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Wind, rain and some CRAZY terrain...

Oh, and crazy friends, too. See this group?
Birds of a feather...
Yes, who would think that 9 people would be this excited to run 34 miles over rough terrain in the rain and wind (did I mention is was only in the 40s?).

The day started off like this:
Rainy, cold, blah. It didn't look good for the day, as rain showers were predicted all day (mixed in with snow that never came). We all took turns ducking in and out of cars, keeping warm and getting ready for the day. 

As the time to run got closer, we all piled out, snapped a few picts at the start line.
Getting ready to run
The fashionistas in the group-- Keith matching his trail shoes to his compression socks, Jane matching her pink trail shoes to her kinesio tape.
And then off we went:

Now, it may not seem that bad, but see that hill/mountain/mesa (not sure what to call it) directly ahead? Well, we were about to run UP it. (No lie.) And while the scenery looks beautiful, keep in mind it was raining and we were running through this.

What I guess I am getting at, is that even though the picts look awesome, it felt more like this.
Actual picture of starting the first climb
So off I went, actually happy as can be. While I hadn't prepared for the terrain or the conditions, I was sure my body could take 34 miles of whatever Moab wanted to throw at me-- if I took my time. What was probably plaguing my mind the most was starting slow. My goal was to finish. As I wrote in my last blog, I had dnf'd my first 50k in Moab and I didn't want it to happen again, so I knew I had to concern myself with just my pace. This made me sad because I ended up pulling away from a large part of the group-- their plan was to run super-slow for 18 miles then take off. I ended up more on pace with Jane and Steve for the first 5-6 miles.

After the first aid station (5.5ish miles), I started making friends. Kemp came up next to me- he was from the RMTC and we chatted for a bit before he took off. I fell into step with a silent man (who I later learned was Fred). He was awesome to run alongside and really helped me find a steady pace. Turns out he was from Moab, so I trusted he knew what he was doing. Mile 8ish, ended up with Kemp and Fred again, together, and Steve took off.

Somewhere around 10 miles we ended up right above the start line.
View from below
View from above-- those itty bitty dots are our cars
Crazy, huh? That is the thing about these races. It would almost be a shame to race them, as I don't know if you would have the time to really look around. Everywhere there was beauty. EVERYWHERE.  Even in the horrible weather we were getting, all you had to do was look around.

Once we hit halfway, I was happy. I was feeling good. There were ups, there were downs, but I was handling them. I talked to a man who had run it before and he told me, "If there is an easy half and a hard half, we just did the easy half." Kemp smiled, so I knew it was true. And he was right. There were much more challenging climbs and lots of slick rock on the second half. It was very technical with loads of climbing. And when I say climbing, it was the kind of climbing when you are hiking. EVERYONE is hiking. There was one climb where to get to the top it was so steep we were all on our hands and knees, gripping. I felt bad for anyone who didn't have trail shoes. To add to that, when you weren't on slick rock, a lot of the time you were trudging through deep sand. I wasn't sure what was worse.

I was really glad I was feeling good at this point cuz I did a little mental check of myself. I was standing there looking up, up, up and then I looked back at Kemp and just said, "I signed up for 55 miles of this in May!!!" (referring to Comrades-- my real goal). And when I said it, I couldn't stop grinning. I was so happy. I don't even know why. Kemp probably thought I was delirious or being facetious, but I wasn't. The climbing and the challenge of this run just juiced me up for my training for Comrades. I think that I knew the next time I would be racing something like this I would be much more prepared and that this is more of a checkpoint of where I was and let me get an indication of what I needed to do to be where I wanted to be in 3 months time.

Kemp and I leaving aid station 4-- about 22 miles or so.

Top of one of the mesa-type things out there. You can't tell, but the wind was about to blow me over.

Running over miles of slick rock. Hard and Ow! Those little dots are people.
Somewhere just before aid station 5 (29 miles), Kemp and I split up. By then, it was just time to get her done. It was one last climb, 1 mile of flat and 4 miles of descentish. So off I went. I wish that I could say that it was "easy", but I had blisters and my feet hurt, so really going down hurt more than going up. Who ever thought I would think that? Maybe it is a good thing Comrades is an up year this year. :)
Only pict I took from the last 5 miles. It was sooo nice to be off the rock.
And finally-- THE FINISH! It actually kind of snuck up on you, but that is ok cuz I was just glad I was there.

It was great to see Shawn, Andrea and Steve there. I quickly changed and then got to see the rest of the crew finish! 
We finished!
Afterwards, it was back to the condos for showers, relaxation and some yummy, yummy grub (courtesy of Heidi-- THANK YOU!)
Jewels, Nancy and I enjoying our meals-- don't they look delicious?
Happy to be done!
 Overall, the weekend was a huge success for everyone! There were lotsa newbies to Moab and a lot of fun had by all. I was really happy that with all of the adverse weather conditions and just tough terrain conditions that no one got really negative and everyone had a successful race for themselves-- myself included. It was a challenging course, but beautiful none-the-less and running in harsh conditions can only prepare you to run stronger in the future. It showed me where I was and where I want to be in the future. Such a good time!