Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Moab's Red Hot 33K

This race was a bit of a last minute decision. I've known about it for awhile, and actually considered doing the 55K as my first Ultra (this race has a 33K and 55K option), but ultimately decided to give myself an extra month prior to tackling 30+ miles on trails. After deciding to wait, I then thought that the 33K would be a great training run for my Ultra, but wasn't sure I wanted to spend the money on another race. However, after not being able to get very much training in on trails over the past several months, I decided it would be worth it for the experience.

And, overall, I am very glad I signed up, and definitely think it was worth it, if only for the scenery. The views were absolutely incredible. I've been to Moab a couple of times now - for some road races and short hikes in the National Parks - but this was my first time really getting out into the desert. And it was beautiful. And fun. And difficult. But I survived and have once again fallen in love with trail running (despite the fact, that I'm really not that good at it, as you'll see by my stats...but that's okay). There's just something so rewarding about running in these places that most people never even see.

I drove into Moab on Friday evening with the intention of picking up my packet and then having a relaxing evening at my hotel. That didn't exactly happen. For some reason, the packet pick up line took forever. It wound through the entire restaurant and outside. I am not exaggerating when I say it took an hour to get through it! So needless to say, by the time I got my packet, stopped by the grocery store to pick up something for dinner and breakfast, and checked into my hotel it was after 9:00. Not quite the relaxing evening I had in mind. But, on the bright side, the shirts are pretty cool!

Love the race shirts!
Moab at night!
I woke up at 5:30 the next morning so I could be checked out of the hotel and headed to the race start at 6:30. The race didn't start until 8:30, but they had a pre-race briefing at 7:00 that I wanted to be at. The start was about 10 miles north of Moab, and we had to park about a mile from the actual start, so I didn't actually make it until about 7:15, but luckily they decided to have the briefing at 7:30. The 55K runners started at 8:00, so I got to see them off.

The sun was just coming up as I walked to the start line.
Waiting for the start.
Finally, after waiting around for what seemed like forever, it was time to start! I couldn't wait to get moving because I was freezing by this point (especially my toes!). The first mile was all uphill, so I definitely warmed up quickly. Shortly after the 1 mile mark, we reached some incredible views before descending downhill for the next couple of miles.

Views from the top of the first hill.
Descending the first hill.
My fastest miles of the day were in this section - under 10 minute miles.
The next few miles were spent running on sand. It was definitely different terrain than I was used to, but I enjoyed it! The first aid station came pretty quickly around the 4 mile mark. I had some water, shed a few layers and continued on. Then the uphill and the slick rock started (and would continue forever!). But the views were truly incredible. The La Sal Mountains contrasting against the red rocks. I tried to capture it, but my pictures just don't do it justice (and on another note my iPhone camera has been terrible lately, it used to take such good pictures).

Around mile 6.

At around the 7.5/8 mile mark was the second aid station (the mileage seemed to be off for this race by a lot). I loaded up on some candy and chips and continued on. We had a bit of descending which was nice, but were still on slick rock. After awhile the slick rock really gets tough. Not only is just a hard surface, but you're also often running at a weird sideways angle.

This sign was right after the 8 mile aid station...very encouraging (note my sarcasm)!

Lots and lots of slickrock!
I like how this shows the vastness of the desert!
One of the incredibly steep climbs! This was rough.

It doesn't look it, but this was another extremely steep climb. It was practically straight up.
Oh look, MORE slickrock.

The next and last aid station wasn't until around mile 14/15 (14 to me, 15 according to the map), and the stretch between this one and the last felt like forever. So what a relief it was to finally make it. I stayed a lot longer at this aid station then the last. Grabbing some more candy and chips as well as soda (I know Ultra's have soda sometimes, but this was the first time I actually tried drinking it during a race - and it seemed to work okay).

By the time I left the aid station, I was exhausted. I don't know why, but my last several long runs have felt like this. So despite the last 5 miles being mostly downhill, I found myself still having to walk several times. Either way, I knew I would finish, it was just a matter of how fast! My main goal was not to be the very last (which I wasn't, despite how close I might've been). So I kept on going, run, walk, run, walk, etc. We also started to finally get some running on sand and dirt again which was really nice!

More slickrock right after the mile 14 aid station.
Probably the only flat section of the course.


The final descent
Finally we reached a spot overlooking the final descent. From there it really was all downhill to the finish. Despite my lack of energy, I did manage to pick up my pace when some of the spectators started appearing and telling us it was "just around the corner." So I sped up and finished in 4:37:19. Definitely not a fast time by any means (slower than my marathon by over 10 minutes), but I finished!

The post-race party was okay. They had some water, soda, and chili, otherwise you could purchase food from two vendors. So I got myself a personal sized pizza (which was delicious!) and a cookie, and then waited around for the shuttle to bring me back to my car, before making the 3 hour drive back home.

