Three weeks prior to the race, I had gone up to Pine for a training run with a buddy. We navigated many of the Mogollon Monster trails and climbed many of the same climbs I would face on race day. We put in a meager 25 miles and my legs were trashed, my lungs on fire (from the altitude) and my shins raw from all the thorny bushes covering the Highline Trail. If you had asked me then how I felt about the race, my abilities and my level of confidence, I would have given myself a 30-50% chance of finishing.
Jump ahead a couple weeks.
I honestly did not have the time to stress over this race or feverishly study the maps like I normally do (due to the loss of a close personal friend). It wasn’t until Wednesday before the race that I started to think about the course and mentally prepare for the possible 36 hours I’d be spending on my feet.
The evening before the race, Jon and I were discussing logistics at our cabin. Despite my seemingly uncoordinated and thoughtless race plan, I was enveloped with a aura of confidence about the race. It’s difficult to describe…I wasn’t being cocky or arrogant, but I just felt like this race was going to go well. I could already see myself crossing the finish line but I honestly couldn’t tell you why I was feeling this way. It just felt right.
Straying from my traditional race report, I decided to list out the memorable moments from the race rather than taking you through each aid station (because honestly, I don’t remember some of them!)
- The acapella Leann Rimes version of the national anthem at race start was amazing.
- The view descending Turkey Springs was breathtaking. (Just don’t gawk while descending – it will end badly)
- Between Geronimo and Washington Park, I remember thinking to myself, “No way I want to do Zane Grey…”
- Where’s my crew chief?!
- JohnV gives a great neck and shoulder massage (Houston Bros. A/S)
- Houston Brothers trail has got to be the most wonderful trail in all of Arizona.
- My knees feel like they’re going to explode descending into Washington Park. (How am I going to do this again?!)
- Sitting next to a heat lamp eating a grilled cheese sandwich and trying to change my socks at the same time. Multi-tasking = fail!
- JonN begins pacing duties and we begin the daunting stretch to Buck Springs (via Myrtle). Very little running during this stretch…
- We catch up to Tawnya and spend several hours navigating the ‘grasslands’ with her. Nice gal, mother of 5 reveling in the fact that she’s out here and her husband has the kids all weekend (insert maniacal laugh!)
- Holy crap the climb up Myrtle sucks! Covered in grass and 2 feet away from the edge of the rim makes for a slow and scary climb.
- It’s really cold on top of the rim (was that sweat or snot dripping down my face?)
- Back to Houston Brothers at about 5 am. NoahD gives a great neck and shoulder massage as well.
- Sunrise while running down the Rim Rd – spectacular.
- The lyrics of ‘Lose Yourself’ (Eminem) playing over and over in my mind:
“Here I go it’s my shot, feet fail me not…this may be the only opportunity I’ve got. Success is my only mutha-f*ckin’ option. Failure’s not.”
- MaryK waits patiently to pace me the last 20 miles (goodbye Washington Park!)
- Want to know what you’re really made of? Climb Webber after 95 miles.
- First time I’ve ever felt like my legs were actually made of Jell-O.
- I was waiting for the lights to come on in the tunnel and for it to start spinning
- My son and daughter waiting for me 20 yards from the finish line – “Daddy, let’s race…”
Of the race, I will tell you 3 things:
- You will not find a race director who is more insanely passionate about the course, the participants and showcasing this beautiful area of the Mogollon Rim to ensure this is the best race you will ever experience. It’s top notch and should be on your list for 2014.
- Some folks talk about graduate-level trail races. These trails, combined with the distance and climbing, requires a Ph.D. It is nothing short of technical and hard. Expect to find out what you’re really made of.
- Some folks believe that the Mogollon Monster is a legend. By just toeing the line, you too become a part of that legend. Finish under 36 hours and you become legendary…
I would finish in 33:37 – 14th place overall out of 23 finishers.
What are you waiting for? The Monster is waiting for YOU!