Thursday, June 8, 2017

Dirty 30 50k (Race Recap)

Golden, CO
Saturday, June 3
Ultra Marathon #23
Weather - perfect!

The Dirty 30 is one race I had never done because it always seemed to conflict with something else. Back in February I decided to make this my "A" spring race. And then the same thing happened that seems to happen every single time I have a goal race. I didn't properly train and the weather was shit in the month leading up to it.

Unlike my last "A" race, Lean Horse, I wasn't injured going into it. But with 11 months of anti-treadmill running under my belt, a super chaotic schedule, new job, etc., I simply did not get in the proper training. I didn't get in any really long runs (I think I maxed out at 18 miles... but that was two months before the race) and I *certainly* didn't get my trail running in. With all the moisture (both rain and snow), I think I only hit the trails 2-3 times ALL TRAINING CYCLE.

So it should come as no surprise that I pretty much fell apart during this race... but let's rewind.

About two weeks prior to the race I figured I should start planning my race day. That's when I realized that in order to do the early start I would need to carpool - WITH AT LEAST TWO OTHER RUNNERS. Awkward, since I didn't know of two other idiots like me that were running the 50k - all my friends were running the 12 miler. Luckily, there was a ride share link and I managed to connect with some runners that allowed me to tag along. Also a stipulation for doing the early start was picking up my bib in Golden on a week day, which I managed to do the Thursday before the race. Phew.
Race Day

The plan was to meet at Amy's house in Golden at 4:30 in the morning. I unfortunately woke up before my alarm went off (at 2:57) and opted to not go back to sleep. Turns out the extra time was helpful. 1). I forgot my purse and had to go back to get it and 2). the on ramp for the highway was closed, so I had to take more side streets than expected. I still arrive at Amy's house a few minutes early. Jesse and his girlfriend, Brit, arrived a minute later and we loaded up all our gear. I tried to offer them gas money and they wouldn't take it.

I was very glad someone else was driving, as it was dark, there is no cell phone service once you enter the canyon and I had NO idea where we were going. (I'll refer to my lack of reading information more than once in this post).

We were parked with a little less than an hour until the start. Used the bathroom a few times, and then with maybe 15 minutes to go we headed down the hill to the start line (where I used the bathroom at least two more times). Amy, Brit and I were all doing the early start, but Jesse wasn't, so he offered to take my coat back to the car with him. (Seriously, these guys were the best random strangers!)
Listened to the last minute race instructions (follow the pink flags), and at 6:01, we were off. We headed up the road to the trail head and then the first of many MANY walking segments began. We bottle-necked a bit here as we were quickly thrust into single track. Sadly, only a few days later, I can barely remember anything about the course itself.

I recognized the early sections of the course as being the same as the Black Hawk half from last summer. Lots of green, and we got to run beside the creek. We hit the first aid station around 5 miles in. I took only a cup of coke and kept going.

And this is where memory fails me. All I can seem to remember is that the course was either up or down, there did not seem to be any inbetween. Since I haven't mentioned it yet, the scariest part of the race is the amount of climbing. We were supposed to climb over 7,200' over the course of 32ish miles. Holy crap.

Somewhere around mile 8, just before all the elite males ran by me (remember they started an hour later)

I can't remember the difference between the second and third aid station, other than I knew there was climbing right out of the gate after the third one. And that's pretty much when the race really started to fall apart for me.
One of my teammates captured this as I was coming into an aid station
I felt pretty good the first 15 or so miles, you know, because I was adequately trained for that kind of distance. And then shit got real hard, real fast. As I've mentioned before, I'm a terrible climber. And there was a LOT of climbing. And for me, not the kind of climbing where I just keep hiking and plugging along. It was steep and it was unrelenting. I had been keeping a pretty steady pace for a while and then I just kept getting passed. I saw my teammate Kaitlyn a few times on the course, she ended up running in 7ish hours and looked awesome on the climbs. Meanwhile, I'm wondering what superhero gene these people have that give them the ability to run up these hills I can barely walk up.

