Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Moab Red Hot 33k


Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- 

I took the one less traveled by, 

And that has made all the difference. 

--Robert Frost
Moab, Utah
Source: Me

Without trying to turn this post into a mellow-dramatic emotionally-filled marshmallow of long rambling paragraphs, let me just sum the Moab Red Hot 33k trail race as one of those little things you do in life where you just happen to come out a different person than when you started.  Not always necessarily better or worse -  just different;  different perspective, a change of goals, a more fond awareness of just what you're doing just might actually be okay after all.   In picturesque Moab, somewhere amongst all that red sand, red dirt, great vertical walls, and vast slick rock sandstone, I smiled.  I was in love again - a love that has been buried under a heap of old pace times, slow MAF miles,  lost endurance.... to name a few things.  I've hated running for so long now and wondered if 'my time' was ever going to come back to me.  Somewhere around mile 10, I can whole heartedly say it did, and I came home eager, and excited, about my running future.

I stood on the start line of Moab a bit over two weeks ago.  Nervous  - yet excited.  Definitely uncertain of what lied ahead of me (y'all know I'm not much of a trail runner and I wasn't exactly race fit for this thing), and a little bit... empty.   Empty because four-ish days before the race the coach and I parted ways (parted ways?  That's such a super lame expression...but I'm going with it because that's what happened and I'm way too lazy to actually put a lot of thought into this post to come up with something more eloquently written.  Whatever);  I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty of why - there is no real reason why other than we just didn't mesh.   Though it was meant to be, it didn't mean it wasn't painful (queue the violins).   So when the gun went off at Moab, my one prevailing thought was: use the race to let the past go - literally and figuratively - and to enjoy the amazing day ahead of me.  And that was it.

En route to the race bright and early

I went to Utah with a couple women I work with, both of whom I don't really know that well - which always makes for an interesting trip.  Kerry (blue jacket) is an incredibly gifted trail runner and tons of fun; she also ran the race.  Kim (orange jacket) didn't race;  she came as a cheerleader, race start/finish chauffeur, and shoulder lender a time or 90 for me.  She's the warmest-hearted woman you'll ever, ever meet!
Are you drooling over the scenery yet?  If not, you will!

Somewhere along the course of Facebook connections through connections through connections, I met Doreen who was also running and we hooked up a couple times while there.  Awesomely accomplished woman who I instantaneously formed a special friendship with.



If you've never been to Moab, Utah, you truly must put it on your bucket list, if not to run, just to sit and admire its beauty.  I'm not a well-traveled girl but in all the places I've ever encountered, Moab's scenery is incredibly unique; it's a magical place where you come to find peace.  It is country filled with vast red rock sandstone, canyons carved from the Colorado River, and the La Sal Mountains, over 12,000', located to the SE as a backdrop.  The area is filled with technical and slick rock sandstone and has become the mountain bike capital of the country.  Within these demanding, yet drop-dead gorgeous trails, I stood on the start line of the Red Hot 33k about to enter a trail running world I knew so little about.

There is a colossal difference between trail and road running.  In the almost 19.5 miles I ran in Moab, I encountered so much diversity of terrain and scenery that my mind never had an opportunity to become mush, my vision was continuously rewarded, and every muscle constantly challenged.   I never had to think of strategy or my pace or where I was positioned - those things meant nothing here as I climbed sandstone outcrops, stood and wondered which way was the course, ran down gnarly broken rock, slugged through red sand up to my ankles - and then climbed (and climbed and climbed and climbed) to then do it all over again (and again and again).  I sit here and look at my Garmin data and I honestly cannot remember much about the data it's displaying, the only visions I can muster up are those of the incredible people I encountered along the way, and how every single step brought a different path than I was on just mere moments ago.  
First mile of the race was straight uphill, and the only section we
encountered slippery ice.
Red dirt trail found after the first icy mile
Red sandstone vertical cliffs became my backdrop early in the race
A posse of runners I hooked onto early on; they were having a
blast and I loved their company.  Until I dropped them at mile
4 and left them in the dust! :)
People - way in the top center - to give a scale of this section's
enormous openness 
Climbing up vasts amounts of slickrock sandstone...
....to come upon views like this!!
And then  back down....
Follow the pink and black stripped ribbons....if you can find them.
I spent several times stopped dead in my tracks, wondering
where to go next.  Which made it all the more - fun!






