Leadville Marathon-2016

down the mtn

*Part you skip to get to the race report:

After a nearly two year hiatus I’ve been strong armed into writing some form of race report for the Leadville Marathon (blasted social media!)

To say that my season has been a hodgepodge of aperiodic and random events would be the understatement of the century. I think this lies in the fact that I lost out on both the Western States lottery (completely expected), and the Leadville 1oo lottery (a bit of a shocker as this was my second application). After wallowing around for few weeks, I opted to sign-up for the Never Summer 100k in order to preserve my lottery chances for Western States next year. This left me with approx. one month less to prep for the year’s main event, and scrambling a bit to line up some “B” races.

First, I moved up from the Colfax half to the full marathon. I had hoped to PR the half, so again, I had to rearrange my expectations. After a PR at the 10-miler during the Cherry Creek Sneak, things proceeded to go downhill rapidly. Stomach flu stopped me in my tracks causing me to miss Greenland 50k, as well as any true training around that time frame. Colfax fell apart pretty early as well, with my stomaching going south around the half mark.  Needing a few weekends at altitude, I signed up for the LT Marathon, and then the Mueller Marathon…but I digress…

*The actual race report:

start

I start by saying that for all of the flack they receive, the race series did a fantastic job with organization, packet pick-up, and ease of access to the start/finish. The maps and directions for parking made life really easy. As for the send-off, milling around at the start line was enough to know that this was going to be a very different kind of run. No one around seemed to take themselves too seriously at all, and it was more of a carnival like atmosphere than I would have anticipated for the suffering to come.

The climb out of town and into the mining district was a casual affair (and I was relieved), with most folks just dropping in and waving to the many friends/family that lined the streets on the way out of town. The marathon and half marathon course split pretty soon thereafter, with many of the half marathoners calling out “Good Luck!” to those of us headed out for the full. There was a small amount of climbing for the next mile, and than a sweet, buff, downhill coast that lead to paved road. Descending down the road with relative ease should have been fun, but all I could focus on was how much we would probably pay for the cruiser downhill.

The next two miles were a slogging climb. The terrain was a mix of jeep road, with deep ruts and rocks from snow/water run-off. Finding a line was tough as the pack was jumbled together, and at times it was difficult to see 3-5′ ahead. This became a theme at various points throughout the race. In no way am I a superstar (I’m firmly mid-pack at best), but efficiency suffers when you are worried about tripping because you are not able to see the best line, or if you are unable to take a line because there are already 3 people using it concurrently.

Eventually the climb leveled off above tree line and led to a beautiful alpine meadow with 360 degree views of snow capped mountains, and then transitioned to rolling single track down to a fully-stocked aid station. After stuffing my face with potato chips (which of course the photog immortalized), there was another BIG descent down a moderately techy patch to wide open jeep road. Coming through to the road it was incredible to see the sheer amount of crowd support, which really lifted the spirits as the temps started to heat up!

IMG_1660 (1)

*Tiny Ant People

After another quick aid station stop, the road rolled along for several miles leading up to the climb of Mosquito Peak. Looking up to the horizon one could see exactly where we were headed, and it was nothing short of disheartening. As the vertical aspect increased, the terrain below transitioned from muddy, to icy, to rocky, and back to muddy again. This was also a point where course congestion again became a problem. The climb up Mosquito became very narrow, with many of the half-marathoners having already summited and now attempting to crash back down. The snow was piled heavily on the right, with no real space for passing on the ascending/descending path. Add to this a very warm day+altitude, and I became acutely nauseas. I remember at one point passing the med-check and one of the docs running over to check on me; after a quick word (primarily me saying I only wanted to finish the climb so I could head back down to lower altitude), I was able to drop in and keep putting one foot in front of the other towards the top.

Despite the frequent promises of “You’re almost there” (the most hated of encouraging words?) it felt like the rest of the climb was the entire race. At the summit Ken Choublier (creator of Leadville100) was taking photos with eager runners, but following a quick panorama I rushed down the mountain in the hopes my stomach would level off.

