Sunday, November 3, 2013

Moab Trail Marathon 2013

This was an entirely thrilling experience, as it was last year!  Going into this race I knew what to expect this year.  I knew it would be hard and I was questioning my abilities and desire.  I was thinking I would even downgrade and just run the half marathon.  I decided that I wouldn't make that decision until race day.  Well, then along came my 100 mile race decision in the previous post (which will be happening in Feb 2014) and so that made the final decision easier.  No backing out of the full marathon.  I would need to run the full thing to help begin my training.  Well, let me tell you this marathon does not leave you wanting for anything more.  It's the real, raw deal!  Mountains to climb, streams to cross, boulders to navigate up and around and through, ropes to hold on to for ascending and descending steep areas, amazing scenery, and I could go on.

Friday evening I finished up my teaching at 5:30 pm and we loaded up and got out of town by about 5:45 pm.  Mark and Cooper came and we got down to Moab in a little over 3 hours.  We checked into the motel and unloaded and then headed to the store for a little late night ice cream treat, which we brought back to the motel and enjoyed a nice big bowl of before bed.  I've heard of ice cream as a great recovery food for after long runs but I wasn't sure about the night before a race.  I didn't care though because I had no goals or expectations for this run, only to get out there and have a good time.  Cooper ate Turkey Hill ice cream when he was in Pennsylvania.  He loves it and whenever he finds the brand he insists on getting it.  We didn't argue. We bought Neapolitan to make everyone happy for flavor choice.

I slept well for it being a motel bed and got up at 6:00 am.  The race started at 9:00 am.  The race this year was a little different in that they had 5 different waves to start in, which would each start 7 minutes apart.  I started in wave 3.  I'm not quite sure how or why they put me there, but wave three was considered a recreational runner.  I was just thrilled I didn't have to start at the very back.  I hate being at the end, knowing there's hardly anyone back there with me.  That happened last year and I ended up having only 4 more people come in behind me.  Yeah, I didn't enjoy that.  I was determined this year to try and run a little faster so I wasn't so near the end.  After checking the results I was 319th out of 380 of the marathon runners.  I'm happy with that, slightly better than last year when I was 306th out of 310.

We drove to the starting line about 15 minutes up the canyon and got my packet and then went back to the car to pin on my bib and gather my stuff.  We also sat in the car for a little while since it was about 32 degrees outside.  Then all three of us, Me, Mark and Cooper walked back up to the starting line area and waited for the start. 

I saw a fellow running friend, Rebecca, from Colorado and her friend Hope.  We chatted for a few minutes in the port-a-potty lines.  It's always nice to see her at a race.  She's a running machine and just completed her first full 100 mile race a couple weeks ago.  AMAZING and INSPIRING!

We watched wave 1 head out and then 7 minutes later wave 2 left and then I shed a couple layers since the sun was up and it was warming up.  I said my goodbyes to the boys and headed over to line up with wave 3.  I was feeling nervous, anxious, and excited for this race, but I was also feeling very ready.  My eating has been super healthy, and my gym workouts pretty intense and so I felt stronger physically than I did last year.

9:14 am and I was off.  The first 5 miles I was cruising up the canyon.  Although the sun was shining the temps were probably in the 50's and it felt perfect! I was so glad I shed those layers.  Last year I didn't and then had to carry them the whole race.
As I watched my Garmin I was realizing I was doing close to 5 miles in the first hour but knew I couldn't keep that up for the duration of the run.  I figured that if I could run 4 miles every hour then I just might be able to do this faster than last year.  Last year this race took me 7 hours and 45 minutes.  I really hoped I could do better than that.  I was determined to do better than that this year.

Right before mile 6 was our first aid station.  I remember reading from Cory's blog that the quicker you can get in and out of aid stations the better.  There's no need to hang around them wasting valuable race time.  So I kept that thinking in my mind as I would come to each one.  I would grab the electrolyte drink, HEED, they provided and a couple snacks and head out quickly, eating my stuff as I ran.  I do love treats at a race and enjoyed some fun ones at this marathon.  There was plenty to indulge in, for sure. 
Somewhere along the course this sign just made me laugh.  Indeed it was very true as it was somewhere in the first few miles of the run and we had a long way to go still. 

Something I did this year a little different was not take so many pictures.  I know I used up a lot of time last year doing that.  I still took pictures this year but just tried to be quicker about it. 
At the second aid station, a little after 9 miles is when the marathon and half marathon split and go different directions.  Those lucky half marathoners don't get to experience the infamous "Scorched Earth Wall".  They just don't know what they're missing.  Around mile 14 this beast of a mountain appears out of nowhere and there we are with the only way to continue this race by going up and over.  I know it's rude to count how many people you pass in a race.  I promise I don't do that usually, mainly because I'm always the one getting passed.  But last year I remember passing a few people (maybe 4 or 5) as I ascended this mountain so I thought I would challenge myself to try and pass a few this year as well.  That motivated me to just keep marching up this hill.  I seriously felt like I was on the stair climber at the gym with it turned all the way up to level 20.  I passed 14 people!  Some decent music by Coldplay was also helpful in this section of climbing.  I was one happy lady after getting to the top.  This section took seriously 32 minutes to climb in a little over a mile. 

