Red Hot 55K: Where the Red Rock Looks Exactly Like All Of The Other Red Rock

The Wednesday evening before my weekend race in Moab I found myself in the supine position, watching as little tiny needles were being jabbed into my calves, feet, and hips. What is this blasphemy you may ask? Acupuncture.

I had sprained my ankle pretty badly on a crazy long trail run a couple of weeks prior, and continually twisted it throughout those two weeks until Tuesday, I actually twisted it and fell, while standing on a perfectly flat sidewalk. I figured that this was not a good sign the week before a trail race, so I became desperate. A lot of my friends in the Rocky Mountain Runners had gone to Boulder AcuSport before and highly recommended it, and I was toying with the idea for the past week. That fall on sidewalk, was even rare for someone who falls all of the time (me) and I was desperate for sort of relief and stability in that darn ankle, so I scheduled a session

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Although I only really had time for one session before the race, I wasn’t sure how much it would help. Although it was a rather weird experience, that I definitely wont mind undergoing again, it definitely helped. A lot. My swelling went down, stiffness reduced, and *spoiler alert* during the race I only twisted it ONCE! Thank you so much Ginna, at Boulder Acusport! I recommend her to everyone, she knows runners because she is a runner 🙂

Now on to the race.

Me and my friend, Guy (that is his name), (he is also a guy), drove up Thursday and got to Moab in the evening. After running around the town very repetitively trying to find 4 miles, we met up with my friend Jim (another runner) and set up camp for the night.

Now, I am EXTREMELY new to all of this crazy outdoor camping/living stuff. So I thought I was prepared with a couple of blankets and a lot of clothing. False. The desert gets COLD at night. Needless to say, I think I slept about 3 hours that night. Oops.

The next day was beautiful. We cooked some breakfast and then went around and explored the trails for a slow, steep 6 miles. It is incredible running in Moab, I love it. Next time I am going without a race so I can explore like crazy for a couple of days.

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Goofing around on our run 🙂

 

After getting some more grub and grabbing some showers, we went to packet pick up. Packet pick up was like any other packet pickup, except we got these awesome trucker hats. I am a true Colorado-ian now 🙂

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Going into this race, I knew I wasn’t quite fit enough to contend for a top spot, but my goal was to use this as a “long run” in my prep for Lake Sonoma 50 in April. The race started in some pretty chilly temps, but ‘twas still acceptable to race in shorts and a tank.

I forgot to ditch my La Sportiva wind breaker jacket at the start, so with 15 seconds left till the “gun” I sprinted back to the drop bag station and searched like a bat out of hell for Guys bag. With no luck, and the racers running off, I quickly handed it to a lady who looked promising, and bounded away.

Great start to a race. Not.

The first 18-20 miles or so were extremely fast and runnable. Running through these I was pretty confident in my pace and my ability to hold it (8:15s ) for the whole race. Boy was I wrong. That second half of the race was brutal! It went from runnable tight packed dirt mixed with slab rock to rolling slab rock and sandy hills. And to add to my already dehydrated, delusional self, the trails got extremely confusing.

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Photo by Ryan Smith. Rather unflattering, but running through the cheers at mile 21ish!

 

At mile 21 I twisted my ankle. Boo. And then proceeded to fall in front of some 33k-runners. Ha! The third place girl caught me around here and we ran together at mile 23 or so past our RMR cheering squad and continued to run closely together until the 28 -mile aid station. I figured I would just gut it out on the down hills, since she was a monster on the ups, and try and close the gap at the end. But the oh-so-similar red mounds had other plans for me. I left the 28th aid station with a fellow crazie and was chatting away admiring the scenery when we suddenly found ourselves having run into an impassible ravine. Was this now an obstacle course? I saw no ropes. And no others runners. Or pink flags.

We were pretty off course, and it took us about 6 minutes to run back to where the VERY OBVIOUS turn up the last dirt hill was. Dang it.

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Photo by Eric Lee. Coming down the final miles.

 

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Photo taken by Hunterimages at the finish!

 

At this point, I knew I wouldn’t catch the third place female, so I just trotted through a bearable pace and hung on through the final 5 miles of very gradual, sandy, descent.

I finished 4th female, in 5 hours and 10 minutes, absolutely covered in salt, water, and sand. Not my ideal finish or time, but I was okay with it. Only room for improvement from here! But I was immediately handed a pint glass, so that made everything okay. Beer time!

I really need to work on my hydration and nutrition in races like these. The desert dehydrates you like crazy! Aye! But that is the fun with ultrarunning, you are constantly learning.

My brand new La Sportiva Helios SR were incredible! I didn’t think that the original Helios could get much better, but they have done it. They were sticky and perfect for the slick rock and light enough to run fast in! The new lacing system cinches them closer to your foot and the rock plate gives your feet a little more protection from the pounding in long race. I absolutely love them!!

Congrats to Ashley, Kerrie, and Malory, for killing the woman’s field, way to represent the Rocky Mountain Runners!!

Thank you La Sportiva, all of my friends who joined me during this weekend, and Race Director, Chris Martinez, for letting me in the race so late and putting on a great event! I love Moab and I will be back!!

 

[This blog first appeared on March 3rd on Keely’s blog: Find Your Running Place]

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