The descent was SLOW due to the above stated conditions. Anytime I tried to push I nearly flattened someone in front of me, and going around was impossible due to those making the ascent. I settled into a shuffle-hike and made my way down to the flats again. The heat remained problematic for me, and by this point I was grabbing handfuls of snow to put in my hat, down my shirt, etc.

The return to Ball was even keel. I was able to take some electrolytes, drink some water, and eat a fair amount of watermelon. One of the most impressive moments of the day was when we hit the second turnoff for the half and Mike Aish (2nd place marathon+2 time Olympian) had driven his car to the intersection to cheer runners on. I yelled out to ask about his day and he said something to the effect of being “too old” to win and that he would see me at the finish line party. The moment was a nice pick-me-up before the last big climb of the day.

The techy but nice down we smashed early in the day returned with all of its venom on the trip back PbVille. The trail was windy with some shade (I saw quite a few runners camped out under the spotty tree cover trying to get breathing and heart rate back under control). During the climb I dropped in with a few runners from Denver, and the chatter re: neighborhoods, upcoming events, etc. was a welcome diversion from the task at hand.

After what felt like a never-ending climb (in reality only a mile of ~600′ up), we were able to hit the last aid station before the big descent down. My stomach complained one last time prior to the free-fall, and I found myself once more in a congo line. It was during this point that I saw about three people just WIPE OUT. It was a welcome reminder to slow down and focus on my foot placement.

The last part of the race is somewhat of a blur. There was some hiking back up once more with the rest of the living dead, before a final run down into town. Finishing all I could think about was drinking a gallon of water and cranking the AC.

Overall, this was an incredible adventure. During the event I had serious misgivings about ever completing the LT100; however, given the gift of time I am more determined than ever to line up for the big dance. At the least, I will definitely be back for the marathon. The volunteers were incredible, the course was obvious, and the views breathtaking!!!

By the Numbers:

Mile Pace GAP Elev Cadence
1 10:41 /mi 8:27 /mi 270 ft 182 spm
2 13:35 /mi 9:23 /mi 425 ft 152 spm
3 10:03 /mi 9:51 /mi -150 ft 170 spm
4 14:10 /mi 10:13 /mi 341 ft 144 spm
5 19:08 /mi 10:59 /mi 696 ft 118 spm
6 11:18 /mi 10:14 /mi -23 ft 162 spm
7 9:50 /mi 13:01 /mi -564 ft 170 spm
8 10:09 /mi 10:36 /mi -190 ft 168 spm
9 13:25 /mi 10:35 /mi 226 ft 148 spm
10 9:31 /mi 9:25 /mi -82 ft 176 spm
11 14:46 /mi 11:11 /mi 315 ft 138 spm
12 19:33 /mi 12:09 /mi 581 ft 116 spm
13 24:36 /mi 13:04 /mi 817 ft 98 spm
14 19:12 /mi 14:47 /mi 157 ft 122 spm
15 13:54 /mi 17:34 /mi -653 ft 154 spm
16 12:34 /mi 16:26 /mi -686 ft 160 spm
17 10:48 /mi 12:40 /mi -367 ft 164 spm
18 12:32 /mi 12:47 /mi -125 ft 146 spm
19 12:58 /mi 12:15 /mi -20 ft 148 spm
20 10:46 /mi 11:17 /mi -180 ft 166 spm
21 19:57 /mi 12:27 /mi 568 ft 112 spm
22 12:37 /mi 12:40 /mi -341 ft 162 spm
23 9:14 /mi 11:31 /mi -499 ft 178 spm
24 16:52 /mi 12:51 /mi 272 ft 128 spm
25 9:59 /mi 11:42 /mi -417 ft 178 spm
26 8:25 /mi 9:44 /mi -305 ft 184 spm
0.1 8:16 /mi 9:22 /mi -33 ft 182 spm

Pancake Summer

pancakes 

After the lackluster performance in April, at Rock-n-Roll Raleigh – a race for which neither my heart, nor my body cared to pack a bag – I realized it was time to take a step back. The last 4-months have been spent in a concerted effort to heal the accumulated damage of last winter. In hindsight, I spent far too little time maintaining my flexibility and strength, and far too much time compounding injuries that should never have taken so long to heal. Hopefully that is a lesson I will carry forward.

