Monday, February 17, 2014

Moab's Red Hot 33k

The Moab Red Hot 33k kicks off the 2014 La Sportiva Mountain Cup series. The 33k is held in conjunction with the Red Hot 55k. Both races are point to point, starting at the Gemini Bridges Trail Head and ending hours later at the Poison Spider Trail Head. 

I joined Megan Kimmel (Asics), 5 time La Sportiva Mountain Cup winner and Brandy Erholtz, (New Balance) 5 time member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team on the starting line. After a few words from race director, Chris Martinez, we were off at 8:30 am sharp climbing 300 feet in the first mile. Brandy took it out and I stayed comfortably behind. Once we crested the top and started down to a fast flat section, Megan and Sarah Kjorstad passed by. I didn't feel comfortable going with them so I let them go, unfazed. After all, we were at mile 2.

Up and over the first climb.
I soon found myself right in the middle of a conversation between iRunFar's Bryon Powell and another guy, literally. I listened to them chat back and forth across me until we caught up with the pack of 3 women at the start of the technical portion of the race. Megan pulled away at mile 5 and Sarah dropped off soon after. It was then up to Brandy and me to navigate the "Hot" portion of the Red Hot: the infamous Gold Bar and Golden Spike Trails. Fortunately though, we were not alone. I am very thankful to have had Bryon Powell and two other men's eyes looking out for the strategically placed stripped pink ribbon. The bare desert landscape does not lend itself to easy marking. Everyone had to keep their eyes peeled for ribbons tied to dead branches on the ground or wrapped around large rocks.

Three miles to go!
I am used to running the wet, slick terrain of the Pacific Northwest, not through deep sandy washes. But it was fun to be able to scurry up and down the slickrock in my Helios; I stuck like a spider. I pulled away from Brandy approaching the last aid station at mile 14. I continued to run with three men, one of whom was very encouraging and cheered me on. Thank for your kind words; I am sorry to have missed you at the finish line. I crossed the line in 2:35:16 several minutes behind Megan and with Brandy not far behind.

Brandy (& baby), Megan and me.
Congratulations to fellow Bellingham-ster, Jodee Adams-Moore, who placed 1st in the women's 55k.

Bellingham representin'!

The most painful part of the day was the 0.3m walk to the car. Every inch of my legs ached and I had to forego the cool down. Instead I went back to the hotel and sat in the tub. We returned to the Poison Spider Trailhead for the awards ceremony. Tad and I got to hang out with Everett, the La Sportiva Representative. He had bushels of Bushido's available for everyone to try.

Resting on my laurels at the La Sportiva tent.

Those of you who know me are aware that I am a pretty anxious person. To say I was nervous for this race would be an understatement. Fear of the distance, fear of taking a wrong turn, of getting lost, of falling into a canyon and having to cut my arm off with a dull razor blade... yeah, you get the idea of what goes on in my head. I am so happy that I achieved what I set out to do: be competitive, gain experience and have fun. Because I have been able to train injury-free for 8 months now, I am finally to the point where I can be among the women that I look up to and aspire to emulate in my running career.

Thank you to race director, Chris Martinez, co-race director, Justin Ricks (who also won the men's 33k!) and GrassRoots events for putting on such a great race that showcases the beauty of Moab. If you are interested in running a trail race in the Moab area, check out some of the other Grass Roots events. 

Thank you to La Sportiva for sponsoring the race and me. My Helios were AWESOME!

Thank you to Brad and Jeff and all the folks at Trail Butter for fueling me before and after the race.

Ozark Original enjoying the sights at Arches National Park.
Thank you to Terrain Gym for making me strong enough to hang tough up and down the slickrock at altitude.

Thank you to Align Chiropractic for making my body feel awesome from start to finish. (It needs some work now!)

Thank you, Tad, for putting up with me on this trip. I know it wasn't easy!

Next up for me in the series is the Hillbilly Half-Marathon, down the road in Olympia, Washington on March 8th

Until next time, Moab.