7 Days, 56 Miles, 1 Wicked Trail

It’s week 4 before Moab and the training has really ramped up. I ran 5 during the day on Tuesday, then 3 more that night at our running club’s Tuesday night run. Then, did 19 on dirt at a pretty good clip (for me). The 19 mile loop gains over 2000 feet in the first 9.5 miles. Ran with a pace averaging about 12 min/miles. Tummy grumbled a little toward the end but nothing like last week!

IMG_0821Saturday is our running club’s LONG run day. We had a good turnout and people did anywhere from a few miles to a 50K! Personally, I did 20 miles and I managed (barely) to keep the pace in the 11’s min/mile. That was a new PR for me and I was tired!

I had planned on taking Sunday off to recover, but was tempted by a trail run on the trails near Zion that I’ve always wanted to explore! We hooked up with a new running group in Virgin, UT called Trailheads. They organized a run Sunday evening and advertised it as a 7 mile run with a 3 mile bonus, for those who dare. The run was on a trail up on Smith Mesa. There are several mesas near there with LOTS of trails everywhere.

smithmesa_5My running friend Ericka and I went out and met the group. George and Melissa were the hosts and they were great. We drove up to the top of the mesa and ran the rolling hills for nearly a 6 mile out and back. Right away, I noticed the elevation. George said it was about 5500 feet. The combo of elevation, already being tired, and the youngsters running faster than I usually do, had me gasping immediately. As always, I kept up the rear. Soon, George decided to run with me and proceeded to chat about everything which was great, since I didn’t have the breath to keep up my side of the conversation.

smithmesa_6smithmesa_1Somewhere in the second mile, we came to the edge and looked out at the view. It was astounding. We kept running till we hit mile 3 and then turned around and came back to the Flying Monkey trail intersection. George pointed down the hill, showing us where the Flying Monkey trail went, and I was psyched. I wanted to try it even though my legs were shot. I wanted the full experience! George took off, just like a flying monkey. Then…down we went, chasing after him!

The trail was crazy steep!  The drop off on the side was probably 500-1000 feet down. The footing was narrow and rocky. Not little rocks, BIG ones that you had to jump off of. At one point, the trail had been washed away by the steep, sandy hillside. You just look straight ahead and go fast so you don’t start sliding down the hill! At another point, it was a 4ft drop and we had to half butt slide and half jump down, hoping the momentum didn’t carry us right off the cliff!

smithmesa_4Once we got to the bottom, things flattened out and it was a nice, gentle grade down and back to the house. We cruised along at probably 10-11 min/mile and it felt great. 56 miles in 7 days. Actually in 4 running days. Crazy. Running down a steep, treacherous trail. Double crazy.  S’mores over the campfire back at the house. Awesome!

Terri Rylander

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