I love being reminded that I have great friends. Although the weekend was far too short, our trip to Moab for the Other Half marathon was reminiscent of a whirlwind Shelf trip from Nebraska when I was a college student.
After arriving at our camp site in the Sand Flats at 1 am, we settled down for the night and woke Saturday morning with climbing on our minds and the half marathon looming on Sunday.
The weekend provided a unique mix of an old group – Kate, Andrew and I have been good friends for a decade now – with the dynamic of great new people getting to know each other for the first time.
Chris made the trip from Omaha and Patrick from New Mexico to experience the perfect Indian Creek October before joining us on Saturday for Wall Street shenanigans. We enjoyed some of the old school classics like Another Road Side Distraction, Astrolad and Knapping With The Alien, as well as a few of the recently established climbs.
It’s inspiring watching Chris climb. After a couple undoubtedly grueling days at The Creek, he still had plenty left to onsight Knapping With The Alien (5.12a). The climb is one of my favorites on Wall Street and sports a truly confounding crux. He then kept up his torrid pace, walking Astrolad (5.11), a line the locals will tell you is a proud send.
Meanwhile, I hopped on a newly bolted line nearby that turned out to be very difficult. The beautiful blank arete required core-intensive, desperate body positioning. Chris and I worked through all the moves, but I think we’d both like another chance.
Trying to avoid expending too much energy, the runners all called it a day in the early afternoon and left Chris and Patrick to keep sending. In a bizarre occurrence, Chris climbed another newly bolted roof branching off from Bad Moki Roof. When they pulled the rope, the first bolt came with it. The route is full of friable holds and obviously the sandstone isn’t as sturdy as it needs to be to support a sport line. Some of the new development along Wall Street has given a popular area some more beautiful classics. Some of it has resulted in squeeze jobs and poor climbs. In this case, the rock was too chossy to even support a bolt.
We returned to camp and were serenaded by Milos and his new mandolin. After a few war stories, we called it an early night. Our 5:30 am alarm meant half marathon business.
The half went well for all of us. Those of us gunning for personal records didn’t disappoint. Tyler came in with a 1:47:06, several minutes faster than last year and good enough for a top 200 finish out of 1733 finishers. Milos barely did enough training to avoid the off-the-couch designation, but still managed to turn in a fantastic 1:42:30. It’s scary to think how well he would do with a serious training plan. I managed a PR by a hair with a 1:33:12, a 7:06 pace (a second per mile faster than last year) and good enough for a 34th place finish. Unlike years past, for most of the race, I ran alone. It was like I was in a time bubble. But I closed in on another runner near the end. He had about a 20 foot lead on me entering the last mile and I inched closer and closer until I finally passed him with about a quarter mile to go. I kept up the pace to gain a little separation, but started to feel nauseous from exertion approaching the last corner. I couldn’t hear his steps because of the crowd at the finish and was shocked when he passed me with 10 yards to go. HELL NO! I sprinted to the end and passed him as we crossed the finish line. We high fived and thanked each other for the push.
As I was staggering around trying to catch my breath and not throw up, Ian had already grabbed his gear bag, rehydrated, took a nap and wrote an essay on Tea Party hatred of Ronald Regan policies. His scorching time of 1:24:05 (6:25 pace) was good enough for a top ten finish (10th) and a medal in his age group. I speak for everyone in our group when I say congratulations. To say I’m impressed is an understatement.
We grabbed a few beverages and headed to the finish to watch Kate and Karen. Karen is coming back from some serious injuries and her accomplishment is on a different scale than any of ours. Great job, Karen.
Another session at Wall Street was in order, as is tradition after a Moab half marathon. Bathed in Milos serenade, it was awesome to return to another set of great routes, Bong Hit, Static Cling and Skeletonic. Years ago when I lived in Moab, Static Cling and Skeletonic were routes I aspired to. I took a few nasty falls on Skeletonic and never had the temerity to lead Static Cling. After the half, I had a blast leading them and we all enjoyed a perfect time reflecting on an amazing weekend in the desert.
As any group of nerds with too much time on their hands would do, Milos, Ian and I debated whether a normal or lognormal fit would better model the race times of a population of runners in a half marathon. I’ve officially declared lognormal the winner. Nice job, Milos.
Now if we can all just keep running throughout the winter, PRs should be no problem next year, right?
Thanks to everyone who contributed to an unforgettable trip. I love being reminded that I have great friends.