Thursday, September 27, 2018

Snow Mountain Ranch Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, September 23
Granby, CO
Half marathon #183
Weather - Sunny, mild

For the first year, Snow Mountain Ranch was going to have a full weekend of events. ERS skipped the marathon distance and went right into added a 50K distance. Since I'm no longer an ambassador for the series, I figured I didn't need to run the ultra, plus, it was pretty expensive. I was, however, intrigued with the new half marathon course. In the past, the course had always been a double loop of the 10K course. Always a beautiful race, right at the end of when the leaves change. We had one race left to register for with our volunteer hours, so we picked this one. I figured A would want to run the 10K, but upon looking up the info, the 10K and half weren't on the same day. She said she would run the half with me (and then promptly forgot she had told me that).

We needed to leave the house by about 5:35, so I set an alarm for just after 5 am. We grabbed our gear, last minute jackets, and food, then headed out the door.

There was a surprising number of people on I70 at that hour, but everything thinned out once we exited on to 40 in Empire. The drive over the pass was uneventful (no snow, unlike last year), and we arrived at Snow Mountain Ranch right at 7:15.
It was COLD when we arrived. Lucy had read as low as 15 degrees on the drive up, and peaked around 25 when we pulled up. Glad I had my puffy coat! Used the bathroom, then got our bibs. First we ran into Tom and Lynette, then on the way to the car we saw Lexa, then we saw Maureen, and finally Alison and Kristin. With all the socializing we didn't have much time to get our stuff ready. It was borderline warm enough for not needing long sleeves, but I decided I'd rather be comfortable at the start. Put on sunscreen, used the bathroom one more time, then filled up my handheld and we lined up about mid-pack next to Mary.

Race started pretty much on time. Lexa, Mary, Kristin and A all took off. Goodbye!! I knew that this was going to be a more difficult course than in years past, and I had zero desire to burn out early. Plus, Tom had let me know where all the big climbs were.

I had started in a sparkle skirt and my team long sleeve shirt from last year, with it covering my Garmin. This ended up being great, as I had no idea what my pace/time was at ALL for the first 6 miles.

First mile or so was the same as the old course, and I only walked a few small sections. The course became a bit different shortly after, and we moved onto a section where we were running across some tall grass. I didn't love this part.
We then were on a dirt road for a brief period of time before turning onto some single track and then moving onto some wider trail. This section was steep, and I could see A and Kristin ahead of me. My first goal was to actually catch them! We were in a wooded section and then of COURSE I didn't quite catch them before the top. A turned around and saw me and they briefly waited for me to catch up.

We ran together to the first aid station (not stopping, because I knew that we would be back there in about a mile). There was a pretty runnable section here, including a nice, non-technical downhill. Where there is a down, there must be an accompanying up... even this section wasn't terrible, and we run/walked a bunch of it. I kind of got a second wind and beat them to the aid station. I stayed long enough to fill my bottle, and headed out. We did not stay together long, as Kristin and A seemed to be struggling a bit.

I was able to catch up to (and pass) a few people, that was nice. This whole section had not been familiar, so I was wondering what was up next. Shortly after mile 5, I could see we were going to be going UP. I caught up to a guy, and he let me pass him at the base of the climb (biggest climb of  the run!) and I did some jogging to put some space between us. This section was tough!! Definitely up higher than we had been in years past, and in an area with a lot of trees, although many of them were already missing their leaves.

I passed a gal, then ended up behind two older guys (who were both moving faster than I was, however). This climb never seemed to end. I did not want to stop and take a break, but my heart was beating pretty hard. Definitely a challenge! Somewhere after mile 6 all the climbing was making me super hot and sweaty, so I decided I would use the time when I was hiking to get out of my long sleeve shirt. Also a challenge, but I finally got it off before reaching the top.

There were some technical shorter climbs that would briefly level out, so there was actually a bit of running here. then we had a nice downhill, heading into the trees. I passed both of the older guys when we got to the road, then had my sights on a few gals in front of me.

I was running really well here and I was happy to have the chance to make up some time on my pace (although all things considered, it actually wasn't that terrible).

We then turned down a road that I remembered from previous years and I figured that I knew what the last 5ish miles had in store for me.

When I turned up the hill toward the summit above the lake, I saw Alison! We chatted briefly on my walk break, then at the aid station I filled my bottles and headed out. I figured I "only" had about 4 miles to go. My "A" goal was to beat previous times, although I also figured that this course was actually going to measure a half, while in previous years it had seemed a half mile short.

