Not So Red Hot

Rise and shine

It’s coming up on one month ago that I ran my first race of the year, Moab’s Red Hot 55K. It didn’t go well and that was a bitter pill to swallow. I was well prepared. During my last long run, two weeks before the race, I noticed some minor knee pain. This is not unusual. By that evening I couldn’t walk downstairs. This is unusual. Then two days later I caught the flu and that lasted for two weeks, right through the race.

Moab Red Hot start

Moab Red Hot first climb

Moab Red Hot early miles

Moab Red Hot first slickrock

Despite the constant knee pain and the illness I decided to run anyway, even though I was pretty sure it would be a disaster. Within the first two miles, my suspicions were confirmed when I noticed my heart rate was through the roof for the pace I was running. The best decision I could have made at that point would be to slow down and jog the next 32 miles (or until my knee pain became too unbearable and drop out). I, of course, did not make that decision. I continued on at the same pace, with the same higher-than-normal heart rate until I crashed and burned around mile 20.

Moab Red Hot slickrock


Moab Red Hot sand

Moab Red Hot

Moab Red Hot finish

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The last 14 miles were a complete sufferfest. Dehydration, fatigue, sunburn (even in February a desert is still a desert) all conspired against me. I really took a beating out there. At this point nothing will change my rotten performance. All I can really do is try to learn from my mistakes and do better next time.

Whenever that might be.

In the four weeks since the race I’ve run a total of 12 miles because my knee pain is so intense. I haven’t had to deal with pain like this in a decade. My running plans for the year are no longer a matter of how well I can run at my big races, but if I can even run them at all.

Colorado River canyon sunset

On a more positive note, this was my first trip to Utah. While many miles of the course were flat sandy and rocky desert with not much to look at, much more of the course was incredibly beautiful terrain (still sandy and rocky) with views of two national parks and a high mountain range. I was blown away by some of the views. During the race I met in person a friend from Fort Collins who I’d only previously known online. And after the race I ran into Cousin Don, an old friend from Illinois. On the whole, the weekend was great. It was really only about four hours of it that completely sucked.