Are We There Yet?

Trail running through the Bryce hoo doos

The change to the new year always brings a fresh, optimistic perspective on things. I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. Feeling like I am certainly on the road to recovery and maybe even normalcy, I signed up for two summertime races – the Bryce 50k and Tushars Half Marathon. The Bryce race runs just outside the park but lets you experience the crazy hoo doos of the area up close. Tushars is a mountain climb to over 12k feet and back and the previous pics are gorgeous. I hesitate calling them races as they are more like hiking experiences for me with some running thrown in.

It seemed all spring I was feeling better and better. Back to sleeping just 8 hrs instead of 10-12 and waking up feeling like I was actually awake. I’d been walking and running some, trying to be as regular as I could around my other activities, especially putting on the Mesquite Senior Games which takes quite a bit of time and effort every spring. Maybe my actual lack of regular running was helping?

Anyway, it’s so easy to be inspired from the armchair. Reading trail running magazines, watching videos, and just seeing other people enjoy the mountain trails makes me think there’s no reason I couldn’t be doing that too. They make it look so easy, like even I could do it. And, the pictures are SO beautiful that I want to be there too. The dopamine that makes brings on addictive tendencies is surely present.

The hard part is that after my work with Mesquite Senior Games wraps up, our weather immediately turns hot. That makes training extremely difficult. Local trail runs can be dangerously hot during the day so I tend to run roads at night, with an occasional nighttime trail run up on our mesa. There is not a whole lot of elevation gain and certainly no real altitude to train by, but you do what you can.

Gathering for the race start

Given my lack of training, a month prior I smartly downgraded to the Bryce Half which is only 13 miles instead of 31. Race day came and the weather was gorgeous. However, it had been and would be a good 10-15 degrees hotter than normal. Right away, the race took up up the mountain. It was a hiking congo line which was great for me. Allowed me to get warmed up before being peer-pressured to run.

The hoo doos were awesome. Getting to hike/run right beside them was something else. Did I mention we went uphill? Up and up and up. Until mile 4 when it went back down to the road. That was a sweet stretch and I ran the whole way. From the aid station there, we hiked and ran another mile back towards the hoo doos through a sparse forest. It was getting HOT. I was doing well hydrating, but the sun was intense at 9000 ft.

After leaving the forest, the trail began a serious climb! Switchbacks that had you resting every time you got to the corner. Lots of people sitting along the side. It was exposed and hot. Once at what we thought was the top, I started not to feel well. I was still drinking but my stomach felt nauseated and my body was overheating. I was passing people sitting but also being passed as I was going pretty slow.

By mile 11, I threw up on the side of the trail. Immediately felt a bit better and was able to run the slight downhills before the next uphills. I passed someone laying down with friends helping her. Soon, I was nauseated again. At mile 13, I was sitting on a rock when another racer insisted he helped me find shade. I really didn’t want to move and felt horrible, but also felt obligated to let him help me. I walked about 10 feet and laid down on the dirt. He went on and I began dry-heaving. That’s the worst. Someone offered to find me help.

Before I lost my stomach

I really didn’t need help. I just needed to keep going and get out of there. At mile 14, I made it to the dirt road leading down to the finish line. Fortunately, I could slowly run and 6.5 hours later, I finished a half marathon. It’s crazy. Others weren’t so lucky. Lots of trail carnage. Rumor has it there were 15 IV bags hung on trees for various downed runners. So glad I didn’t do the 50K!

While the race was beautiful and it was great to get out and be a part of it, it probably taxed my resources. Still working on eating whole foods, nothing processed, drinking lots of water, and sleeping—lots. Hoping I will have built up some new resources to tackle the Tushars race! Stay tuned.