I had sat in some prickly crap and I had a million hair like needles sticking out of my hand. I also realized that they were stuck in my butt. Now I'm also irritated by this. "Luckily" I had some tweezers in my bag, as I had to pull down my pants and have Ben pull out the needles so they didn't "re-stab" me with every step.

All of these things added more time... we were getting closer to running out of it, and then we got the news that our crew got stuck in the Moab construction traffic. I tried to not panic, and just hoped that we wouldn't have to wait too long for them, and that they got the memo that I was going to need to change clothes and deal with this bloody nose. We also asked them for popsicles.

Porcupine Rim to Finish (223.9-240.2 miles)

The crew showed up right as we arrived at the aid station. They promptly handed me a chair and a popsicle so I could get started right away. First, they wanted to deal with my bloody nose, which was not improving. As soon as I pulled out the tissue, it was bleeding again. I briefly changed clothes, and then for over an hour, Dulce and Jandy were helping me get the blood to clot. It was so frustrating and infuriating, because I knew that my race was over if I couldn't get it under control. Finally, with a few rounds of chemical cauterization, after eating some iron (spinach), I had the blessing from the medic to continue. We now, however, were really running out of time.
Pretty sure Ariel is giving me a pep talk here


We left the aid station only a half hour before cut off. I had opted to run this section without poles as I was SUPER tired of carrying them. I was in a super shitty mood. Did you know that having a giant wads of gauze shoved up both nostrils is incredibly annoying? I had to breathe through my mouth, which was causing me to cough from breathing in dust. Every time I tried to get something to drink I'd end up choking because I couldn't get air. Eating wasn't really going to happen either. I still felt one of my nostrils "gurgling" but Ben and Ariel assured me that everything was fine, and it was working as it should. After about an hour and a half, they finally agreed to let me "re-cauterize" and it was a lot better after that.

Ariel, who is 14 years old and has never paced before, did an amazing job. She recognized the mood, she recognized that we were shells of the people we were five days earlier. She knew we were hurting. But she also knew that we were up against cutoffs, and was completely relentless in getting us to that finish line.

Before we knew it, we were off the upper, technical section of Porcupine Rim. As the sun began to set, we had some nice sections of single track that we were able to run before getting dumped into the scary and weird slick rock that Ben was SURE was actually ice. (Obviously, it wasn't, but he was sure it was and was moving VERY slow through here).
Ariel, pacer extraordinaire!

Sunset #5!
My right ankle was started to bug me so I was trying to jump carefully off rocks so I wouldn't agitate things. We could tell there were drop offs, and tried to stay alert. We passed a couple runners in this section. As it got darker, it was more difficult to figure out where we were going. Ariel kept reminding us that we were not moving fast enough and that we needed to get it together.

Holy crap.

Down we go, and things are not feeling any better than when we were going up. I was finally allowed to take the gauze out of my nose, and we saw Howie taking some pictures (can't wait to see these)... down we go, and it's still too technical to move quickly, especially in the dark.

We smell smoke, and realize we are finally getting close to the campground and the road that will take us back into town. Ariel says we are still moving too slow.

We drop down onto the road and have to run on the shoulder for a bit until we access the bike path. We are totally turned around at this point and can't figure out where we are in relation to town. We do know that we can't see any lights, so we are unfortunately not that close. I keep pulling out Gaia to see how far out we are.

We are doing a run/walk that seems very fast and ambitious and pass another few runners when we are maybe a mile or so out of town.

Finally, we can see some lights. We still aren't sure how far out we are. I'm looking at my watch, and things are going to be close... All of a sudden, we see the traffic light by the RV park. We hear people cheering and we know we are close. We run into the finish line holding hands. And just like that, the race is done. We made it.

So with COVID and the staggered starts, our early start technically gave us an extra 45 minutes to run the course, with everyone having the same 11:00 pm finish line cutoff. We didn't want a "COVID" finish, so we still wanted to complete the run in under 112 hours. And we did. Barely. We came in at 111 hours, 54 minutes and 35 seconds. Talk about a nail biter!

We selected our buckles, got our post-run mug shots taken, and then joined our crew for pizza and beer.


