Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

March 26, 2017

Monument Valley 50 Mile (or NOT), Mar 25, 2017

Life throws curveballs sometimes.

I woke up a little over a week ago with a sore throat.  My worst fear at the time was that it would stop me from running the Canyonlands Half Marathon down here in Moab, UT.    I got it checked out.

Cold: NO
Strep Throat: NO
Mononucleosis:  YES

Lord help me, I cried in the doctor's office, poor guy.   Extraordinarily bad timing, as my training had been going great and I was in the best shape of my life to really crank out some speedy runs at three key races I had coming up this month.    Far from stopping me from one race, it's stopping me from all running, biking, climbing and anything else athletic for a month or more.   Double Bummer.

11 days later I'm still fighting a sore throat, being careful not to jostle an enlarged spleen, and wondering when the tiredness will set in.  I've listened to friends and sometime complete strangers tell me about their friends having mono, and how they overdid it and were still recovering 6 months or a year later.   I determined to take it easy and recover as quickly as I could.

So last week I cheered for Jim and our trainer Sylvia Bedford from the sidelines as they ran in the Canyonlands Half Marathon on what was an exceptionally hot day in Moab for March.    Sylvia had won the women's race this year before, (yes she is FAST) and it was no surprise then that she did it again in style.   This time she was 4 minutes faster than her previous time, and only 6 minutes behind the fastest man.   I can only imagine running 13.1 miles in 1:21:07.   Amazing.  Results

Jim and Sylvia are happy post-race
Despite suffering in the heat and almost bonking from not eating enough that morning, Jim had a good run and learned a couple of valuable race-day nutrition lessons.  We all make the same mistakes in racing and the hope is that eventually everything will come together for the perfect race.     His next half marathon was just a week later so he would have a chance to put that knowledge to good use very quickly.

So a week later we drove into Monument Valley for another half marathon.   I was signed up for the 50 mile race, but that was obviously out.  Aside from the lingering sore throat, I really felt fine, and couldn't imagine doing nothing while Jim was out there running.  So to keep my heart rate down yet still enjoy the scenery, I decided to walk the half marathon.

The hot weather pattern had cooled off and it looked like a perfect day for racing.  Light winds and temps from 40-55 degrees.   Sunrise came just as the 50 mile runners took off, and then hour later it was our turn.  It was cold enough we huddled in the truck until the last minute, then shot out to the starting line for the 8:15 gun.   There were two waves to the start, and the 8:00 starters were gone already.  There also was no gun, as the second wave was allowed to start anytime we crossed the timing mat.   This kept us from shivering at the start, but being in the second half of runners caused problems down the road for Jim.    The trouble with passing was that the first wave of people wasn't necessarily the fastest runners, so starting in the second wave meant needing to go around a lot of people.  Not the ideal situation for a fast runner like Jim.

The half marathon route was almost all runnable single track, amazingly beautiful hard packed sandy awesomeness.   I found it hard to reign myself in.  I wanted to run so badly!    The trail was just the way I liked it...steep sandy uphills, followed by gently descending runnable single track.   I compromised with myself, and walked quickly instead of running.  Very quickly.   I think I averaged 4 mph for the entire distance, about 15 minute miles aside from a pit stop.   In fact I walked so fast that I passed about 50 runners!    One woman I passed about half way (keep in mind this was at a walking pace after just 6 miles) was puking her guts out at the side of the trail.  I looked away to keep from joining her in sympathy, although I couldn't figure out how this distance and pace could fast or far enough to need to vomit yet!   There's a first time for everything I guess.

Jim had a great race, finishing in 2:40 and well inside the top third of finishers.  His race nutrition went to plan, he carried nothing but a water bottle, and paced himself well.   This despite the fact that the volunteers had misplaced the second aid station so that the fastest runners didn't get to use it at all.  By the time I came through they had moved it onto the course, but with plenty of water in my pack I didn't even need to stop.   I finished 40 minutes behind Jim, and limited myself to just a couple of (very short) sprints to get around slower competitors.   My hands did swell up considerably, which told me that my body isn't quite healthy yet, and I shouldn't be planning any running for a while longer!

The race took us around the Three Mittens, which were tall spires dominating the valley floor, and the course was absolutely beautiful.    We were able to run on trails which are closed to the public without guides the rest of the year.   I did wish I was on the longer 50 mile course as planned, which climbs to the top of one of the mesas and has great views.   We both loved the area so perhaps next year we will come back and try it again, without Mono this time!

Monument Valley Results

This "Sombrero" rock was close to our hotel near the town of Mexican Hat.  Hah