Sunday, July 23, 2017

2017 Camp Hale Half Marathon Race Report

I decided to do this race pretty last minute. I haven't been running much and didn't feel in half marathon shape, but I knew I had the miles available in my legs even if I wouldn't be super fast. So, I signed up and was especially encouraged by this in the race description:

The half marathon course will utilize well-maintained dirt roads, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Colorado Trail surrounding beautiful and historic Camp Hale. This will be a rare opportunity to compete on the same terrain that the troops of the 10th Mountain Division used for training during World War II. The 13.1-mile course is situated at 9,200 feet above sea level and will have minimal elevation gains reaching peak heights of 9,500 feet.

Based on this description, one would assume about 300 feet of gain, which is basically nothing when you run in the Colorado mountains. Well, foreshadow. They lied!!

Backing up, this area of Colorado about ten miles outside of Leadville is a place I fell in love with when I did the TransRockies Run last year. We stayed here for two nights. There is no cell reception and it feels remote. Here is one of my all time favorite pictures - Sylvie and I chilling after running 24 miles. And, after I did my first beer mile (I didn't even throw up!)

I planned to stay with my friend, Julie in Breckenridge. She texted me that afternoon.

Friday afternoon I headed up. What is usually a 2 hour at most drive, turned into over 3 hours.

We fueled with pasta and. I wasn't stressed about the race at all, but decided to put on my worry face anyway because it nicely shows off my wrinkles.

Morning came. I forgot my deoderant so I put 5 ounces of body spray in my pits. The race didn't start until 9am, and we had an hour drive. We got there by 8:30 to pick up our packets and empty our colons.

There were only a couple hundred people doing the race, so it was pretty chill. They did a countdown from ten and we started running. Uphill. By mile .7 (that's point seven) I knew this would be a grunt race for me. I felt like I was running in quicksand. I blamed it on the 9,300 foot altitude, but it might just be because I'm old and like wine. We continued climbing up a dirt road until we peeled off onto some single track. And, kept climbing.

I hate those races where you feel like you are fighting for every.single.step. The climbing continued and I kept thinking "Why the eff is this so hard? Am I really that out of shape?" There were some steep parts that you could only walk and these two girls behind me yelled, "300 feet of elevation gain MY ASS!!". Which was exactly what I was thinking.

For a minute we had a nice downhill and I hauled ass and passed a bunch of people. But, then the climbing resumed. We were on a never ending dirt road to hell. Finally at around seven miles, most of the climbing was behind us and we sailed down this awesome and shaded single track. We spit back out on the dirt road with about three miles to go. The road rolled for a bit, and I didn't care for those hills right before the finish.

At this point I had stopped looking at my watch because it was pretty depressing. Julie had long ago dropped my ass (well, she pretty much did that in the first .2 miles, and it was fine - we had agreed to run separately and she is much faster than me). As I came into the finish, I saw the clock said 2:14. I was pretty happy with that as I expected to run a 2:10. My average pace was 10:28.

Julie's husband, Wayne, snapped this right after I finished.

Turns out Julie also had tough race. I think we both were not prepared for the conditions. It turned about to be 1,366 feet of gain according to my GPS. Still not a ton for Colorado running, but some decent climbing.

The good news was that being 50 has its perks and I was second in the 50-59 age group. Here I am on the fancy podium. I was only 1 minute behind the winner, and that always pisses me off. Had I not just taken that extra drink at the aid station or that extra walk break....

I got a great prize.
Image result for pep pod
I've never tried these. I'm thinking they're like Nuun, which I love
There were fresh donuts and burritos at the end. But, my stomach wasn't quite ready for that business. After all, we had a drive ahead of us and I didn't want to make any enemies in the car with my butt thunder.

Final thoughts. If you do this race (and you should. It is well run, only costs $45 and is gorgeous), just know there is some climbing.

I made the long drive home, eager to put my smelly self into a shower (and rinse off the body spray in my pits). Guess what? No hot water. Hot water heater was broken. That put me in a foul mood but nothing an eff'ing freezing shower and a few glasses of wine couldn't cure.

What race did you do this weekend?

Favorite pre-race meal? I love hearing about what other people eat. I can't usually eat much before a race. I try to do s 100 mg or so of carbs and some coffee, water and Nuun.



  1. This sounds intense! I'm in Iowa, though, so even though I run hills (on occasion), they would not compare to the Colorado "hills." All bets are off on any of that this summer (recovering from surgery). Typically, I have to have oatmeal the morning of a race...instant works just fine. And a hot chai latte' is necessary as well.

  2. My pre-race breakfast is a peanut butter and banana bagel or hoagie roll with lots of salt, and one coffee (any more and I'm peeing my way to the finish line. A few minutes before starting I'll also have a clif shot and a small bottle of water.

    No races this weekend - I have my first full marathon in 2-3 years (and first race of any length in 18 months or so) coming up in October. Yesterday I ran my first 14 miler in goodness knows how long, so I'm feeling pretty full of myself today :)

  3. I had my first DNF in a race, did not finish. It was a trail 50k. I was cruising, feeling good, passing men and women! I was following a guy in front of me, slowly catching him, right around 14 miles. I caught him and another guy at the same time, yes!! They asked me are we still on the course? Of course we are!! I'm kicking ass! Um, well it's been a while since I saw a course marker and I'm out of water, what?!!! Total brain fart, I missed a turn, missed an aid station and was now screwed. One guy back-tracked 3 miles but the other guy and I headed back to the finish. I ended up with 23 miles. DNF. I'm grateful I'm not injured but it still kind of hurts to not finish.

  4. Ran that race as well this weekend, I felt the heavy legged pain on those hills too :-/ Congrats on the age group podium finish - saw you up there and thought I recognized you from the blog :)

    1. So cool!! How did your race go (aside from the heavy legs..)

  5. Were you just trying to tempt fate wearing pink shorts? Smh. Either I go black or some kind of busy pattern. You just never know what a race will bring.

    Congrats on that podium finish!

  6. I took my daughter and some of her friends to do a 5k mud run obstacle course. There was a bit of complaining during it but they had fun which is really what it was all about. The best part is that my daughter wants to do another!
    I like eggs, spinach and avocado before a race. I'll also have a protein ball thingy I make shortly before the race starts as there can sometimes be 3 hrs between when I eat breakfast and the race start.

  7. I was there too, and finished shortly behind you around 2:18 (which was definitely one of my slowest times, but my 1st race in high elevation). I live in Texas, and it was so hard to breathe! I think I was only .25 miles into the race before I started questioning what I was thinking in signing up for a race in Colorado and that my lungs were going to explode at any minute. Once we got to the climbing single track, I know I was one of those saying there's no way this is only 300' of elevation gain! Lies! Lol! The scenery was beautiful though, and that definitely made it worth the difficulty.

    I did partake in a post race donut, but there was no way I could handle a burrito.

    Congrats on making the podium! That's awesome!! I'm 1 group down, and there were some fast ladies who had faster times than my flat low elevation road half marathons.

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  9. I did the Never Summer 100k ( last weekend! If you are looking for an amazingly beautiful, but stupid hard race, this would be the one! I DID finish, after a DNF at 50 miles 2 years ago (I know, who quits 50 miles into a 64 mile race?!). I DID NOT podium - far from it, but I finished this year with a Western States 100 qualifying time. Which I will not be entering the lottery for. My pre-race meal was toast with peanut butter and banana, with coffee and water. Boring.

    1. Congrats on a 100K. I hope I can do that one day!!

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