Trying to put in some easy miles, keep fit, but not aggravate my sore injured hip and foot/ankle. Varied success. A couple of these felt great, a couple hurt. The last, the full Grove-Battle Creeks loop was magnificent and actually felt pretty good during and after. Thankfully, I haven’t turned my ankle any more. Hopefully things are on the mend.
post-Half Marathon Extra Credit – Angels Landing in the Rain
What does one do after running a strenuous half-marathon? You go run some extra credit miles with a couple thousand feet of vert, of course!
After dropping distance from the Zion 55k and winning (not really) the Zion Half Marathon this morning, I found myself with a free afternoon. I was only a few minutes from Zion National Park, still had a valid annual pass, and felt like I had a couple more miles in me. So, for extra credit post-half marathon miles, I ran up and down Angels Landing. It was fantastic.
About 1/2 way up the cement trail, a rain storm hit and the desert walls and cliffs above quickly erupted into countless waterfalls. Every nook, cranny, trough, and rut in the stone walls revealed the waterfalls that had carved them there for centuries. It was magnificent. Granted, the misty clouds didn’t make for the best views up top, but it was a unique experience.
These next 4 pictures are essentially of the same rock wall, though angled and cropped a bit different. Watch as the small trickle of waterfalls turn into torrents.
How I Accidentally (but not really) Won the Zion Half Marathon
This morning I accidentally won the Zion Half Marathon. Not really. But I was the first half marathon runner across the finish line. How did I accomplish such a feat? Its easy – just accidentally start 1 hour before you’re supposed to. Let me explain…
I was registered to run the 55k. It was to be my longest run ever. I was a bit nervous (hip and foot/ankle were still tender) but excited. I had a good race plan figured out and was feeling confident that I could finish, even if it had to be a bit slow. Then, around 3 AM, it started to rain. Hard. The dirt along much of the course is high in clay content and when it turns to mud and gets trampled on it becomes quite unrunnable. Treacherous and slippery, it would have made portions of the 55k route dangerous. Also, in those conditions the runners would have destroyed the trails. So, at the last minute the race was postponed while a new course was flagged (a contingency plan had already been developed, knowing rain was on the forecast). Due to the reroute, it meant that we would not have access to our drop bogs. They had already been hauled up Gooseberry Mesa and the road was so bad that no one could get up or down it to retrieve them and bring them to the new 55k aid station on Hurricane and Smith Mesa. Previously, I have carried too much stuff in my pack during races. But with three 50ks under my belt, I was feeling more confident about knowing exactly what I would need and when/where I would need it. So, I put significantly less stuff in my pack and planned to strategically use my drop bag. Finding out I wouldn’t have access to it was a big blow. Already worried about my hip and foot/ankle, and knowing what a nightmare that clay/mud can be (read here), I lost the mental battle before the race even started. I dropped down to the half marathon distance. (Side note: they ended up getting up to retrieve the drop bags and did get them over to the new course, so I could have had it. Oh well).
The 55k start was postponed twice, eventually kicking off at 8:00 instead of 6:00. I had spent the 2 hours huddled with the other runners in tents, trying to avoid getting too wet. When it came time for the race (the 55k!) to start, I didn’t even think twice. I took off with the rest. Unbeknownst to me, the half marathon didn’t start for another hour. Oops!
In any case, off I went up and across the desert to the northwest. The trail – an ATV 4×4 road – was in horrible shape. On flat sections it was a struggle to stay up right. On inclines and declines, it was darn near impossible. I didn’t fall, but was taking it pretty slow. If you were trying to really run it, I would anticipate a lot of spills. To make it worse, the clay stuck to your shoes so when you finally climbed up or down below the sedimentary layer of clay and hit some normal dirt, you were trying to run with 5 lb ankle weight of mud caked to your shoes. I scraped it off a couple times, but eventually gave up. I was a good inch taller though with it on my soles!
The route went 4 miles to Hurricane Mesa Road – an old asphalt road – on which we climbed about 2.5 miles to the top. There was an aid station and the turnaround point for the half marathon. As I climbed up the road and neared the aid station I realized that no half marathon runners had hit the turnaround and passed me going back down the road. That’s when it hit me. I had accidentally started with the 55k an hour early. Ha!
I turned around and headed back down the road, making a great 2 mile split. On the way everyone was giving me thumbs up and “heck yeah!”s and “good job”! and they tried to figure out who I was and how I was already on my way back so quickly. A few assumed I had given up and was heading back, giving me a conciliatory frown, but then quizzical look as they wondered why I was running so fast and fresh if I was quitting. Partway down I saw the actual half marathon runners on their way up. I told them good job and said they were in the lead. I don’t know if they understood me. I hope it didn’t freak them out. Here they are, thinking they were winning the race and some dude comes flying down the road ahead of them.
I trudged the 4 miles back to the start/finish, half expecting the actual half marathon winners to catch up with me and finish ahead, but they didn’t quite catch me. People really cheered at the finish but I quickly explained – nope. I didn’t win, I just accidentally started an hour early. The actual winner came in about 5 minutes later! So he almost did catch me.
I finished in 2:34:00 for 26th place out of 88 finishers.
The winner did it in 1:38. I don’t know how they moved that fast across the mud.
I hadn’t run since Monument Valley, worried about some nagging continued hip pain and new foot/ankle pain. With only 3 weeks between 2 races, I thought it would be better to be under-trained than over-injured. However, this weekend my family went out of town (so I wasn’t needed at home), the weather was beautiful, and the San Rafael Swell was a’calling me! I put out an invite to the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers and others and was joined by a new friend, Steve, for the 8 mile loop up Little Wildhorse Canyon and down Bell Canyon. An old friend (from my time in Romania in the late 90s early 00s) and his kids joined for camping. Annie and Brad MacDonald also swung by the campsite for a campfire. I was hoping to hit Horseshoe Canyon the next day to see the Great Gallery, but my hip and ankle flared up after the run so I just drove home. Bummer. Steve said it was amazing.