Monument Valley 50 miler: Puke, sweat and tears

“It always seems impossible until it is done.” ~ Nelson Mandela

Harry’s feelin’ it!

I’ve been really procrastinating on writing this race report. I want to remember everything — every beautiful sight, every breath-taking moment, and even those really painful steps and emotional breakdowns (although I don’t want to relive them). This was a difficult run for me. But the one thing that kept me going was this place. This wonderful, spiritual and vibrant desert landscape, filled with proud residents who made the runners feel so very welcome, (and a little jealous of their picture-perfect sunrises and sunsets).

I came into this race really ill-prepared. After a string of nagging injuries, I decided to not run at all between Antelope 50 and this race in Monument Valley (about 4 weeks). I thought that was my best chance at finishing. My IT band was really jacked up. So I rested, and rolled, and stretched. I was really worried and spent a good deal of negative energy on it (note, don’t do this!!)

But the weekend arrived, and the closer we got to magnificent Monument Valley, the more EXCITED I got.

Harry looks like a little ant when compared to the mittens.

We stayed at the cutest little cabin right on the edge of the monument, looking east (and trust me, the sunrise was beyond compare!!)

Our seriously cute and awesome little cabin, with breath-taking views
The mittens at sunset

The afternoon before the race was busy, and I was happy to see so many familiar faces. JJ even got to help build a hogan 🙂 (A hogan is the primary, traditional dwelling of the Navajo people)

Harry in a hogan
Harry’s tiny house
JJ on top of the hogan, packin’ dirt

 We drove through the Navajo Tribal Park to see all of the massive sandstone buttes. Once again (flashback to last year) we saw some sweet and friendly stray dogs.

A new friend
Harry was pretty sad to leave this guy
such a sweetie

JJ decided that he wanted to dye is hair blue (and that’s pretty much all we’ve been hearing about for weeks…) so I told him that he could dye it for my race 🙂

I never met a 6 year old so obsessed with clothes and hair. Yikes!

That night I didn’t have much of an appetite. I ate a banana, some pretzels, and wine. Probably not the best pre-50 mile run.

I woke up on Saturday and was extremely nervous. I got ready and headed over to the start. The sun was just starting to peak up from the horizon. O.M.G.

amazing. just amazing.

This year, the race participants tripled!! It was CRAZY and so so cool! Ultra Avdentures, well you know, these are my people. Such an amazing race director and the staff and crew is just stellar. So genuinely nice and caring.  It makes me infinitely happy to see how well these races are doing — how they are catching on. (hint — add this one to your bucket!)

The FIRST person I saw as we lined up was my G2G tent-mate and all around wicked cool human being, Maia. YES! OK, things were looking up 🙂 So so great to give her a hug and see her ginormous smile.

And just like that.. we were off. Still waiting for the sun to rise. Here are some of the first sights I saw:

Little ants single file
I have an almost identical pic from last year 🙂 Love these guys!!

I felt really good the first 16 miles. I was taking in every single sight and smell and sound. After the second Aid Station, runners are routed into a sandy wash which stretched for miles and I decided to plug in and tune out. The sun was getting hot. I was feeling it.

At mile 22ish I hit the Three Sisters Aid Station for the first time. I felt pretty beat and just exhausted. But I grabbed some quick gels and some water.. and off I went for the 6 mile Windows Loop.

That took literally every ounce of energy out of my already broken body.

Back again to the Three Sisters Aid Station, mile 28. I told Steve and the boys that they should go and have a fun day, not wait around for me. I already felt guilty about dragging them out with me. But there they were.. all 3.. all happy to see me. I broke into tears and couldn’t stop. I felt really awful and I truly wanted to quit. This was the first time in any race I really, REALLY wanted to call it. Steve encouraged me to keep going. The next loop was 10 miles, all sand, and I didn’t know if I had it in me. I really didn’t want to continue. But, I looked at those 2 kids, and all the times I told them not to give up, and off I went, tears in my eyes and hyperventilating.

Well, I’m really glad I kept going. Because  that proved to be my favorite part of the run. SO completely majestic and awe-inspiring. I was able to push that pain aside and get a good pace. I passed a few people and that felt so good.

Three sisters on the left
Wild horses and totem poles in the distance
amazing arches
Made me smile!!
awesome petroglyphs!!

I cruised into the Aid Station for a third time. I was feeling pretty good! I grabbed some food and water. I headed off to the final BIG out and back — up to the top of Mitchell Mesa — nearly a mile straight up, unrelenting and so beautiful.

As I started to climb the mesa, the exhaustion crept in once again. I felt really disoriented and a little sick to my stomach. I kept on.. trying to fight the sickening feeling. I was at about mile 39.

After what seemed like and hour, I reached the top. I had 2 miles on the top of the mesa and then back down and to the finish. While on top of the mesa, I started to feel REALLY sick. I thought I might puke. I got really scared. I was on top of a freakin’ mesa! I did NOT want to barf. I was already dehydrated and shaky. I was worried that if I puked, I might not stop, and then how the heck would I get back down?

I got to the edge of the mesa and clipped my bib.

The edge of the earth
I wish I could one day hike up here, so I could take 1 zillion photos with a good camera!!

As I prepared to return to the descent, I felt REALLY really sick. I stepped off the trail and puked my guts out. I never did that before! It really scared me. But I immediately felt better. And I even was able to eat another honey stinger waffle and keep going. Hooray!

I made it back down the mesa, checked in for a final time to 3 sisters.. and had 3.5 more miles to the finish.Man! Was I tired!! Steve and the boys were waiting at 3 sisters and took a good shot of me looking completely annihilated 🙂

ready to be done 🙂

With only 3.5 miles to go.. I was so so so ready to be done, in my cozy cabin, wine in had. So I rallied. I rallied to the finish. And I saw these cute boys waiting to run through the finish line with me. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Look who I see!!!!!
I love this! dirt, blue hair, mom

I finished in 11:29. A year over my time last year. But here’s the thing (I can finally say I’m happy with this..) I DIDNT GIVE UP. So that’s what I’m goin’ with 🙂 You win some, you lose some, and then there are some where you just learn something — about the universe, about yourself, about life… yeh, that was this.

And then I went back to my cabin, ate a hotdog, drank wine, and watched the sun go back down over the mittens. Wow — you know what — writing this entry just made me realize one thing — I’m pretty tough. Tonight I heard Harry tell his grammy that “mom ran her race, and it wasn’t her best but she did so good and I am proud of her”. 🙂 🙂 Yup, I am pretty proud, too.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: