Sunday, April 12, 2015

Zion 100 Race Report

I got back from Utah this morning after going there to run the Zion 100. Both the course and my performance were underwhelming. If you just look at the pictures, you'll think I am stupid or crazy for not loving the course, but to me it felt like a mix of wide and dusty dirt roads with non-trivial amounts of auto traffic and extremely circuitous slickrock mountain biking trails. Why is that bad? Well, the road thing should be obvious, but mountain bikers seem to enjoy trails that wind back and forth. As a runner, I like to feel like I'm covering ground. Slickrock is also very hard, and since you're constantly winding around around things, and up and over things, it's like running laps around a concrete skate park or something. Hard on the knees, and hard to get in a rhythm as you go in and out of ditches and around around boulders.

I flew to Vegas after work Thursday and drove to Virgin, Utah and cowboy camped just outside town. It was stupid of me to take such a late flight, since I didn't get to bed until 12:00 or 1:00 in the morning, and I had to get up at 5:00 for the 6:00 race start. (Most Utah 100 milers are Friday and Saturday so Mormons can volunteer, since they don't like doing stuff on Sundays.) The first few miles led us on a dirt road out of Virgin to the edge of a towering mesa that you wouldn't think could have a trail up it, but did. After a 6-mile loop, we descended the same impressive trail. Then we climbed another mesa via a boring road, ran a painful loop on slickrock, and descended the same boring road. Did that again on a third mesa. Ran (well, walked) three loops on the desert floor during the night. Finished.

Did I mention my knee hurt? It didn't take kindly to the slickrock. And my head hurts right now from the lack of sleep, so I'll finish up this report. I finished the race in 27:08, which is pretty slow for me. Afterward, I napped and hung out at the finish line then went for a short hike in Zion National Park, but my knee was killing me, so I couldn't go far. I cowboy camped at the Virgin River campground exit off I-15 in the Arizona Strip (because I hate Vegas and like camping), and flew home this morning.

As seen in the photographs, the views off into the distance were phenomenal. So maybe I'm just biased by my poor performance? Early on I was doing fine, but I figured the night would suck because of my lack of sleep the previous night, and it did, but not terribly. I was having crazy nonsensical thoughts like you normally have in dreams (about some weird combination of scientific conference sessions I'm organizing mixed with the race as it was happening) but I wasn't vomiting or anything, just going slow because my knee would occasionally shout out in pain when I sped up.

I hope this doesn't come across as too negative. I think the race director really has his stuff together and puts on well-organized events--I just hate roads, loops, and now mountain bike trails on slickrock.

Nap time.

Zion NP, North Creek, after the race.

Icing my knee in the river.

Zion NP after the race.

Post-finish Ugh.

Almost done. Virgin River.

Second dawn, still running.

Here's the Strava

Panorama. First time ever using my phone to do this automatically.

Early Enjoyment

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