Anyway, running well, and I played leapfrog with a few different ladies on the next climb. It seemed that we were looping around this time, instead of heading directly into the finish. We actually had a fairly nasty climb on some grass right around mile 12. At that time, a gal started talking to me, telling me that her legs were toast (mine too!) and that she was just going to try to hang with me. The last mile went pretty quick, and I knew that we were done with the climbing, except for that nasty last tenth or so into the finish line.

I managed to stay ahead of her as we headed in, and I was really pleased to see that I did beat my times from previous years.
Nice to not be beat on an uphill finish! (Pic from Alison)
Garmin time  - 2:41:26
Garmin distance - 12.87 miles
Garmin pace - 12:32
Elevation gain - 1,549'
Mile 1 - 12:03
Mile 2 - 13:16
Mile 3 - 13:57
Mile 4 - 12:47
Mile 5 - 12:33
Mile 6 - 13:19
Mile 7 - 15:58
Mile 8 - 9:57
Mile 9 - 11:30
Mile 10 - 11:04
Mile 11 - 12:49
Mile 12 - 12:51
Mile 12.87 - 10:44 pace

I actually got to watch A cross the finish line for once, which was exciting. (And she won her age group again, although she was the only one in it).

Pic from Alison (which I LOVE)

  • I have run this race four times now, and I'm sure I'll be back. The new course was HARD, but I really liked it! (The course had about 400' more feet of climbing than previous years - I went back and looked at my previous times, and even though distances/climbing has varied, my average pace WAS the fastest this year. Woot!)
  • I didn't pay extra to get the shirt, it had a Colorado-y theme to it this year.
  • The medal this year is meh, but wow, the 50K medal or challenge medal (if you did both the 50K and HM) was REALLY cool.
  • As always, excellent post-race food & beer.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Week in Review (September 18 - September 24)

Tuesday (9,162 steps) - Nada?
Wednesday (18,581 steps) - Runners Roost Boulder! Hoka was there to demo shoes, so I decided I would try the Torrent. I didn't love it though.
It was raining pretty decently on our drive up, but it stopped right as our run was starting. I was blah pretty much the whole time, maybe I'm recovering from Sourdough? It was certainly hard on the way up (NCAR trail route, blech), but the way down was ok.

Thursday (15,680 steps) - Went to BPCO for the GABR! (Great American Beer Run!) Right before the run started A and I had a "discussion" about her lying and improper cell phone usage. She knew I was mad so she actually stayed with me on the run. We stopped at Goldspot for a 3 oz taster, then met up at Call to Arms for a pint. Chatted with Laurie Williams about her upcoming race in Germany, then we headed home for dinner.
Friday (11,368 steps) - Went to the gym before work for core & strength. Nothing really sticks out, other than I did a LOT of planks. Had to go to Highlands Ranch to the dealership so Lucy could get an oil change. It was actually "fast" - only 90 minutes. I ordered Red Robin on the way home. I got there at the time for pick up and it wasn't ready - took another 20 minutes. They were super rude about it too, so we won't be back.
Saturday (22,109 steps) - Ran an "easy" 8 with Runners Edge. Had planned on maybe 10, but 8 seemed like plenty.
We went to brunch at the Sweet Spot - so good!!
We stuck around forever at the store, long enough for the old team gear to get pulled out, which resulted in me buying some stuff. Grocery shopping and not much else.
Sunday (31,618 steps) - Snow Mountain Ranch half marathon.
Maureen, Colfax, A and I shut the place down. We planned to meet up in Idaho Springs at Tommyknockers. There was a ton of traffic getting there, and once we were parked the wait was pretty long, so we went to Westbound & Down. It was also crowded, but we found room at a big table. Took Colfax for a walk before heading home. Long day!
Monday (13,501 steps) - 6 am classes with Dallas. I was the only one in both classes, so I really got tortured. Since I didn't have a run, I told him we could do lower body stuff in strength, and WOW, was it hard!!

  • 122,019 steps
  • 30.1 miles run
  • 2 hours at the gym

Friday, September 21, 2018

Sourdough Trail "Marathon" (Race Recap)

Saturday, September 15
Ward, CO
Weather - Very sunny, warm

Back in April, a "free" race, the Sourdough Trail Marathon, was brought to my attention. I had barely been racing at the time, and I figured it was free, so why not sign up. When the race was initially announced, it was supposed to be 27 miles. Basically no other information, other than it was limited to 70 runners and would be an out and back on the Sourdough trail near Nederland and Ward.

