Flight of Fire 1/2 Trail Marathon 5/94, 1st M30-39

“I can sing it to you all night all night

If I could I’d make it all right all right

Nothing’s stopping you except what’s inside

I can help you but it’s your fight your fight

Get out of your own way


Get out of your own way

Ah!” – U2


Sometimes music just speaks to what one feels. And the words Bono sings can resonate with many including endurance athletes. Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada, Fiona and I saw U2 sing this song in one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in my life. I truly believe in his messages of Love and was truly heartfelt in the “Experience”.

Along with I “Keep on Running” by Deejay Pin-Up Richard Harris Teen Machine Reboot found on the official “2016 Kona Race Recap” on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcYyeCx7Vq8 (I’m at 5:58-5:59 in!), the lyric “Get of your own way” is what I was thinking during Saturdays run; one of the most amazing runs Fiona and I have ever experienced.

6 Days after 70.3 St George Utah and a 95 mile bike ride along the original IRONMAN St. George course two days later, Fiona and I were driving 7 hours North from Tucson to Vegas. I had received an offer for free rooms and comps at the Hooters Hotel and Casino so we decided to head up. It was Fiona who found the Flight of Fire half marathon and me wanting to see U2 for the second time that led to those purchases. We’re always up for aligning “Holidays” with endurance events so figured it would be perfect.

On the morning of the race I had no idea what to expect. I kept telling Fiona how my legs felt like crap but knew that yuck feeling in the legs sometimes translates into strong performances so I’d do as I always do; give it my best.

We woke at 5:15am and ate a banana. We drove 25min to the Red Rock Canyon Resort Hotel. We hopped on a bus to drive us into the national park and to the start line where we waited around in the brisk air for around an hour before the 7:30AM start. We were at 3,750’ with 8,000’ mountains surrounding us and the beautiful red rocks of the canyon in the distance. During the wait I had 2 packages of Clif Shot Blocks and a caffeine supplement. Total calories was 500 and 200mg of caffeine; Fiona had more coffee.

I knew we were about to run a very, very tough trail half marathon. But didn’t think about it too much. I had my wattie tri kit on and Altra Trail shoes. I started near the front and took off. After crossing the paved road and started running on rocks, sand, and dirt, I realized “Oh shit, this is a trail race, this is harder than I expected”. I was quickly getting passed and fell to 7th out of field of 94. I had a look at the course: climb nearly 2,000 in the first 6 miles, then descend. I looked at the race like St, George. It was going to be a 6 mile race and then cruising; man was I wrong on that!

Heart Rate and breathing rate were very high from the start and it didn’t stop till I finished. The grade over the first 4 miles was 2.8%, 3.2%, 3%, and then 4.3%. By that point we climbed 713’. And, having picked off 2 spots and being over taken by 1, I was in 6th. Just then, I followed the 5 runners in front of me left. I heard behind me “WRONG WAY, WRONG WAY!!!”. I said “ARE YOU SURE”?, He said “YES, I MARKED THE COURSE!”. I turned around with the leading girl and said, “Well I guess that’s trail racing and now we’re in third!”. I passed that girl and then was over passed by 2 lean athletes who looked super light. I then over took them during a steep decent of technical trail before heading back up a steep climb which led to 331’ of climb in a mile; my slowest at 9:33minutes. But, we were at the top with amazing views over the Red Rock Canyon park and it was decent mode. I had to use a lot of concentration trying to not fall on the rugged dirt road and running 7:17mile while hitting the 2nd aid station but knew I needed to push it to stay near the front.

I was now in 2nd place and was feeling good. 3rd place was 30s-1min back. But, as the trail turned into quick up/down over the thousands of years of eroded mountains, my legs started to get trashed. It was around this 7mile marker spot that my right leg started throbbing every time I climbed the constantly changing directions of the path. By the 3rd aid station, 3rd place and  were neck and neck. He was on my heals as we ran right along vibrant red rock colors on the edge of potential disaster while running from placement to placement. It’s this movement that completely shred my legs to quite severe muscle tearing damage that I feel now, way more than any race I feel in a road running event. But while balancing and staying up right, I couldn’t help but look to my left and be amazed; the scenery was beautiful. We continued to descend and we were coming close to the parking lot. It was here the 3rd place runner became the 2nd place leader passing by me with a statement of a pass. Then, 2 more runners (I think the ones that had run a bit further through the wrong left hand turn) passed me like they were taking an easy jog.

It was also at this point the course did a 180 turn putting us back up into climbing mode. By now, I was very close to strongly cramping in my core from no salt of HotShots and my throbbing leg left me nothing to make any type of push that I had been making on the ascends. The final technical decent back to the single-track trail had me smiling and taking it all in while crossing the line 5th overall and winning my 30-39 age group. Being in 1:30 half marathon shape while running a 1:44 at 70.3 St George and this one in 1:49:23 goes to show you what a challenge running a trail half marathon up to 4,858’ can be.

I was very proud of my effort and really would love to see others experience what I had because it was fun, thrilling, and inspiring. I’m also proud of my wifey who took 2nd in her age group and 28th overall.

After, we met some IRONMAN athletes from Utah including a man who had done the St. George IRONMAN and also was hit by a car and had his neck broken. His friend had done IM Western Australia as well! We met another cool guy who was from Wisconsin, a girl from Chicago, and another guy from Vegas; all triathletes.

The event was run really well and the free Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Monster Energy drinks were great. We received some awesome medals, shirts, and plaques.

This race is a must.

As I sit here in my Normatec’s, Sunday night back in Tucson, my legs feel absolutely awful. But I have an Experience that can’t be bought. And, I also now feel like I’ve found that passion again to pursue my goals and get back to the Big Island. My alarm is set for 5:15am. I’m going to try and “Get out of my own way” and make it happen.

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