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    24 Hours of Utah

    2013 – 24 Hours of Utah Race Recap

    800 600 Terri Rylander

    Goals can be an amazing motivator. Something to set your sight on and then work towards. It’s a way of convincing your mind that you really can do it. Before I set the goal for this race, if someone had said I could go out and run 43 miles, that’s halfway between here and Las Vegas, I’d have laughed and waived them off. But, over time, the goals I set began to take roots, and the training that followed helped me actually believe I could do mileage that most people find crazy.

    IMG_0888The 2013 – 24 Hours of Utah races include a 12 Hour race where runners complete as many 5.37 mile loops as they can before time runs out. The event is held outside of Moab, Utah, on the Monitor and Merrimack trails. Each loop involves 606 feet of climbing. You can read more about it here.

    I was somewhat familiar with the course, having done it the year before. Just knew (even then) that I was capable of so much more. So, for this race I had three goals:  1) to keep moving the whole time, 2) to complete seven laps, 3) to complete an eighth lap, if all went well.

    Interesting the mind games your mind plays, even without your permission. Going into the race, I had  three pretty good reasons not to meet my goals. The first was weather. A storm was expected to blow through on race day, lowering the temps from the 60’s to the 30’s. The second was my ankle. Over the past month, it’s been getting more and more sore. Made worse, I’m sure, by my last long training week/weekend/and Flying Monkey trail run. Thinking it’s a small stress fracture.  Lastly, hormones are a wreck. Perhaps common for a “woman of my age.” Two full periods in two and a half weeks. That can really sap your energy. But, I kept an open mind.

    IMG_0884While it was beautiful the days before and after the race, actual race day was bitter cold. Starting temp was around 27 degrees. The 8mph winds they predicted began before sunrise and were more like 15-20mph at times. So, I bundled up once again, two shirts, a half zip, a wind jacket, hat, gloves, and thermal tights. It was 7:02am and, since I’d just eaten and had drank a full bottle, I only took my camera and nothing else. Then, off we all went. I stopped along the way to take pictures of the trail during the first lap, but still kept up with most everyone.

    IMG_0893After lap one, I ditched the camera and set out again. I was feeling pretty good but decided I should make sure I didn’t get behind in nutrition. So I opened a chocolate protein drink and drank about a third of it. I ran lap two unencumbered. Just me and the biting wind. On every lap, you reverse direction and head out towards where you just came back in from. I guess it keeps it more interesting.

    Lap three, I put on my pack, grabbed a bottle of ade, ate about 1/4 of a PBJ sandwich, and headed out. But that lap quickly had me doubting. Having only finished about 14 miles at this point, my IT band was already hurting. It caused me to really slow up, especially on the downhill. I had to walk more much of the downhill, which takes its advantage away. I HAVE to figure this IT issue out! I came in and took some Ibuprofen.

    IMG_0888End of lap three and I just didn’t feel that great. So, I accepted the aid station offer for ramen and some coke and set out on lap four. Wow, it was like mana from heaven. Maybe I just needed some warm food. No doubt the salt helped too. Since the first half of each lap is all uphill, it gave my IT band more time to rest. I’m sure the drugs helped as well. I started feeling so much better.

    IMG_0895Lap five and six were awesome, aside from the big pile of sand that had started collecting in my socks and gathered under my toes. I was power walking the uphills. Literally pulling with my hamstrings at a clip just short of running. I was flying (for me) downhill. I was feeling great, in spite of the fact that it snowed during both of these laps! Even though I was constantly doing the mental math, it was hard to tell whether I’d have time for the 8th (bonus goal) lap.

    IMG_3020I knew I’d need to start the eighth lap by 5:30pm in order to give myself an hour and a half to complete it. If I was walking the whole way at that point, it may even take longer. My biggest fear was that I’d go out on that eighth lap and not finish in time for it to count. But, when I came in after lap seven, it was only 4:48pm! I had reached my goal of seven laps and had over two hours to do one more bonus lap! So, I sat down, took off my gators, shoes, and socks, and shook out the sand. Put myself back together and off I happily went.

    IMG_3017I walked more than I would have liked to on lap eight, but I was ok with that. No sense beating myself up when I knew I’d finish even if I walked most of it. However, I did try to run a little, but my legs weren’t having it anymore. Gary caught up to me mid-lap and snapped some pictures. He’s so good about that.

    So, after 11.5 hours, at 6:35pm, I came in and finished my eighth lap, 42.96 miles and 4848 feet of elevation gain.IMG_3023

    The combination of major efforts like these and cold temps almost always leaves me shivering. I quickly grabbed my heavy coat from the car and went and sat in the runner’s tent, huddled around the heater with a couple other racers. I was shivering so badly, that the assistant RD threw a down sleeping bag over my lap. 15 minutes later, he threw another one over my head. The almost violent shivering lasted at least an hour.

    Also, after finishing, my stomach started to revolt. I felt queasy and nauseated. Nothing sounded good, not even anything to drink. I forced myself to start drinking a bottle of Recoverite to see if that would help. It wasn’t helping. The assistant RD offered me a Tums, which I eventually got down. Not sure if it ever helped, but some of the nausea subsided over that next hour. We went to Denny’s to get some dinner, but it was still lingering, so I just had toast. It finally went away overnight.

