Monthly Archives: April 2014

Zion 100 Race Report

I ran the Zion 100 in Virgin Utah April 4.
Race Start Flying Monkey Trail to Smith Mesa
The Zion 100 consists of kind of a rough design of 4 loops, which each one culminates in climbing up (and down) a mesa.

The first mesa to climb from race start is Smith Mesa, via the famous Flying Monkey Trail.  It’s very rocky and steep, just very reminiscent of Massanutten rocks.  There is a small steep section where there is a rope to pull yourself up with.  This is the traffic jam photo of it.
I had someone take my picture since we were just standing there in line..
What a view from the top!  My pictures do not do a good job of showing the color striations.
But notice how white the sky is? That is cloud cover. I was very happy about the clouds. Race morning it was in the 40’s, and warmed to the 50’s pretty quickly.
Once we topped out on Smith Mesa, it was about a five mile downhill on road.  This race has a good deal of road-which it does say on the website.  It was easy to make good time back down to the desert floor.

I got through the second aid station, Sheep’s Bridge, Mile 14. and then it is single track trail on the way to Virgin Dam  Aid Station. This was nice trail, right along the edge of the precipice, with the Virgin River below.

It was windy through here.  Cold and windy.  I was regretting a bit not having my face mask with me.  It was packed in my drop bag for Grafton Mesa, late in the afternoon.   I hoped that this cold air in the morning would not be an issue..
DSCN1728I glance at my Garmin through here, pretty astounded to see I am at mile 18-and I feel good.  Miles seem to be just flying by, with the new scenery.
I came through the Virgin Dam Aid Station, Mile 23 for my first drop bag.  The Ultra Aspire Arizona Rep was there, working the Aid Station.  He offered me the new lids for the Ultra Aspire bottles and I gladly swapped out my old over-engineered tops!  Thanks Turtle!
Notice the new  Buff at each drop bag location? It felt really good to swap out a sweaty Buff for a new dry one. (Buff, are you listening? Still want to be sponsored!)

Now we are running over toward our next mesa climb, to the Goosebump AS.  We will hit this AS at mile 31, 43, and 78.
There is a bit climb here, maybe one mile up? 2200 feet? It’s rocky, some loose dirt, runners are whining! It’s not that bad. Yes, it’s a bitch of the climb..but really, it wasn’t that bad.
New buff at Goosebump, mile 31!

Part Two to Follow, more texts,  less pics!

Drop Bags for Out of Town Races

Driving to an out of town ultra is pretty easy.  If it is your own vehicle, and it’s all your space, you get to throw every single bit of running gear you own into the vehicle with you.

Flying out of town is a bit trickier.  You need to think about what you want to bring, and what you could possibly purchase once you land.  You also want to think about the airlines losing your luggage, and what you want to carry on the plane.

In my carry on bag, I bring my running clothes, and my hydration pack.  This trip, I wore my race shoes-Hoka Bondi B’s.  If I wasn’t wearing them, they would be in my carry on bag.  This way I have the absolute minimum that I need for the race.  I could always find a store to buy spare clothes, food, even a head lamp.

Flying to a race makes you pare down what you need for the race. I had my bags pretty much pre-packed. With the Zion 100, I hit three aid stations multiple times.  I have my separate “visits” in plastic bags labelled.

Then you hope your luggage arrives at the same airport that you fly into.  I was hoping TSA would not confiscate my Ultragen recovery powder.  Although they did inspect the somewhat weird contents of my suitcase, they did leave my Ultragen.

I have my drop bags labelled with the Aid Station Name and my name.  As of Thursday, pre-race, I still don’t know my bib number, which is a tiny nuisance, but oh well.  I actually brought my own Sharpie to add this at check in!

And they are packed!

I hope Olga and Coach would least they would of the Virgin Dam Drop bag, it’s the tiny one up front.

If you are reading this on Friday, April 4, I am out running! My race starts at 6am MT!!!

Zion National Park Emerald Pool Trails and Riverside Walk

After my second breakfast, I decided to take a little break and ride the shuttle and go watch the 22 minute movie about Zion at the Zion Human History Museum.  My other planned hike for the day was Riverside Walk, and if the river wasn’t too high, hike up the Virgin River, called The Narrows.

