Posted by: jawsome | March 29, 2011

Sleep? Who needs sleep?

Well, Matt and I got back on Sunday from the 24 hours of Moab running relay. I was on an “extreme team” with fellow FCTR members Alex, Mindy, Brian, and Rob. Our competition was another even more extreme FCTR team made up of Celeste, Cat, and Lindsay. Not only did they beat us, but they each ran much farther than members of our team. Go wolfpack, you gals were awesome.

On to the details. I am fresh out of vacation days at work, so Matt and I opted to drive the 7ish hours to Moab after work on Friday. Ugh. We have crossed the pass several times over the last couple of years, and have NEVER had normal weather. This time we got re-routed through leadville on the way out (and almost called it quits during a blizzard in Glenwood Canyon), then on the way back were pummeled with snow, rain and traffic. We made it into Moab around 11:30 and set up the tent (in the dark, in typical Sulzner family tradition – thanks dad. I actually think my tent setting-up skills are better in the dark now). It was freezing. I mean low 20’s, shiver your parts off freezing. I did not sleep. Not good prep for a 24 hour race…

Got up bright and early for the race start. It was so dang cold that I made the decision to get dressed in my sleeping bag. I was insistent – none of my bare skin would feel the cruel bite of the cold desert air, so I contorted myself in all manner of positions trying to dress. I did it! It may have taken me three or four times as long, and I may have been just as cold once dressed, but hey. Crawled out of the tent and headed for the start line and sort of listened to the pre-race instructions (this would become key later). Alex had first leg and I had second, so I headed back to camp to get ready.

                                               

Alex was back in about 3.5 seconds (this is what it felt like) and it was my turn to head out. “Follow the yellow flags” was what I understood from the pre-race meeting. Ok, I see flags, here I go. Absolutely beautiful course through gorgeous red rock formations and canyons. I was enjoying the scenery so much I didn’t really notice for a few miles that there was no one else around. Hmm, I know this isn’t a huge race, but I should be seeing SOMEONE…and nope. Finally, about 2.7 miles in I saw Celeste coming from the other direction. “Oh crap, I think I ran the wrong way!”  Apparently it was a loop course and you’re supposed to switch directions each lap. Oops! Doesn’t really matter as it’s the same course, just run in different directions. Still, I felt like a bonehead.

Lean from the ankles!

I came in at 56:46 for the first lap, which I was happy with. I felt a little like the weakest link on this team (due only to my own poor self-esteem, not at all because of the other teammates who were awesome), so as long as I could keep it near an hour I was happy.

Mindy and I huddle for warmth

This trip as a whole was amazing – so much fun to hang out with the FCTR group and get in some awesome trail running on a great course. The only drawback was the temperature. It was freezing almost the entire time. I was walking around with 3 shirts, a down jacket and a rain shell (and a blanket) and I was still a little cold. This became a problem around noon with the return of the chronic over-dresser (that’s me, in case you didn’t know). I went out on my noon lap with 3 shirts and fleece pants on. Then, the sun came out. Okaaaay, now it’s 20 degrees warmer and I NEED TO TAKE OFF ALL MY CLOTHES OMG. So I stopped for a minute or two to disrobe and ran it in for 58:24.

All these layers were necessary, I swear

The best part of this race was our camp setup. Matt and I bought this EZ up tent for his 12 hour race last April, and it came in handy on this trip! We closed the sides and had our own little FCTR homebase pavillion. There may have been dirt everywhere, half eaten bags of food, and the pleasant odor of eau de locker room, but for us it was home.

Tent sweet tent

It was amazing how fast the time between laps went. I had about 3.5 hours between laps, which seems like a really long time unless it’s 28 degrees and you’re dreading taking off all your clothes to go run again…in the snow…yes we had some flurries.  My last daylight lap was lovely but a little slower – 61 minutes.  I tried not to feel bad as the 75 year old solo runners passed me…

Matt came back from his epic bike ride, and must have had a few too many beers because he agreed to pace me for my fourth lap. We were also fortunate enough to be allowed our pace dog, Japhy, as dogs were allowed on the course. So much fun – this was my most fun lap – running through the rocks with Matt and Japhy in the dark. Most people lose a lot of time when it gets dark, but we were only 5 minutes behind for 66 minutes.

Japhy the pace dog

It was now 10:30 and I didn’t run again until 2:30. What to do? Welp, I sat in the car with Japhy to stay warm, had a beer and took a nap! Unfortunately, my nap went a little over and I missed the handoff (sorry, Alex!) Luckily I was dressed and ready to go when he tapped on my car window. What the? Huh? Oh crap – yeah, I’m awake, here, let me just get my shoes on…and off I went about 20 seconds after waking up. I may have been asleep for the first mile of the run, but the adrenaline helped a lot.  I was actually feeling really good and cruising along right on pace. As I reached the summit, I did have the interesting auditory experience of a coyote kill. I heard a bunch of rustling off to the side, a loud “WHUMP!” the high pitched (but shortlived) shriek of the dying prey animal, and triumphant howls of the coyote (soon followed by several other nearby howls to form their very own coyote howling chorus). I know coyotes aren’t really dangerous, but it was still sort of eerie. Then I hit the slickrock on the downhill and…got lost. They had glowsticks spaced pretty well through most of the course until that one section, and I stood there and had no idea where I was. I could see lights in the distance from other people’s head lamps, but I knew they could be from the other side of the loop, and to follow them would be to risk death like Frodo and Sam with the swamp monster lights in Lord of the Rings. That might be a little dramatic, but at 3am in the dark in the middle of the desert, anything is possible. I wandered around cursing for about 5 minutes, then headed back up to the last glowstick I saw – and found another runner to follow. This lap was 73 minutes. 

I came back to camp at 3:50 ish and wandered around in a daze not really knowing what to do with myself. Everyone else was sleeping or running, and I knew I probably needed some food. I wandered over to the aid station tent, and the angels there were making grilled cheese sandwiches. Manna from heaven! I grabbed a couple and headed back to the car. I opened up a beer and ate my sammies to the warmth of the Jeep heater. Bliss!! I will tell you what, a grilled cheese sandwich and a beer at 4am on two hours of sleep in 48 is nothing to scoff at. Then I fell asleep, finally (for about 2 hours).

Woke up about 6:30 and headed to the start line for results and prizes. I did 27.5 miles myself, and our team had a total of 128.88 miles. Our team came in 4th, (wolfpack came in 3rd). To be fair, we were racing against the most extreme team possible headed by Anita Ortiz…

Overall an amazing trip spent with amazing people. I may have to come back next year from Portland!

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Responses

  1. Nice job! Although I thought Alex was organizing a fun social team. I think your beer to lap ratio was a little low. You should come out to the Trailhead this evening to balance that out. 🙂

  2. Great report Joselyne. Thanks for bringing the tent and your awesome attitude and running abilities. I’m sure you’ll find a great group to run with in Portland, but we’d love to have you come back and run with us in Colorado or Utah as often as possible.

  3. how did i miss this race report?! this sounds like so much fun and such a memorable experience! i’m doing a relay later this year and can’t wait : ) nice job on all the miles, what a great way to get in some trail training and a looong run!


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