I have so many pictures and so many thoughts, I could spend hours upon hours posting them all.  I hope the pictures bring a small glimpse into this incredibly amazing race.  I was so absorbed in my surroundings and never thought much about the task at hand; I just did it.  I ran hard when I could and walked up the sheer vertical walls when I couldn't.  I latched on to various people throughout the course, so as not to get lost (and to have a little entertainment :)), and I dropped every single person at some point.  I wasn't breaking any speed records, but I felt fantastic.  When I came to the last aid station around mile 15, I set up my mind to run those last downhill miles as fast as my fatiguing body would allow me.  I was starting to get choked up at how incredibly good I felt and I was passing people like it was my job; it was hard to corral my emotions but I had to finish this job.

With about a mile to go (I actually didn't really know how much longer to go since I had run off-course many times and no idea where I was exactly), I saw Kerry just ahead of me so I kicked it in a bit to catch up to her.  I knew something wrong had to be going on with Kerry since she's so much faster than me (or I was having some magical super human powers :)); poor girl was having some IT and hip issues and struggling a little but we grabbed a quick picture... 

...and headed down the last stretch of rocky trail together, feeling stronger than ever, and chatting away about the race thus far.

We crossed the finish line together and heard our friend Kim cheering from the side.  3:56 and some change (and 25/72 in the 40-99 age group....yes, this is an age group in trail racing), which FAR exceeded any expectations I may have even slightly thought about prior.  

I was stunned, and kinda an emotional mess!  Kerry went to kiss me on the cheek, and tears were literally streaming (I'm a dork!).



I am truly blessed!

There's nothing more motivating for success than success itself.  The gains I have made with my running, albeit slow, are noticeable and reinforces my dedication to the sport I once loved so much ... and fell in love with again out there on Moab's trails.   I have new-found confidence and I am where I need to be right now.

It feels so good!


Official Race pic, I'm guessing around mile 9.  These two nice woman,
 whom I followed for about 5 miles,
I passed and never saw them again.
Smiling on the slickrock

It may not look it, but we climbed almost 3000'.

You can now put those violins back and don't worry about me and my once fragile emotions over the coach situation (I appreciate the songs while the lasted though); I am fine.   I have no regrets over what happened, I feel fantastic, I've lost all the excess weight I put on in my woe-is-me foot fiasco, and I have a brand new sparkly ultra coach and I can already tell we'll work together well.  As far as running goes, life is chugging along quite nicely, and you can't argue with that!

Run strong, my friends!

54 comments:

Big Daddy Diesel said...

This brought nothing but smiles to my face!! Congrats Jill!! On so many levels!!

Tasha @Healthy Diva said...

I am so excited that you are excited about running again. The race looked beautiful, I can see how you might walk away as a different person after finishing. The elevation looks a little bit intense, but I am sure that the views and photos that you were able to take were worth it.

That age group is crazy! You did awesome though. Was anyone 99??? :-)

Coy Martinez said...

Serendipity! You guys are so lucky to be able to go out and live and run in such a beautiful place! The east coast has some nice spots but nothing like Utah. I'm happy you had a great experience. Maybe you feel free now!?

One Crazy Penguin said...

This race report puts a smile on my face :)

Great pictures and I'm so glad that you're back to your kick ass self. Hopefully I'll get to see you in a couple weeks!

ShutUpandRun said...

Oh man that was one of my favorite race reports ever. You do sound like you've come out a different person. I am SO happy that this race brought back your love for running (and yourself).

mtnrunner2 said...

Glad you had a great day, and felt like you reclaimed your running out there. Fantastic.

Kandi said...

Wow, just wow! Those views are fabulous! I really, really need to get out west. I think I say that every time I read your blog.
Glad you had a great race!

Johann said...

