Spoiler: I survived. I did not die of smoke inhalation or re-injure myself. I was not last. I did not DNF or DNS. I did not POT (poop on/near trail).
The report: Joie and I were up early Saturday, ready to roll, nerves all a twitter. We were both edgy because we had no clue what to expect from this course and therefore had no clue how to pace ourselves. We had tried to check out where the climbs were, but this was almost impossible to figure from the maps that were provided. I knew it would be almost 1,000 feet of elevation gain over 13 miles, which isn’t a lot for a trail race, but it’s a lot for me because I am a pussy.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the course. A couple hills, yo.
I had done lots of hill and trail training early on, but after becoming injured 6 weeks ago, I had stopped all trails and climbing, with the exception of some treadmill stuff. In fact, my running went from 30 miles per week to about 15-20. I had a feeling I might die during this run. Or, at the very least cry and scream, “Why, God, why???” while writhing on the ground in all of my girlish drama.
We ate some hotel waffles, pinched off a loaf, and headed for the start on this glorious Colorado morning. It was about 40 degrees.
We drove up to about 8,100 feet to the start.
I actually did not need to use these lemon yellow potties (shocking, I know!) , but this tells you how small the race was – less than 200 people combined for the full and half marathons.
The start was mellow with Reggae music playing and all of us just meandering around waiting to gather at the start while smoking a few joints. Kidding.
No timing chips, no start gun – just a “4…3…2…1…GO!”
I took off pretty fast and before I knew it we were on a single track trail. There was no passing to be done here, so I just chilled out taking advantage of the fact that this allowed me to start conservatively.
After a bit, the trail opened up and I passed some people because we were on a nice downhill. I started running behind one woman who was going along at a decent clip and I paced myself with her. Then I noticed her shoe was untied and before I could tell her, she went down and went down hard (TWSS) . As I passed her I yelled, “LACES!” because I am nice that way.
80% this race was single track trail with a few times that we were on a dirt/rock road. I loved the single track except for the times when you stuck behind someone and it was tough to pass, or when the track was so narrow your feet kept getting caught. I rolled my ankles quite a bit.
We came to the first aid station at about 4.5 miles and I was feeling great. Probably because the first 5 miles were a fast downhill and we went from 8,100 feet to 7,600 feet. My first four splits:
If you haven’t run trails before then you might not know how much slower you are than on the road. Navigating the terrain and the climbing is tricky. Add in high elevations and your pace drops at least 1-2 minutes per mile. Or, maybe that’s just me.
After mile 5, we started to climb. I was still trying to push my pace, knowing it was just a half marathon. My body felt pretty good, but as we climbed my hamstring screamed “HELLO, mother effer!” and my left hip started hurting a bit. I also noticed what felt like nasty blisters on my feet. I think this is because I had not been running in my trail shoes for the past 6 weeks. With my form changes, I was now striking on my mid to forefoot and my feet were noticing the shift.
I had a strawberry/banana GU around mile 6 and tried to keep drinking from my fuel belt. I had taken some Endurolyte tabs because it was already getting warm – about 75 degrees at this point.
We climbed up to aid station #2 at 7.5 miles. I slowed a bit in these miles and I could definitely tell I was undertrained. I grabbed some coke and pretzels and took off. We climbed some more, meandering through gorgeous wooded areas. Many times I smiled big as I ran, just loving being out in the crisp morning air and feeling like I was flying. Other times, we would start to climb over rocky terrain and I felt sluggish and tired, thinking “This sucks balls. I’m tired. I don’t like trails.” So much moodiness during races!
My next few splits:
You can tell that I really slowed on the climb back up to above 8,200 feet.
The last aid station was at about mile 11.2. I went through this one pretty quickly knowing I was almost done.
I finished in 2:15 -
8th/21 in the 40-49 age group
I felt good about this time knowing that I was fighting elevation and coming back from injury. No one in my age group got in below two hours, so I wasn’t too far off. I felt really good when I finished.
Finish line area:
With my friend Lisa who ran a really strong half!
My partner in crime, Joie, was running the full. She came in at the half way point in 2:36, looking strong. I was actually on the massage table drinking a Sierra Mist when she headed back out for her second half. I think she literally wanted to kill me at that moment.
I hung out at the finish until she finished watching the marathoners straggle in – one about every ten minutes. The winner finished in 3:54, which was very impressive for this course. Joie finished strong, having paced herself and fueled really well. Her first trail marathon!!
We headed to the brewery for some free pizza and beer, then went to town for second dinner of fish tacos and wine.
Then it was time for bed because we are party animals. But, not before I gawked at Joie’s legs:
The cool thing about trail running is you never have to buy panty hose.
Next race for me is in two weeks: the Loveland Lake to Lake Olympic Tri. 1.5K swim, 30 mile bike, 10K run. Guess I better start training.
Any races for you this coming or past weekend?