Red Hot(ish) 55K(ish) race report

“Forget goals.  Value the process.”  – Jim Bouton

Race: Moab Red Hot

Distance:  55K (~33.5 miles on the GPS)

Story:  After finishing up work on Friday I drove down with the Burro and camped with Matt and Char along the Colorado River at a site they had secured earlier that morning.  I checked in downtown, met the awesome Altra crew that was supporting the event and ran into my buddy James that was originally signed up for the 55K but due to some epic frostbite early this year decided to run the 33K instead.  James was headed out to dinner so I tagged along and fueled up with some greek pasta at the Moab Brewery with the Striders crew (Kirk, Keith, James, Melissa, Kate and Roechelle).

Sleeping went pretty well the night before and Matt, Char and I carpooled to the Gemini Bridges TH where we stayed in the warm truck as long as possible.  As we wandered over to the start there were a number of fast dudes getting their warm-up on and I joined them in hugging my knees and getting my glutes activated for the day to come.

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“Matt, if you close your eyes you can pretend that you are wearing warm pants!”

I wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be when the race director Chris started his count down and ended up a couple rows back when the mass of runners started off.  I settled into a groove right below my threshold heart rate on the first climb and the field quickly split between Hayden Hawks up front and a chase pack of about 15 runners within a few minutes of his bold start.  Ian Torrence and I ran most of the hill together and I picked it up a bit as I rolled the first descent to Aid Station #1.  My hands were numbing in the wind and rain but I had enough feeling to fill my bottle and they warmed up as I headed up the Metal Masher climb.

Near the top of the climb I knew I was in the top 10 but let a number of runners pass me.  On the first climb I kept my effort in check knowing what the second half of the course had in store.  Topping out it was socked in with clouds, light rain and wind.  The La Sal mountains were completely obscured.  I rolled the descent feeling light and fresh clicking off some 6 min and change miles on the techy slickrock managing to catch everyone that had passed me on the climbs by Aid Station #2.  I kept rolling on the double track back to the Aid Station #3  and reeled in a couple more runners on the way to the Golden Spike junction.

On the rolling rocks leading back up to the rim Jeason Murphy caught and passed me putting a pep in my step.  With less than half of the distance to go there was no letting up – it was time to keep up!  Jeason and I played a yo-yo chase game for the next 14 miles as he would continue running the steepest sections and I switched to a power hike.  I would watch him open up a gap, top out behind him and then try and close the gap with every descent running like a madman over the off-angle wet rocky expanse.

Running into the final aid station Jeason and I were caught and then ran with Colton Gale for a few miles.  Colton blew through the aid station while Jeason and I stopped to fill water and slam some Coke.  After the final steep climb up to the Poison Spider road it opens up into a nice cruiser descent.  Jeason told me to use my wheels to try and catch Colton so I stopped looking at my heart rate and gave it everything I had over the next couple miles.  As the terrain got steeper and nastier I closed the gap and passed Colton with about 1 mile to go.  The satisfaction of not wiping out on the final stretch amid loose rock, mud, cheers and cowbell washed over me as I crossed the line.  I had set an aggressive goal before the race of trying to run a 4:14 but was really pleased with my 4:22 effort.

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“Was it slick or muddy out there?”   Me: “…”

I had no idea what place I had been running in all day and was pleasantly surprised to learn that I finished 4th overall for the day.  My coach Paul Giblin really helped me stay focused on process goals for the race rather than worrying about my placement and I think it really helped me run my best and most consistent effort on the day.

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Altra Squad! Stoked to see these folks at Antelope Island Buffalo Run next month and super stoked for the Timp to come out later this year.

The finish line party was a bit more subdued with the wet weather, but the sun eventually came out and I had all the post-race goodies I needed to weather the storm thanks to Char bringing me my finish line drop box.  With a fresh pair of Lone Peaks, 12″ Swiftwick Aspire socks, my Altra Stash Jacket, a bottle of Ultragen recovery drink mix and a Honey Stinger Chocolate Coconut protein bar I was ready to party…by sitting in a chair and chatting over beverages with all the other runners I met while racing.  There was an awesome group of runners from Idaho and a ton of Mesa Monument Striders running club buddies from back home that came down for the race.

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Striders and Striders Junior

The Red Hot was a great way to kick off the season and I really enjoyed “sprinting” the 50K distance.  Next up is the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50K where I will face off with Andrew Combs after racing together at the Tushars 93K.  The weather has been spectacular back home for February and I can’t wait to get back on the trails training for what’s to come.

A bit of kitAltra King MT shoes, Altra racing singlet, Altra race shorts, Altra Tech Hat, Swiftwick Aspire 4 socks, 5 Honey Stinger Limeade Chews every 30 minutes during the event, First Endurance Ultragen recovery drink at the finish, Ultimate Direction Mono hydration belt with 600 ml soft flask, Garmin Fenix 3 with HR strap, iPod shuffle with Yurbuds.

Favorite song:  Tom Rosenthal – Go Solo

ResultsChronotrack Results

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