The trail also got exceedingly more technical. There was a section where we had to climb over boulders, and then, when the climbing FINALLY stopped, it also became ROCKY. Where I lack in my ability to climb hills, I'm normally able to compensate with bombing the downhills. Unfortunately, my quads were like liquid lava. They were shaky and hot and exhausted. I cautiously tried to run down, only to roll my ankle on a loose rock. Not what I want to happen going into peak trail running season! I made the decision to take it easy on the downhills, which really hurt my overall place, but at least I wasn't going to hurt myself.
And the sky was ominous...
As the afternoon wore on, the sky started to look scary. Sure enough, we were heading into aid station 4 when it started to rain. And then it POURED. Turns out, my windbreaker is just that, a windbreaker. I was completely soaked within a minute or two. The temperature dropped quite a bit and I grew concerned that if the storm got worse that they could cancel the race and pull us of course - we still had not climbed Windy Peak!

I was ecstatic to see Terry and Ben volunteering as course marshals! I had been in a dark place and it was so awesome seeing some friendly faces. As I headed down (WHY ARE WE GOING DOWN JUST TO START CLIMBING AGAIN??) I was thinking, shit. I'm going to be coming back up this way in a bit.
My jacket is NOT a rain jacket...

In a bit... I'm hilarious. At mile 25 of this race, we had to climb Windy Peak, which is something like 1800' of climbing in just a couple miles. I thought I suffered in the early climbing? No. This was like nothing else I've climbed, with maybe the exception of a 14er, but maybe with a bit more air. All of the runners I had been able to stave off were passing me as I was pulling over to breathe and will my stupid noodle legs to continue. I was struggling to maintain something like a 30 minute mile pace. I was now worried about cutoffs that should not have been a concern, ESPECIALLY with an early start. Yet here I was.

Finally I saw Brit on her way down - she looked fantastic and was in good spirits. And then finally finally FINALLY, made it to the summit. My bib was marked and scanned, and then headed back down. I again ran into the same issue with the trail being a bit too technical to really run down (lots of tree roots and rocks), but at least I could breathe, and at least my legs were functioning.

The hill to get back to Terry and Ben that I was dreading THANKFULLY didn't seem long or terrible. (I mean, it wasn't a walk in the park, but not was bad as I thought it would be). Gave Ben a hug and he said it was "mostly downhill" to the finish. Ben is a liar. There was a decent amount of climbing for a half mile or so (although very tame compared to what we had done earlier) and then the last 3/4 or so was rolling and downhill - FINALLY. It was also NOT as technical, so I was able to run this part. I was able to run into the finish, and was really happy to see Alison (who had run the 12 miler) still at the finish line. She got a few pictures of me running in.

Elevation profile... see flat anywhere?

Official results:
Official time - 10:16:49
Overall place - 339/353
Gender place - 101/110
Division place - 44/49

Garmin splits:

I immediately saw Jesse and Brit, and they had brought my bag so I was able to get out of my shoes and into my oofoos. Went to the finish area and got my beer and burger. We headed out shortly after 5 and they drove me back to my car in Golden.

  • This course is not to be taken lightly. I took the early start option because I really *am* back of the pack slow on trails. Had I not taken the early start I would have DNF'd because I would not have finished in the TEN HOUR TIME LIMIT. 
  • There are a ton of spigots and turnoffs on the course. The course was marked exceptionally well. There was only one section (near the bouldering) where I had to look around for the next flag. Granted, I'm slow and walked a lot, so it may have been more of challenge for the faster people.
  • Pretty low-key event. Other than my bib and race shirt, I got nothing. There are no medals or general finisher awards, although I'm sure the winners get something.
  • Post-race festivities were great - beer and burgers.
  • Would I do this again? Probably not... not because it was a bad event, just because it's a little bit "more" than I like to have in a race (difficulty-wise).

1 comment:

  1. I just found this blog looking for information about the Autumn Color Run (thanks for the candid review, by the way!) You are so inspiring!! I am a beginning runner with 3 kids - I did my first 10k a couple of weeks ago and am looking for a half to sign up for in a few months. I love reading about your experiences (I'm guessing that my day is going to largely be reading your race recaps ;)). Thank you for sharing!


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