Then it was some nice happy downhill running all the way to the next aid station around mile 17.  I refilled my water vest here and grabbed some more treats and headed off quickly.  Around mile 20 I saw this green sign.  It made me laugh again.  I was trying to take a picture with the sign and another runner stopped and asked if she could take it for me.  Pretty nice of her.
I told you the scenery and views were incredible!!  Moab is as beautiful as it comes for backcountry running.
Mile 21 was the next aid station and I was so grateful for some vaseline there.  I had lost my lip balm somewhere along the course and so I slathered vaseline all over my lips and nose.  My nose was raw from blowing it and wiping all day long.  The weather was cool enough that when I run so does my nose and then it gets sore.  After mile 21 we get to do some more descending down, down, down by the Colorado River.  At mile 23 it takes us right back to the starting area but then we had to do a 3.2 mile loop.  That is one of the most mentally challenging parts of the course for me.  I hate running that close to the finish line area and not being able to just run through the arch and be done.
This final 3.2 mile section had us climbing ladders, crossing a creek, running in a cave, using ropes to maneuver up and down boulders and watching our step carefully so as not to land in the cactus.  When crossing the stream they had a big black pipe that you could use to try and get across but the helpers said most people ended up falling in the water anyway.  Of course I wanted to get across without getting wet and I tried but SPLASH! into the water I landed with it going clear up to my hips.  Getting out was tricky and muddy.  My pants and shoes and socks were soaking wet for the remainder of the run.  Oh well!  That was certainly different than last year.  I was very glad my hydration vest didn't land in the water with my cell phone, ipod, and other items inside. Getting up and down boulders with the use of ropes was certainly a little more scary than the pictures show.  I was VERY grateful for the volunteer helpers who were there guiding my feet and every move.  I know rock climbing and rappelling are a couple sports I won't ever take up in this lifetime. It was around mile 24 that I finally got some cell phone coverage and called Mark to tell him I was almost done.  He wasn't expecting me to be done until at least 7 and 1/2 hours from when I started.  He was shocked when he heard me tell him to hurry and get to the finish line, and that I was almost done.  He was afraid he and Cooper wouldn't get there in time from the motel and I told him it was alright, but to just get there.
Mile 26 and I'm almost there!!!  I could hear the people up on top of a hill up ahead, cheering in the runners and I was getting excited to be done.  I wasn't sure if Mark and Cooper would be there though.  As I came into the final little stretch with a tiny hill to climb I looked up and there was Mark and Cooper smiling at me!!  I was so happy to see them.  It gave me energy and an extra boost to climb that hill and run into the finish line chute.  The very best and most exciting news for me was my final time of:
6 hours 42 minutes and 11 seconds.
I had beat my last years time by 1 hour and 3 minutes and I was thrilled. 
I got my medal and a finishers mug and then headed over for some delicious hot soup and a cheese quesadilla.  After snacking on sweet treats, pretzels, and cookies at the aid stations it just felt good to get some warm delicious food in my belly.  Mark made me take off my muddy shoes and socks and pants to sit in the car.  Good thing I had on my under armour.  He put all my yucky stuff in the trunk of the car.  We headed back to the motel and I showered and cleaned up and we went to dinner at a fun place in Moab called Zak's.  All you can eat pizza, salad, and soup was enjoyed by all three of us.
What a great trip.  I love these little weekend getaways with my hubby and kids when they can come.  I wonder if 2014 will be three-peat for me for this race?? 


Becka said...

First thing I did when I finished was look for your results.

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! What an amazing finish time!!!

Oh my, I cannot believe you fell in the water! That section was nuts, I was totally not expecting it!

Hope to see you next month at Baker's Dozen!

Jerilee E. said...

Congrats on the awesome finish time! You always manage to look so amazing after running a marathon! I, on the other hand, usually look like I got hit by a truck ;). This race looks amazing and I am definitely in for next year. Time to try out trail running!

Michael said...

First this is not a marathon, it's an adventure race! Wow, those are some crazy climbs...32 minutes for a mile...that sounds kind of awful to me :)

Congrats on beating your time over an hour! That is amazing!

It does look very beautiful, but it sounds a little too challenging for me.

Lara Neves said...

You are amazing! That race sounds INSANE! Congratulations!