    IMG_0903As it turned out, I was first place of the women over 50 (there were only two of us). The results can be found here. But the even better news was, I was second in women overall! When I learned that, I had a huge grin on my face. I felt I’d been validated. Guess I can finally shake the feeling that I’m faking it till I make it. I guess I can call myself a runner now. It still feels odd.

    What’s next? Dare I say a 50-miler?

    First Trail Race: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    900 601 Terri Rylander

    So many firsts!  First trail race – 24 Hours of Utah. It’s actually several races, but I decided to do the 6 hour version and see how it goes. The route consists of a 5.37 mile loop with 606 feet of climbing in each loop on the Monitor and Merrimac trail north of Moab.

    DSC_6010We arrived Thursday night so that we’d have a day to settle in before the race. Went sightseeing into the San Juan mountains and then over to Gooseneck State Park. The whole Moab area is so beautiful. The town is nearly quaint but could use some updating in places.

    There were three of us from Mesquite:  Gary, Nicole, and myself. Gary chose to try and beat his previous years’ 24 hour distance while Nic and I chose the night time, 6 hour race. Early Saturday morning, we wished Gary well as he began his 24 hours. Nic and her family went off to do family things and I headed out to Arches National Park.

    DSC_6099I spent the whole day at the park taking pictures and going on little hikes here and there. So much to see in a day! Quite the variety of sandstone formations and arches as tall as skyscrapers. I think I explored every bit of the park, including a 5 mile hike to Delicate Arch (in the photo). By late afternoon, I’d seen most of the park and headed back to get ready for the race.

    I thought I’d prepared pretty well. I had cool clothes and warm clothes. I had snacks of all kinds. I had water and Gatorade. I had a headlamp for later. The neat thing about loop courses is that you can park your stuff and then every time you make a loop, you have access to your things. As the clock approached 6pm, Nic and I joined the small group that waited for the starting signal. Then, off we went.

    DSC_6021I happily jogged along with the crowd, though they quickly left me behind since I was slower than most. I was ok with that. After all, I’d been running a total of two months! I put in walk breaks to help me last longer, and it wasn’t long before I was walking a lot, having hit the long uphill climb on the hard, red sandstone and leaving the sandy trail behind.  I was still smiling, thrilled to be part of the event and proud to be considered a trail runner.

    Halfway around the loop, the trail turned downhill and I ran easily with a big grin. I think the first loop took about an hour and a half. On the second loop, you turn around and go the opposite direction. Ok, that’s fine. The first mile back is a dirt road but then the course turns onto a VERY sandy trail. Don’t know how anyone could run that! Soon, I’m back on hard sandstone, climbing up and over and back down to the sandy trail and loop two was done.

    Headed out for loop three at sunset. Cool! Get to use my new headlamp. It’s kinda tight and gave me a little headache, but I push on. I’m about 3/4 through with the third loop when I start feeling nauseated. I happen to run into Gary who encourages me to go just one more loop to see if I can get four done in six hours. Though my stomach feels queasy, I decide I don’t want to let anyone down, including myself, and push for one last loop.

    Starting loop four and it’s full darkness now. Not even any ambient light or horizon to look at. I’m about 1/4 into loop four when it happens. I barf. Only nothing comes out since I hadn’t eaten anything. Kinda sorta felt better so I pushed on. Barfed again just over halfway. 🙁  And, now I’m staggering in the darkness. I veered off the trail by accident at one point scared I’d be one of those statistics, but about 10 minutes later I found the trail markers again.

    I look at my watch and acknowledge I’ve missed the six hour cutoff for loop four but I don’t even care anymore. I just want to get back and lay down. Easier said than done. I felt like  a zombie. Almost an out of body experience. I was moving at about a 30-35 minute/mile pace. I stumbled so many times in the darkness just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other to keep moving. It was what I’ve come to learn is a death march. I knew every step I took was one less I would need to take to get back, and that was my only motivation. Barfed again at the 3/4 point and finally arrived back at 1:30am, having taken about 3 hours to do the fourth loop.  I laid down and barfed again.

    I never did see Nic but heard she completed four loops in six hours. I ran into Gary when I got back, just as he was heading out again. I wished him well and went over to the aid station where they gave me a blanket to calm my shivering and I sat by the warm fire. It took a couple hours but the nausea finally faded. I got to cheer Gary on for every loop as he continued for the full 24 hours, winning his race with over 86 miles! For me, I clocked about 25 total miles on the day, which actually pretty cool since it was more than anything I’d ever done in a day.

    24HrMoab_postraceI learned I still get motion sick if I can’t see the horizon. I never could read in the car, watch people play video games, or sit in the front row of the movie theater. I decided I won’t be doing any more night races anytime soon. Other than that, I felt I did pretty good–especially for my first one. It was nice to be around other trail runners and hearing their stories, good or bad. I’m looking forward to doing this again next year, but daytime only!