Colorado Springs, CO
Weather - about as perfect as you can get
I knew I was going to struggle with getting in long runs as training for both NYC and Big Cedar 100. L suggested I run the marathon for this course while she ran the half. So, not really thinking, I registered for the American Discovery Trail marathon, to be held on Labor Day. The price tag was very reasonable, only $81 ($20 more than the half marathon) after fees.
One of my good friends got married this weekend. Sunday night, to be exact. I knew we were going to be eating, drinking and participating in merriment until very late. In fact, we stayed until the very end, which (luckily?) was only about 11:15. Jessa agreed to watch A and I headed home to get some sleep. NOT VERY MUCH SLEEP... I crawled into bed just before midnight, with my alarm going off at 3:38. And that was only going to give me about 20 minutes to get ready and out of the house.
I had packed all my stuff the night before, so really all I had to do was get dressed and make coffee. We got out the door just before 4 am. The drive to Colorado Springs is about an hour and fifteen minutes, and of course, at that hour, there was no traffic. Thanks to L for driving. We arrived at the America the Beautiful park about 15 minutes before the last shuttle bus left for the marathon. I used the bathroom and got on the bus. My first concern was the the bone on the top inner part of my right foot was HURTING - I thought it might be the tongue of my shoe just hitting it weird, but no - it felt bruised or something. I wonder if this was from the 5" heels I spent Saturday and Sunday night in. Or maybe it was all the dancing at the wedding... Anyway, in an effort to prevent the inevitable hangover, I (shamefully?) had a beer on the bus on the way to the start. Shhhh. The start was all the way back up north off the Monument Hill exit - at Palmer Lake.
We arrived at the start area with only about 18 minutes until the marathon start. I picked up my bib and got in the bathroom line. I walked up to the start right as we were starting.
|Walk to the start line at Palmer Lake|
I haven't run a marathon since New Years, and the only real distance I have done was the Fat Ass I ran in MARCH and Chase the Moon. I was just hoping that my foot was going to hold up. I did NOT want to be out there forever.
I had worn arm sleeves, as it was pretty chilly at the start - I'm guessing upper 40's. For some reason I had thought the course was going to be on pavement, but it was actually on hard-packed dirt. That was much better. I started near the back and ran on feel. I looked at my watch only when the mile markers clicked. The first mile clicked at a comfortable 10:30ish pace, and then as the miles went on, my pace got faster. I was already hot by the first aid station at mile 2 and the arm sleeves came off. The course is a net 1200' loss, although it felt mostly flat to me. There were only a few uphills, so the running felt easier. The cooler temps also helped.
Everything felt fine for the first 7 or 8 miles. I took my first non-aid station walk break around mile 8. The aid station around mile 9.5. I was starting to get a headache. I hadn't been able to eat breakfast, and I was feeling "off." I noticed two cans of Bud Light on the table - I said "you have beer???" The volunteer said, "yeah, do you want one?" YES. YES I DO. I took a big swig right at the table and then ran with it until I finished it, about 15 minutes later. FYI, beer is foamy and hard to run with. I felt MUCH better after beer #2.
Then, of course, I started to feel like I had to use the bathroom, and decided I would stop at the first one I saw. My legs felt ok, but my stomach really didn't. I finally found a port-o-potty around mile 16. For the first time in a race, two of my GU packets fell on the floor of the bathroom. EW. Luckily, the aid station had extras, and I grabbed one.
I don't know if it was the extended stop, but I lost whatever energy I had after that aid station. I certainly started walking more and babysitting my watch. Somewhere around maybe mile 18 or 19, the course briefly went on sidewalk, which actually seemed to make my feet happy. The course had really thinned out a lot, and I was either alone or I started passing people, and took note of how they looked more miserable than I did.
I really didn't start to feel terrible until maybe mile 22 or 23. I didn't even really feel AWFUL, I was just tired and getting hot and really wanting to be done. I sent L a message when I got to mile 23 so she could get an idea of when I would be finishing. The last mile felt like it lasted FOREVER. There was an old man I was trying desperately to chase. Finally, I saw a crowd at a bridge and I knew we were almost there, so I kicked it in. BAD IDEA. The final .2 went on forever and ever. But at least I beat the old guy.
Official Time - 4:38:26
Official 7.8 miles - 1:18:34
Official 17.1 miles - 2:58:42
Official 22 miles - 3:51:22
Garmin Time - 4:38:28
Garmin Distance - 26.33
Garmin Pace - 10:35
Mile 1-5 - 10:36, 10:01, 10:04, 9:53, 10:09
Mile 6-10 - 9:53, 10:06, 10:03, 10:56, 10:36
Mile 11-15 - 10:38, 10:04, 9:56, 10:57, 10:41
Mile 16-20 - 12:10 (bathroom), 10:36, 10:33, 10:33, 10:12
Mile 21-26.2 - 10:57, 10:50, 10:50, 11:25, 11:23, 11:09, 9:56
SOMEHOW, with no speed work (although, just ask L, the net downhill course makes it "easy) - I managed to pull off my fastest marathon time in 2.5 years, and I think the fastest I have ever run a marathon at altitude. I don't care if the course was "easy" or not. I worked hard and I'm pretty damn pleased with how this went. L found me at the finish, and my dad was there with Hannah. I was in no mood to eat, but I was happy they had soda at the finish. I briefly looked for beer but didn't see any. Grabbed my goodie bag with the awesome neon yellow shirt, and we headed back home.
- Thankfully, whatever weird thing I had going on with my foot was not an issue. It still feels off today, but it apparently did not bother me that much when I was running.
- I really enjoyed this course. The dirt was very runnable - and the views were spectacular. We really had some great weather. There was a lot of sunshine, but a slight breeze kept the temperatures down.
- Well stocked aid stations - all had Gatorade and water, and about half of them also had Hammer gels in various flavors. And of course, the one had beer. I was worried 14 aid stations for the marathon would not be enough, but they were spaced well, I did not carry my own fluids, and I never felt like I wasn't going to make it.
- Course was very well marked - there was really no chance of getting lost on this one...
- Even though most of the trail is sort of out in the middle of nowhere, it wasn't closed to the public, so there were a decent number of cyclists and other people out there. At every opportunity, there were spectators. Decent crowd support.
- LOVE the race shirt. Women's cut Brooks tee in a super fun neon yellow. The men's shirt was royal blue.
- Fantastic views and vendors/food at the finish. There were sodas, watermelon, pizza, Chick-Fil-A and tons of other things that I didn't even wander around to look at.
- Would I run this one again? ABSOLUTELY.