When I got back on the shuttle I was surprised to find it packed!  Apparently my early morning rides of empty shuttle buses were not the norm.

I decided to hike up the Emerald Pools Trails, thinking they would not be too taxing and that would kind of fall under “taking it easy”.

The weather was still kind of nice, about 50 or so, but not warm enough to take off the jacket.

This was a much more populated trail.  When I started up the West Rim Trail, at 8am, there was just four other people ascending.  I saw more ascending as I was heading down.  With all the people, with children, it was pretty slow going. I amused myself by seeing how many people were inappropriately dressed for the trail.


See how the blue sky has disappeared?  There was a 60% chance of rain predicted.  This is the desert, people, why rain??  I kept my eyes on the clouds.  The rain prediction was why I wanted to ascend Angels Landing first thing in the morning.

 It has cooled off more as I get back to the shuttle bus  stop, and I ride the bus to the last stop, The Temple of Sinawava.  This leads to Riverside Walk, which is a one mile paved path which ends at the Virgin River, where one can hike The Narrows.

It starts to rain, then turns to SNOW as I get off the shuttle bus!  It’s very windy through here.  I don my jacket, my YUTC buff, headband, and gloves.  I start briskly up the Walk, as it will be warmer to walk than just stand there.

 I get to the end of Riverside Walk and walk down by the  river and take a couple of pictures.

Like Angels Landing, I debate my choice.  The water is not the cold.  But do I want scramble through the water, trying to stay upright, and  then have wet feet for the shuttle ride back to my car?  Again, I make the decision in favor of saving energy for my race.  I’m already a little tired, I should be retiring from walking for the day.  So I turn, and end my Zion Day.  My Garmin logged 10 miles-when it had a signal, which it constantly bleeped out in the canyons.

I was able to have some guilt free chili cheese fries at the Zion Brew Pub, always nice to have a snack and a beer at the end of the trail!

Zion National Park Angels Landing Hike

Being on East Coast time, I was up way early.  Early enough in fact, to drive over to the Park, get the best parking spot, and be one of four (all) females on the shuttle.

My plan was to hike up the West Rim Trail and then take the trail over to Angels  Landing.

It was a bit cold, probably in the 40’s. I was happy to have capris, my Pata-gucci down sweater, gloves and headbands to wear, but as I climbed I took the jacket off.

 The trail winds up.  It is entirely not technical, concreted over in many areas.


 After about one mile, you start up a section of 21 very short switchbacks, called Walter’s Wiggles. Walter’s Wiggles was named after the first superintendent of Zion who helped engineer the steep zigzagging section.
Then you get to where the trail to Angel’s Landing begins.

 The best way to explain this is you scramble up a rock face, holding on for dear life onto these wonderful heavy duty chains.  Did I mention the exposure?

 With my little short legs, it was similar to my climb up Mt St Catherine’s in Grenada, where I had to fit my knee into a well worn toe hold, then rise up and get my foot into it.

 I got up to a certain spot, probably about 1/3 of t he way into the hike, where the “trail” came to a very tight ridge, where I could look doooown on either side. Total exposure.  I stood here, holding onto a tree, for a bit. I thought I had other hikers behind me, as I could hear voices.

I looked up at the sketchy route, and decided I had used up enough energy on this hike.  (I was sweating and had a very high level of adrenalin going on!!)  I have a race in two days, and I don’t need to expend up all my energy on this  hike.  So I turned around, entirely fine with my decision.

I found it harder descending than ascending.  I did most of this on four points.

 There was nobody on this route at all.  But I have seen pics and vidios, and  I can see how crowded this route could become.  I was happy to not to have to pass or have others pass around me.

I then headed up the West Rim Trail for a short hike up that way.

 The weather was really nice in the morning, a bit cold, probably in the low 50’s.  Warm in the sun, but cold in the shade and if the wind hit you.

See the pink and blue?  These are hikers going up Angels Landing.
I then headed back to the  Zion Lodge for Second Breakfast, as it was about 10 am and I believe I earned those two bacon-egg-cheese biscuits!

