Well, it has been a while since my last blog post.. I am planning to be more consistent with my blogging moving forward now that I AM SIGNED UP FOR A 100 MILER!!! Last spring my blog was all about sharing my training for the VT100 (which was then canceled). I am now signed up for Mace’s Hideout 100 on June 5th, so I plan to share updates over the next 3 months with how my training is going. Since my last blog post I started my own podcast! The Training With Tucker Podcast is findable wherever you listen to your podcasts: Apple, Google, Spotify etc., and I have 6 episodes out at this point. I am putting out one episode per week right now and it has been a learning experience so far to say the least.
Now before we move on to the 100 miler, this blog post is my recap of my most recent race, the Arches 50 Miler on January 30th, 2021. In short, if you ever want to run an ultra, do it in Moab, UT. What a beautiful place to run! I won’t say it will make it any easier, but personally I found running 50 miles to be much more enjoyable with spectacular views of red rocks, a glorious sunrise, snow-capped mountain views in the background and perfect running weather. Nicole and I got to Moab on Friday afternoon, the drive alone from Denver to Moab is worth the trip. We checked into the Big Horn Lodge, which had a bit of "The Shining" vibes.. After checking in, we went into Arches National Park and did a very nice two-mile hike to Landscape Arch and two other smaller arches. It felt great to move the legs after the long drive out. We then went back to the ole Lodge and had dinner which was homemade vegan lasagna (aka the dinner of champions) made by yours truly. I checked in with Chase Harris, one of my clients, who was the whole reason I signed up for this event! He was staying a few rooms down with his girlfriend Nikki, their friend Steph and their 3 dogs! It was a packed room to say the least. Chase and I chatted about how we were feeling and made plans to meet up in the morning at the race start. Nicole and I returned to our room to relax and get some sleep. I never sleep well the night before a race, so we flipped on the TV for some background noise. We found The Wolf of Wall Street on TV, which happened to be at the point in the movie when Jordan Belfort is telling his employees that he is not leaving. It was all the motivation I needed.
I never sleep that well when I have an early wake up, I'm always afraid to oversleep. So, while my alarm was set for 4:30 to eat breakfast, I woke up at 3:30 and decided I would eat then and go back to sleep. With no toaster, I was left to eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich. I drank some Nuun mix with water and went back to sleep for a bit. I got up around 5:30, got dressed and headed on over to the start area. It rained overnight and the temps dropped in the early morning into the teens, so the cars were all iced over (foreshadowing for the first two miles of the race). Despite how cold it was that morning, I knew I would warm up fast and the day would see temperatures reaching the 40’s. So, I took my place in the corral for wave 1 with shorts, my singlet and a windbreaker on as well as gloves, a hat and my headlamp. At 6:30 AM, 10 of us were released into the dark morning and we took our first steps on our 50-mile journey. The waves were selected based on Ultrasignup ranking. Any race results in Ultrasignup.com’s database feed into a percentage ranking based on your age, gender and placing in previous events. If you do not have any results in their database, such as was the case with Chase, you would be placed after those who did have a ranking.
Based on my previous results I managed to be in the first wave, the 10 of us took off on the paved bike path for the first two miles. I had asked the race director that morning if spikes were needed, to which he said no. After getting through the event I would agree, no spikes were needed. HOWEVER, the first two miles made me question my decision. The bike path was a sheet of ice. The rain from the night before had frozen solid in a layer of black ice across this paved 2-mile section so I elected to run alongside of the path, jumping little bushes as they came along. We took a tunnel down underneath the highway and it was at this point (again foreshadowing), that I realized the course was not as well marked as it maybe needed to be. The leaders took a turn off of the bike path and luckily, I only ran an extra hundred yards before they realized the mistake and turned back. We got back on the bike path and continued on. As we made our way through the moonlit night, I began to hear some voices chatting away behind me. They seemed far off but were getting closer. I figured these were the individuals from wave 2 that were catching up to us. Sure enough, by the time we turned onto the dirt single track section the leaders from wave 2 were behind us. I led a group of 6 of us along the single track, doing my best to stay on the trail. The full moon was impressive and while it provided a good amount of light, the headlamp came in very handy to follow the blazes and stay on track. After about 5 miles, the trail widened and we came to our first aid station. I used this opportunity to let the group of three individuals from wave 2 pass by, and before long they were out of sight! I took off my jacket as it was already warming up nicely and I fell into a rhythm with a