Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

March 30, 2015

Behind the Rocks 50k, Moab Utah, 28 Mar 2015

Brutally hot and sandy.  That just about describes this year's Behind the Rocks race, put on by Mad Moose Events.   We had been watching the weather in Moab all week, hoping that the forecast was wrong, but sure enough that 85 degree day came to pass.   The rest of the week it had been cooler, but....

I was signed up for the 50k, and Jim was doing his longest race at 30k, but we both got more than we bargained for...the actually distances were more like 53k and 33k.  Ooops...like we wanted to go any further in that heat!

The name of the race says it all, the event was held behind a huge cliff overlooking the town of Moab.  It was mostly on jeep trails, which meant quite a bit of sand.   And with start times of 8 am and 9 am for us, it was getting warm even before we started running, and just kept getting hotter.

The scenery got a lot better on the 50k when I dropped down into Hunter's Canyon on the rim trail.   Here it was single track, with beautiful views down into the canyon.   The final drop down to the road and the aid station was really steep and really awesome...and it was nice to arrive at the shady aid station, too!   I downed a few glasses of soda, and filled my water reservoir up knowing it was a long climb out again to the plateau.    This was just past the halfway point of the race, which I passed at 3 hours, but the long climb, high elevation, and high temps would take their toll.  It would take another 4.5 hours for me to do the slightly shorter second half.

A few people got more than they bargained for in that section, and ran out of water.  I had been getting dry mouth constantly, and kept taking sips of water until my stomach sloshed when I ran.   I even shared my dwindling supply with a guy who was carrying nothing more than a bike bottle for the whole race.

10 miles of climbing and the midday sun brought me to the 3rd aid station, which was stocked with ICE (yay!).   Everyone there was downing glass after glass of cold soda and filling up with water.  There may have only been 7 miles left in the race, but we all knew it would take a while to walk it in the heat.  I pulled out my sponge and soaked myself with water as much as I could...it dried almost instantly but felt really nice.   Oddly enough, after drinking a few small cups of soda, my stomach was no longer sloshing...think I just had too much plain water in it for a while.

At any rate, I got through the last bit by constantly sponging water on my head...think I poured more on myself than I drank.   I even stopped for 5 minutes under a small, shady tree...it felt really nice but I knew I had to keep going.   Jim had a tough race as well...the 30k didn't get to the nice single track and so he was on really sandy trails most of the time.  He came upon a woman who had fainted in the heat, and walked back with her to the finish to make sure she got back ok.    We were both considerably dehydrated afterwards and drank multiple glasses of liquids for the rest of the day.

Hot and dirty by the finish line...too hot to run the final stretch!
I've gotta say that heat, sand and elevation sure make it hard to run in a race like this.  I was looking forward to running the final downhill stretch, but by then I was down to a power walk.   Physically I felt pretty good...less aches and pains now that I am getting longer runs under my belt.  But speed is limited by the body's ability to cool itself, and heat and dehydrations are a double whammy to limit athletic performance.   Since in hot weather, blood is forced to the skin to produce more sweat, there is less blood going to working muscles.  And dehydration means that there is less blood volume overall, further limiting the amount of oxygen carried to the muscles.  Add 5500 feet of elevation into the mix, with some soul sucking sand underfoot, and it was tough.   20 degrees cooler and we would have breezed through it.  Literally!

Results are HERE

Enjoying the last cool moments of the day before the start!
RV neighbors Marty and Bill left us a surprise for the race...easter eggs filled with Jelly Belly's!!

Footprints in the sandy trails

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