In salute of my new found clarity (however brief it might be), I opted for the Medoc Trail Races 10-miler in October, instead of the alternative trail marathon. While I believe I could finish the marathon in a respectable time, I am also running the NYC Marathon 2-weeks later. See? I can do this! I can make decisions based on where my fitness and well-being are rather than emotions…now to hide the RD’s email address before I request a last second move up to the marathon…

In order to prepare for Medoc, I decided to bump my base mileage up from around 3-miles/week, to at least 10 (sensible, right?) This meant following something of a schedule, which was a welcome shock to the system. Part of my regimen calls for a series of smaller races, the first of these coming due a couple of weeks ago.  Now, how does one select a 5k from a list of worthy candidates in this day and age? When I lived rurally it was simple. You get online and look for the “event” that weekend. These days I have any and every format: foam, color, mud; everything it seems but a flat-out foot race. One sparkling beauty in particular did, however, catch my eye: The Pancake Stampede 5k. The event includes a fantastic all you can eat pancake social. Need my eyes wander further down the list of candidates????

I quickly scanned last year’s overall times. Instantly my mind started to wander to the potential of podium acceptance speeches. How does this work? Do I thank my mother before my wife? While a first overall was probably out of the question, a top 5-finish was well within reason given previous times. All of this came crashing down at bib pickup. A quick glance revealed a crowd perhaps twice as large as last year (damn you annual events!), and the Run Colorado race team doing strides that would put most NASCAR teams to shame. This definitely called for a regroup: “Okay, focus…run your race…”

At this point, I would typically post up a “By the Numbers” reference, but unfortunately Garmin decided to eat the event, much as I did the delicious pancakes. So, a not too brief play-by-play: per usual, things were fast out the gate (literally this time as they had to take down fence posts to accommodate the swelling crowd). There was an initial easy down hill on soft jeep road/cart path that meandered to another short down, and onto the Platte River Greenway where the course was paved in concrete. As my quads loathe the thought of this devil substance, I opted to run along side on some mixed terrain. I could see the leader pull ahead by about 30-seconds or so and knew that the pipe dream of an  age-group win was over. However, a quick systems check showed that overall I was feeling pretty good. The first mile sign clicked by fast-really fast! 5:55?!?! No way! A glance at the Garmin showed that I was well short of a mile-thank goodness! I passed the real mile-marker around 6:40.

The next mile saw a climb up to an overpass, a fast jaunt over the river, then down the other side for a nice little turn around. I’ll take this method over the old “circle the traffic cone” that even some big races consider standard operating procedure.  Just after nailing the downhill ramp the mile 2 sign appeared: 5:15. I literally laughed aloud. If only this could be true! My pace was still strong and under the 7-minute mark I had targeted, but I had some decisions to make. IF the course was truly short, then I would regret not going 100%. So the question became, go all out and perhaps burn the engines out too soon? Or, conserve and count on the course actually being 3.1-miles? I opted for the former.

After the mile-2 sign, the lactic acid really started to kick in and I remembered why I never run 5ks. As it was Leadville weekend, I thought about all of those folks just over the mountains. Many had been out 26+ hours at this stage. Surely I could push another mile. This helped to recharge the battery. I passed several runners over the course of the last mile, including the third place female. She did not tolerate this well. Soon after getting past I heard her cadence pick up and close the gap. She pulled within a couple of paces and held there for a bit. Luckily for me she didn’t have an extra gear (I knew I didn’t at this point), and I was able to work in a couple of intervals. This gave me just enough distance that she finally fell off and I isolated from any other runners. There were two more turns, back into the Garden entrance, one of which I actually stopped at to ensure that I was headed the right way, and the climb back up to the park was complete. Final time? 21:44; 25/244.

