Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Moab 24 Hour Run

Race #7 of 2013

I could either be extremely depressed about my experience this past weekend at failing to go 24 hours or I could be extremely happy that I have another 50K under my belt.

There is an apprehension to sharing about this race because I feel like I failed miserably.  
After a roller coaster of emotions and having the weekend to process it I am now going to try and put it all down here so I can remember the good and the bad and hopefully learn from it.

I felt like I had prepped so hard for this adventure with long 3 and 4 hour runs on Saturdays and easily 1-2 hour runs everyday of the week.  I was putting in easily 50 miles a week.  Major problem was they were ALL on the treadmill.  I should have been out training in the winter cold.

Looking back now I know that wasn't enough miles.  I needed to get out there for many more hours if this body of mine was going to be able to handle a longer adventure. If I'm to attempt this again I really need to find a good training plan. 
I didn't do any nighttime runs which caused me to panic come race day when it started turning to evening. I bought a really good headlamp but didn't have the opportunity to try it out because I was just worn out. After 10 hours on the trail, I quit before it turned dark.  I was so excited to listen to a book on my ipod even while traipsing around in the dark.  Pretty sad that didn't happen though.

I felt like there were 4 strikes against me even before starting the race.  Wind, cold, little sleep and one more I won't mention.  It just wasn't my day.

The morning we were getting ready to head out of town this was about half of the load I had been rounding up and getting ready for hubby to pack.  
The view out my front window the morning we headed to Moab.  If this was any indication of what we were in for I wasn't going to be a happy camper.

Friday morning me and the hubby got all packed and ready to go.  At the last minute hubby decided we needed to take our son's vehicle since our car wouldn't have been a good choice with all the gear we were taking.  So he spent some time getting burned out headlights replaced and brake lights changed.  Checking the oil and other fluids was necessary too. 
Driving South to Moab and away from the Northern Utah bad weather had me a little hopeful that we would be ok.  But watching the wind blow as we got further South made me extremely nervous.  We could see the dirt clouds and major winds blowing everything in sight.

We arrived at the camp spot and just sat in the rodeo hoping the winds would die down.  We watched other people trying to set up and give up because the winds were so extreme.  We finally braved the winds and got out and did it.  Gale force winds I tell ya!

Once it was all set up and the rodeo was unloaded I was so hungry and ready to head into town about 15 miles away for some food and shelter and warmth.  The wind had already blasted me so bad and I was freezing.
This was part of the RD's camp spot and they had postponed setting up as well due to the high winds.  They had attempted it once but put one of their tents back down.
I felt so bad for the one and only person I knew at this race, Rebecca.  You can read about her Moab 24 experience.  This was her tent after she worked so hard getting it pitched.  The wind was just relentless! 
We went to a place called ZAC's for a yummy pizza buffet with soup and salad too.  It was warming and delicious and I didn't want to head back out to the lonely, dreary camp spot to freeze again.  But we did.  We got our teeth brushed and faces washed and put on three layers of jammies and hunkered down in tight in our sleeping bags for a restless night's sleep.  The wind flapped that tent all night long and sleep was not my friend this night. 
My alarm went off at 5:30 am and I turned it off and reset it to wake me up at 6:00 am.  I think that last half hour was my best sleep all night. Getting out of my warm sleeping bag was pure torture though. I had to muster up all the strength in every fiber of my being to do so.  I went over to the RD tent to get my shirt and packet and my whole body chattered from head to toe.  There was a pre-race meeting at 6:45 am mandatory for all races.  I got myself there but was in no way shape or form ready to start running at 7:00 am.  I watched all the runners lined up ready to go and promptly at 7:02 am they headed off.
I stood there watching, not even believing where my brain was.  I was not starting this race with any of them.  I headed back to the rodeo and climbed in to warm up.  I had a little melt down and wondered what on earth I was doing here??  What was I about to do??  And why was I even here??  This was not like me at all and I was mentally not ready for this race.  My dear hubby came out of the tent and climbed in the rodeo and sat there and talked to me.  He was helpful in getting my mind ready.  He told me to just get out there and get a feel for the course and get one loop done.  I got out and ate a bagel and cream cheese, used the port-a-potty and gathered my stuff.  The sun had finally come up and I was ready to head out on the trail.   Here I am heading off to that beautiful canyon on the left and coming out of the canyon on the right for a total of 5.37 miles every loop.  By the time I started around 8:10 am there were quite a few people already completing their first loop.
The scenery was beautiful!  The course was a little hillier than I expected but I completed my first loop and came in feeling good and happy.  I fueled up a little more and went over to the tent and truck and climbed back in to warm up again.  After about ten minutes I headed out again for loop #2.  I was feeling better but never got in a mind set of going fast. It was obvious to me that this was going to be a casual day for me. 
This is the view of the campsites and check in point after each loop. 
This was after completing 2 loops and downgrading my coat from the thick heavy one to a lighter one.  I was nervous though because it was still so cold.  I never ever did take that headband/ear warmer off the entire day.  Gloves were a necessity most of the day as well. 
I love this picture because it shows the top part of the loop and looking to the right top of the photo shows where one of the canyon entrances is.  With the loop being 5.37 miles, this was probably getting close to the halfway point once we reached the top of this climb behind me.
 Yes, there were times I actually was feeling good and happy, and for that I was grateful.
 There may have been times I was craving M&M's out here on the course.  Peanut M&M's at the aid station was nice to have.
I will say though that snacking on a few Cadbury chocolate eggs and rocking out to the Carpenters on the ipod may have been one of my more positive times in the day.   Running in the deep sand there below is not so fun.   I loved running in my new Hoka One Ones though.  I never had any problems with my feet throughout the 32 miles.  It was just my tired, achy body that decided enough was enough.
Even though this was a loop course we were to switch directions each time around.  I loved this concept because then you never knew how far along people were and you always crossed paths with runners.  Most everyone was so friendly and would always throw up a hand or say hi or smile.  Positive energy flowing everywhere.  I loved that.