All finished!
The guy in the center of the picture in the blue jacket and black pants is Anton Krupicka (famous Ultra runner). I was too shy to introduce myself even though I really wanted to!

 Overall, I did enjoy this race. I think it was well organized and I was relieved that there were other "normal" runners (this race attracts a lot of elites), and that I wasn't dead last. As mentioned several times, the views truly were phenomenal. I think I would've had a little more fun if I had at least had someone with me to enjoy the weekend with, as the post-race party was a little anti climatic when you're by yourself, but that's okay. I do think the race was a little on the high price side, but I did sign up last minute so not much I could do about that. My other semi-complaint, was how off the distance was (came in at 19.3, which is only 31K). I understand trail races aren't always exact, but over a mile short seems a bit weird (although I was so tired, that I didn't care too much during the race). I don't regret doing it though, and I even think it would be fun to do the 55K someday.

Date: February 15th, 2014
Weather: 50's - 60's and cloudy
Distance: 33K (20.5 Miles - however my Garmin clocked this at only 19.3)
Bib Number: 7
Chip Time: 4:37:19
Garmin Overall Time: 4:37:25
Garmin Moving Time: 4:26:06 (I did stop a lot to take pictures - it was just so pretty out!)
Average Pace: 13:31 if it was really 33K, or else 14:22
Elevation Gain: 2,458 feet
Overall Rank: 224 of 262
Gender Rank: 103 of 129
Division Rank (Females 20-29): 20 of 21 (sad...at least I wasn't last though)
Garmin Splits:
Miles 1-5: 12:34, 10:01, 9:15, 9:53, 12:55
Miles 6-10: 13:35, 15:53, 20:43, 15:41, 15:23
Miles 10-15: 15:54, 14:05, 17:08, 16:01, 20:16
Miles 15-20: 12:39, 16:09, 13:18, 13:02, 10:18

Map and Elevation Profile:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Black Canyon Winter Rim Romp

If anyone has been following my races, I'm sure they've heard me mention racing at the Black Canyon several times! That's because, well A.) I live right by this incredible landmark and national park, but also because B.) the local run club, the San Juan Mountain Runners, puts on 3 races per year at it! This however, was the first time doing the Winter Rim Romp - a snowshoe and cross-country ski race.

I heard about this race last year after doing the Black Canyon North Rim Race (which I have now done twice), but was still new to running, didn't know anyone in the club, and didn't know the first thing about snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. So needless to say, I did not choose to participate last year!

However, once I got more involved and started to meet people, I really regretted that decision! Mainly because, if you participate in all 3 races of the Black Canyon Race Series, you get a special prize (which this year was a sweatshirt). So of course, since I did 2 of the 3, I was super bummed...which meant I absolutely had to do it this year! I didn't care that I had only been snowshoeing once in the past 10 years, and twice in my entire life...I was going to do it!

So without further ado, here is my race report on the Black Canyon Winter Rim Romp 8K Snowshoe Race:

Date: February 8th, 2014
Distance: 8K (4.97 miles)
Bib Number: 1540
Time: 1:07:14
Average Pace: 13:26
Elevation Gain: 540 ft
Overall Rank: 6 of 15
Gender Rank: 3 of 9
Division Rank (Females 20-29): 1 of ? (unknown, but apparently I was first - so quite possibly, 1 of 1)
Garmin Splits:12:49, 10:57, 14:22, 14:41, 8:40 (for .7 - off because my garmin didn't start right away).

(Note - they also had Classic Ski and Skate Ski categories, so there were more people at this event than the 15 that participated in the snowshoe category) 

Elevation Profile


Honestly, I wasn't really sure what to expect for this. As mentioned above, I've only been snowshoeing one other time in my coherent years, and it was only for an hour or so, at a leisurely pace with my family. Not in a race setting, and we did not go very far. So I really had no plan, no expectation, other than to have some fun and finish. I wasn't even sure if I was just going to walk or attempt to run a little.

When the gun went off (I don't think there was an actual gun, but you know what I mean), everyone else started running...so I decided I would try running in the snowshoes. And that lasted a few hundred yards before it was time for a walking break. The course is an out-and-back, and started off with a bit of an uphill slope for about 1/2 mile or so, before gradually heading downhill for 2 miles. This worked out nicely for the first half - because I was able to run/walk for the first 1/2 mile as I got used to the feel for running in snowshoes. Then once I was used to it, the downhill allowed me to pick up my pace and basically run non-stop for the remaining 2 miles until the turn-around-point.

The problem then, was that now I had 2 miles of uphill to do! And let me just say, that was tough. I ended up just doing a combination of running and walking for these 2 miles. It was hard work though! But I kept moving as best as I could and surprisingly finished as the 3rd woman overall!


Waiting to start

Can't beat these views!

After the race, was the "after party" at Horsefly Brewing in Montrose. We got free chili and a beer as part of our race entry, and I got a medal for being 1st in my age group!

Bib, medal, and hat
This might be my new favorite drink - and it's made in Cedaredge.

