Two weeks ago, I ran my first race of the year-Moab’s Red Hot 33k. This race was much different than the races I typically do. It was trail, but not the trails you’d typically think of upon hearing the word-it was more like rock running/climbing at times even! I signed up for this race originally because my friend who I met in Ohio wanted to come out to visit us and do a race with me. This one lined up with the dates we could both do it, and was “close enough” to us that it would work. I trained for this race purely for distance-I did about 2 speed workouts, and also about 2 trail runs. I planned on just doing it for fun with my friend. However, about 6 weeks prior to race day, my friend got injured and was unable to race! It was a big disappointment for both of us, but once I found out, I decided that if I was still going to do the race, I better try and do well in it! Ha, a little late to start hard-core training….
Anyway, so we drove down to the race site the day before (it was about 4 hours from our home), picked up my race packet, and checked into our hotel for the night.
Race morning came, and it was about 40 degrees, windy, and slightly raining. I went back and forth in my mind over what to wear, and finally decided on short spandex and a long sleeve shirt with ear warmer and gloves.
I drove to the race site (hubs stayed at the hotel with the kids since it wasn’t a spectator friendly course, OR nice weather) and found out it was even more windy at the parking lot. I quickly used the port-a-potty, and ran to the start (yes, the start was about a mile away, but I didn’t mind because I had to do a warm-up run anyway).
I got to the start right when they were getting ready to begin the pre-race meeting. Perfect timing! During that meeting, the race director strongly recommended wearing a wind-breaker jacket of some sort…..um….whops. Let that at home! I immediately thought I was doomed as I looked around and saw nearly every other race had come prepared….sigh. People who’d done this race before DEFINITELY had an advantage!
Anyway, the meeting ended and I did a couple strides before lining up at the start. The “gun” went off, and I was on my way with the lead pack. Holy cow though, the lead pack was fast! After about 2 miles, I couldn’t keep up with them anymore as we spent the first 2 miles running straight up this rocky path. I wish I’d known then that was the “easy” part. The next several miles after that though were downhill and on sand. Sand that was thick, and wet, and deep. It was super tiring!
At about mile 6, we started to go up again, and it felt like we would never stop! At about mile 7.5, I was beat. I had to walk for a bit. I was beginning to despair, but then a group of 4 guys caught me. They too were tired, so we ran together and took pictures together until reaching the 1st aid station. (which I found out was actually the second one, but the first one looked like a personal aider because it was one guy in a jeep with a gatorade cooler)…
After the aid station, I had a second wind. We were now running downhill (on super steep, diagonal, slick rock), so it was physically a bit of a rest, but very challenging mentally. Sadly, after about a mile from the aid station, the four guys spread out-some left me, and others fell behind me. So, I was once again running by myself. And this would be the case for the remainder of the race.
I spent the next several miles running through the hardest part of the course-the “Golden Spike Trail” section. This area was completely open to the wind as we were running on top of the rocky ledge. The rocks were diagonal and jagged, and during one spot, I literally had to climb up the rock on my hands and feet to get up it! This section was also challenging because it was difficult for them to mark the course well. I found myself off course for just a second at least 3 times. Thankfully I never got off course for real, but I know of several people who did!
I made it to the last aid station (yes, there were only two “real” ones), and felt like I was running completely by myself. I was super relieved to see it because I was afraid that I was running the wrong trail! When I got there, I was surprised to find out that I “only” had 5 miles left of the race! My watch wasn’t tracking the distance correctly, so I thought I had 7+ miles to go. That news spurred me on, and I was able to pick up the pace….for about 5 minutes until I hit a “sandy” section again. This sand was the same as near the beginning of the race….only more wet due to hours of rain..yay… I literally trudged my way through it. I almost got lost again, then started getting passed by the fast 55kers, so I had people to follow again. We entered the last section which was what felt like MILES of downhill, jagged rock switch backs. At this point, my feet were KILLING ME; I was literally complaining with every step. A guy passed me and I asked “how much father?”. He said we were about a half mile, so I tried to keep going. I finally saw the finish line, and just then, a girl passed me. I said “oh, honey, why are you doing this to me?” And then I sprinted because I didn’t want her to beat me. I crossed the finish line first, but I found out later on that she actually “beat” me because her timing chip crossed the start after mine did, so her time was faster. HA, stupid me.
So, I finished the race in 3 hours, and was 6th place female. And I’ll never do that race again! It was SO beautiful, but SO not my style, haha. I’m glad I did it though as it was a fun experience and probably good for my mental strength. Hoping for better luck at my next 2017 race in May!