Monday, August 15, 2016

Run the Rockies Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, August 13
Frisco, CO
Half Marathon #151
Weather - 39 degrees at the start, sunny and warm at the finish

Back when I was still running and planning on my "A" race happening, I signed up for the Run the Rockies trail race in Frisco as a last "long" trail run. Registering in April I only paid $50!! There was no Runners' Edge training run for the week because everyone was at GTIS, which I won't run again. Ever.

Anyway, since I have basically been retired from running for the last month outside of races, I was sure not in tip-top shape for this event. The hip is doing SO much better, however, and one morning I even got up and jogged 20 minutes before work. So with the hip on the mend and the registration already paid, off I went.

The race has a half marathon and a 10K. The half starts at 8:00, with the 10K starting 30 minutes later. Frisco is a bit less than an hour and a half away, so I headed out the door at 5:30 to get there with plenty of time to get my bib and use the bathroom, etc.

I was able to find parking about 12 spots away from the start/finish arch and got my bib in minutes. Now what? It was pretty chilly, mid to upper 30's. However, the sun was shining and I knew that it would be warm later in the day. I used the bathroom a few times, ate a granola bar for breakfast and watched Netflix on my phone until about 15 minutes before the start. Fellow ERS ambassador Tom and his friend Lynnette were running, but other than that, I didn't see any of my teammates up there (they must all have been at GTIS).

Like always, I lined up at the back and hoped for the best. The first half a mile or so led away from the Frisco Nordic Center on bike path. Then we entered single file onto the trails around the Dillon Reservoir. The trail was not very technical at this point, packed down dirt and some tree roots, but nothing intense. I had actually glanced at the course map this time, but it was a confusing topographic map I didn't really understand. The elevation chart didn't look that bad, I estimated only one area of steeper climbing, with maybe 600-700 feet of gain total. The race director had sent out an informational email the week of the race and stated the course was short at 12.76 miles. ALL OF THE ABOVE WAS A LIE!!!

Anyway, the first mile ticked by, I RAN THE WHOLE THING (this is monumentally huge for me right now) and I clocked just over 12 minutes. What the what? Practically a sprint pace. I had started in the back but had no idea if anyone was actually behind me. The goal, of course, was to NOT come in last like the last few events.

This section of the course was so pretty. It's not often, in Colorado, that we get to run in the mountains AND along a pretty lake! It was pretty flat and I was running most of it. Optimistic that he race was going to go well! We ran through a campground and then onto the road (briefly) for the first aid station. I grabbed a cup of water and then headed back onto the single track.

I caught up to someone and passed her in a really pretty section of the course. Lots of trees and views of the water. The trail did not become technical at this point, but there were more rocks on the trail than before and the course went from flat to some rollers. Still really pretty!

Really enjoyed running the perimeter of the reservoir, which lasted until maybe mile 4.5 when we moved into the hills. This was the most exposed section of the course, and where the bulk of the climbing would begin (and pretty much continue until mile 9). I passed a few ladies, ran what I could, walked the rest. Got to the next aid station at mile 5.3, where I refilled my bottle and applied more sunscreen. Managed to catch another runner (hurray!) and continued on. The climbing was a bit tougher than I expected (and I always forget that at 9000' elevation EVERYTHING is harder).
The views at the top were gorgeous. Snow-capped mountaintops, wild flowers and the reservoir. Somewhere around what I imagined must be the "turn around," I saw Tom and Lynette. Hooray!

Again, I had misread the profile, and thought that by the time we "turned around" that all the climbing was done. This was not the case. I was getting tired, but the good news is I knew I was nowhere near last place, since I had already passed a half dozen people. Also, while I was tired, I was not HURTING, which is a step in the right direction.

I had another good mile when we finally did get some downhill between miles 9 and 10. With the the thought that the course was short, I thought I could finally go under three hours! There was another half mile or so of climbing at mile 10, but then we had some switchbacks down to the campground, hit the last aid station, and then back onto the flat/tree root section of the trail to head back to the finish.

By about mile 12 I knew that there was no way that the course was going to only be 12.76 miles. I managed to pass another few runners in this section, and sure enough, we hit the 12.76 before we even got to the pavement.

For the first time in AGES, I had some energy left at the end. One of the ladies I had passed ran past me with a little over a tenth to go and then started to walk. I could see the finish area and decided to book it and see if I could hang on. I could hear her and her friend coming behind me, but I was NOT about to get passed right at the finish.
See, not letting the girl get by me!!
No medal at the finish, but we did get a pint glass. I headed over to the keg immediately to get that thing filled!

Official Time - 3:03:09 (gun time only, apparently)
Overall Place - 140/163 (NOT EVEN CLOSE TO LAST!!)
Gender Place - 69/87
Division Place - 27/31
Elevation Gain - 1,076'
Minimum Elevation - 9,086'
Garmin Time - 3:02:52
Garmin Distance - 13.15 miles (Everyone I spoke with had over 13.1 miles on their watch)
Mile 1 - 12:11
Mile 2 - 13:28
Mile 3 - 14:07
Mile 4 - 14:24
Mile 5 - 14:07
Mile 6 - 15:31
Mile 7 - 13:42
Mile 8 - 13:37
Mile 9 - 15:14
Mile 10 - 13:14
Mile 11 - 14:54
Mile 12 - 13:06
Mile 13 - 13:50
Mile 13.15 - 9:44 (#elite)

Spent post-race chatting with Tom and Lynnette and getting some finisher pictures. Ate one piece of pizza and then headed back home. (Saturday races in the mountains are SO MUCH BETTER than ones on Sundays...)
Me and Tom

  • I loved, loved, LOVED this race. This was exactly what I want out of a trail race. Most of the race I was alone and it was so peaceful and beautiful (with the exception of my heavy breathing, of course).
  • The course was incredibly well marked. There was orange confidence flagging and signage for all major turns.
  • The aid stations had water and Scratch, as well as "food" - pretzels, gummies, etc. (although I didn't take any of that). I didn't eat much this race either, just one package of Honey Stinger chews.
  • Did I mention this was one of the most beautiful courses I have ever run?
  • The race registration was very reasonable, and I didn't even sign up at the cheapest price. Looking at the website, early registration is only $40!!
  • The race shirt is a cute black tech tee (that I will actually probably wear again), again, my apologies for no picture of it.
  • The finisher part was at the Nordic Center and was basically just music, pizza and craft beer. But what else do you need, really?
  • Kind of a bummer that there was no medal, but I love the low registration price, and who doesn't need another pint glass?
  • Would I run again? ABSOLUTELY. I already have plans of doing this one again next year. 


  1. Wow, sounds like good news all around! Happy to hear your hip is improving. I get anxious about hips!

  2. so happy to read that your hip is finally feeling better and you had a great race! The scenery is gorgeous and looks well worth all the elevation!

  3. Gorgeous!! (OMG, I can't imagine trying to run a trail race in CO. My seal level ass has been trashed the few times I've run in CO at all!)


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