Absolutely fantastic Jill! Now how can I not run a trail race in the US after reading this? And the scenery...! I'll just see where and how the road brings me your way one day. I can't wait!

hiker mom said...

So happy for you Jill:) What an amazing experience and so beautiful! I have never been to Utah, but the hiker in me wants to go so bad!! It is definitlely on my hiking bucket list:)

Footfeathers said...

Just think, when you're 100 years old, you'll clean house!

Excellent report with super photos. Really happy for you. Simplicity and fun while getting stronger. Big year ahead.

bobbi said...

What Beth said.

This entire thing made me smile huge. Wishing you many many continued successes and may your run love grow and grow.

Also..stunning pictures! Must run there some day :)

HappyTrails said...

Dare to dream, Jill! I am dreaming with you! :-)

Robin said...

Congrats on such a great race and performance. Nice that you found your love of running again. Not surprised at all, that course looks spectactular indeed. Truly beautiful. Thanks for all the pics and sharing those.

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

You are pretty darn awesome!! Loved this race report. You sound so wonderful!

Jamoosh said...

Most excellent post - and awesome pictures too!

Mike said...

Trail running is the best. A 33k in Moab...how cool is that!

misszippy said...

So happy for you to be sounding so fulfilled and pleased with your running. Just awesome. What an amazing event and you crushed it. Such a beautiful venue--definitely on my list of places to go!

Becky at Prairie Runner said...

What a fantastic post!!! Love your words, your pics, and that you fell in love with running again!

Karen said...

That looks beautiful!!! I need to put this on my bucket list for sure.

Glad you got your mojo back, that in itself is exciting. :)

Matthew Smith said...

Awesome race report! What a beautiful place to run, and you did so well too! Great job!

Char said...

That was great to read. I'm so excited for you that your running's going well. You did your long injury time out - you deserve some really good times.

SupermomE12 said...

Yay!Yay!! Yay!!!! This post makes me super happy. I can feel your joy and excitement!! I am sorry things did not work out with your coach - I know how very hard that is. But it is a very important relationship and it is SO important that you mesh well both with the running/training and with personality, etc. I am glad you are feeling good about the new coach! Smiling and cheering for you as always! :)

Jenny @ The Little J-Bird said...

Lovely recap! Such beautiful scenery too. So excited for this race and its outcome for you! You rock!

Cory Reese said...

I basically love this post. You are right, there is absolutely nowhere like Moab. This race is definitely on my to-do list.

I am SO, SO happy that you are coming to pace at Zion!!!!!! We definitely need to get together. Email me at coryreese1@hotmail.com and we'll make a plan.

Teamarcia said...

What a stunning place to rekindle your love of running! So so happy for you my badass friend!

Jim ... 50after40 said...

Man Jill, that was awesome my friend! (I hope you know you're one of my running heroes!)

ajh said...

Wow! Wow! So many great things in this post. Yay for you and thanks for sharing your huge enthusiasm and great pictures.

Mike said...

Awesome race! I'm smiling for you.

Just finished reading Born To Run so now I'm thinking jumping from a half marathon to an ultra. Yeah, I'm stupid like that. Whenis your ultra again?

I'm in Breckenridge the last week of March (Sat-Sat). My mom is excited about meeting some of my online friends :-).

KelleeLyn said...

New follower! I am running the Moab Half Marathon next weekend and am hoping for a PR, now you have me really excited about the scenary!

pensive pumpkin said...

I love you, and I am so happy for you, and this looks amazing, and 40-99 is a hysterical age group, and

wow. just wow.

You seem so much happier, love. Amazing. Soooooo happy for you. Text me sometime!!! Lets catch up!!

Average Woman Runner said...

Amazing post, thank you for sharing! This was so inspiring to read, I 'm so happy you had this experience to recharge and lift you. As for the race itself, I want to pack my bags and head to Moab for those views! Looking forward to see what else is in your future.

Ollintrails said...

