Sometimes it is good to know what is in front of you and plan for it if you can. A great planner practices this theory as much as possible. -universal common sense
I know of such great theory and intend to practice it on most occasions, and then the procrastinating, “let’s go with the flow” side takes the lead and I find myself doing something like heading to Moab, Utah so I can participate in my first trail run ever.
My prepping included a few long runs, the purchase of trail running shoes and a water bottle. However, as soon as I saw the gigantic red boulders (or should I say mountains) of Moab my heart started to race. The only flat land I saw was occupied by buildings and road and so I knew that only meant one thing. Maybe I should have asked more questions and ran more mountains to avoid being potential rocky road kill.
Needless to say, I got so keyed up that I dreamed that I was late for the race and part of the race involved running through a building filled with snow and clusters of people holding hands. By start time, I was just ready to run, just so my vivid imagination would stop giving me Inception filled horrors.
Eventually, the race started . . . well for everyone else. After five minutes, I was tying a shoelace that a nice man had pointed out to me (I blame it on the nerves. Why else would I not check my shoelaces before the race?).
This Ain’t Texas Anymore
After that minor embarrassing moment, I began the most exhilarating natural obstacle run of my 26 years. As I feared, I climbed up and down steep boulders with fellow runners. But, I also paused to take photos of jaw-dropping canyons and mountains, and that was only the first five miles or four (my Fitbit and the course planners obviously had different views on what equaled a mile).
The next part of the race is the part I call “Take your time Running with a Prayer.” At many points of traipsing over rocky switchbacks, I glanced down to see the little Lego cars cruising down the road. “Boy that’s a way to fall,” I thought as I slid and stumbled my way through the mountain.
Eventually, the death-defying stuff ended and I was mentally drained and ran on shaky legs toward three more miles of fun. Fun included a little muddy river run, some forest sightseeing, and soul-crushing hills. With half a mile left my nerves were shot. I questioned the existence of running. I wondered at the people still bounding away like beautiful leopards. Their ancestors were assured Spartans and Vikings. I am not sure what my blood is made of because those bleak moments held thoughts of colorful explicits, visions of collapsing and doubting the existence of a finish line.
The finish line finally came at the top of a convenient hill. Great for pictures, but my soul was so lost by that time, I didn’t think of the photographic opportunity. Only one of my finish line pictures showed me running. The other pictures are of me stepping across the line like someone who had just suffered a devastating defeat by a much more talented foe. A friend of mine asked how I felt immediately after the race and I told her it was one of the worst things I had done in my entire life. “Really?”
“Oh yes, I am pretty sure I almost died at some point.” A little later my synopsis of the race changed as I was able to reassess while in a sitting position with chips in hand.
Moab’s trail run is definitely not for the faint of heart. One running guru I chatted with after the full marathon admitted that he had run 50 milers that were easier. Yet, everyone who participated can say that Moab has one of the best scenic courses. It is exciting, and a great way to bond with other fellow runners. There is nothing like sharing a moment with another fellow runner who is just as fearful as you of sliding down an enormous rock (especially when you see what is beyond that rock) or rescuing another runner’s water bottle (because there are only two water stations throughout the whole course). Moab Trail Run is a definite thrilling five stars. I just might not be running it again.