This past weekend, we headed to Utah to run our 2nd race of April. Zion 100 for Sean & the half marathon for me.
I’ve been to Zion once before for the first trail Ragnar there back in 2014 and there was a freak snow storm so I was excited to see what it was like in normal weather.
Well, that was short lived as we got a little closer and we started getting emails from the race director telling us that the forecasts were calling for rain, which turns the trails to muddy clay. He had a contingency plan for the rain but offered up a deferment option if we wanted.
Sean & I flew into Las Vegas and then drove to Zion, it’s about a 2.5hr drive. We could have flown into St. George which is only 30/45 mins away but it was significantly more expensive.
We got to Zion on Thursday, headed to our hotel and then after double checking on when the drop bags were due and quickly getting them made, we headed to packet pick-up. Thanks to Jenni & Jesse for the photo.
They didn’t have parking at the actual start/finish so we had to park about a mile away and take a shuttle to the start area. They did have camping options nearby, but I’m not a big fan of camping (I’ve only ever done it at Ragnar).
There were actually quite a few tents with different vendors at the packet pick-up. We went straight over to pick up our packets, and then one of my fellow Altra ambassadors, Cory Reese of Fast Cory came up and was like are you Jenny? So we chatted for a few minutes, got a selfie and then I got my bib too.
I was really impressed with the swag they gave all the runners. A lot of times when you run a shorter distance at race with a 100 miler, they get way better swag than the shorter distances. In this case, we all got nice cottony gender specific T-Shirts (I know most people like tech shirts, but I love this type of cotton shirt and wear them all the time because they fit perfectly), a choice of hat (Trucker hat, Beanie or a head band) and a choice of pizza or tacos after the race.
We ran into a bunch of friends before we got a quick run in so Sean could get his streak run in before going for dinner and get our stuff ready because Sean’s race was starting at 6am and we needed to get there early enough for a parking spot and to take the shuttle.
I’m going to skip over most of the crewing for the 100 miler for right now except to say that I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep.
When I finally made my way over to the parking area for the start around 5:30ish it was pouring and the parking lot was a muddy mess. I took the first spot I saw, set my alarm, pulled my Orange Mud Transition towel over my head & went to sleep after checking to make sure the race was going to start on time.
Sure enough not long after I fell asleep I got a text saying that the race was delayed an hour so I set my alarm for a little later & went back to sleep. Eventually my alarm went off & I got another message saying we were delayed another hour so I was able to get a bit more sleep. All this time it was a cycle of torrential downpour & then nothing. All I could think about when I got up was that poor Sean had been out there for a while in this crappy weather.
Finally I got myself up, changed into my race gear, finishing up just in time to catch the shuttle to the start. It was probably around 8:20 when I headed over and our 7am start time was pushed back to 9am.
I was watching to see if Sean was coming so I could cheer him in as well as maybe borrow his poles 😉 lol. He didn’t finish in time so when they announced we were ready to go, off I went.
The original course for this race was for us to run up Flying Monkey (approx 1,500ft climb), do a loop at the top and then come back down (This was the first loop in the 100m/100k course). Because of the rain they changed the course for the safety of the runners and so not to destroy the trails any further. That meant we would run approx. 4 miles through the desert (the last 3ish miles of the 100m course) and then climb up Smith Mesa Rd which was paved and then come back. The course changed didn’t make it easier but it did make it safer.
Sean told me afterwards that Flying Monkey would have been a disaster with all the mud and it was on the edge.
I had decided as soon as I started the race that I was going to run conservatively because we have 2 more races this month including a 50k and I didn’t want to get hurt running in the mud. And I absolutely hate mud! You aren’t going to find me running a mud run intentionally, the only reason I did this one was #1 I traveled to Utah & paid for the race & #2 if Sean could run for hours in this crap, I could do 13 miles.
So I just chugged along for the first 4 miles, run/walking. I ran into Sean around 2 miles in and he was slowly making his way to the finish, where he would wait for me. The trail wasn’t too bad here when I went through the first time at least ;).
At mile 4 we got to a steep 2.5 mile uphill, which I proceeded to hike up. The views really were amazing and as we started up the hill the sun started to come out and it was sooo pretty. I didn’t take any photos because I was in the zone trying to get up the hill.
I finally made it to the top just in time for it to start raining again lol, I filled up my water bottle, added more tailwind & ultima, grabbed a few orange slices, my favorite trail run staple and hit up the makeshift bathroom before heading back down.
The downhill was a lot steeper than I was expecting but I managed to maintain a 10 min mile pace or a little faster all the way down. By this point my left shin was starting to hurt a little. I’m not sure if it was all the mud or that my compression socks were soaked and that was the issue. Nonetheless I continued running down.
Once I got back to the mud, I attempted to run the downhills but they were super slippery. After tweaking my back one too many times I tried walked a lot during this section, kind of a reverse run/walk with more running than walking. I could see two people a head of me and I just kept trying to catch up, they were both walking more than running as well.
At mile 11 one of the lead 50k guys flew past me with no care at all for the mud and I’m pretty sure I just laughed out loud and kinda wished I could run like that.
Finally, I made it back to the road to the campgrounds and I ran it in. It was nice to have people cheering and when I made the final turn, Sean was dead center cheering me on and getting this awesome finish photo. I thought it was really awesome since I was wearing my Altra shirt and the inflatable finish line was theirs too. I definitely had a #runmatchy™ photo ;).
Considering the conditions, the fact that my shoes weighed 10 pounds each, and lack of sleep, I’m happy with my time and just finishing in general. It was by far my slowest half but I’m totally ok with that :).
After the race, I got to pick out my “medal”. The Ultra Adventures team doesn’t do traditional medals (except for the buckle for the 100m) and instead for the half marathoners we got to select a bracelet for our finisher award. There were a bunch of colors to choose from, but I selected a blue/purple colored bead.
We then headed over so I could get some water and my pizza. They had a company out there making pizza’s to order and they had their own little brick oven on top of a truck, it was super cute.
I wish the weather could have cooperated like it did on Sunday when we visited Zion National Park, but that’s the way it goes, Mother Nature doesn’t care that we are running a race lol.