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
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