The time was actually a PR for me at altitude, so I was pretty stoked. Oh, and I was wrong about the course. The mile signs were early, but it was actually the correct distance. Guess I’ll assume differently next time?

I loved this little race. It’s part of Western Days in Littleton, CO. The pancakes were amazing, and everyone was so kind. Give it a look if you’re in the area.

I had planned to work in another pancake race story, but got a little long-winded apologies. I guess part-two is in the works. Until next time!

 

 

 

 

Coldwater Rumble 52-Miler

Image

 

The thought of running an ultramarathon is one that I have been pondering for quite some time. Being on one’s feet for hours on end surrounded by beautiful scenery and communing with nature was beyond attractive; moreover, the culture of ultrarunning is one of the most accepting and giving that I have ever encountered (more to come on this). With that goal in mind, I made a coaching change in September and began to steadily build my weekly mileage. This change was a complete paradigm shift. Whereas before I spent my days obsessing about mileage and pace, my new plan encouraged me to spend time in the mountains learning how to negotiate a given effort based upon what the topography permitted. This did not not negate speed or hard work, but rather endorsed pushing and sitting back at the appropriate time. So, if I have been absent from blogging, it’s secondary to becoming a better runner: a crime I hope my readers will forgive😉 But enough about training! Let’s breakdown this amazing race/journey in this episode’s Visor Report (Deep voice with echo…echo…echo…)

The night before the race was spent camping next to the start line. This provided a distinct AM advantage, but several fatal flaws: 1) We (CPNS and I) failed to account for roaming packs of coyotes desirous of more than just our Clif Blocks; 2) shower access (but hey, it helped to clear the field at the start line), and 3) packing drop bags in pitch black night. However, all of this was outweighed by stumbling 7-steps to the pre-race meeting.

Placing my HQ drop bag down I couldn’t help but note it landed next to a very big name in the sport – hopefully some mojo would carryover to my day?!?!? Towards the end of the briefing I did a pre-race pat down, only to discover I had left my water bottle in the tent. No problem. One speed session later and I was able to breathlessly start the race with the rest of the field.

My knee had been particularly problematic over the last 4-weeks, and intensive PT with dry needling was the only thing keeping me afloat approaching the big day. I truly had no idea how it would hold up. Within the first mile, I realized that the anticipated flat/fast desert course was going to be an up and down mountain battle, and became slightly anxious about how the knee would react. We approached the 4-mile mark before it let me know that it was not happy with the arrangement, and to watch myself or risk disaster. At the first AS I did a quick quad stretch, had a wonderful volunteer refuel my bottle, and located the dropbag with the next hour’s supplies. CPNS and I then made quick work of moving towards Pedersen. The climb out was slightly techy, but we were able to establish a good rythym and make good time. The course was sooooooo crazy beautiful and alien in regards to anything I had ever seen. Cacti were abundant, and the colors of the mountains were beyond surreal.

In between the Coldwater AS and Pedersen AS there was a washout zone. This was tricky, and much like running on the beach. We ran the entirety of the zone the first time through, with promises to powerhike it on loop 2. During this section we also encountered several hundred-mile runners completing their first hundo. This definitely amped me up, fueling my desire to prove that I belonged on the same course.

Pedersen was a welcome sight, and I reapplied sunscreen to both face and body. The sun was now high in the sky, and the attention to hydration became even more important. As we left Pedersen to the screams and cheers of volunteers, I realized I had made a critical mistake. I had failed to grab enough GU and Blocks for this leg of the journey. I made a mental note to correct this the second loop. 3 or so miles back from Pedersen we did see a runner stretching her quads and remarking that her day was done. To this day I’m not sure if that was a knee pain induced mirage.

