|Actual race footage.|
First, I got strong.
|Joel calls these Bear Slams.|
Second: I fueled. And fueled.
Third, I tried.
I mean, I tried hard. I ran hard. I pushed hard. I wouldn't let myself walk. I got angry. I had my music up loud. And, it felt amazing. I had the most fun I've ever had in my life.
|Start Line Nerves.|
This is my favorite race of the year. I can't explain why. Maybe it's because I get to run on dirt before anyone else in SLC? Maybe it's because Moab is a magical place where runners flock like salmon? I don't know. Ryan and I showed up to the staring line this year prepared for a hot day. It never got hot, but it was comfortable at the start. His race began at 8, and I took off at 8:30. I didn't feel great for the first mile. There's a lot of climbing, and I'm never warmed up. I fell to the back of the pack but decided after looking back once that I would try not to dwell on it. I forged ahead and didn't care where I was in the pack or how slow I might end up being. When we got to the first downhill, I ended up passing about 20 people. I LOVE downhills. Damn, it felt good to run on dirt.
|The first climb.|
I wore my new Lululemon capris that gave me the added benefit of a large side pocket on each leg. This worked out well so that I could carry my phone on me and get some pics.
|The road we drove in on, 1,000 feet below me.|
Find something you love and do it often.
Do it because it makes you happy. Do it whether or not you are good at it. Do it because most people go through their lives without ever doing exactly what they want right then and there. I knew that there was nothing I would rather be doing at that very moment than running on the slick rock.
I noticed, this year, that I must be getting faster because I always had people around me. Also, I felt really good about my technical downhill ability. Lots of runners were walking (Walking!) on the rough stuff. I realized that my experience on the trails was a huge advantage on this course.
|Look at those mountains! Look!|
The 33K hits only three aid stations. When I got to the last one, a girl I had been running with said something fascinating. She said, "Just so you know, this (pointing at herself) is a no-passing zone." She was joking, I am sure. She said that she had been trying to catch me on the downhills all day. I mentioned she was killing me on the uphills and was very strong on the climbs. She then said that at every race, she picks one person to beat, and that I was the girl she had decided she must beat.
This was a mistake. She never should have told me. I wished her luck, then said, "See you on the downhill." And I did. In fact, about a mile later, the course runs on some nasty deep sand. I almost always walk on this section. But I saw my girl ahead and decided to crank it. I ran up to her and patted her on the shoulder, told her she was doing great and to hang in there. I'm not very competitive, but something happened that day. A fire was lit and I had something to prove. Last year, Ryan and Harrison passed me about 3 - 4 miles from the finish. I hadn't seen anyone yet, and I wondered if they were having a bad day or something. About two miles out from the finish I saw Lane and Pam driving in Lane's 4-wheeler. I waved but knew I couldn't stop or someone would catch me. It was still nice to see a friendly face at this point because everything in my body was hurting.
About a mile out, Harrison passed me (33 ish miles for him). He was flying! It was really fun to see him glide over the rocky terrain and make other runners look like they were standing still. I knew that Harrison was aiming for sub 5. Since he started 30 minutes before me, I realized there was a chance I might actually be on 4:30 pace. Last year, I came in at 5:14. Could this be possible? I set my iPod on repeat to a really catchy song and kept racing. I think I was singing aloud. At one point, I realized I was running past Britta taking photos on the course. I could barely register that I knew this person as all my mental facilities were aimed at running hard. I had a pain in my left foot (Roast Beef) but told myself that it was only a toe or toenail, and would probably grow back.
The very last mile is a fantastic downhill. I went for it and crossed my fingers that I wouldn't trip and fall. Then, my calves cramped. Holy Son of a Bitch, that hurt. I was pretty sure I was about to tumble and a fall at this point would look something like this:
As I neared the finish, the HUMRs were cheering me in, and greeting me with high fives. I crossed the line and looked at my phone: 1:02 pm. I did some finger math and realized I had just run the course in 4:32. Unbelievable.
|Finish Line Love.|
I wanted to cheer in the girl I had beaten, but my calves were too locked up. A few salt tabs and some chili provided by friends helped me recover. I felt so good. Everyone in the group had a great day. It was like some magical moment where everyone got to feel like a rock star for a day. I'm so proud of everyone that did it, especially my husband Ryan who clocked a PR at 5:10 minutes for the 34 mile course!