We made it only about a half hour before we decided we were too cold and tired to stick around - so sadly, we didn't see 192 finish in person, although we did see a few more runners come in. I managed to fall asleep in the car on the way back to the BnB. We tried to stay up for a bit to chat with our crew and to finally look at social media, but we were too exhausted.
Jandy, Heather, Josh, Me, Ben, Ariel, Zach & Dulce post-race

Official Time - 111:54:40
Overall Place - 124/127
Gender Place - 25/25 (Clearly a male-dominated race!)
Garmin Time - 111:54:35
Garmin Distance - 235.0 miles
Garmin Pace - 28:34
Fastest Mile - 13:09 - mile 2 (honorable mention to mile 235 that was 15:18!
Slowest Mile - 57:26 - mile 152 (must have been lots of trail naps)
Elevation Gain - 27,405'

(Many pictures contained in this post are courtesy of crew and pacers - Heather, Jandy, Kristin, Dulce and Zach)

Thoughts
  • I am so happy that this race was able to happen!! So much crap went wrong this year, and it almost felt "normal" to be out and about. Obviously there had to be changes to how races normally happen - which was frustrating at times, but WOW, thank you for this event, and to all the volunteers and entities that made this possible!!
  • Would I run this again? No - I'm good. I've now done 2/3 of the Triple Crown races and am signed up for Bigfoot next summer. Maybe then I'll be done with these crazy distances? lol
Gear I found essential (almost everything is the same as Tahoe)
  • Orange Mud adventure pack
  • Kogalla RA - Batpak 3 for the lightstrip, and carried the Batpak 1 for phone/watch charging
  • Petzl head lamp - which I actually used instead of Kogalla in a few sections
  • Leki Micro Vario carbon poles
  • Hoka One One Speedgoats (Versions 2, 3 & 4...) - I rotated through three pairs. Still got blisters on the insides of ankles, but they are still mostly comfortable.
  • Zensah and Stance crew socks
  • Dirty Girl Gaiters
  • Zensah high neck sports bra - ZERO chafing! I wore the same bra the whole time (I still also like the Smartwool seamless bras, but the last version SUCKS in terms of high impact support & I opted to not wear an older one that might be looser)
  • Oiselle mittens and stretchy cheap gloves
  • Patagonia - Houdini for early cooler miles, R1 TechFace is a perfect layering piece
  • Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer 2 Hoodie - this packed down a lot smaller than my Patagonia micro puff
  • Sun hat - I had a freebie Hoka one that I wore the first day or two, and then it disappeared. It was great while it lasted. 
  • Columbia Silver Ridge lite plaid shirts with Omni-Shade UPF 40 sun protection & roll up sleeves
  • INKnBURN skirts and tights
  • REI rainwall pants - these are great for layering because they can go on over shoes
  • Saucony fleece-lined pants - I was REALLY happy to have these as a layer in the Dry Valley & Wind Whistle segments
  • Patagonia better sweater hat
  • Buffs - both for COVID and dust and cleaning up blood
  • Goodr sunglasses 
  • Garmin Fenix 6S - I had the whole route loaded in my watch again, and it was very helpful. I added a battery percentage to my main screen, and I think I only had to charge once a day
  • Jaybird Tarah Pro wireless headphones
  • Honey Stinger chews and candy (Swedish Fish & Sour Patch Kids). For the most part, I eat real food. I didn't think there were quite the options that Tahoe had, but I loved having guacamole for flavor and calories on almost every sandwich and burger. I still do not have issues eating food. With the COVID situation, most aid stations had ziplock bags or put food in foil so I could keep in my front pocket for snacking on the go. I also had my own stash of bags in my pack for trash and for food when aid stations were out.
  • Nuun tablets - I broke these in half and kept in a separate ziplock. The newer tablets don't have the line down the center and I find them hard to break. I think 1/2 is perfect portion for a front soft flask.
  • BASE performance salt and Bob's Pickle Potion
  • Chapstick! (Unlike Tahoe, I didn't lose a single stick this time!)
  • Squirrel nut butter
  • Wipes!
  • Gauze, nail clippers & tweezers. Next time I'll have chemical cauterization or nose bleed kits on me. This seems to be a common theme for me in really long races. 
  • Cough drops - I am glad I had these on hand the whole time. Moab is dusty and I started coughing early on.
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
(Will update with professional pics as they are available).

3 comments:

  1. Thanks, I enjoyed reading all of this! You took about the same time to finish as I did in 2017, but because the starting lines were different, you ran some sections in day time that I ran at night, and vice versa. It was nice seeing pictures of sections that I never got to see. It's been a while since Desert RATS 2015! I hope we cross paths again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Gene - we will likely see each other at Bigfoot next summer! I'll join you for a party in the back of the pack. Thanks for reading :)

      Delete
  2. Now, if that isn't the most romantic honeymoon ever...lol.

    ReplyDelete

I adore comments and I read every single one. Thanks for reading :)

Week in Review (November 10 - November 16)

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