The remainder of the first loop proceeded without incident. I’m uncertain of the exact time we completed the first 26.2, but I’m fairly certain it was under 5-hours (4:49?). After proceeding back to Coldwater, we really focused on hydrating and getting in calories. Temps were topping out in the high 70s, and there was no place to hide from the sun. We did end up power hiking the washout between Coldwater and Pedersen, but this was miserable work, and I probably ran out of water a mile before arriving. This time Pedersen appeared more as a war zone. 2 runners were receiving treatment in the tent, and several others appeared as if their day was over. I think that stretch claimed some serious casualties on this warm day!

About half a mile out from Pedersen a cactus reached out and grabbed my foot (ok, like a dummy I brushed it) and the barbs shot into the upper of my shoe. I cannot relate how painful this was!!! We attempted to use 2 rocks to remove it, but somehow it matriculated to my hand where the barbs lodged. Thankfully, another runner assisted with removal and I was able to push on. At the end of the race my feet were literally bloody and blistered, with painful PFS knee, etc., but nothing compared to those barbs lodging!!!

We advanced on, eventually making it to the 40-mile mark and getting back to Rumble HQ. Given the fatigue, extended time was spent in the AS. Eventually I opted to begin the hike out, knowing that CPNS would easily run me down. This he did in record time with minimal effort or exertion. The ups/downs back to the Coldwater AS permitted a good bit of hiking, but CPNS pushed ahead on booming dowhill switchback. Eventually I ran upon a hundred miler, Matt, and we discussed how his race was going, as well as my impressions of CPNS as a first ultra. I told him of the difficulty with my knee, but expressed that CPNS was still primed for a good time. He wished me luck, and sprinted off to catch the hulk shoed demon.

I alternately ran/hiked for 2-miles or so and found myself back in company of Matt and CPNS just before the Coldwater AS. As CPNS had hoped to finish early he did not have a headlamp when he left Rumble HQ. Matt, upon hearing this insisted that he take his headlamp. This is what I’m talking about when it comes to ultra. No delay. No hesitation. This virtual stranger hands off his headlamp so that someone else can finish.

Before leaving Coldwater we met a young runner named Tristan who was also running his first Ultra. The three of us decided to head out together, now facing a completely black terrain. The night run was exhilarating!!! Again, I was slowed on the downs by quad, and the techy nature of the terrain made holding a pace in the dark virtually impossible. Upon arriving back at Coldwater we were told that were in the top 20, which combined with Tristan’s enthusiasm really lit a fire. Of further note, my headlamp had burned down to nothing and Tristan was kind enough to offer up batteries from his drop bag. Again. To a stranger. Fantastic.

We left Coldwater with a new drive, running the flats and hiking the ups. Upon bagging the last 1300ft peak, I encourage the guys to crash the downhill. My quad/knee vetoed my desire to follow, but I managed to finish ~3:00 minutes (13:17) behind them.

WOW. This was one of the greatest journeys I have ever completed. So many kind people assisted along the way. Volunteers at the Aid Stations were beyond kind, and fellow runners never failed to yell out encouraging words along the way. Also, I would never had a prayer to start or complete this race without my lifesaving coach,  and fantastic PT. Lastly, CPNS jumped in on this crazy mission in the middle of Boston training, insane in and of itself, and help make sure I made it across the finish in one piece. Until next time!!!

 

 

 

 

Medoc 2013

Medoc 2013

“51 other weekends in the year…Any other weekend but this one.” These thoughts and more were swirling around in my sleep deprived brain. Gastroenteritis had struck with all of its fury on the Wednesday prior to Medoc, and I was in nothing short of full-out denial. With the flight to NC scheduled to depart on Friday morning, I was wondering how I could possibly make a cross-country trek, much less drag myself over the mountain three separate times.

Thursday afternoon I presented to the doctor with my best efforts to minimize my symptoms. A low-grade fever did little to help my case. With a thousand empty promises to skip the race if the sequelae of the virus continued, I was cleared to fly and participate. Thursday evening I was near catatonic, and at this stage I hadn’t run since Tuesday. To say the least, fitness was rapidly flagging! On a positive note, the virus delivered me to my goal race weight, along with a bonus kilogram for good measure.

