A low grade head/chest cold had me feeling pretty lethargic the whole day and unable to focus on much. Went out for a short hour trot around the neighborhood. The wind was crazy again, which didn’t help me feel any better. Gusts seemed to always hit me from the side making it hard to get into any sort of rhythm. My legs felt off with some light cramping in the calves and hamstrings. Adding insult to injury, I got sprayed with slushy snow and mud by a woman driving by on Dixon road. Truly, it wasn’t her fault as the roads are just full of muck and it’s pretty much impossible to avoid spraying even driving slowly. It still made for some angsty venting on the couple of miles back home. A blur of a day.
Got up early for a quick spin around the neighborhood before breakfast. I got another bloody nose, which appears to be a constant this week on every run. The air is cold and dry, but so are my nasal cavities and chest. I had a hard time breathing on slight uphills and the light cramping persists despite a high intake of fluids yesterday and electrolytes. Tony, Deanne, dog and I leave home around 10am for the drive to Moab. Despite my general fatigue and feeling pretty off, I’m optimistic about the race tomorrow. I’m in really good shape, so I hope I can just ride out the sickness, getting in a good long run. The drive to Utah is always spectacular and the 6 hours go by fast, with conversation dominated by the boys and the topic of running. Everyone, well especially Tony, seemed to need to stop and pee a lot, so the drive was nicely broken up. A highlight was stopping just past Onion Creek off of highway 128 to take in the waning evening light on the La Sal Mountains. The desert, particularly at this time of year, offers a unique spectacle of contrasting colors and light which is hard to find anywhere else. The air feels clean and is more plentiful than on our Rocky Mountain perch. We join Geoff, Corlé and Elle at the Negro Bill campground just before Moab for some grilled chicken and rice by the Colorado river. Geoff has some serious skills on the grill with the homemade barbeque sauce adding the perfect amount of spice to the wood smoked meat. Both him and Corlé are always so generous in their sharing of food, a quality that complements their warm and welcoming personalities. We crash at Dakota’s house on the outskirts of town, who has kindly let us stay at his family’s place despite being away in South America. I get to bed early feeling tired and still pretty under the weather, but deluding myself into thinking everything will be OK by morning.
A few race highlights. The Red Hot 55k starts at the civil hour of 8am. This is probably my prefered time to start a run. Neither too early or too late, giving plenty of time to take care of pre-race shenanigans. I somehow still find myself with only 5 minutes left to warm up before the start. I know the initial pace will be fast on the road, so I want to avoid shocking the system to much. All I manage to do in my warm up is induce yet another bloody nose and start the race trying to plug the flow with a Subway napkin. Thankfully the pace is easy off the front, but I still find myself laboring in my breathing more than usual. I feel jittery as if I’ve had too much coffee, which I’m known well to do, but kept it at only one cup this morning. The cramping in my legs is there much like the past few days, something I hope will take care of itself. Dan Gorman, Paul and Joel Hamilton and myself set the pace on the wide dirt road joined in a pack of 5 or 6 more runners including Zeke, Travis Macy, Luke Nelson, and Orr Shilon. Despite feeling pretty off the first 5 miles click by easily and it’s not until the first short climb that I realize something is truly not quite right with my body today. The road takes a sharp uphill turn about 5 miles in, a couple hundred foot grunt up to the mesa. My chest feels constricted, my breathing saccaded. My legs and lower back are cramping. I feel light headed. Slowing down doesn’t make me feel much better, so I hang behind Dan and Paul while I can, trying to find some normalcy in my running. Not much changes until about halfway when my general sense of malaise is accompanied by some vomiting and cold sweats. Shortly before this episode, Alex Nichols passed me looking solid and I can now see him reeling in Zeke up ahead. I’m glad he’s been able to stave off a recent bout of injuries and get to the start line healthy. I hope for a second to accompany him as it would be nice to share some miles with a friend. Not to be. The climb up to Gold Bar and the Poison Spider trail has me stopping several more times, dry heaving and cramping. I struggle along the slickrock, a wonderfully unforgiving surface when feeling shitty, until Mike Foote catches up to me. Another friend I’d like to share the trail with, but can only accompany for a few minutes. Mike, always chipper, offers up some short, amusing conversation as he runs past me- something about how the Paw is a meathead, hitting two strength workouts a week and how sweet his new cub is. Short encounters like these offer some well needed mental distraction as my body further deteriorates from what I’ve now established is the full on flu. After the last aid station, things go from bad to worse and I walk most of the last 4 downhill miles, pulling over to vomit more and even lie down for a few seconds. Ol’ man Karl cranks by with a been there done that kind of look along with many others. I evade the finish line festivities to go lie in the dirt for a minute, so as to not throw up on anyone. I’m glad to hear Alex took the win, followed by up and comer and all around nice guy Paul Hamilton. Foote locked in third place with his always well paced and strategic running tactics. The race course was beautiful and well marked. This is definitely a great event to put on the calendar early season. I wish I could have been able to appreciate it more in the moment, but regardless I’m happy to have participated. I guess it’s good to get the tough day out of the way early season. Onwards.
Got a crêpe breakfast at Wake and Bake in Moab where I spotted Sketchy Andy getting his caffeine fix so I figured this must be a good joint- not a french crêperie, but satisfying nonetheless. Tony, Deanne, Geoff, Corlé, Elle and our friend Brian from SLC all went for a hike at Fisher Towers. My legs felt like they’d been hit with post hundred mile trauma, a combination of the flu, faster running and hard slickrock. My penguin waddle was amusing enough, but I also got grief for sporting a button down shirt with warm-up pants, two jackets and carrying four cameras. I’d make a fine American tourist in Thailand. The hike was remarkably beautiful with the towers and peculiar mix of flat and popping light drawing us in further and further. Everyone was feeling very leisurely and content to soak up the sun and breathe the pure air. The drive home wasn’t quite so relaxing and took us 10 hours in some apocalyptic blizzard from Vail Pass to over to Nederland.
Still very sick and sore today. Managed an easy bike ride with dog, but pretty much just zoned out in a fog the rest of the day.
Tony convinced me to hit a quick session in the climbing gym. I was reticent at first, unsure if I’d be able to make it up anything, but felt surprisingly better once we got started. The session turned out to be very productive and the different movement of climbing really relaxed my legs. I was able to hobble my way up Green on a fun run with Brad, Scott and Tom afterwards. In light of Chad Kellogg’s tragic passing in Patagonia, we got to speaking of freak accidents that happen in the mountains, killing even the best and most prepared. Scott knew Pete Absolon, who was victim of a rock trundling accident back in ‘07. The story is heart wrenching, but offers insightful commentary on the fragile line we walk between living and dying.
The weeks been a bit of a wash from a running standpoint. Being sick, I’ve also had to play catch up with work and was happy to get a fair bit done. Went for a short stroll with dog in the snow, then re-attached the mailbox to it’s post before it blows in the wind. I leave for California tomorrow with a retreat in Big Sur with inov-8 athletes. Looking forward to some sun and time away from the computer, which will hopefully restore me to full health by early next week.