Jill
Thank you for coming out to the Moab Red Hot 55/33k this past Feb. I love reading post like yours it makes me fill good that the Red Hot is much appreciated in the trail running community. Ive run the course many times on my own and believe me it does the same for me inside each time I run it. Moab is magical! Best

Chris Martinez - Race Director of Moab Red Hot 55k/33k

Alicia Curley said...

Holy crap, the scenery is just beautiful there! I will need to give Utah a second chance ;)

Very glad you found what you needed on the trail. Leaving the past truly behind is such a hard thing to do, but I can't think of a better metaphor for it then the start and finish of a race, and what both can contain and mean.

Congrats to you!

Kate Geisen said...

We spend a few days in Moab several years ago...back before I was a runner or a cyclist. In fact, it was SOO long ago that when I tripped and fell and scraped my hands and knees I was teary for the rest of the day. I don't even know that girl anymore! Boy, would I like to go back now!!

This just cements the happiness I felt in reading your facebook posting about the race. What an amazing feeling to HAVE IT again. :) So happy for you! :)

Terzah said...

I saw Kathleen's comment and admit that I thought of her immediately on reading this. Maybe you *are* a trail runner??? :^)

Anyway, you already know I am happy for you--your future's so bright! And I was glad to read the part about the new coach working out. Congratulations again!!

ilikemargarine.com said...

yay!

Jesse - Questionably TExan said...

You must have been in geology heaven running through an area like that! Enjoyed reading your report!

Julie said...

This makes my heart sooo happy for you! Best thing I've read in a looonng time! And you found a new coach already!? Yea!!

onelittletrigirl said...

So many amazing photos! The west is so beautiful!!!!

Also, love the Frost quote. Never gets old :)

Amanda RunToTheFinish said...

every time you post I want to get on plane and go :) I am containing myself from signing up for a trail race until I have some trails to run on, but you are making it so hard.

I am so happy this run was everything you needed it to be

Doreen said...

This race truely was magical.

And meeting you was the highlight!!!!

GZ said...

Well, that is nice. Really nice. Glad to hear you got the groove back. Sweet.

Paul Rodman said...

I got teary just reading this 8)

Don't you just love trail racing? it's such a mind/body refresher from road running. It almost seems like a completely different sport. It's so stimulating in so many different ways from road running. (Of course amazing views helps a lot 8)

The scenery in Moab is just stunning...gotta do that race or something like it someday!

(I almost expected to see Wyle E. Coyote setting up some ACME rocket sled aimed at the RoadRunner around the corner ;)

So glad you had a breakthrough run!

Sorry you parted ways with your coach. I have not had that problem so I can't help you ;)

-p

Suz and Allan said...

Congratulations on a wonderful race Jill! This race certainly has some of the most beautiful scenery. Glad to hear things are going so well with your new coach too!

Black Knight said...

You are our super-hero! Congrats on the race and thanks for all the beautiful pictures.
That trail is more than a race: it's an epic adventure!

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John Nguyen said...

Congrats on your instant 33K PR! =) The pictures are beautiful!

Glenn Jones said...

Nice! I've never been to Moab, but I have been to the mesa country in that part of Utah. It is breathtakingly beautiful!

momto8blog said...

wow...good for you!!! and good luck with everything!!!
I am not a runner because of my knees, but my best friends are and they talk about their running with such passion all the time...
what lovely photos!
I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

Adrienne said...

Now it's my turn....wow, I got so much inspiration from this post!

The journey in words and pictures makes me want to take on something of that magnitude. It sounds like to do an event like that, you have to throw aside all fear, preconceived notions, and just 'be' in the here and now.

Really enjoyed your well-written journey and so glad that you came back a different person. Because really, isn't the the real reason why we run??

Liz said...

Wow, incredible scenery, and so great that you are back on top with your running! Keep on enjoying it!

Anne said...

I tried to leave a comment last week and it wouldn't "take." Maybe too much drool from looking at all those gorgeous photos and learning you ran it in under 4 hours. Whoo-hoo.

Anne said...

So many things about this post made me smile! I am so happy for you and a little jealous about the amazing scenery at that race...wow!! You are one awesome woman Jill! :)

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