The flight was eventful; not due to illness, but rather due to engine failure (a story for another day). Following a detour to Minnesota, we finally arrived in Raleigh much later than planned. I did manage to get down a couple pieces of pizza (huge mistake, and my last solid food for some time), before passing out.

Medoc morning dawned bleary and early. After a quick stop for some liquid nutrition (I was dry heaving with any solid), we made the quick trip to Halifax County. What should have been my Christmas, New Year, and Fourth of July combined into one was muted by the need to limit movement in order to avoid the inevitable dry heaving. Even then, it was incredibly nice to see friends after such a long period away.

After wishing luck to all running the 10-mile distance which was scheduled for a half-hour later, I managed to get down 1/3 of a GU. I tried more, and the waves crept over me pretty instantly. Then the conch shell sounded, and I waddled my way to the short turn-around and into the woods. Within a mile I started to feel somewhat human, and had the unexpected bonus of hearing my name shouted; JWILL of Big Dog fame jumped in with me, and we happily chatted away miles 2-5. Truth be told, JWILL was a godsend for the early race. I had already adjusted my goal time by an hour, and being out there alone would have been sheer misery.

At mile 5 I managed to finish the other 2/3s of the GU. This gave me a little boost that carried over until mile 7 or so. As I emerged from the woods at the end of loop one I felt the worst I had ever felt during a race. Humidity was 94%, and I had sweated out any reserve hydration. I tried to force down another GU, and instantly I was dry heaving again. At this point I was only 200 yards or so into loop 2, and I was ready to call it. At the last moment I decided to carry on to the Jeep Trail aid station. About a mile into the loop things got better, and I actually caught up to JWILL and we continued together to the welcome sight of friendly faces at my favorite AS. Once we arrived, she stopped for some food, but since this was not an option for me, I sucked down some water and bolted. This was probably the best I felt all race. For a good 2-mile stretch things were free and easy. Then I hit the Bluff climb. For the first time, my calf locked on me. I tried to get down an S-Cap, but even this spewed back out. I hiked/plodded along to finish the loop, before meeting up with Crazy People Nice Shoes (CPNS). Once again, my race was saved. JWILL had waited at the Field AS, and we managed to run with her for about a mile. Unfortunately, my calf was completely obliterated, and I encouraged her to scoot on (to her second podium finish in two years!) CPNS and I continued, running when the calf, and later, my right hamstring would permit. He’s a great pacer, and I hope one day to put him to work at a longer distance.

Here is the Visor Report by the numbers:

Split Minutes: Seconds Time Miles Minutes per Mile/Avg Pace

1 9:24.4 1.00 9:23
2 11:13.0 1.00 11:13
3 10:18.4 1.00 10:18
4 10:25.9 1.00 10:26
5 9:57.7 1.00 9:57
6 10:14.3 1.00 10:15
7 10:03.1 1.00 10:02
8 10:50.5 1.00 10:51
9 10:31.2 1.00 10:31
10 10:19.9 1.00 10:20
11 12:32.0 1.00 12:32
12 9:48.1 1.00 9:48
13 10:08.0 1.00 10:08
14 11:16.0 1.00 11:16
15 11:16.2 1.00 11:16
16 13:04.0 1.00 13:05
17 12:21.9 1.00 12:22
18 10:54.1 1.00 10:54
19 14:49.1 1.00 14:51
20 13:00.3 1.00 13:00
21 12:49.7 1.00 12:49
22 13:15.4 1.00 13:14
23 13:44.8 1.00 13:46
24 14:49.9 1.00 14:49
25 13:53.0 1.00 13:53
26 6:10.3 0.53 11:43

As stated above, I have never been as miserable running as I was at this year’s Medoc. Only the fact that it was Medoc with the amazing organization, direction, and volunteer support allowed me to continue. HUGE shout out to Sco, CPNS, and JWILL for carrying me. Love this race.

