I have wanted to run this race for years but I had been too afraid of the terrain and possible bad weather. This is the earliest marathon available in Colorado, most are in May-June. But this year I was determined to not chicken out and $50 for a marathon is a steal. But I got more than I barged for in this adventure.
The marathon had 4 aid Stations at miles 8, 13, 20 & 23 so I am going to use that to break up the race report as well.
Miles 0-8 (10:47 pace)
The race started just outside of town at the base of the mountains at an elevation of a little over 7,000 ft. It was 32F and snowing lightly, not enough to build up on the ground. I felt overdressed in my pants, jacket, ski hat and gloves but I knew it would be colder once we climbed into the mountains. After doing an easy 2 mile loop we took left and went straight up the mountain (2.5 miles – 500’). After that we ran on a rollercoaster type trail to the first aid station. I felt pretty good for this entire section.
Miles 9 – 13 (12:04 pace)
At this aid station we turned off the single track and ran up a very steep dirt road (4mi – 1400’). I knew that the bulk of the climbing would be done at mile 13 so in the back of my mind I knew I would be fine one I got to the top. As we climbed this road the snow got heavier and heavier and the temps plummeted. I started this section off strong but then my calf started to cramp. I was in freak out mode, 10 miles in and I was already cramping. I walk/ran most of this section in 2:00 minute cycles or as much as I could take without cramping. Near the top we were running in snow 2-4’’ deep with temps below 20F. The course peaked out around 9,000’ elevation. Now it was time head back to civilization.
Miles 14 – 20 (11:15 pace)
Now back on single track I was happy to have some downhill. The terrain was difficult and big rocks were hidden by the freshly fallen snow. The good news was my calf was fine the bad news was my knees were destroyed. They ached from running and slipping around in the snow, every step felt off balance and you weren’t sure how your foot would land. Everything I was wearing was soaked and very cold most worry some were my feet, I could feel cold water squish though my toes with every step. In my mind I stayed positive and continued onward.
Miles 21-23 (11:58 pace)
Running downhill is about at tough on your quads and going up and mine had about had all they could take by now. As we dropped in elevation the trail got easier to run (only wet now). I was running at a nice even pace and even pushing the pace a bit trying to keep up with a small group. Suddenly I felt very ill I was light headed and was about to puke, I think I just push myself too far into the red. I walked a bit and took an S-Cap (sodium) which supposedly can calm your stomach as well as replace electrolytes. I never puked (never have during a race still) and after a short time I was off on my way again.
Miles 24-26.2 (10:10 pace)
That sick feeling was horrible and I wasn’t about to do that again, so I held myself back to an easy pace for the rest of the race. Seeing the town down below me at the bottom of the mountain was an awesome feeling. In the last mile I saw about 4 spectators and 0 fellow runners running in the race. At the finish line there was only one elderly couple, one the husband calling out numbers and the wife writing down the times. No cheering section, no completive sprint to the finish, no metal but still extremely rewarding. The post race food was hot potato soup, which tasted like that best thing the world.
-I reached my goal of sub 5:00:00, although this near cause me to puke because I was pushing so hard near the finish.
-After reflecting back on this day I realized something that I was very proud of. I had some major hurdles/setbacks to overcome such at the snow, cramping, terrain, the climbs, frozen feet, knee pain and nearly puking. But quit never entered my mind, I know I can overcome any problem I encounter during a run.
-I have entered this mentality that every run even a race is training. The next day I was out the plan of testing my mental and physical limits. I made it 10 miles because I ran out of time and had to take my daughter to gymnastics.
-I saw a cactus surround by snow (not running related but interesting to me)
-Still I think I could have done better, pacing this kind of race is near impossible and I could have been better prepared. I think I can do better and so I will be back next year to beat my time.
And finally some pictures. I have to say I am a little disappointed with my pictures. I don’t have any of the really snowy sections. I do remember talking them but maybe I just thought I was taking pictures.
In town looking up at the mountains we are going to climb which was a little intimidating.
This is about 2 miles in getting ready to climb those mountains ahead on the left
Mile 4 on the first real climb of the day
Mile 7ish, show is starting to stick to the ground
Mile 10, snow is getting heavier
I think this around mile 15, I thought took two pictures here one of the trail (apparently never happened) and this one looking out at the nearby mountains
Mile 22, this is taken at almost the same spot as the picture above (mile 4) but now you can’t see the town below.
Despite all that downhill I still ran the second half slower (about 1 min slower)