Sunday, September 21, 2014

2014 Equinox Half Marathon

Ft Collins Colorado
13.1 – 1:36:30

This is going sound less like a race report and more like a training diary. With my ultra marathon looming in the future this half marathon that I signed up for months ago just felt unimportant. I haven’t done any speed work in weeks and I really needed to get in another ultra marathon training weekend, the solution… race sabotage.

Saturday – Long run
It was my son’s birthday and we were due at chucky cheese by 10am. I had to skip the group run from home to save time. I got up at 4:30 am with the goal of running as much as possible by 8:30am. I left the house around 5:30 so I basically had 3:00 or about 20 miles. Early on I was grumpy and nearly called off the run at 10 miles when I stopped back at the house to get a new bottle. On my second loop I bumped into my friends and then ran with them from about 17 to 19. They are training to run twin cities in 3:15 so we were running pretty quickly. I ended up running 21 miles in about 3:07 the entire run felt like a giant progression run. No food on this run only liquids.
0-7 miles @ 9:42 pace, Grouchy and thinking won’t have time to get 20 miles done
8-12 mi @ 9:03 pace, Feeling better and the sun came up
13-16 @ 8:35 pace, now I was attacking the course and making up time. 20 miles is looking possible
17-19 @ 8:09 pace, trying to keep up with my friends for 3 miles they were 8 miles into their run
20-21 @ 7:54 pace, burst through that pain barrier, my friends turned around and I somehow went faster back home.

Sunday - Race
It was about 30 minutes before the race when I bumped into an old friend that I hadn’t seen in years. She convinced me to run a short warm up with her up the canyon 1.7 total miles. My feet freaking ached during this short warm up but my muscles felt really good. The original plan was to take it easy and hope for a sub 2:00 but now I had this stupid idea that 1:40 would be pretty awesome.
Miles 0-4 Avg 7:28 min/mile
Not planning for the race at all I had no idea what pace I needed for 1:40 and I still had my Gatorade bottle which I wouldn’t have minded at 9:00 min pace. I calculated in my head that I needed about a 7:35 (actually I needed 7:3 and I knew that my watch would be off so the plan was to run in the 7:20’. My feet hurt so bad those first few miles but my breathing was easily in check. They didn’t have an aid station till mile 4 so it was handy having my own drink at mile 2. I ended up tossing that bottle at the mile 4 aid station.

Miles 5-8 Avg 7:21 min/mile
Now that my hands were free my shoulders relaxed and I felt much faster. This course is in a beautiful canyon that drops 800ft from start to finish. The clouds and the canyon walls blocked us from most of the sunlight. My feet stop complaining in this section and everything seemed perfect.

Miles 9-12 Avg 7:22 min/mile
At an aid station near mile 9 I ate my only gel of the race. The road started to flatten out and the clouds went away. The temp went up a little but it was still an awesome day. I began flying passed people and I looked and my watch and I was only running even splits but everyone else was falling off the pace. Around mile 10 was first time I felt out of breath. From then on I felt like I was working really hard and actually in a race.

Miles 13 and the last 0.1 Avg 7:04 pace
Suddenly I realized I had a little over a mile left and I dramatically picked up the pace. I was surprised to hear a friend of mine cheering me on, I didn’t know she was going to be there and she didn’t know I was running. I ended up clocking the last mile in 7:09 and then kicking it into the finish at 6:10 pace for the last bit. The 35th mile of the weekend was the fastest.

No pictures this time so I borrowed one from the main page of the race website. Most of the race looks like this but sometimes the canyon walls were vertical cliffs. This was by far the most scenic half marathon I have ever run and it’s very fast. I might have to come back next year and go for a sub 1:30.

Monday, September 1, 2014

American Discovery Trail Marathon

Colorado Springs, CO
26.2 – 3:41:24 

Pre-Race, Goals and Strategies. 
I was sick off and on all last week and I cut both of last weekend’s runs short because of stomach problems. During the week I thought I was getting better but Saturday and Sunday were not good, I felt like I was pre-race hydrating with pepto bismol. Needless to say any plans and goals I had made for this race were off the table. I didn’t take any medicine after about 3 pm the day before the race because I didn’t know how it would react to long distance running and I don’t want to run races that way. 

Surprisingly I woke up race morning feeling good. Because of the point to point course I now had a 30 minute bus ride to figure out today’s race plan. I decided that I needed to go out fast enough that a PR would be possible but if anything went wrong just back off and call it a training day (no gutting it out today). Really I decided that I would make the call on the run but I want to keep that PR door open. I was ready for a nice flat fast marathon… 

Miles 0-8 (8:02 pace) 
I saw my friend at the start of the race who was pacing the 3:45 group. I looked at his pace chart and saw that the mile spits were all over the place to account for the hills. I did look at the race profile and saw that it dropped 1200 ft over 26 miles. I was pretty shocked that there were any hills on this course. My buddy reassured me that they were small hills but to watch out for mile 9 and 22. I took off running many of the first miles under 8 min pace. If I hadn’t stopped at the bathroom this section would have easily averaged sub 8:00 pace. When I got out of the bathroom the 3:30 group had caught me and I spent the next few miles near them. The course had been 100% dirt so far but it was not the nice hard packed dirt I was also expecting. It was soft and almost sand like in places, other runner and I shifted back and forth across the 8ft wide path trying to say on hard packed dirt. The course featured a lot of little hills very short but steep hills. Enough to knock you off your comfortable pace and make to need to accelerate to get back on pace. With the hills, trail surface, possible illness and warm weather I called it off right there and started enjoying my day. 

Miles 9-20 (8:32 pace) 
As my friend warned mile 9 did feature a long slow climb. But to tell the truth I would gladly take this over those short steep climbs. The short hills kept coming but now that I was in cruise control they didn’t bother me so much. This part of the course went through the air force academy it was gorgeous out there lot of trees and huge mountains. The race began to spread out and it got a bit lonely it felt like just another long run. I forgot to mention all those short steep hills where also accompanied by a short steep downhill’s. The downhill’s might actually be harder on your quads then up but downhill fatigue sneaks up on you and all the sudden I noticed at mile 18 that my legs felt trashed. 

Miles 21-26.2 (8:50 pace) 
Suddenly the race wasn’t so lonely and I was running with people again (only about 400 in the race). The final miles were on a bike path in town which was paved at times. At this point I was feeling pretty good although overheated. I was thinking that I could run 3:38-3:39 if ran a little harder. All that was left was another mystery hill at mile 23. It was a big hill and this time I attacked passing a bunch of people on the way up all while laughing at the handmade signs. The signs were staggered every 20ft or so with 1 word per sign “Shut”, “UP”, “Legs!” it was just so fitting. After the hill I coasted down an equally big downhill and then some flat miles to the finish. I kept trying to calculate how fast I needed for 3:39 but my brain refused to work. I actually had a small kick coming into the finish my watch said 7:35 for the last 0.2 miles not much but it felt good to know I could speed up. 

Post Race – and pics 
Mini milestone - this was marathon/ultra #20 when I joined Loseit I had 2 completed. 
Lesson Learned - I run lots of hills and trails but not at that pace. This hills shouldn’t have caught me off like that, I should have done my research and known what was on the course. 
End of the day - After the race I felt about as tired as a hard long run which is fine because I have other long races I need to run this fall, “Live to fight another day”. 

I think this is at about mile 8. Good shot of the loose dirt I was talking about. 

I took this one around mile 12 while running 

On the pavement somewhere around mile 22 

I only look like I am walking, still moving at sub 9:00 pace