Recce the Trail at Zion

recce [ˈrekɪ] (Brit)

A. N ABBR (Mil) =reconnaissancereconocimiento m
B. VT (Mil) =reconnoitrereconocer
I just love the British term “recce”  (pronounced “recky”) to reconnoiter or recon.  I arrived in Las Vegas, spent the night, then drove to Utah to recce some of the trails for the Zion 100 Race.
I wanted to try and check out Guacamole Trail and the Grafton Mesa Trails, as I would see this into the dark.
I also wanted to take pictures so I wouldn’t take so many during the race! 
This was a pretty tall order, as I over estimated what I could do, with leaving Las Vegas, losing one hour time ( Utah is in mountain time zone) and a 2.5 hour drive to Virgin.

I was able to find the Guacamole Trail relatively easy, with the amount of research I did. It mainly involved researching the mountain biker trail records of the Guacamole Trail.

It was really neat coming into Utah. The landscape is so foreign to me, and so striking.

I got up on the Guacamole Trail and got to experience “slick rock” for the first time.
What is “Slickrock”?  Slick rock is Navajo Sandstone, devoid of any soil, it’s just pure stone.
The name “slickrock” was given by early settlers of the area because their horses’ metal shoes had difficulty gaining traction on the rock’s sloping surfaces. The same is true today for cyclists who use shoes with metal cleats while riding the Slickrock Trail. Slickrock also becomes very slick when wet.
The slickrock is a very irregular surface. Think of poured concrete, in very  rounded tiny hills.   There are little tiny craters, little lakes  if it rains.  I guess I would call it technical terrain, as it is hard to get into a rhythmn on.  But it’s nothing like MMT rocks.

 It was very cool to run here.  This section will be in the dark for me.  I think it will be slow, but not as slow as a rocky trail. 

 It was very windy on top of the mesa.  When I was at the edge, I was glad of my gloves, headband, and long sleeves.  I am glad I got up here, I will make sure to have my gloves, hat, windbreaker, in my drop bag for the night time mesa sections. 

 Petrified wood! This stuff was every where!!  This was a really big piece.

Petrified wood is the name given to a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation. It is the result of a tree or tree-like plants having completely transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization.

I  ran about six miles of Guacamole Trail, then drove over to the Smithsonian Butte Trail.  I didn’t even drive up the whole road, as it was pretty steep on a dirt road, and I was driving a rental car.  That’s going to be a nice steep uphill during the race.

I’m glad I’ve got to recce some of the course. It is, as advertised.  The RD has said, when there are ascents, they are going UP! 

I then drove  over to the Zion Visitor Center.  This place, on April 1, a Monday, was packed! What the heck is this area like real tourist season?  I can see why cars are banned from the park, and the shuttle bus is encouraged.

I am planning on hiking to Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park in the morning.

14 Things I want to Accomplish in 2014-1st Quarter Wrap up

1. Take a picture each month and store them somewhere I can find them!-I am doing so much better at this. I have new folders, labelled Jan2014, Feb2014, March14.  If these are random photos that don’t belong anywhere else, they go into the month folder.

2. Finish TWOT-well I did it. The 17th finish of TWOT.  Hardest task I have ever accomplished. Still muling over things learned during.

3.  Write a letter to the future me-haven’t done it yet.  Need to, the future me will be here before long!

4.  Get to my goal weight-still working on it.  Two pounds down, four pounds up, I just keep working!

5. Get into a routine with yoga-haven’t even started.

6, Finish Reverse Ring-with events beyond my control, I was a DNS-did not start.  I was two hours from leaving home, and events popped up that I needed to stay home to attend to.

7. Finish Zion 100-three days to go!

8. Have a day at the spa for myself-yes, I still need to do this!

9. Go on a solo adventure-would Angels Landing at Zion National Park count?

10. Run a sub 26 minute 5K-summer goal

11. Paint the hallway and hang my running T-shirt quilt on the wall-this actually changed since we are very slooowly getting our house rewired.  I now have overhead lights in the downstair room where the treadmill is. This means I can remove the ugly wall sconces and hang my quilt on this wall.  I still need to apply one more coat of paint to the outside wall.

12. Organize my photos-whoops, this probably could be lumped under #1

13. Expand and promote my blog-well, maybe by today my blog may have a Facebook page. I have always felt a little “weird” about that, but it appears most bloggers have a FB page.  I have also been trying to interact more on  Twitter with Fitbloggin participants.

14. Declutter my house, room by room, area by area-yes, slowly and sure, we are getting rid of stuff!