Xterra Trail Half Marathon: Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs, CO

Xterra Trail Half Marathon: Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs, CO

After receiving endless flack for a generalized lack of posting, I am ending the hiatus! This race report is well past due. I opted to run Xterra for a warm-up/training race, primarily because every other half-marathon in Colorado was cancelled due to flooding. Not that his was a less than attractive race, just that I knew from the course profile that it would brutalize me. Without further ado, The Visor Report by the numbers:

Summary 2:26:53.3 12.98 11:19
1 10:33.9 1.00 10:32
2 10:34.9 1.00 10:35
3 13:18.9 1.00 13:18
4 12:52.9 1.00 12:55
5 10:07.2 1.00 10:08
6 10:26.0 1.00 10:25
7 :34.0 0.07 8:41
8 8:15.1 0.93 8:50
9 8:58.1 1.00 8:57
10 11:40.9 1.00 11:42
11 12:33.1 1.00 12:34
12 15:00.9 1.00 15:01
13 11:42.3 1.00 11:41
14 10:15.1 0.98 10:27

I purposely set out to start SLOW in order to keep my heart rate down and push the downhills/flats. Starting slow was not a problem. Building any kind of momentum was. The first mile was single track with a virtual congo line. This was confounded by a stream crossing where the pack backed up like a sieve. Mile 2-5 saw the climb begin earnest. As the pace shows above, I have a lot of work to do on my climbing.

Finally, we made the first summit. Here was where I planned to essentially free-fall, but alas, no! I was thwarted by tons of loose rock and uneven footing on the descent. Miles 7/8 were relatively flat, and the only place where I was able to hold goal pace.

Long and short on 10-12? Boulder field, stream crossings, cursing, hiking…Really my pace became laughable on 12, and I think the aid station volunteers believed me to be delirious upon my arrival.

The last mile was a big downhill, but my legs were too thrashed to do any damage. I cruised into the finish thankful for the Oreos and Gatorade!

This was by far the most challenging course I have ever raced. Trying to climb at 6500-7000 feet is a skill I need to acquire. This race was well run, and well-stocked. Put it on your short-list!

The Visor Report: Evergreen Town Race (USATF CO 10K Trail Championship)

Should one ever run a race with the slogan “Just Finishing Our Race is Winning”? Ok, so I’m not one-hundred percent sure that is the exact slogan, but it sure felt like it at mile 4.5. The early morning chill had given way to the radiating heat of the sun soaked asphalt, and I was beginning to question my commitment to a PR. Per usual, all the typical intrusive thought suspects came to visit: “You hate sprint races! Just jog this one out and find the beer tent.” Thankfully, my legs decided to cooperate and I was able to hold on.

Evergreen by the numbers:

Split
Hours:Minutes:Seconds
Time
Miles
Distance
Minutes per Mile
Avg Pace
Summary 47:07.7 6.25 7:32Mil
1 7:20.1 1.00 7:19
2 7:37.7 1.00 7:38
3 7:37.1 1.00 7:37
4 7:49.1 1.00 7:49
5 7:33.0 1.00 7:33
6 7:24.1 1.00 7:24
7 1:45.2 0.25 7:07
8 :01.4 0.00 5:12

Mile one involved 1/3 of a mile of dirt trail before a short jaunt up to the road. From there it was a gradual wind down the mountain. The altitude definitely played a role in regulating the pace, as did the back-and-forth tangent hunt. The scenery was amazing, and on two different occasions I had to consciously remind myself to monitor my run and not stare at the mountain tops. The fear of a big climb at the end was not realized, and I probably left too much in the tank on mile 4. Next year I will be better prepared to wind-it up and burn it out!

This was an amazing race in what I believe to be the most beautiful place in Colorado. The fly-over by Alpine Rescue at the start line was well worth the knee wringing school bus ride to the top of the mountain. Next year I will definitely be running this race again!

