Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Chase the Moon 12 Hour Endurance Run (Race Recap)

Highlands Ranch, CO
Friday, July 22 - Saturday July 23
Ultra Marathon #18
Weather - Humid, overcast, warm
I decided not to take the day off from work since I can never sleep past 7 anyway. I did, however, work a short day, leaving around 3:45 to pick up A and head down to the Chase the Moon. Traffic wasn't great, but I expected it from the last time I ran, in 2014. We arrived around 5:30 pm, with plenty of time to get the tent set up and for me to pick up my bib.

The weather looked really iffy. Dark clouds and thunder and lightning. We had a few raindrops, but nothing too terrible, we really lucked out. I spent the next hour getting everything ready to go, chatting with Heather and other teammates, using the bathroom, etc. Maureen and Colfax were volunteering, and she was nice enough to bring a pizza! About 15 minutes before the start I decided that a slice of pizza would be the perfect way to fuel. It was so tasty.

Heather and I planned to stick together, with me warning her that I had not been running at all, and that I would be going really slow. And by not running, I mean, seriously, I hadn't run since the super slow half marathon the Sunday before. We started in the back, and that's pretty much where we stayed the entire race.

It was warm and humid, but thankfully, overcast. Neither one of us had really paid too much attention to the race instructions, nor looked at a map. All I remember hearing was "if you are a solo or 5-person relay team, follow the blue markings." Since we were in the far back, it was a little disconcerting that we only saw ORANGE markings. We could see people in front of us that we knew were solo runners, so we figured we had to be going the right way. Heather and I had sort of an unspoken agreement that if one of us took a walk break, the other one would as well. We jogged most of the early miles, walking a bit only on the climbs. I was relieved to find that this year we were starting the course counter-clockwise, as I believed that to be the more difficult direction. We saw a snake that was slinking across the trail early on, rattling at us. SO TERRIFYING. I HATE SNAKES.
Couldn't get my camera out fast enough to see him slithering across the trail (shudder)
Isn't it so pretty??
We arrived at the Outlaw aid station, about 4.5 miles in (?) and I only grabbed a little cup of Mountain Dew. We asked the volunteer if we were on the right course for solo runners and only got an answer that we were at the Outlaw aid station. Yeah, we know. So we kept going, still only seeing orange flags/marking. Shortly after leaving, the sun started to set. We spent the next 10 minutes or so taking pictures. Worth it.



Out came the headlamps, with discussion of how far it was until the next aid station. We arrive at the wider dirt section of the trail. In the past, we went to the right for an out and back for the aid station. Not this year. Turns out that was a detail I should have paid attention to! I hadn't filled up my bottles at Outlaw and I ran out of water with about 2 miles until the start/finish. Womp. The last two miles I was surprised at how good I felt. I did notice, however, that I kept having to stop and wait for Heather. She hadn't been running much either, and had recently lost her big toenail. She insisted she was feeling ok, so I kept waiting.

Once at the start/finish, used the bathroom and then refilled bottles. I wasn't really hungry, and I was feeling very agitated with the amount of time we were at the aid station. I kinda rushed Heather out, and we headed out for loop 2.
Overlooking the city from the top of the course
I was still feeling good and had convinced myself that this was an "easy" loop. I was still spending a lot of time waiting on Heather, but for now, it was ok since we were doing a small amount of climbing. The moon was starting to come out, but I couldn't seem to get a good picture of it.
Headed to the west side of the course and I was actually having a pretty good time. Thankfully the newer headlamp I bought is WAY brighter than my other one. Maybe a mile outside of Outlaw I realized that Heather wasn't behind me, and I couldn't see her headlamp. At this point I made the decision not to wait. I was feeling way better than I expected and wanted to see how many miles I could put in. When I arrived at Outlaw I asked the volunteers to let her know why I couldn't wait. I spent the rest of the loop feeling a little badly for leaving her, especially after we had agreed to stick together. Sometimes, I guess you have to run your own race?