Overall, I had a lot of fun at this event! I'm glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and did it! It was also neat to see the cross-country/snowshoe trail at the Black Canyon. I actually didn't really know they had this until this year. I knew they closed the road past the visitor's center in the winter, but didn't realize that meant you could use it for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing! I definitely hope to get up there and do this again!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Why I Love To Run & 2014 Goal Update

Ever since I started running, I often get the question, "why do you love running so much?" Well over the past few weeks since running my first marathon, I've really been reflecting on that question. Truth be told there are several reasons, but one has been really sticking out to me -

Running has taught me that nothing is impossible.

It has taught me that hard work, determination, passion, and commitment can get you anywhere you want to go.

Two years ago I thought running a marathon was impossible for an average person like me. I thought you had to be naturally athletic to ever do something like that. Someone like me, who was never any good at sports, couldn't ever run 26.2 miles. Running 1 mile was a stretch, let alone a 5K. But over the past year and a half, that "impossible" task of running a marathon, not only happened, but it didn't even seem "hard". Now, I'm not saying that running a marathon is a stroll in the park. But all those hours of logging mile after mile, of getting up at 5am to get my run in before work, of spending half of my Saturday running - it was worth it. As you continue to build a running base, things that once seemed impossible (running 5K, then 10k, then 10 miles, a half marathon, a full marathon), they don't feel that hard anymore. Of course there are days they can feel hard. And there are things I can do to make them harder, such as pushing my pace, covering more elevation, etc. But the point is, if you actually work towards something, you can do it.

Running truly has taught me that I can do anything. 

Which is why I set a pretty big goal for 2014. One race per month, the majority of which are fairly tough races. But I know I can do it. One day at a time, one mile at a time.

Which brings me to a few updates on my 2014 goals and plans that I discussed in a previous post. I've decided to change a few races and a few goals.

For starters, I'm going to remove my mileage goal (after completing 1700+ last year, I had set a goal to log 2000 miles this year). I still hope to log a lot of miles, but I don't want to be so incredibly focused on that specific number this year. If I feel like I need to take a rest day, I want to be able to do that without worrying about whether I'm going to hit my mileage. If I want to do a hill workout, which takes more time and effort but covers less miles, I want to do that. If I want to stop my run a mile early to get in strength training, then I want to be able to do that.

Second, I changed a few of my planned races. The main reason for this, is that I am now a member of the Colorado Beef Running Team! Which means, I get to run in certain races that they have pre-selected - so that factored into my plans a little bit. I think for the better though! They have some great race options and I'm looking forward to being part of a team and representing the Colorado Beef Council.

So, here is my, for the most part, finalized 2014 race schedule. The only months not completely solidified are November and December, plus I may add a few local "fun" races in. Bold races mean I've already put in the big bucks and registered.

1/12 - Walt Disney World Marathon (check!)

2/8 - Black Canyon Rim Romp 8K Snowshoe Race
2/15 - Moab Red Hot 33K Trail Race

3/22 - Gemini Adventures 24 Hours of Moab 50K

4/19 - Gemini Adventures Desert RATS Trail Running Festival - Trail Marathon
(I will also be volunteering the next day at the Half Marathon & 5 Mile Races)

5/3 - Girls on the Run 5K (I am also coaching - so I will definitely be more focused on being with the girls on my team and less on actually "racing")
5/4 - Cimarron 50K (Probably didn't need to do this one, but I couldn't pass up a 50% off coupon - the plan is treat it more as a training run for Leadville).
5/17 - Black Canyon Ascent
5/26 - Bolder Boulder 10K (with my Dad!)

6/14 - Leadville Trail Marathon

7/19 - Aspen Valley Marathon or Full (I am going to sign up for the full, but may decide to switch to the half closer to the race date). This is a Team Beef Race!

8/16 - Pikes Peak Ascent (again, if I get in - registration opens March 12 and sells out FAST). Also a Team Beef Race.

9/27 - Bear Chase 50 Mile (wasn't going to sign up for a 50 Miler until after my first 50K...but I once again couldn't pass up a good coupon code...I think I may have a problem)

10/5 - Black Canyon North Rim 20K
10/19 - Denver Rock-n-Roll Marathon or Half (again, will register for the full, but may decide to switch to the half closer in). Another Team Beef race.

11/9 - Rim Rock Marathon or Relay OR Moab Trail Marathon or Half - my plan is to keep this month open for awhile and get through a few tough months before deciding what I want to officially do.

12/6 - Westminster Fa La La Half Marathon

So there you have it. I know, to the non-running eye, I am what some might consider "crazy"...but to a lot of other runners, I'm not too bad ;). I'm just having so much fun pushing myself to new distances that once seemed impossible! It's a cool feeling - trust me!

Flattop Mountain & Hallett Peak

I've been wanting to hike to the top of Hallett Peak ever since I found out it was the gorgeous mountain towering above Dream and Emera...