Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bear Chase Trail Race Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, September 25
Lakewood, CO
Half marathon #154
Weather - perfect

I was off to run the Bear Chase trail races for the 6th year. A had asked to run the Baby Bear (10k) this year as well.

Race Day

We actually had to get up even earlier than we did for a race in the mountains 2 hours away. Alarms went off at 5:05, and we were out the door about 5:30, arriving at the park around 6. I was really surprised to see someone at the front gate at that hour. For the first time in years we were parking inside the park instead of being shuttled in.

The start/finish was at Pelican Point for the second year, and we were ushered into a spot close to the fence. We saw David right away, fixing cones and spray painting the dirt for the loop around the parking lot for the half marathoners. It was chilly out, and we initially planned on hanging out at the start until 7 when I would be racing. It was still cold and dark, however, and no one was at the Roost tent yet, so I just used the port-o-potty and then we went back to the warm car.

We headed down for real around 6:35, when the sun was just coming up. I of course had to use the bathroom again, so I got in line. The race seemed smaller than in years past, but the bathroom line still moved slow. A ran off when she saw Phil, and I met up with Heather to get to the start line. We got some pre-race pictures from Lisa and Jen, and before we knew it, it was time to start. (I'm including pictures taken of A pre-race - I was already running, she didn't start until 8, an hour after me).

I was pretty sure I was going to be going slow, but Heather still wanted to run together, so I made sure to tell her that we were starting in the back and going slow.

When we jumped on the trail after the first .6, I was pretty sure we were dead last. Fine by me, I would rather NOT have to jump off the single track in the very beginning because I am slow. My legs felt like lead and my calves were fiery hot again, which I haven't had happen in a while. I think I made it through the first mile before I had to walk.

Somewhere around mile 2 my legs finally loosened up a bit. We got into a decent running rhythm, and time went by quickly as we haven't spent that much time together lately so we needed to catch up on all our gossip. We had similar mindsets on walking up all the hills (especially Mt. Carbon!) and then running the flats and downhills.

Ah, the lovely view of Mt. Carbon's base
Standard view of the lake from the climb up Mt. Carbon
Neither of us needed to stop at the Homestead, the first aid station. Shortly after we arrived at the river crossings. The first one seemed deeper than in the past and the water was definitely cold! During the ultra races this is always my favorite part - helps to cool down!
Water crossing #1!
Selfie at water crossing #3!
We ran up the sidewalk to Fox Hollow, where I slammed a cup of Mountain Dew before we headed out on the most exposed section of the course to Cattail. This section is mentally draining for sure. Could not imagine how I have ever run multiple loops here!

Very happy to see Pete and the crew. Filled up my handheld, grabbed a pickle and headed out towards "mini Mt. Carbon." A few people in front of us missed the turn, weird that there wasn't a course marshal out there this year. Luckily, I knew where to go.
This is so much steeper than it looks
Mile 8 clicked right at the top of the hill, which is also when I took off the arm sleeves. The course changed just a bit and we got to run down a nice section of single track towards the boat ramp. Alison was volunteering and I grabbed a small cup of coke and finally opened my Stinger chews, although I only had a few. I like that in this new course that we get to run the prettiest section at the end!

We came upon Ali (doing the 10k) and we were running along nicely in the shade. Just at mile 12, Heather tripped over nothing and  messed up her knee. Thankfully she wasn't seriously injured and we both ran well into the finish. A slower time than last year, but faster than I ran the day before, so I was happy.