Over the last few months, we received tiny bits and pieces about the "race" and the course. After I took a look at the gpx that was sent over, it looked like it would be closer to 24 miles, with just under 4000' of climbing. Not terrible, but definitely at a big higher elevation, and I'd be coming off a few months of hard training. Also, there was now a 7 hour time limit.

Out of the 70 people that signed up, we only ended up having 31 people start, with 27 finishers. I get that it was "free," but the race was made possible by people donating money, and the fact that barely a third of the people showed up was kind of a bummer. Wish people would have just emailed the RD as they decided to no-show and other people could have signed up... /soapbox

The race started at 7:30, and Waze estimated just over an hour to get there. I always forget that once I get on the two-lane windy roads in the mountains that speeds get pretty slow. Once I turned on the Peak to Peak highway, things calmed down a bit, saw some deer, and speeds increased. I got there as planned, right around 7. Gave me enough time to get my bib and hit the bathroom a few times.
It was a bit chilly at the start, so I opted to start in my arm sleeves, as I figured those would be much easier to shed than a thin jacket.

We started right on time, and I was the very last person across the line. The climbing started immediately, and within a few minutes I was already needing to walk. I made a mental note that at least it would be a downhill finish.
I passed one gal within the first 10 minutes, and managed to stay ahead of her the rest of the day. The trail was really nice, especially in the beginning miles. It was nice and wide, and not terribly rocky or technical. The climbs were not unbearable and I found that I was keeping a steady pace, although it was going to be a pace barely on track to stay under 7 hours.

The early miles were nice and shaded, although I warmed up QUICK. I had been wearing thin gloves that I got rid of after probably 15 minutes, and the arm sleeves came off probably within the first 30. I was already far enough behind people that I was alone most of the time. It was nice and quiet, and I really enjoyed this time, taking quite a few pictures.

There were two aid stations on the route, and I hit the first one somewhere around an hour and twenty minutes in. Barely even 6 miles in and I was already struggling for time. I couldn't believe it. I passed two more people at within minutes of the aid station (although they both ended up dropping later).

Jennifer was volunteering and warned me that the next section would be rockier. Oh. Great. Rocks. My favorite. There was some nice downhill, so I was able to make up quite a bit of time on this section. It was rocky, but not terrible. I didn't really notice at the time that the grade was fairly decent and that it would not be so awesome coming back.
This really was the perfect time of year to have this race, and I supposed trying to plan 5 months out, the weather could really be a crap-shoot. It was warm and sunny, but wow oh wow, were the trees and leaves soooo pretty!!

The trail entered into a big open space where I could really get a glimpse of the colors and the surrounding Indian Peaks.

Again, this section seemed really nice on the way out, but would be extremely warm and exposed on the way back.
I was making fairly good time at this point and I was still having fun. I was drinking enough and I was fueling well. 

There was actually a race photographer, and even though he definitely got a picture of me, it was never posted, so not sure what happened. Right after I saw him the course split and initially, I made the wrong turn. Thankfully, I realized it pretty quickly, only wasting a few minutes being off course.

At some point I got to the second aid station. I filled up my bottles and then headed out on the last section before we would turn around. People coming towards me were definitely hiking and not running.

At some point, I had a very strange interaction. We had been alone on the trail all morning (as in, no one but those in the race). There were some cyclists coming towards us and the first biker looked like my brother in law. He said hi and kept going. Then a few bikes after that a woman said hi to me by name. After a double-take, I realized it was my older sister, who I haven't seen or spoken to in a few years. Weird.
At some point, probably because I was zoning out, I tripped, or caught my toe on something and went flying. Initially, I didn't think it was that bad, but then I looked down and I was bleeding pretty good. I tried to use some of the water from my back to clean off the blood, but it didn't really work and I needed to conserve the water, so I took a pic and kept on.
Finally, FINALLY made it to the turn around.
Weirdly, it was ALL UPHILL FROM HERE. I didn't mind it initially because my knee was kind of throbbing from the fall and I was walking anyway. I had arrived at 3:15ish into the race, so I thought I had "banked" enough time to make the cutoffs.

Arrived back at the aid station and when I was filling up I all of a sudden saw a woman come out after me that I had not previously seen on the trail. She was pissed off after having missed the turnaround. Sucks, but this course was not marked, hence why I was running the route on mapmyrun just in case...
Somewhere around this point was when I was finally starting to realize exactly how much uphill there was going to be on the way back. Even so, I was trying to run at least 30 seconds here and there since I really didn't have any time to waste. 

