Running Adventures of a Trail Brat

Zion 100…no make that Zion 50K

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Red Rock outside Zion taken from Goosebump.

I started Zion 100 confident, but at the same time a little concerned about how this race was going to turn out. With four weeks recovery after Monument Valley, overall my body felt good…feet healed from running through miles of sand, quads and calf muscles feeling ready to take on the brutal slick rock, attitude in check for Ultra Adventures 100 #3. However, my worries stemmed from a urinary tract infection (UTI) that I had been working on getting to pass through my body. For two weeks, I drank large amounts of water, consumed mass quantities of cranberry juice, swallowed several herbal urinary tract support supplements, and consumed many cups of Uva ursi tea.Symptoms would subside a little only to return a few days later. Usually I can shake this sort of thing using the above mentioned remedies and I did not want to succumb to an antibiotic regimen, especially since I thought it would involve a round of Ciprofloxacin (Cipro). I recalled hearing Cipro’s undesirable side effects relating to joints and tendons.

Matt Gunn and his dog Nacho

Race director, Matt Gunn, carries his dog Nacho around the race start.

Race morning, I believed that if I focused on moving myself through the course hat I could block out the symptoms of the UTI. This strategy seemed to work well for the first 10 miles until I made a visit to the Ecocommode at the Flying Monkey aid station where I was met with an intense burning sensation while urinating. The five mile course between Flying Monkey and Dalton aid stations involves a technical two mile descent which went well as I had to focus on navigating my way down. However, while completing the rolling (with one steep climb) three miles to Dalton, I was slowed down due to pressure about my abdomen with each step (whether it be uphill, downhill or flat). Though I was slowing (so early in the course), I still felt I was moving at a decent pace so I envisioned running to the finish with my pacer, Colleen and making arrangements to visit a walk-in clinic upon finishing sometime on Saturday. A few bacteria weren’t going to end my race so easily.

After Dalton aid station, the 100 mile course takes runners up to and around Guacamole Mesa. This mesa was not part of the inaugural Zion course, so I was anxious to make my way up there, so I made my way through Dalton aid station and continued on. It was at this time I began to question if continuing on was a good idea. Each step, whether fast walking or running was met with much discomfort and I began to envision the stress a healthy body endures while completing these kinds of events. Maybe continuing on wasn’t a good idea and visiting a walk-in clinic on a Friday (instead of Saturday after running 100 miles) was a better idea. After approximately two miles outside of Dalton aid station, I found myself stopped in my tracks. All these thoughts had taken my head out of the game. Do I listen to my head or do I hike up the big girl panties, get it together and keep moving forward? That day, the head won.Walking downhill two-ish miles back to Dalton aid station seemed more healthy than enduring another 10-ish miles getting my up and around Guacamole Mesa and back to Dalton aid station.

Cipro RX provides relief

Drugs can have their place.

With my race over, the next task was to figure out how to get to a walk-in clinic. I didn’t have a car of my own and I wasn’t expected to meet up with my pacer, Colleen until 11pm at Grafton Mesa aid station (not the start/finish). Fortunately, Kelly Agnew’s crew extraordinaire his wife Jo gave me a ride back to the start/finish and Ultra Adventure’s wonder woman, Tana McTeer loaned me her car with directions to a clinic in Hurricane. Within hours, my self-diagnosed UTI was confirmed and I had a prescription for Cipro. I know, I wanted to avoid going there, but I obviously needed drug intervention, I have a penicillin allergy (though penicillin derivatives aren’t used much for UTIs anymore) and the treating physician felt risks from sulfur based drugs made Cipro the better choice. Cipro’s biggest side effect is risk of tendon rupture in user’s of all ages. With four more 100s planned for this year, that would not be a good thing. Therefore, to help reduce my risk, I will be foam rolling every night with emphasis on my feet and heels, as well as following up with a muscle rub I created using essential oils known for their tension relieving, anti-inflammatory, circulatory improving qualities. Wish me well. 🙂

Saturday morning I found myself back at the starting line, however, this time it was to start the 50K distance. Colleen was anxious to get in some miles as she has Angeles Crest 100 coming up later this year, so she encouraged me to run the 50K distance with her and Steve Harvey. I am so glad I did. We had a blast running, walking, laughing and taking in all that the Zion 50K has to offer. Click here or on the image below to view a little video I put together of the Zion 50K course.

Me with Zion scenery in the background.

Click on the image to view a video of the Zion 50K course.

Trifecta Challenges

Angel’s Landing

Hikers going up Angel's Landing in Zion National Park. Hikers going up Angel's Landing in Zion National Park.

The day before the race, I was able to hike Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. Well sort of…I was scheduled to work runner check in at 2pm and had to keep the trip quick. This was my first time in Zion National Park, so I was surprised when I saw the last parts of the climb up to Angel’s Landing along with the stand still two-way traffic that had to be navigated. Instead of hiking to the top of Angel’s Landing, I opted to a slightly shorter summit that offered superb views of Angel’s Landing and the crowds involved in navigating this hike.

Trail seen from Angel's Landing.

Trail seen from Angel’s Landing. I wonder where it goes…

Flowers found along Angel's Landing trail in Zion National Park.

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2 thoughts on “Zion 100…no make that Zion 50K

  1. I just read your race report for the Zion 50k. I’m signed up to do it. I just wanted to know a little more about it. I am terrified of heights and I wanted to know if there are any sketchy parts of the race? In your pictures it looks like there is but it looks so beautiful!! I wish I wasn’t such Scaredy cat!! Thanks so much for your time!

    • Hi Tina
      The 50K does take you up to Gooseberry Mesa which has an elevation of 5485 feet. The climb up to the mesa is a tough one, but the footing is stable. Keep the forward motion going and you’ll forget about the height. The route out to Gooseberry Point does offer views from the edge, however, I think you can run more on the inside of the trail and feel safe. There is a short (0.75 mile?) out and back that might seem scary. There is some bouldering and stepping across cracks in the rock. But focus on the trail and believe in yourself. The route is safe and relish in the fact that not many people get the chance to see (in person) the views that you will see! You can do this!!!! The route continues on the other side of the mesa. Again there are some parts where the trail does offer views from the edge, probably more so than the outbound route. Just stay to the inside of the trail, take a deep breath if necessary and believe in yourself. When you get to the finish line, you will have joy in not only completing a beautifully, tough 50K course, but for also pushing yourself ultimately beyond your comfort zone. Take pride in that!!!! Have a great time in Zion!!!

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