Right as we were finishing, they were doing the awards - A got first in her age group!
These adorable kids tore up the trails!
We stayed at the finish for a while eating Flippin' Flapjacks, drinking pumpkin beer, doing a jello shot with Jen for her birthday, and hanging out with all our friends and teammates. This is seriously one of my favorite events of the year. Can't wait to come back next year!
Team picture
Jello shots with Jen
Winner, winner!
Jen (overall female 10k winner, A and Ben)
Official Time - 2:48:17
Overall Place - 190/241
Gender Place - 107/147
Division Place - 41/60
Garmin Time - 2:47:48 (weird)
Garmin Distance - 13.01 miles
Mile 1 - 12:34
Mile 2 - 13:53
Mile 3 - 13:43
Mile 4 - 12:45
Mile 5 - 14:02
Mile 6 - 14:37
Mile 7 - 12:01
Mile 8 - 13:07
Mile 9 - 11:44
Mile 10 - 11:33
Mile 11 - 13:12
Mile 12 - 12:51
Mile 13 - 11:36
Mile 13.01 - 8:52

A's results
Official Time - 1:15:32 (which is a substantial PR for her!)
Overall Place - 111/176
Gender Place - 73/126
Division Place - 1/2

Thoughts:

  • Such an awesome event. Throughout the weekend you have your choice of distances - 10k, half marathon, 50k, 50 mile, 100k. Something for everyone!
  • The shirts this year are a sweet royal blue - will wear this one again for sure.
  • Medals for all distances (and buckles for the 100k runners). If only I was fast enough for an overall podium - those awards are super sweet!
  • The course markings are phenomenal (probably a giant pain to have to clean up though) - much respect for race directors David and Ben for this.
  • Aid stations are amazing. Plenty of volunteers, well-stocked with just about everything you could hope for.
  • Finish line party is super fun - music, food and beer.
  • I of course will be back next year. Just a little sad I missed the inaugural year, I could totally be a legacy runner. Anyway, I'll be back for year #7 in 2017.
  • Random tidbit - shout out to Brock, half fanatic from Florida that came all the way out to run this event after having read recaps on my blog. Hope you had a great time!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Snow Mountain Ranch Trail Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, September 24
Granby, CO
Half marathon #153
Weather - Overcast, lightly snowing, cold

The night before the race, the race director posted some pictures from the course - and there was snow!! It's been so long since I've run in cold weather, I couldn't figure out what I should wear. As I get older, I no longer appreciate being freezing while I'm running. I opted last minute to skip the skirt and wear tights. I also decided to wear a long sleeve tee over my singlet instead of just using arm sleeves. Turns out, the outfit was perfect.

Race Day

There was an option for an 8:30 early start, which I wanted to take advantage of since A and I still had a full night of volunteering ahead of us. We got up at 5:40 and we were out the door shortly after 6. There was no traffic at that hour, and other than the windy, curvy road through Berthoud Pass, we made really good time. We arrived at the start at 7:50. Saw Stacy right away, and she said that she was going to actually start at 8. Well that sounded even better! I grabbed my bib, used the bathroom, and we were ready to go a few minutes after 8.
Can you see the snow falling??
 There were four of us doing the 8 am start, and it was BRISK. Stacy, her friends Annette and Matt, and I head up to the trails. It was very lightly snowing and the trail was covered in a light layer of snow and frost. Matt and I ran together for the first few miles, and we lost Stacy and Annette pretty early on. 

There was one course marking where the 5k, 10k and half split. Some of the signs had blown over and I almost went the wrong way. Luckily, I was with someone else and we guessed correctly at which way we should go.


I spent most of the first loop taking TONS of pictures. Which, when it is super cold, is not as easy as it sounds because it involves a lot of taking gloves off and putting them back on. The course was super muddy between miles 1 and 2. The thick and clumpy mud that made my shoes feel ridiculously heavy. Matt finally realized that I was going to be super slow and he took off, which just left me running alone.




The aid stations were set up, but no one was out the first loop (which was fine, I had my Orange Mud handheld with Nuun). When I headed up the hill just around mile 3 I saw some deer run across the road, but I wasn't able to get a clear picture of them before they bounded off. At this point, I finally realized the first part of the course was being run in reverse from  last year, and cruised down the road section around the lake.


