Monday, October 25, 2010

Goblin Valley Ultramarathon

I am officially an ultrarunner.  Yesterday Mr. K and I finished the Goblin Valley 50K.  (That is 31.07 miles.)  It was an amazing experience.  

We dropped the k-boys off at Grandma and Grandpa's house and then drove to Green River, UT for the pre-race dinner.  It was held at the senior citizen center and almost everything was grown locally.  They served baked potatoes, squash, onions, a tomato and cucumber salad and watermelon.  We got to visit with Connie, the race director while we were eating.  She told us it had been raining like crazy so they had to alter the course a bit since part of the road was unpassable. After dinner we drove into Goblin Valley State Park to camp.  Mr. K had met some new friends when he was volunteering at the Bear 100 and they said we could share their camp site.  We slept in the back of the suburban on a futon mattress.  It was super comfy and I slept really well.  Saturday morning was chilly but it was not raining anymore so I was glad.  Here is our before picture.  There was a beautiful full moon.

We started at 8:00 a.m. and it was all I could do to not run.  See, I had this plan to walk for 3 minutes and run for 2 and hopefully finish before the 9 hour cut-off since I was nursing my IT band issue and had barely recovered from my bleeding blisters.

I felt great, no signs of ITB problems.  We ran on paved road for about 1.5 miles and then we were on trails or dirt roads.  The course was an out and back.  We ran around this mountain and came to the aid station #1 about 4 miles in.

I moseyed along chatting with fellow runners and taking in the beauty around me and of course stopping to take pictures.  This is the first hill.  I had to flex my muscles so you can see that I am way tougher than it is.  Psh!  Is that even a hill?

Eventually the 25K racers (who started 30 minutes after we did) started passing me.  It was fun to cheer them on.  The miles were gliding by and I was making good time.  I had to stop occasionally and stretch my ITB and pose for another picture.  ;)

The trail got kind of crazy in some parts from the rain and flooding.

I met up with Mr. K after he had already hit the turn around and was on his way back. 

I was walking for 2 minutes and running until my leg hurt.  Then I would stop, stretch, walk 2 minutes and go again.  I was keeping a great pace (compared to my initial goal of 17 minute miles.)  Here I am at the turn around.  Just knocked out 15 miles without much problem.
The geology was so amazing.  I loved seeing the layers of rocks and the weathering.
When I was little, I loved picking up cracked, dried mud and crushing it.  There was a lot of it around so one time when I stopped to stretch I played.  I carefully lifted out pieces trying hard not to break them and then crushed them like the powerful girl that I am.
Sometime around mile 20 my leg started hurting really bad.  I went back to walk 3, run 2.  After the 6th aid station, about 22 miles, I was just walking.  I had a break down.  My IT band was hurting worse than it ever had.  I knew I still had almost 9 to go and I didn't think I could do it.  I could see the mountain we had come around at the beginning of the race and it looked so far away.  I knew the finish line was behind it and that was really overwhelming.  Forgive me for stating the obvious, but 31 miles is a long, long way to run.  I wasn't doing very well.  (You know it was bad because I didn't take any pictures.)  I kept giving myself little pep talks like, I can do hard things, and I am tougher on the inside than on the outside, and I have gotten through worse things than this.  It didn't seem to be working so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  I got to know myself a little bit better.  I was glad that I was all alone.  I smiled to myself in spite of everything and thought, "I'm in the middle of nowhere with only me, myself and I, and I really like my own company and I am tougher than I look and there is no way that I am giving up now."  Then I pulled out my little paper with one of my favorite quotes on it.
"Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through obstruction."  -William James
I made it to the last aid station where I sat and ate and drank and laughed and talked to the volunteers and runner friends that came in while I was resting, until I felt like I could go on.  They wished me luck and I headed out for the final 4 miles.  I kept thinking about my quote and decided I should run the rest of the way in.  I reached in and found that ease and power and strength that I knew was there somewhere and started running.  My leg felt a lot better and I started to feel the endorphins pumping through my body.  I destroyed those last miles and only walked the two last steep little hills.  I did pause at the bottom of one of them to take this picture.

The last kilometer (.62 of a mile) was a run through the goblins.  They had placed plastic pumpkins to mark the trail.  As soon as I started descending into the goblins, I heard Mr. K cheering for me from the viewing area.  It made me so happy and gave me a little more fire to finish.
Look how cute they are!
I finished in 6 hours and 28 minutes, completely smashing my 9 hour goal.
All of a sudden I was starving!  Mr. K had grabbed me a sandwich before they were all gone and I chowed it.  I ate and drank and cheered for the runners I'd met on the course who came through after me.  Mr. K finished in 5 hours 28 minutes.  He is awesome.  Did I ever tell you that he eats the wrapper on cupcakes and muffins?

I told Connie, the race director, thanks and how great the volunteers were and she said that most of them were her family.  Here she is with the Sheriff.
What a great experience!  It was absolutely gorgeous.
I am glad to be home, now for the rehab...

Just call me Starr.


Jennifer said...

Wow! You are one of my heroes! Congradulations on a your long race. Beautiful country to be running through. I hope you have a speeding recovery. :)

Jennifer said...

We still have an opening on our Del Sol Ragnar team...