Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Turquoise Lake Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, May 31
Leadville, CO
Half Marathon #107
Colorado Half #43
Weather - Sunny, warm, rainy, cloudy... everything?

After we had a race cancel on us we were on the hunt for a race to fill our schedule. We had been eyeballing the Turquoise Lake half marathon for a while, and L was kind of enough to register me as a late birthday present. I know I say that I don't really care about course profile, etc., but I have seriously never seen a website with SO LITTLE information.

The night before the race, we got an email that due to some washed out trails, the course would be changed, a lot of it being on the road, and it would "add a bit of distance."

There was nothing about aid station locations so I decided to wear my belt and carry a water bottle, just in case.

The race didn't start until 9, but with 100 miles (2 hours) to drive through the mountains and not being entirely sure where we were going, we decided to leave at 6. Turns out, that was the perfect amount of time. We arrive just after 8:15, and after only one wrong turn, we found the parking area. Upon picking up our bibs and long sleeve unisex cotton shirt, we were told a bit more about the course. Apparently, the "little extra" was going to be closer to three miles. Oh. In MY OPINION, an addition of THREE MILES is substantial enough that they should mention it in the email they send to registrants. Also, we found out there were only going to be three aid stations - at miles 5, 10 and 14. Again, information that might have been helpful the night before. I was worried about not having enough fuel and water, but what was I going to do about it now?

View from packet pick up
The race had not ordered port-o-potties, so there were only the two bathrooms at the start. With about 90 participants, the wait wasn't too bad. We were able to get through the line twice. The race started just a few minutes late, due to last minute race instructions. I of course lined up on the back, and we were off. I had ZERO idea of what to expect, as there was no course map on the website, no elevation chart, and this was the first time the course had changed. Turquoise Lake is just outside Leadville, which has an elevation of around 10,000 feet. The original course description was 7.5 miles of hilly, paved road, with 5.5 miles of single track. We ended up doing about 10 miles on road, and 5.6ish on trails (spoiler, the course measured 15.63 miles for me).

With no idea what to expect, I took it slow and hoped I would finish without running out of water. The hills started about a mile and a half in and some of them were pretty brutal. It was sunny and warm and I did a lot of walking. At one point, I was dead last.

I long ago stopped caring about being fast, but I certainly never want to be last. Luckily, I'm a pretty strong walker, and slowly started passing people around 4 miles in. I did short bouts of jogging, even on the inclines, trying to make up time/distance. A little under an hour in and we finally hit the first aid station. Water, Gatorade, nothing else. I refilled my water bottle and kept going.

Even though we were on the road, there was a lot to see. Creeks, trees, snow, and of course, more mountains. I was moving pretty slow, but didn't care at all. The mountains are pretty magical.

And then...... DOWNHILL!! I was feeling great and really picked up the pace on miles 7-10. I had one mile clock at 8:39(?!?). I passed at least a half dozen people.

Somewhere a few hours in, the clouds came out and we the temperature dropped a bit, which was NICE, and then we had some rain sprinkles for a few minutes, a welcome cool down.

The second aid station was around mile 10. Water, Gatorade and a bowl of fig newtons. Nothing else. The course flattened out for about 3/4 of a mile, before we FINALLY got to head onto the trail. It wasn't super technical, so I wasn't upset about not wearing trail shoes.

We were briefed about a section of trail that would require the use of "logs and ropes" - it wasn't as bad as I thought, but wow, the river was moving pretty quick:

I was thinking the worst would be over in terms of "washed out" trail sections, and enjoyed my views and my beloved trails.

I passed a decent number of folks on the trail section, which was nice. There were some sections of the trail that were flooded over, and one "intersection" where I wasn't even sure I was ON the trail. Those parts could have used some flags, as it turns out that L *did* make a wrong turn, but was lucky enough people behind her caught her before she got too far.

Shoes got a bit muddy

We came off the trail for the last station around mile 14. The last mile and half were on this "beach" area - I passed a few more people that clearly were "done" at mile 13.1... I didn't have a lot left in me, but I made sure to not let myself walk too long, and to jog for a few minutes here and there. I took a TON of pictures though, which I'm sure slowed me down too.

I could tell I was close when I saw volunteers at the top of a big hill. Then we had to run AROUND THE PARKING LOT to the finish. WHY? The course was already long, let us stop right there. And here, is my "finisher" picture from L. Not one of my better ones :D

There was no food at the finish. No water at the finish. So... shortly after that picture, we took off for the 15 minute drive to Leadville so we could buy something to drink at a gas station.

Official Time - 3:14:15
Official Place - 62/93 (YES!!!)

So, I'm glad I took a picture of my "new" Garmin to send to Heather, because apparently, I bought a defective watch. I had had trouble initially setting it up since I already have Garmin Connect for my 405, but finally had it working. I got home and plugged it in to sync, and although the workout had been saved and the watch was charging, it would NOT sync. I kept getting the error message "failed to sync" and "click here for more details." The more details? FAILED TO SYNC. I spent a good amount of time googling how to fix this, and decided to turn off and turn back on, as the only suggestion was that the prongs on the connector might be corroded - which was obviously NOT the case since the watch was brand new out of the box. Basically, the watch completely reset and erased my whole run. I'm bummed, I wanted to see the elevation and mile paces, but oh wells.

  • WTF. Next to zero information about this race, so feel comfortable going in blind with all your supplies.
  • The race REALLY should have communicated better about the course and the changes and the additional distance. I ended up being ok, but I'm guessing there were others that didn't fare so well.
  • VERY minimal aid stations. I'm guessing the original course only has TWO aid stations, so plan accordingly. BRING YOUR OWN FOOD/GELS. None on course.
  • Unisex cotton tee, I'll use as a sleep shirt.
  • No medals, but they did have awards for age group finishers, although the awards were long over before I finished.
  • Unacceptable that there was no water at the finish. Period.
  • On the PLUS side - I honestly loved this race. I love the mountains, I love downhills, I love trails. This had a little of everything for me.
  • I would probably run it again, just knowing in advance what I was getting myself into.


  1. That is a really beautiful course.

    Colorado is so pretttttty.

  2. Thanx so much 4 sharing these amazing photos!! Glad you made the trip up AND enjoyed the atmosphere. Cheers

  3. No water at the finish and extra MILES (not meters) is dangerous and unacceptable! Yikes! Good job on finishing strong!

    I bought and returned that same Garmin recently. It was my own fault for not realizing it didn't have autopause, which I need.

  4. The best thing about this race are your photos!

    Not having water at the finish is simply unacceptable in my opinion! There are a lot of things that race organizers do wrong that are just annoying, but not providing water is a pretty big thing and much worse than simply annoying.

    I am now fearful of ordering a similar Garmin. And what's with the no autopause?? Ugh, I hope they refund your money or exchange it for you!

  5. Can't believe they had no water/food at the finish. But oh my, those pictures are beautiful!!!


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