The Connection Runners + [running man]

Moab Red Hot 55K: 2012 Race Report

Whew. This race hurt and it did not go as planned. I don't really know why, probably because of multiple factors, so I'll just tell it like it happened.

Last year I had a great time at this race. I still had a great time this year - for the most part - but my race was atrocious. I thought I could dip below last year's time and I came fairly close to my time from last year, but the subjective feeling of this race was just miserable. Two days after the race, I was still feeling ill. I don't know if I came down with a bug or I have some serious de-hydration or what, but my body felt completely out of sync. I've run longer races and have not felt as bad afterwards. So here's how it played out...

Since I had been feeling fairly fit prior to the race, I thought I'd go out with the lead pack and see if I could hang on. We started the first climb, and I was able to hold on without too much effort, but my legs were more sluggish than normal. Over the prior week, my legs had been feeling tired due to the 1/2 marathon effort the weekend before, but I was hopefully that the fatigue wouldn't last an entire week. I guess I was wrong in that regard. Because within the first mile or mile and a half they were much more tired feeling than they should have been.

(You can see me to the left in blue behind Kevin Koch. Credit: unknown)

I didn't stay with the lead pack for very long. A fellow in neon-green was way up at the front (not pictured above), and Tim Parr was in the chase. I was sitting fairly comfortable in 5th place, behind a few guys, Kevin and Eric (eventual 1st and 2nd place), who were chomping at the bit.

I was running well and feeling fine. I wasn't putting in too much of an effort, but I could tell my legs were tired. I figure I'd just work through it. The chap in neon-green had fallen way off pace. Tim passed him and was gapping everyone. Eric and Kevin were still in view and they were really digging in. I passed neon-green and wished him well. He looked kinda spent. He went out way too hard for the first five miles or so.

I made it through the first aid station, and didn't stop. I think it's only 5 miles in, which is much too early for an aid station, I think. But then again, I was also wearing a nathan bag. I was just holding my place, cruising along, and then we hit the first climb, which was maybe mile 6 or 7. I don't know what happened. It felt like my calves were shredding with every step I took. My legs had no pep, and it was a real struggle to get up the hills. Somewhere in here Karl passed me. I wished him luck, and I think maybe he looked at me. Maybe not. Either way, he was running strong. After the race I talked with him and seemed very pleased with his effort, considering he ran RR100 two weeks before at a smoking fast pace.

I tried to hold on to Karl's pace, but my calves were on fire. I let him go and just settled into my own race. I kept him in view until the second aid station at mile 12 or 13. I looked back a few times because I figured someone should be catching me soon, but I didn't see anyone following. So I just kept plugging along. Between the second and third aid stations, nothing eventful happened. I was running by my lonesome and feeling fine. I finally lost sight of Karl when he bombed it downhill into the second part of the race.

I don't know how other people think of this course, but I think of it in two parts. The first part is the loop that the 33K runners don't do. And then second part is the part that the 33K runners do. So I lost sight of Karl at the point where the first part hits the second. He just disappeared. Gone. Fast, Speedgoat.

This is where my wheels fell off. I hit the first climb and was ok. But about half way up, I ran out of energy. This must have been about mile 20. Normally I'd say that I was just glycogen deficient and that it was a good old fashion wall-hit (head-on without a seat belt). But up to this point in the race, I'd consumed close to 500 calories so I'm not sure it was just a glycogen deficiency. I started feeling worse and worse. Things started getting ugly. Pete Stevenson passed me. I told him I was feeling shitty and he gave me salt. It didn't help, but thanks anyway, Pete! I plodded on. I walked the up hills and hobbled the downhills. I'm sure I looked awful out there.

At the 21 mile aid station, Todd G and an hirsute fella from Utah passed me. Todd was kind enough to ask how I was doing. I think I growled at him. He gave me some sort of pain-killing drug, for which I was thankful. And they plugged on. I kept them in sight for a little while, but they were feeling way better than me. I started getting hot. Really hot. I took off my long sleeve shirt and tied it around my waist. Although that helped, I couldn't cool off. It's like my body got hot and just wanted to stay there against my wishes. Certainly, the temperature was hot. But it was as though the cooling mechanisms in my body had gone on strike. So I labored on without their help...damn unions. ho hum.

