Ultra Adventures puts on a quality, but gnarly marathon in the Tushar mountains of Utah. Runners embark on this rugged mountain race starting at nearly 10,500 feet elevation and hitting its highest point at Delano Peak, 12,175 feet. The climbs are steep and the drops are technical. It’s unlike any typical marathon around!
I was stoked to run today; I wanted to see where I was both from a mental and physical standpoint. Last August, on my last long run before Wasatch 100, I broke my knee and had to forfeit my spot in the race. I was devastated as I then watched my plans to also run the Boston Marathon slip out the window. I couldn’t regain my strength fast enough and my and rehab was long and difficult. I decided there was nothing to do but get to work and that’s what I did. Today was the day to see my progress!
Runners lined the start and we bolted at the sound of the gun. The first few miles were rough from a breathing standpoint, but after the 4th mile, I felt well adjusted. We ran through the woods and followed the flags on and off the trails through muddy streams, swampy grasslands, and rocky climbs. In the months leading up to this race I daydreamed about winning and breaking my PR from the year before. Those were dreams, now I needed to let my expectations go and just run.
The climb up to Delano peak was extra difficult. I used my poles to help propel me up the steep climbs, but then found them to be annoying and carried them instead. Literally seconds later I would regret that decision and pull them out again. I made a mental note in the future to run more with my poles before racing with them!
I made my way to the summit and was greeted by friends who offered words of encouragement. The decent from Delano was a real quad burner. I had a difficult time moving down the terrain quickly and began to feel quite discouraged. From here on out, the race moved from a will of physical strength, to mental strength. I worked to keep out of my head and repeated “You’re okay, Tara, keep going.” I replayed these words of encouragement over and over as I dug my poles in deep and kept moving.
The course continued to amaze me as I ran through abandoned mining ruins from the wild west and single track trails paved with flowers, divided by meandering creeks. I approached the last miles with will to stay positive and not let the ticking time discourage me. These miles were difficult as any miles are at the end of a race. I reached the last climb and picked up the pace to the finish with a smile on my face. I finished 5th overall and was content. Today I conquered my goals to test my limits and mental strength. It wasn’t about my place or finish, it was about getting back out again after disappointment and pressing forward. I’m always grateful for each day I am able to do what I love. I am looking forward to the next big adventure!