Moab Red Hot 55k
Southern Utah is one of my favorite places to visit. While attending The University of Montana the triathlon team would venture down to St. George and the Zion area for a week of training. This was mostly long bike rides but runs and swims were in the mix too. When I started getting into ultra running I thought it would be cool to run around all those places that we would bike by. This resulted in me signing up for the Zion 100 last year and is making me return again this April. Visiting the desert in the winter has been a tradition for the last 5 years and I want to keep visiting Southern Utah's desert each winter.
|The lead pack in the first miles of the race|
I heard about Moabs Red Hot 55k through irunfar.com and Bryon Powells race recap from last year. Hannah also raced her first 50 mile trail run in Moab, Moabs Alpine to Slickrock in September. Running around crewing for Hannah gave me a glimpse of Moabs beauty and I knew I wanted to return and see more.
I was excited about the race but didn't know how ready I was considering I raced Bandera 100k 5 weeks prior. That race left me pretty battered and the build back to consistent running was slow. I took this time to start incorporating different workouts into the week.
This included indoor bike rides, weight lifting and core. It felt good to drop my mileage and incorporate some other endurance/strength sessions into the week. This made me realize that running more miles doesn't necessarily make you a better runner and paying some attention to your weaknesses (weights/core) will help you push yourself to a new level of fitness.
During this time leading up to Red Hot I also experimented with long moderate effort runs without gels or other nutrition. Instead I used my typical Hammer Nutrition products after my runs to replenish my glycogen stores. This type of practice takes time but I did feel strong at the end of the race. Maybe this whole buzz about training your body to use fat as fuel is beneficial?
|The "follow pack" including Mike Foote, Brad Seng and eventual winner Alex Nichols.|
|Still in the first miles with the La Sal mountains in the backdrop.|
I surprised myself.
I started off running in the follow pack after the lead group went out like it was a 10k! I knew that some would hold on but that others would fall apart. The weather was pretty ideal with cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 60's. I was a bit surprised to have settled into the "chase" group that included good friend Mike Foote(The North Face), Brad Seng(Pro Triathlete) eventual winner, Alex Nichols(Inov-8), Jason Koop( Dakota Jones and Dylan Bowmans coach). The pace still felt pretty quick for me so after the first climb the group broke up and they went ahead.
After the first climb I struggled to find any sort of rhythm. My legs felt heavy and my breathing was off. I continued to stay focused and tried to monitor my body the best I could. I switched from a Hammer Gel every 30 minutes to a gel every 20 minutes. I also increased my electrolyte intake to 3 tablets an hour instead of 2/hr. After completing the first loop section I started to feel better. Going into mile 17 aid station after completing the loop and turning on to the final section I got a bolt of energy. Someone replaced the light bulb and turned the light "on". I was a new person.
At this point I was in around 13th place. We worked our way back on to wavy slick rock with more climbs. I noticed people slowing down so I started to pick up the pace. I saw my good friend Myke Hersmeyer up on top of some rocks taking photos. I heard him yelling from the distance and I started to pick it up and focus on having a strong finish. I ended up passing Luke Nelson up this climb and eventually Brad Seng and Travis Macy. Running with names like this was an honor and I focused even more on each foot forward.
At the second to last aid station I restocked on gels and told myself to give it all you got till the finish and try and catch the person in front. After more weaving up and down slick rock I came through the last aid station and was told I had 5 miles left. The volunteers said I looked great (they always say that) and that the others in front were fading. I grabbed two more gels, topped of my handheld and kept pushing on. After getting over a few more camel hump slick rock mounds I was caught by a screaming Travis Macy. He encouraged me to hang on but I was already pushing it to my limit. I Stayed with him for 5 minutes until I couldn't any longer. It was inspiring to see him move so fast this late in the race and I tried to keep him in sight. I did just that and finished only 1 minute back in 4:16 for 7th place.
I was really happy with how this race went for me. It was an honor to have run with Mike Foote, Brad Seng, Joe Grant, Luke Nelson and Alex Nichols. I am excited for the rest of the season and spending more time with friends.
|Mike Foote on his way to a 3rd place.|
|The first "climb" and the start to my low patch|
|Runners cruising the red sand dirt roads|
|The light is coming back on!|
|I started to feel good when the terrain was getting difficult. Pushing the climb with Luke Nelson ahead.|
|Starting to feel the toll of the sand and slick rock.|
|Hannah Riedl finishing 11th female. Another loop!?|
|Runners Roost team|
|Hey Ed look its a space ship.|
|Johnny jump up!|
|Post race beer with fellow Hammer athlete Kelly Agnew|
| Nice jacket Ed Hirsh!|
Overall the weekend was a blast! It was great to re-unite with the ultra running community and see good friends that drove down from Montana. To have friends support like that gave me some added energy.
And to top the great weekend off Hannah found out she was accepted to Colorado State University for their Master Ecology program!!! This was out of 60 applicants!!! So proud of you Hannah!