I finally passed a woman right before the last aid station, although she ended up getting in front of me again because she didn't stop to get water and I did.

I was really done at this point. It was so hot, and by now I had only about 80 minutes to finish and there was still SO MUCH UPHILL. I just kept plugging along. Came upon a younger gal who was struggling a bit, passed her and the previous gal at the same time.

Finally we had some downhill. Thanks to getting a bit off course early on and not paying attention to the mileage at the turnaround I really didn't know how much I had left to run. I did know it was less than 6 miles from the aid station, so I just kept running whenever I could.

It was downhill enough that I actually was able to run quite a bit and my last few miles were actually my fastest. That nice "not rocky" trail? What was I thinking, it seemed really rocky on the way down.

I managed to cross the "finish" line with about 6 minutes to spare. Eek, that was pretty stressful for a free event.

Official time - 6:53:48
Overall place - 25/27 (of note, I was within 3 minutes of 3 other people. All but the top 9 finished over 6 hours and 10 minutes, so even though I placed "low," I would say I was fairly average for the event).
Gender place - 15/17
Garmin time - 6:53:26 (I had issues with my gps at the start)
Garmin distance - 24.41  miles
Elevation gain - 3,589'
Max elevation - 10,258'
Miles 1-5 - 17:32, 17:56, 17:30, 15:33, 14:47
Miles 6-10 - 15:57, 16:19, 15:03, 14:15, 18:18
Miles 11-15 - 15:06, 15:22, 22:02, 19:05, 17:04
Miles 16-20 - 20:32, 19:07, 19:54, 20:32, 19:12
Miles 21-24.41 - 16:14, 14:14, 13:40, 12:56, 12:47

I grabbed a ginger beer (I had never had one before and man, I can't say I liked it).
Had another runner take a picture of me and my injuries by the trail head before heading out.

  • You can't beat free! (I actually donated $30, so it wasn't "totally free," but pretty close). Plus, there were aid stations, official results on ultrasignup and 2 aid stations that we would hit twice.
  • Course markings - non-existent, with the exception of the turnaround sign. We were relying on the blue diamond markings and signage for the trail. I made only one wrong turn, but again, I had uploaded the route and realized it quick enough.
  • Aid stations were fine, really all I needed was the water. They had scratch at the second one, but no food/snacks, so definitely bring your own.
  • Reminder, thanks to my fall, that I really need to put a first aid kit back in my pack. Not sure what happened to my Ziploc of band aids and antiseptic & tissues.
  • Would I run again? Oh, probably.

Week in Review (September 11 - September 17)

Tuesday (8,930 steps) - Nothing, but I had a cupcake! (Did you know Mexican chocolate is the best?)
Wednesday (19,264 steps) - Dentist appointment in the morning, which meant I got to sleep in! Boulder Roost run club. It was over 90 degrees, and I struggled quite a bit on this one.

Thursday (12,785 steps) - Finally made it back to Lakewood Roost for Belmar Running Club. So hard to get down to the store during rush hour, takes well over 30 minutes. Ran the until the hill with Lisa & Annette. Fun times!
Friday (10,031 steps) - Yay another rest day!
Saturday (50,259 steps) - Sourdough trail "marathon."
Within 10 minutes of finishing, I jumped in the car. Thankfully, I'd spent 6 hours not calculating when I'd finish correctly, so I had time to stop in Nederland at the brewery Lisa and I had tried to go to two years ago. The beer was pretty good.

Got home with enough time to grab A and drive to Stenger Field to watch most of Rachelle's soccer game. It was soooo hot. Felt bad for the kids running around in the heat. We got pho on the way back to the house. I ended up having to spend a good portion of the evening messing with my iTunes because most of my music seemed to have mysteriously been deleted. Not fun.
Sunday (6,820 steps) - Slept in LAAAAAATE. The girls made breakfast and I spent some time cleaning the house when they went to the park. The rest of the day was spent on the couch, did this day even happen?
Monday (10,257 steps) - Gym in the morning. Tired, so skipped our run at North Table.

  • 118,346 steps
  • 33.4 miles run
  • Just one trip to the gym

I'm in some sort of slump right now. Just super unmotivated and not having a fun time with anything right now. I'm hoping that's only because we just got back from vacation and it's been super hot and gross. That, and I'm not really enjoying the continued high mileage training.

Week in Review (June 11 - June 17)

Tuesday  (13,780 steps) - Work in the office. Took Olive for a walk after work. Nothing else? Went to 4 Noses. Wednesday  (15,137 steps) - W...