Wednesday, October 5, 2016

2016 Blue Sky Trail Marathon Race Report

I went into this race pretty laid back. Probably a bit too laid back. I wasn't in super crazy racing mode. But, I always have that competitive streak, so I get mad at myself when I start to get weak mentally. And, that's kind of what happened on this day.

If you haven't done trail races before, the kind that involve major climbing, then you may not realize just how different they are than a regular road race. Walking is simply part of the equation on the really steep and rocky parts. It's not a sign of weakness, but a sign that you are a smart runner who knows how to conserve and how to stay in your zones.

I often think of the expression, "trail races are won on the downs" because it is a skill to know how to hold back going up (so as not to totally burn out) and a skill to know how to run downhill like a bat out of hell.

Or, a cheetah out of Longmont.

I always clench my right hand when I run. I don't
even know I'm doing it. Clearly ready to
punch someone in the nuts
Anyway, all of this to say - sometimes for me because I know walking is "allowed" I use it as a crutch. I will walk things that I should really be running, if that makes sense. I did some of that on Sunday.

But, Sunday was a weird day with a few glitches for me.

Side note to other 40+ women: WTH is up with peri menopause (PM)  and all of its unexpected starts and stops? I have a calendar and I mark it every 28 days. But, PM doesn't seem to know or respect this and just shows up whenever she damn pleases even if that is on race day. So, that's how the day started anyway.

Julie and I got to the start with her family (mine was sleeping in. Go SUAR family!) at 6:15 a.m. to check in. This was a pretty small race with about 200 people, so it was very chill. The kind of chill where you have a start line drawn on the trail with white chalk and a volunteer who counts down from 5 to signal the start.

I dropped some kids at the pool aka pooped (well it was more like dropping an entire extended family at the pool) and we hung in the warm car until about 6:57 a.m. then headed to the start. Read my blue lips below: I am f'ing freezing.

We started out running a gorgeous and chilly 9 mile loop. Views from the top were stunning.

Julie is a really competitive runner who competes nationally and internationally in duathlons. I knew she would smoke me, so at about 2 miles I let her go and didn't see her again until the finish.

I felt those 9 miles were strong for me and I came into the first aid station in about 1:35 (about a 10:30 min/mile pace, which is good for me on trails, especially since there was about 1,700 feet of climbing involved). Typically with long distance races I rely on gels and supplement with snacks from the aid station like potato chips when I want a crunch and some extra salt. Then I just drink water and take Saltstick tabs when it's hot. I had brought two GUs with me but planned to use the VFuel gels on the course.

When I got the first aid station, I couldn't find the gels. I asked and they pointed to large bottles full of gelish liquid.  I know VFuel has individual gel packs so this surprised me.  I am guessing people put that stuff in their water. They also had some of the gel stuff in cups, so I took one of those. Unfortunately it was such a thick consistency I couldn't get it out of the cup. I kind of panicked because I only had one GU of my own left and I quickly realized my fueling was going to be jacked up.

Racing is all about problem solving, so I decided I'd just have to make due with other stuff at the aid stations. From then on, I stuffed my face with chips and gummi bears. Fueling for champions.

But, this glitch did throw me off a bit and reminded me of a lesson you think I would know by now. Always be prepared.

I headed out, knowing the next aid station was at 13 miles. The trails for the remainder of the race were mostly like this:

Single track. Open. No shade. Up and down. There were a few miles of really rocky sections that were hell to run on. I got to the half in 2:25.

Very pretty, but in my opinion not quintessential Colorado. The terrain was arid and almost desert-like with cactus, red rock and sage brush. Maybe I was in Arizona.

I trucked along, doing okay, but it started to get really hot. At mile 22.7 the guy at the aid station told me that I had exactly four miles to go as the course was about a half mile longer than marathon distance.


The last three miles I was pissed. I was mentally off of my game and just wanting to be done. I was hot. My tampon had fallen out (ewww...sorry folks but it's true. At least it wasn't my uterus). I was ready for a beer. I started counting my steps because that's how much I needed some distraction.

Finally, the finish. 5 hours, 29 minutes. In case you don't know, that's a long ass time to be running.

I'm looking around - "Where's the beer?" And why
are we finishing on a hill? Still clenching that fist.


She came in second in our age group. I was 9th out of 25 in the 40-49 group and 24th out of 97 women. I guess I wasn't thrilled with that, but it's still a win any day you finish a marathon.