Arrived at the start/finish to see Maureen and Colfax still hanging out. I was very quick at the aid station as I had decided I really wanted to go for 4 loops. I didn't see Heather on my way out and hoped that she wouldn't be mad for me leaving her. The counter-clockwise loop did not feel as hard in the dark as I had remembered from 2 years ago (thankfully). Almost stepped on a toad around mile 23, which was pretty terrifying. At Outlaw the volunteer told me they had ice. ICE. All the water at the aid stations was lukewarm and the the thought of ice cold fluids made me SO HAPPY. It took her a few minutes to get the cubes into my bottle, but it was totally worth it. Surprised/pleased at how much running I was able to do this loop. Finally getting hungry, I eat some peanut butter pretzels and beef jerky. In and out of the start/finish (which by now was VERY quiet) in a minute or two, only briefly chatting with David (the race director).

Out for my final loops, with about 3.5 hours to complete. Pretty sure I can get this done with no problem as long as I keep moving. I risked not bringing a long sleeve with me as I was STILL hot, even knowing I got cold around dawn the last time I ran. I saw Heather about a mile in and she seemed happy to see me, concerned only that she was going the right way. Still some running this loop, but not as much as in previous loops. Sun started to come up shortly before I arrived at Outlaw, where I ditched my headlamp. The last 4+ miles to the finish were a death march for me, walking pretty much the entire time. I don't know why the sun coming up during a race tires me, but it always does.

I arrived at the finish in just under 11.5 hours, getting passed by two relay runners right as I crossed (who were trying to goad me into running faster - c'mon ladies, I've been out all night, you haven't). Considering my injury, I'm pleased with how I felt and how many miles I was able to complete. Met up with Heather, grabbed a cold burrito and then went to help A pack up all the gear.
Somehow neglected to get a single picture of myself before/during/after the race - this was what I wore, along with my medal
Official  Time - 11:24:03
Official Miles - 41.2
Overall Place - 30/78
Gender Place - 11/35
Division Place - 5/12
Miles 1-5 - 13:06, 13:47, 14:00, 14:39, 16:55
Miles 6-10 - 15:26, 16:30, 15:46, 15:10, 15:27
Miles 11-15 - 22:16, 16:00, 15:38, 16:21, 15:13
Miles 16-20 - 13:49, 15:48, 15:51, 15:14, 17:34
Miles 21-25 - 15:32, 14:29, 17:19, 16:24, 20:58
Miles 26-30 - 16:39, 16:38, 16:50, 16:10, 16:42
Miles 31-35 - 17:44, 18:26, 17:56, 17:04, 16:19
Miles 36-41.25 - 18:19, 16:58, 19:35, 20:11, 17:59, 17:43, 13:25 for the last 1/4 mile!

Thoughts:
  • Once I realized that the blue/orange markings only affected the east side of the course along a small section the course was super easy to navigate. I think the course was marked very well, with confidence flagging and glow sticks at night.
  • There was only the one aid station on the course, which was fine once I *knew* there was only one. Sodas and tons of ultra snacks. No "warm" food that I saw, although after dark there supposedly was at the start/finish.
  • Cool race shirt this year (no pic of course).
  • Medal is the same as two years ago, but with a (cheap) year specific ribbon. Still don't like that the only increments are 50k or 50 mile for designations on the middle. Wish they would just leave that off and say 12 hours.
  • The "party" atmosphere was definitely gone this year. Flippin' Flapjacks was a no show (so sad), and they opted not to do beers and awards at the park this year so everyone just kinda left when they were done. Kind of a downer way to end a 12 hour race! A and I ended up going to Snooze for breakfast, where I had some truly delicious blueberry/lemon danish pancakes.
  • Would I recommend? Absolutely. If you are looking for a sort of hilly, not very technical run in the dark, do it! It's a great way to go for your first ultra as you have 12 hours to get it done. Depending how the next year goes I'll either run again, or volunteer like I did last year.

1 comment:

  1. I was super confused by the markings as well for the first lap since I also only heard "solo's follow the blue". Other than that I did like it - sad to hear the finish is usually a little more happening and fun. It did seem like everyone just sorta left right around or before 7. Nice job on 42 miles!!!

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