This is Rebecca, the only person I knew out here and oftentimes we would come in around the same time but just in opposite directions. (Remember I started over an hour later than everyone else)  As the day was getting later and we once again were finishing opposite loops I realized I may not get a picture of her before the sun went down.  You can see we are still bundled up and still cold!
After my 5th loop (mile 26.85) I came into the tent.  Mark had gone into town to check into a motel for the night.  This is when I really started to feel alone.  I sat there and looked around at my surroundings.  My bed was there so neat in case I needed a nap.  Mark had cleaned up the tent and tried to make everything handy and cozy for me.  All of my fueling, shoes, socks, jackets, anything I needed was there to the side of me.
I just sat there needing some energy and rejuvenation and was hoping to get that with some peanut butter pretzels.  It helped somewhat and after a few minutes I headed out for my next loop.  Mark would be back later to visit me some more before turning in for the night.
This 6th loop was my last and hardest loop. I walked almost the entire way, just trying to take in the beauty and surroundings.  It was also an opportunity to really think about Porter and have thoughts of him so close. I had no strength left in me. The wind had blasted me all day and being cold for 10 hours was just miserable.
32 Miles
When I came in after finishing 6 loops and 32.22 miles Mark was here and I told him my body hurt too much and I was afraid of him leaving me alone out there all night.  I just wanted to be warm and all I could think of was a nice hot shower in the motel.  He was so kind and didn't make me feel bad for quitting.  He broke up camp and we loaded it all up and headed into town.  I was depressed and frustrated but kept trying to process this whole day.  What if the weather had been better?  What if we hadn't have slept in a tent the night before?  What if I had trained better?  There were so many what ifs and I just wanted to move away from this whole experience and never go back.  I was so frustrated that when I got to the motel I immediately deleted the Facebook page for this Moab 24 hour run.  I was mad, run down, and in low spirits.  I had an awesome shower, a bowl of cereal and milk and a sweet phone call from a good friend, and then went to bed feeling better.

The next morning as we were heading North out of town we had to drive by the area we had camped in and I looked back and could see a few people still over there.  I found out later that only 2 people out of 10 signed up for the 100 mile run had completed it.  Out of 9 people signed up for the 24 hour solo category, nobody completed 24 hours. There were a few more categories and stats. If you are interested in seeing the results go here.

So as we were driving and talking on our way out of town my sweet hubby said, "I think you need to try this race again.  Under completely difference circumstances this could be a great race for you."  Little did he know I was thinking along those same lines.  My heart had softened and I truly wanted to know if I could have a good experience out here.  No way am I committing to it now, but never say never. 

