When we left off on our story… the situation was a bit bleak…
I basically spent 12ish hours straight in my tent…
Seldom moving and cramping more often than not when I dared do so.
Day 3 (9 miles):
In the grey before dawn I finally had to exit the tent to pee… at this point I had the distinct revelation that I was not dead.
When Judi woke she asked "If we don't get a ride back to Moab, what do you want to do?"
I answered "Run, I guess, what else would we do?"
I did feel a bit better and managed to eat something…
We started the stage at a brisk walk… ran the downhills… walked the uphills and even jogged some of the flats. I still felt weak and decidedly "un-fabulous"
At one point along the river is some pretty cool single-track… lush and sandy… and not unlike home… I love single-track and love to run it like a wild indian… so I took off… I ran just enough get out of sight of Judi… and… nothing… empty… check engine light on… at mile 4 of the shortest day… there comes a point in just about every ultra… that I get the "what the f#@% am I doing this for" feeling … this was that moment. Oh, it was still beautiful… it was still our honeymoon so to speak.. but I was having the feeling that we might have chosen a better activity…. Been better prepared… the next 4 miles did nothing to improve my physical weakness or feeling sorry for myself.
but we finished the stage in not-last-place.
After the stage I still felt a bit nauseous and week… I wanted to lay down but it was way too hot in the tent… so I sat around camp.
Now camp on the short day is an interesting place… everyone is a bit tired and somewhat banged up… and looking forward to the 52 miles the following day with some level of trepidation… we certainly fell into both of these categories… and fell into conversation with our fellow competitors…
Over the next 5 hours I ate… and drank… made new friends… renewed old acquaintances… ate… drank.. dozed and quite simply had a fabulous time… by suppertime I was feeling much, much better… planning to run again and had all but forgotten to be bothered about my DNF.
At suppertime I ate again… 2 plates full… Got my feet taped by the excellent camp Docs… then headed to the tent where the temperature had plummeted in the hour since darkness arrived. As I lay down to go to sleep… I reflected on the day… I was happy… Judi was happy… it had been a very good day…. And having done this race twice now… the 9 mile day is the best I think… a little run… and then a nice reprieve… and in that a chance to build camaraderie
Day 4 (52 miles)
I had talked to Reid, our race director, the day before we had decided that planning to do from the mile 9 aid station to the 27 mile aid station would be the best option for us. I felt odd, awkward, and antsy when the other racers headed to the start… after helping out a bit around camp we headed to the aid station to await the leaders…. When the first two runners came into view… I was a bit surprised at how excited I was to be watching the race… Jason and Mike came in together both looking strong… Judi and I stood on the side of the road cheering for each runner as they came in over the next 45 minutes
We hopped into the race a bit behind mid-pack… and ended up sticking with Paul G from Colorado for an hour or so…. After a couple of hours we reached to top of the first climb of the day… the view was spectacular
I think Judi was happy to reach the top.
From the top of that climb to the Aid station is the most rugged and remote part of the course… we took it easy for the most part and just enjoyed being out there. But it was rugged and hot… once we worked our way down into the canyons the breeze disappeared and the rocks seemed to radiate heat… we knew that this would be a long stretch without water… we carried extra but still ran out.
I now know what an oasis looks like
I had told Judi earlier that I was thinking of going on after the 27 mile Aid Station… especially if I continued to feel good… and even more so if someone needed a pacer.
And that's what happened.
Jess O (pictured far right) and me (far left below) at the mile 27 aid station
Photo: Glen Delman
Jess and I decided to stick together for the last 25 miles…
I felt pretty good still… I just ate a bit too much too quickly at the aid but within 30 minutes my stomach settled.
And so did we… into a routine where we would put our headphones on and just go for a mile or so then regroup and check in… all the while I continued to look around… just saying "wow" it is simply so awesomely beautiful out there… it was just getting dark as we approached the water drop between aid stations 2 and 3… I had run ahead of Jess a bit… I looked back over my shoulder to see if she was back there and was treated to a crescent moon rising over the mountains in the distance…
Photo: Glen Delman
And inexplicably… not for the first time… and not for the last either… I started to cry… just tired… and overcome with emotion I guess… and I hauled azs to the water drop… loving every step
And I was in some kind of weird euphoric state for the rest of the stage… and it really is kind of a blur… but here are a few things I remember
The grilled cheese sandwich I had at the last aid station (2 slices of heaven with cheddar)
Cresting the final climb and thinking that someone was on the side of the road with bright lights only to discover later that those were stars…
Finding the 5 miles to go mark that Kurt and Shelley drew on the road.
Turning off my headlamp.. standing in the middle of the road and seeing so many stars so close… and seeing the Milky Way with naked eyes.
Seeing 2 green lights that looked eerily like eyes… pointing this out to Jess… then realizing that they were eyes…. And those eyes belonged to a cow 8 ft or so away.
We finished about 1AM with battered feet and huge smiles… then waited up for the last couple of folks to come in.
Day 5 Rest Day
On the rest day we had a sandstorm… and while there is much that I could say about the day but I think that this will sum it up… it sucked… everything in camp from my underbritches to all the pots and pans they used to cook our food were covered in sand… and no matter where we tried to go we constantly battled the sand and wind to keep it out of our eyes and mouth.
And we did complain… a bit… good naturedly, tho… and really… nobody out of all of these tired and worn down people let it get to them… we all just kinda took it with a grain of salt… um… er… "sand"
With one exception maybe… at one point Kurt E got up from the table and started yelling "C'MON WIND! IS THAT ALL YOU'VE GOT? I'VE STILL GOT ONE ORIFICE THAT IS NOT FULL OF SAND…. BRING IT ON!"
Day 6 Marathon Day
And sadly the last day.
The marathon stage is basically broken into 4 parts
Six miles uphill on pavement
A nice start really for my sore feet… we could see folks ahead and behind on the switchbacks
Seven miles down
Single-track for a while then jeeptrack… Judi actually dropped me on this section. My blisters had me softstepping where I could.
5 miles out and back on Porcupine Rim
Really cool… basically we get a chance to see/greet/encourage each other in passing… but it's pretty hot on the rim
6 miles to the finish
Judi and I kinda soaked this up… mostly running…
And finished hand in hand….
I'll be back with an Epilogue and more pictures