Headed up the hill at the aid station at mile 4. This section was snowy and muddy and wet. My shoes/feet got soaked and were pretty cold in this section. The downhill section was a bit hard to run fast because of the snowfall it was hard to tell where to step and not be in a rut.




Finally heading back to the start/finish, running down the hill only to turn around and head back out for another loop. The volunteer at the table seemed surprised that I was "so fast" and already headed back out. Haha.

Running up the hill for my second loop and the faster runners were already coming back down. I wasn't really that far ahead, even with my 55 minute head start, lol. It was interesting how much the course had dried out by the second loop. The sun peeked out for a minute here and there, it was still snowing, but it  must have warmed up a bit to pack down the dirt, either that or the other runners that had passed through had helped trample it down.


I took less pictures the second loop and was running a bit faster. Somewhere around mile 11.5 or 12 was when the wind picked up - the last 15 minutes or so were pretty dang chilly. I managed to run up the last hill to the finish (so brutal coming up at the end like that), and was pleased to see I had run under a 13 minute pace. Woo hoo!
I found A and then immediately went to get my jacket out of the car. Brrrr!!! I saw Stacy handing out beers - that meant she must have dropped to the 10k. Spent some time hanging out with other ERS ambassadors, got some food and more pictures, so A could volunteer for a bit longer.
Not sure who the gal on the far left is, Tom, me, Stacy, race director Jeff
Official Time - 2:42:58
Overall Place - 77/91
Gender Place - 52/63
Division Place - 18/23
Garmin Time - 2:43:49
Garmin Distance - 12.65 miles
Mile 1 - 14:06
Mile 2 - 14:26
Mile 3 - 13:41
Mile 4 - 11:25
Mile 5 - 14:21
Mile 6 - 12:38
Mile 7 - 13:07
Mile 8 - 13:03
Mile 9 - 13:02
Mile 10 - 10:52
Mile 11 - 13:33
Mile 12 - 11:52
Mile 12.65 - 11:51

Thoughts:

  • Very well organized race, very well marked. Yes, there was a section that wasn't quite so clear in the beginning, but I know that these markings were all fixed by the time I started my second loop, so I'm assuming volunteers/organizers stood the signs back up.
  • Mile markers at every mile, different color markers for different distances.
  • Plenty of aid stations - there were three on the loop, more than I am used to in a trail race.
  • Start/finish line party is AWESOME!! Beer, food (burgers/hot dogs), music, etc. A good time for sure!
  • Gender specific shirts - black (again), which is nice.
  • Medal is super cute - shaped like a moose. Interestingly, there was a moose on the course this year. I didn't see it, but Stacy saw it and snapped a picture (around mile 5) before it ran into the woods. Not sure I would want to see one that close though.
  • HOLY COW THIS IS THE PRETTIEST COURSE EVER EVER EVER EVER. I remembered from last year that this was gorgeous with all the fall colors, and this year did not disappoint. If nothing else, it was even MORE beautiful with the overcast skies and snow.
  • COME RUN THIS RACE. I'll be back next year for sure.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Denver Trail Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, September 10
Denver, CO
Half marathon #152
Weather - Chilly for the first mile, then sunny and warm
Another "new to me" race in the Endurance Race Series was the Denver Trail half marathon. The race is the "original" event for ERS, but it had a hiatus of a year or two and this was the first year I had been able to run it.

The race was to start at Cherry Creek State Park, the same place where the Three Creeks race had started. According to the pre-race email, the start was going to be bumped up to 7:30 due to road closures that would be occurring because of a fitness festival at planned on the free option of parking at a church about a mile away. I also hoped I would be able to start early, so I wanted to get to the race way before the 7:30 start time.