Then it it was beer and burger time. Fat Tire FTW!! What a beautiful sight.

We always learn from marathons. Here's what this one taught me:

  • Always bring your own fuel, if only for backup
  • Trail races are not an exact science and the course may run short or long. I knew this, but this race was a good reminder. I like it when they run shorter.
  • A good pre-race poop is everything.
  • Some races you are going to be off your game, and that's okay. Learn from it and move on.
Thanks for reading!

What's a weird thing you do with your body while running? Clenched fist. Open mouth.  

What did you learn from your last race?

Favorite post race treat? Beer. Burger



  1. I love your race recaps!! You crack me up! Good job on that race, nice work! I run with my mouth open. I tried shutting it Learned that I need to stop being so conservative. It was a 10k, for crying out loud! I could have picked up my pace a little more. I have a 5k race in a couple of weeks. I want to beat my PR, but I also don't want to die. Ha! Pineapple after a race is divine.

  2. Hilarious. Love you.

    "I was hot. My tampon had fallen out (ewww...sorry folks but it's true)."

  3. I had not known of the 'drop the kids at the pool'; you are so educational!
    Open mouth too, not to talk. I need every avenue of getting air into my body possible. If it was possible to reverse a fart I'd do that too.
    Linda's special ginger chocolate chip cookies are the best post race thing possible. I've never tried a beer right after a race, but my tummy is very dubious.

  4. I'm amazed by anyone who can run trails. I was hiking today, and thought that trail running was maybe something I could get into, but then I tripped on a rock and nearly ate dirt. So, no. Probably not for me.

    You should try Thinx.

  5. Wow, thank you for the great recap. That sure looked like a tough course. I also appreciate your focus on the lessons learned. So thank you for helping me learn them without having to go through all that myself!

  6. Have you been doing your kegels?

    Nice job.

  7. The best (worst) part of the perimenopause is how damn long it lasts. It's like Mother Nature wants to keep us guessing during a season of our lives that we'd rather not be guessing. Preparing for my first marathon in December...always bring my own fuel...check!

  8. 1. That first image is like "We observe the cougar in her natural habitat."
    2. Your tampon just ... fell out??? Is this what I have to look forward to?

  9. Interesting that you mention perimenopause. That was all over my Google searches yesterday. Being 48 years old, it's really on my mind these days! Thanks for the chuckle too about punching someone in the nuts. Hilarious!! When I run fast I clench my left hand in an odd way. It's weird.
    Those trails looks so challenging! We have no terrain like that in Ohio so thanks for all of the pictures. Good job on getting it done! That beer was well earned.

  10. Nice recap! That rocky section would have beat me up and spit me out,, (after tripping and falling) knees would be hamburger! My last race didn't have an aid station until mile 10 and (foolishly), I was carrying zero fuel. I almost crashed and burned. I thought at 50 yrs old I was supposed to be old and wise.

  11. This whole peri-menopause stinks and I wish there were more articles written on it and how it affects being athletic. It seems like such a taboo to write about. Plenty of articles about running with your period or being pregnant zippo on peri or menopause. I am at the point now where I have a period every 10 months I keep thinking I am in menopause and then the bastard shows up! I had a 17 mile trail race on Sunday I ran so smart the whole race...a rarity! I was proud of myself.

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  13. Congratulations, Beth! That was a well-earned beer for sure. I'm doing my second half ever next weekend without a trail in sight, and I'm nervous as hell.

  14. you are awesome.
    dreamer on the run :)

  15. Ok well here's some perspective: my road marathons, and not 1/2 mile too long, are always over 5 hours. So I think you did fabulous-o! My favorite post-race treat is a burger, fries & milk shake.

  16. Wow, great job on what looks to be a brutal course! Perimenopause blows...The night before my marathon last weekend, I had to get up at 1:00, push the hubby out of bed and actually change the sheets because I think I lost most of my body weight in sweat. So gross and not the best for pre-race hydration.

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  18. Congrats! You finished and you only lost your tampon! I laughed so hard, my drink came out my nose. Anyway, perimenopause lasted about three months for me and then menopause. Hardly any hot flashes, NO PERIOD, and only a chin whisker here and there. Somehow I feel like superwoman now.

  19. Get an IUD. It stops your periods and helps with symptoms. Because...wait for just gets worse and grosser.
    Grosser is a work. Neorunner shouldn’t brag. There are lots of hot flashing women that aren’t afraid to punch a throat.

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