Two other guys passed me on this section. I didn't care. I wanted the world to burn so that everyone would feel as shitty as I was feeling. I ran the flat and downhill sections, but my legs had no power to go uphill. They were crampy and just plain sore. At some point, I finally made it to the last aid station. I was spent and pissed that my race was going so bad. I had gone into this race feeling fit and ready to race. And then on race day I had nothing. I hung out at the aid station for a bit. I asked for beer. Of course, they didn't have any...something that should be rectified for next year. Instead I drank some soda. While I stood at the aid station, 4 guys passed me!

Alright. Fine. Be lame. Or...

"Stop the pity party and run, asshole. Yeah, you're not having a good day. That sucks. But finish it like you meant to." So I did.

The last section of the course is almost entirely flat or downhill. There are some gnarly technical sections and some horrendous sand sections, but I knew I could run hard to the finish. Woody was the last person to pass me. I could still see him when I left the aid station. Within a mile or a mile and a half, he stopped to take a pull from his water bottle. When I passed him, I said, "let's go!" I think he picked it up...but never caught me. Next, I passed his friend Joe. He looked like he was hurting. I was too, but I was committed to not complaining.

The next guy I passed took a while to chase down, but I finally caught him during one of the sections where there are lots of rocks and large drops: one of the many technical sections on the last section of the course. I recalled that I was getting close to the end, so I really put it in gear as the trail started the nose-dive to the finish. I could see the last guy that had passed me at final aid station. I was slowly and steadily reeling him in.

There is one section of the trail where the trail narrows between two very large rocks for a short hill climb. I was within 50 feet of the guy in front of me and closing, so I wasn't paying attention to the course markings. He made a right turn after the narrows and continued around the rock. I was closing the gap. But then I realized we were going in a circle down to the right. He continued running around the rock to the right and I back tracked. It didn't seem right. I back tracked to the narrows and some race-observer was standing there saying that instead of going to the right around the rock, the course continues straight ahead. Don't need to tell me twice. I hauled it up that little hill and bombed it down the rest of the course.

I finished in an uninspired 4:49. At some points in this race, I seriously thought about dropping. I've never felt that bad in such a short race. I'm not sure I've ever felt that bad. Maybe I was dehydrated. Maybe I didn't have enough salt. I don't know.

But I do know that after the race I was able to hang out with some good friends and make a few more. During the next few hours, I felt fine. Recharged with somewhat achy legs. I ate, drank and rehydrated. So that should have been the end of it.

(The Weasel and me after the race. Credit: Reese Ruland.)

Post race: I stopped by a friends house and hung out there for a while. While we were there, my stomach started acting up. Something just wasn't right. The conversation and friends were great, but I couldn't sit around. I had to go walk it off or get something to drink/eat. So we headed over to Eddie McStiffs. When we got there, we found a table and ordered food. Nothing seemed appealing so I didn't order. My stomach was just feeling too weird and my body temperature wasn't normal - it was cold, then hot, then cold. Figuring I was dehydrated, I drank several glasses of water then decided to walk back to the hotel. On the way, I started shivering violently and couldn't warm up. I bent over by a tree and puked up the water I had drank in three ferocious yaks. Ok. Something's not good. But after puking, I was feeling better. I stopped at the gas station on the way back to the hotel and bought a pack of gum and a bag of popcorn. Quickly chewed some gum to get the puke flavor out of my mouth. I ate some popcorn, drank some water, and went to bed. Later that night, I puked up the popcorn, along with some stomach bile.

The next day I drove back to Denver where I didn't feel right for a few days. So what happened? Damned if I know. But my legs, confidence, and love of Moab took some serious abuse.

I wish things had turned out different for me. Did I go out too hard? Probably. Should I have run a 1/2 marathon the weekend before? Probably not. Should I have taken more salt during the race? Probably. Should I have dropped out? Definitely not. Should I quite bitching about it, stop trying to analyze what went wrong, and simply accept it for a less-then-satisfying race? Yep.