The Moab 100 Mile Endurance Running Race 2009 was everything I thought it would be: a hard test in a beautiful area. (The pics above are of 1. The East Side of the course looking down, and 2. Me running through the lap somewhere around mid-day.) I would highly recommend this race to anyone looking for a good early season 100 mile test; and to anyone looking for a solid first 100 miler to enter. The logistics of this 5.37 mile per lap (this year they ran each lap in alternating directions) 100 miler are pretty easy. This would be an especially good race for someone to do without a crew. For more info check out the website at: www.geminiadventures.com/moab100. I also want to thank the race director and volunteer crew for putting together a great aid station; setting up a good course; and for their great attitudes with all of us selfish ultrarunners. Thanks a ton! Also; a huge thanks goes out to my crew: my wife Annie, Josh Dalley, Scott Drum and Liz Davis. 100 milers are not that easy and having a solid crew like this almost fools me into thinking this stuff is easy. Thanks you guys!! Also, Thank you to Vasque for making this trip possible!! (check out their link to the right of the page.) I ran in the ‘Blur’ shoe; and was very happy with how it performed on the variety of conditions; from sand to rock to mud.
Annie and I rolled into Moab on Thursday afternoon, and were faced with high winds, snowfall, rain, and generally crappy conditions. Instead of whining and complaining though we headed out for an easy 1 hour jog up at the Porcupine Rim Trail east of town. That turned out to be pretty nice; windy, but nice. After that a good dinner and a night of relaxation. Friday saw us up pretty early doing a little computer work and eating a good breakfast; and enjoying the beautiful weather which had moved in overnight. We headed out in the late morning for a run on the actual course, (some people thought I was crazy for doing this: apparently they thought that I would get sick of it the next day.) (more on that later.) which was great; it ran pretty nicely; and the weather was superb; everything we were looking forward to in coming down to Moab in late March!!. After this great run on the course; we headed into town, made some lunch and found the condo we were going to be staying at, and relaxed a bit. I packed up all my stuff, and made sure I was ready for the next day. At this point; Josh, Scott, and Liz showed up, and we all had a great dinner together; followed by a solid night of sleep.
I woke up the morning of the race feeling ready, and actually pretty good. At the start; it was clear; and the wind was calm. Then, right at 7 am, the race started; and all that was left to do was run. I think this is actually one of my favorite things about 100 mile races: you get to spend the whole day running; the preparation is over, the nerves die down and all that is left to do is: put one foot in front of the other, over and over again for 18+ hours. I love this stuff!
I started out fairly mellow, and ran with a few guys (one was doing the 12 hour race, a couple were doing the 24 hour race, either in teams or relays; and one was in my race; Joe Lea). Joe and I ran together for a while with the guy who would win the 12 hour race: Greg (Moab local who is the RD of the Red Hot 50 km+ in February.) Greg and I left Joe around mile 20; and then we ran through about mile 30, when I finally began to pull away. So, essentially I took the lead at mile 30 and was on my own for a very long time. This proved to be a very good mental test for me. At around this point it became obvious that I was at the point where I needed to make a decision: 1. keep running hard, grow my lead, and hope I won’t die too bad or 2. get conservative, and hope I could pull away later? I actually made the decision about 1 month ago: to surge, go hard, and open up a gap. I knew this race had to be one in which I took a risk. I did and it paid off. I kept running hard; and grew my lead.
The race between mile 30 and mile 60 was far from boring for me. I was taking in the sights a little, looking at the beautiful landscape. I was also amazed with the intricacies of the course: how to run transitions, surges, sand, rock, etc. over the course of 18 laps. I was also paying a lot of attention to my watch to see if I was growing my lead over Joe. I ended up going through the 50 mile mark, about 9.5 laps into the race, in 7 hrs. 56 min. That was pretty fast; and I knew I was going to pay for it later on. As I kept going; the weather was super: about 65 degrees as a high with a light wind. The sun was shining, but as long as I stayed on top of the the electrolytes and the water: I knew I’d be fine. Annie and crew kept me well fed, hydrated and encouraged. At around the 65 mile mark, I was beginning to really look forward to running with my pacers later on that night. The race rules stated that pacers were only allowed at 8 pm or later.
I picked Josh up as my first pacer at about the 75 mile mark and we blazed through a lap where I picked up Scott and ran through mile 85 with him. The nighttime running was difficult; much harder than I had anticipated and I was very thankful to have pacers to run with. Thanks Josh and Scott! I knew my pace was slowing considerably, both with fatigue and with the setting in of the dark. I was also really paying for the fast early and mid-race paces. Bottom line: I was getting tired. At this point I had a large lead in the 1 hour + range and knew I just had to keep moving to get to the finish line first. Josh and Scott continued to alternate pacing laps with me and I plugged ahead; growing my lead. I ended up finishing first in a time of 18 hrs. and 51 min. (I still have not seen official results, but I assume I won by about 90 min.). Joe Lea ran a great race and finished in 2nd place. Great race Joe!!! The in-race mantra that kept playing through my head?: a quote from General George Patton: “An active mind cannot exist in an inactive body. Always make the mind control the body. To gain strength, always go beyond exhaustion.” Maybe not reflective of basic physiological training principles, but perfect for a race situation and reflective of why I do this stuff: discipline, and mental strength. I also just wanted to point out that there was a 19 year old guy out there by the name of Parry who was running his first 100 miler. Way to go Parry! Great job in your first attempt.
My body definitely paid for the fast early pace; and the lack of huge miles this winter. I was encouraged with the way I held up mentally, but underwhelmed with how my body held up physically. As I write this I notice some lingering pains in my legs and I need to take care of these before I resume hard training. So, now it is back to the drawing board. I will be taking a few weeks of ‘down time’ and deciding about my next move in regards to training. I will continue to do all the little things right over the next few weeks: cold baths, hot baths; better nutrition, supplements, hydration, sleep, etc. I can’t wait to begin my big build up to Leadville; in hopes of defending my win from last year. Real spring/summer weather is almost upon us in Gunnison; and that can only mean one thing: a lot of miles on really cool trails.
Thanks for reading; happy training. Duncan