Saturday, May 24, 2008

Red Mountain 50k race report

My friend Sarah and I traveled to St. George, Utah on Friday so I could run the Red Mountain 50k on Saturday. On our way, we went over the Hoover Dam, which was pretty interesting but travel was slow moving with all the tourists.
Driving over the Hoover Dam
We arrived, picked up my race bib, technical t-shirt, and race packet (which included so many goodies!), ate dinner and were in the hotel and asleep by 10pm. I had to leave the hotel at around 4am to arrive at the race shuttle pickup, so I knew I would be fairly short on sleep. After a fitful night's sleep, I awoke before my alarm at 2:50am, after tossing and turning for an hour or more prior to that, and decided to go ahead and get up and get ready. We had lost an hour due to the time change driving into Utah, so it really was 1:50am my time! I arrived at Unity Park in Ivins early enough to chat with some of the other ultrarunners on the bus and at 4:30am were were off to the start line.

When we arrived, it was fairly cold (around 40 degrees) and still pretty dark at Central, Utah, the start of the race. It had been raining all night in Southern Utah, but the weather Gods saw fit to stop the rain shortly befor the start of the race. Many runners were clad in warm caps, tights and jackets, but I chose my usual running skirt, tank and arm warmers, knowing how quick I heat up. There were about 50 runners at the start line. After getting off the shuttle bus, I finally located Troy, also from Tucson, who I had yet to meet until race day (boy is he tall - 6'4''!) The countdown started and at 5:30am, we were off!
Some people had headlamps, but I didn't, so I just made sure that I picked my feet up well for the first few miles to avoid tripping in the dark on the uneven, slightly rocky jeep road (dirt). This road would last for 12 miles before turning to pavement for the last 19 miles. The scenery was amazing!! Everything was so full and green. My camera was acting up and taking blurry pictures (I'm getting the idea that I have dropped it a few too many times) so I don't have very many pictures of this part of the race.

Troy and I ran together and got to know each other a little bit, which was fun. He did the Zane Grey 50 mile race, so I was worried about my ability to keep up with him for too long. Although this is a downhill race, there were quite a few hills that we were reluctant to charge so early on in the race by full out running. Troy had us doing 50/50 steps going uphill. Of course, his steps were larger than mine (I'm 5'2''!), so I was doing a few more than him on each set. We would do 50 steps running/50 steps walking to tackle hills. We were having a great time!

Me and Troy at the 6 mile aid station

The scenery on this part of the race was truly spectacular and the 'oohs and aahs' from all the runners on this section were many. We did cross a creek and there were a handful of muddy sections from the rain, but nothing too technical. I could feel the mud caking on my shoes at times, but it would slough it off in the drier sections. The sun was not in sight and the clouds hung heavy over the surrounding mountains giving the area a misty, eery look. The sun didn't really peek out much until the end of the race, which allowed it to stay cool enough to feel comfortable running. It truly was a blessed day for weather.
I had met a fellow runner Mike on the shuttle bus, a super nice highly seasoned 61 year old ultrarunner (72 ultras!) from Franklin, TN, which is near Nashville. I have 2 siblings that live there, so he talked me into going to visit and doing some trail ultras up in that area (I could visit my brother and sister and run a trail ultra, too - how great is that!). He said there are so many - quite a few in Chattanooga, which is close to Nashville. Anyway, Troy and I caught up with Mike early on and we all ran together until about mile 17, sharing different race stories with each other. Ultrarunners are the nicest people. I located a port-o-potty at mile 17 and unfortunately, I never caught up with them after that. I could see them ahead for about 5-7 miles, and then I lost them.Here Mike (he doesn't look 61, does he?), Troy and I are tackling an uphill portion with a little walking Feeling good around mile 15 - halfway through!

After mile 17, I was really having some issues. I'm not sure if the lack of sleep over the last week or two got to me or what, but my legs felt horrible! I finally took some Perpetuem, which helped immensely, I was drinking plenty of water/Heed, eating lots of Clif blocks, I ate an Odwalla 'superfood' bar, which usually gives me tons of energy - I'm just not sure what was going on. I had lost Troy and Mike; I was alone from mile 17 to final mile 31; I was passed after mile 23 or so by 1 man and 3 women (for some reason I thought I must be in last place at this point!); I was struggling with extreme calf muscle pain (the downhills were fun but intense); I was weary of the pavement (which started after mile 12, the end of the jeep road); I was just plain tired. The aid stations were frequent and I would stop for at least a moment at each. I'm wondering if I really was eating enough or drinking enough. I truly suspect that I was just tired from this last month of low sleep and too much other activity and stress.

But the views! Wow! We went through a few beautiful ranch areas, lots of farmland, the rural town of Gunlock, Gunlock reservoir, and saw many amazing mountain views. My camera cut out on me around mile 20 and did not allow me to take any more pictures! I was so bummed! So, I just decided to enjoy what I was seeing and focus on positive thoughts. I was finishing this race! I would run when I could and walk when I hit small hills to save my legs. I did feel pretty good around mile 26 or so (hey, I had just finished a marathon!) and that energy lasted for a few miles.

The last 2-3 miles were really a struggle. I could hear the party at the finish line now. Only a 1/2 hour left. Only 10 minutes left. Only 3 minutes left. Yes, there is the finish line! I came in at 5:31:13. That is a 10:39 minute per mile average, which was great considering all of the walking I did throughout. I was the 7th place woman, out of 18 women finishers and 20th place overall out of 42 overall finishers. I got my heavy metal medallion placed around my neck and found Troy, who finished about 10 minutes ahead of me. What an accomplishment! I was proud of myself and surprised that I came in earlier than I had predicted. It was a PR (personal record)!

This race was so well run. They had a great deal of food at the aid stations and the finish, even a take-home goody bag of snacks and drinks for each runner on top of that. All of the volunteers were friendly and helpful; there were lots of families with cheery and upbeat kids and cute dogs at the aid stations. I would highly recommend this race to anyone looking for a fast, beautiful, highly organized race, with lots of goodies!

I was already feeling sore and was walking pretty funny by the time I got back to the hotel room, so I anticipate taking a while to recover. If you can believe it, I spent a little bit of time looking up other ultramarathons online that evening!


Sarah said...

Congrats! That's a great time! It's so awesome seeing you get into ultras. It's addictive, isn't it? Hard to beat when the views are so beautiful and the people so friendly. Are you putting in for your maniac membership? : )

Anonymous said...

I am SO proud of you! It sounds like it was a tough race especially given everything you have going on in your life right now. You look great! Congratulations!!

HappyTrails said...

Hi Renee! AWESOME! Beating your projected time by 30 min - you should feel proud! How are your shins/feet feeling after all of the pavement??? I LOVE your pink sleeves! :)And you didn't get rained on! Yahoooo! You will need to come up here sometime and we'll give you the grand tour of our area, although we run short miles compared to you ultrarunners! Maybe someday!!! Again, great job!

RunningTroysLife said...

Dude, you rock that was so fun, thanks for talking me into it.

My Life & Running said...

Wow! Great job Renee! You really are an inspiring runner-woman!

angie's pink fuzzy said...


I'm so jealous that you got to do that; it sounds like it was (tiring but) awesome!