*Good organization from the RD
*Excellent food and fueling choices at the aid station
*Beautiful course and scenery-It's Moab! How could it not be beautiful?
*Plenty of Port-o-Potties
*I loved having a loop course to be able to rest and refuel. The downside to that was it was definitely easier to stop and rest.  5.37 miles is not a tremendous long distance.

I learned a few things about myself out there.  My mind needs to be ready, alert, and excited to go.  That has always been the case for me in every race I have run.  I am always so just excited to be running a half marathon or a trail run but for some reason it just wasn't happening today.  I also learned that helpers along the course are VITAL!  Mark was a great support morally but he couldn't be out there for me physically running.  I know I definitely will need that to attempt something like this again.  I guess that means I will attempt this again.  I won't let this race get me down.


Josh said...

Soooooo ... I'm doing this race with you next year. I just decided this. This needs to happen.

We can pace each other if needed and I want to go the whole 24 hours regardless of how I feel.

I shutter at the preparation, but I need something crazy in 2014. I think this is it?

Besides I want to see you ROCK this next year!

Amy @ Run Mom Run said...

Some races are just hard from the word go. And this certainly sounds like it was. But you aren't letting it get you down. You aren't letting it stop you from trying again. And listening to your body is never a bad choice. You did so well. I am so proud of you!

I really want to try and come down to pace you next year. If only this could fall on our spring break that would be really helpful. Let the race organizers know. I'm sure they'd accommodate me.

Cory Reese said...

As usual, awesome race report, awesome pictures, awesome summary.

I'm sorry things didn't turn out quite as planned. I've been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and I know that crappy feeling.

BUT these crappy races seem to teach the best lessons. Read this blog post about learning how to suffer in training. This really opened my eyes and I need to work on this more also: http://footfeathers.blogspot.com/2013/03/briefly-on-what-it-means-to-suffer.html

Don't worry. With these lessons you'll come back stronger. Ultra is in your blood. Trust me.

Congrats on your 50k!!!!

wendy said...

sheeeesh, I must say you are a WINNER in my book. I totally can not even fathom doing anything remotely similar. Really, in the wind (which I hate more then anything in the world) and cold, and running for 10 hours.
Your will power and determination to do any of that is amazing to me.

Unknown said...

My jaw just drops at the thought of how much you did! That is just incredible to me!

Kathee said...

Your awesome! Personally, wind and cold together are deal breakers for me. It's almost like they take all the energy. Good job on a great try!

Becka said...

I'm so glad we got to see so much of each other out there! Definitely one of the downfalls is how empty the course gets and I think being lonely out there makes it tough.

Your feelings about dropping are pretty much exactly how I felt last year when I dropped during the 100. I also did my training on treadmill.

This is a deceptively difficult course and be proud you did so much on the terrain and through the yucky cold and win.

Hope to run into you again!!!

Hollie said...

I'm certainly no expert on these ultra races, but I've seen my fair share of them. You're one tough cookie to make it that far and in those conditions!! That is so hard, and I am so in awe at your phenomenal accomplishments in the face of such challenges.

I would LOOOOOVE to either do this race with you or help crew/pace with you if you choose to do it again in the future. You can ask Cory - I'll even rub your feet if you need it! :)

Congrats on facing this extreme challenge and conquering 32.22 miles. You earned every bit of them, and I'm really proud of you!

Heatherlyn said...

You do a WONDERFUL job of documenting your race experiences. I think this race is not a failure in that you learned a lot about what you need mentally and emotionally because these races are not just physical. The physical/emotional/spiritual are intertwined in a way that no one can ignore. I think you did a great job, especially considering that you were cold and miserable. I hate cold. Hate it. 10 hours of cold is NOT something I would do for fun. It's also interesting how training on a tread mill is really not the same as training outside. I'm sure you'll do this race again later and have a very different experience. And that's all that matters anyway, is what we take away from our experiences. I'm glad you decided to share!

Doran & Jody said...

Dang freezing wind!
Sorry it was just a phone call instead of running with you.

But in my book...You.Are.AWESOME!!!

Jerilee E. said...

Wind really does suck the life energy from the body!
I'm sorry the race didn't turn out how you wanted/expected, but a 50k is an awesome feat! I really do believe that I learn the most from the terrible, awful races :)... and then I want to do those races again to show them that they didn't beat me!

chris mcpeake said...

Awesome job, they never all go as we want (thats ultra after all). I had hoped to make it out to this race before I got sidelined with an injury. Maybe make it next year. Good luck on the rest of your season