Race Day

Alarm went off at 5:10, giving A and I about 20 minutes to get dressed and out the door. We were on the road just after 5:30 and in the church parking lot shortly after 6:10. There was a shuttle bus heading to the start right as we were parking, so we didn't even have to wait. It was CHILLY at the race start, as the sun wasn't even up yet. I picked up my bag and helped A get situated at the tent for bag drop. Spent some time at the Runners Roost tent chatting with teammates while waiting for Jeff to finish the last minute course markings so we could do the early start.
A dozen or so of us were able to start at 7:00. I had decided to not wear my long sleeve or arm sleeves and I was pretty chilly for the first 15-20 minutes. Once the sun came up all the way I warmed up pretty quickly.
Only being a few weeks out of Lean Horse, I had barely done any running. A and I had done a 6ish mile run in Waterton Canyon, and I had only done one other 3ish mile run. So much like Lean Horse, I hoped that excessive taper would lead to rested legs and a decent race.

The beginning of the course was on sidewalk, until we moved onto the dirt trail, maybe .75 miles in. The trail is wide and not technical. While knowing the course was fairly flat, there were a small amount of rollers and hills. I walked most of the hills, but still felt like I was running fairly well.
There were only 2 aid stations on the course, that we would hit two times. Neither of them was manned when I got to them the first time, due to the early start. I had my Orange Mud handheld filled with Nuun, so I didn't need them anyway. Some of the markings were a bit confusing without having anyone at the aid stations to tell us to turn around, but the mile markers matched almost exactly so I figured things out just fine.

I was wondering when the leaders would catch me (at my 11:40ish pace, I expected the faster runners to be running closer to 7 min pace), and the answer was right at the turnaround (which at 6.2 miles, obviously the course was going to measure short). I was pretty happy to see that my teammate Jay had a sizable lead, and Malia, my team captain, was running in the main lead pack as first female. The only tricky part was that right after the turnaround was a half mile or so of single track. Faster and mid pack runners heading towards me, and the fastest runners were right on my heels. I ran this section faster than I should have and my calves paid the price.
When I finally got back to the wider road, I had to walk more than I would have liked, but that loosened up my legs enough that I was able to get back into a fairly decent run (with some walking intervals) after hitting the aid station at mile 8. I finally sucked down a GU (the first one since I ran the marathon in Angel Fire), filled my bottle and headed out for the last few miles.
By now it was pretty warm, and I was happy I hadn't bothered with the long sleeves, as that would just have been annoying.

Since I had taken it pretty easy during most of the race, I actually had some kick when I was coming into the finish. I was immediately met by A and teammates for a team picture.
Paul, Malia, Yuly, Jay, Me, Steven, Megan
Yuly and me
Had my post-race beer, and then we caught the shuttle with ease back to the car.

Garmin Time - 2:24:17
Garmin Distance - 12.25 miles
Official Time - 2:24:16
Overall Place - 78/93
Gender Place - 38/52
Division Place - 13/17
Mile 1 - 12:28
Mile 2 - 11:39
Mile 3 - 11:20
Mile 4 - 11:39
Mile 5 - 11:18
Mile 6 - 11:35
Mile 7 - 11:30
Mile 8 - 12:16
Mile 9 - 11:48
Mile 10 - 11:51
Mile 11 - 12:44
Mile 12 - 11:43
Mile 12.25 - 9:53

Thoughts:

  • This was actually a really great event. Other than the course being 3/4 mile short, it was well marked, it wasn't super technical, and it was "just the right size." I enjoyed the solitude of my early miles, and liked seeing people later in my run as the faster people caught me.
  • The course was very well marked, although as I said, I had to pay a bit more attention in the beginning because there were no volunteers at the aid stations or the one "confusing" intersection to tell us where to go.
  • The shuttles worked out fantastically. They had two big passenger vans shuttling people back and forth, I think they probably came every 5-10 minutes.
  • Medals and shirts (gender specific) were both nice.
  • Post-race party, like usual, was fantastic. Beer and food, although since A and I had brunch plans, I only did the beer.
  • A tad unrelated, but I'm attaching a screenshot that Jeff sent me after the event regarding A volunteering. It really made my day!