 

Sand Creek Half Marathon

sand creek 1

BACKGROUND:

The Sand Creek Half Marathon and 5K/10K is an event that is based in Central Park in the heart of Stapleton, CO. It’s primary purpose is  to benefit the Bluff Lake Nature Center. Having spent many a hour on the Sand Creek Greenway I knew I could not pass on this event! The fact that the race was approximately 5-minutes from my house sealed the deal – so without really considering that the race would be in the middle of July, or that this was the course where I nearly perished last September (a taco truck saved my life with bottled water and a child who understood Spanish as spoken through a heavy Southern accent: true story), not to mention that my mileage has plummeted, I’m really fat right now

beerbelly

*PORTRAIT OF THE AUTHOR

(you get the point…) So despite the preponderance of evidence dictating  that I sit this one out, I anxiously pulled the trigger on the charge card prior to Erock vetoing the idea with something as trifling as common sense.

Let me preface this report by saying that with the TNF50 being in December,  I purposely took the last 2-3 months very easy. As my coach had several races this summer limiting his availability, I selected an “Intermediate” Plan on the internet which allowed me to virtually hobby jog and enjoy taking pictures of the mountains . What could go wrong? With 3-weeks remaining until the race, I emailed Coach to get his opinion of my plan and training to-date. He very nicely replied that I was not nearly as fit as I was 3-months ago, and that my mileage was sorely lacking. But, he did believe my target (1:48:xx) to be within range.  Well, without further ado, “The Visor Report” (all thanks to hulkshoes.blogspot.com for the title):

BY THE NUMBERS:

Overall Place: 81/459

Male: 60/179

Age Group:  26/62

Time:  1:51:33

Pace: 8:31

1 8:23.1 1.00 8:22
2 8:02.9 0.98 8:12
3 8:26.3 1.01 8:22
4 8:13.3 0.97 8:30
5 8:13.1 1.01 8:08
6 8:39.2 1.01 8:36
7 8:39.6 0.99 8:45
8 8:48.0 0.99 8:54
9 8:41.2 1.01 8:38
10 8:54.2 0.99 8:58
11 8:52.1 1.02 8:40
12 8:29.3 1.00 8:31
13 8:23.6 1.01 8:19
14 :47.1 0.11 7:03

THE RACE:

The 10k and half-marathon started concomitantly. This led to a homogenous blob moving uniformly across a narrow concrete path for the entirety of the first mile. Try as I might, I could not break free on either side. My tangents were shot along with my goal pace from the get-go. Miles 2 and 3 I was able to cruise on the concrete path, but the temps started to climb and I knew the hard work remained well ahead. Mile 4 was a climb out of the park and towards the eastern end of Stapleton. Here is where things started to go south. Essentially, I got comfortable and dialed in behind a crowd, letting them to dictate the pace.

I was able to break free of my personal peloton and regain pace on mile 5. Here, the greenway flattened out and we proceeded towards the bluff at a good clip. Arriving at the nature reserve things returned to narrow double track with 2-way traffic. The path was full of grooves, and footing was tough in places. Even with this, I was able to keep a decent pace until the true climb began-a double switchback over the course of miles 8/9. I refer to this as Carnage Hill, due to the sheer volume of folks climbing hands-on-knees and sequentially vomiting off of the side. There was a turn-around at the top of the climb that provided a view worth the every bit of effort on the ascent!

At the top, I took 2 cups of water and tested the water resistance of my IPod by giving myself an impromptu shower.  I had really hoped that on the descent I could just fly and get back time, but I was having a difficult time keeping down Gu, and my arch enemy Cytomax had sealed my fate.

One more short climb remained to get back to the straight away, and I slogged out a pathetic effort  to the park. Once back on the concrete I was able to pick up the pace again, but the stomach was too far gone for me to really open up and stride out.

SUMMARY

This course was extraordinarily challenging. I knew the climbs would be rough, but I really hoped that I would be able to pull off a better effort on the descents. Given my level of training I am happy with the time. The volunteers were amazing, and the race benefits a fantastic charity close to home. I will definitely be running it again next year. Hopefully, with better results!