Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Snow Mountain Ranch half marathon (Race Recap)

Granby, CO
Saturday, September 17
Weather - Perfect!

I got a comp for this race back in June, and was looking forward to running for the sixth time. When I was in Banff, I even managed to convince Heather to come and join me!

Race Day

Since we were staying ON-SITE we didn't have to get up early. I was running at 7:30, but Heather's race wasn't starting until 8:30. I figured it's "just a half" so I didn't even get up until 6:30. Braided my hair, ate my yogurt and one mini donut, and got all my stuff ready. It was pretty chilly out, but I know it heats up, so I was confident my tee, skirt and gloves would be fine. 

We realized that the start line was literally like a quarter mile away, but decided to drive anyway so Heather could hang out in the car.

It was about 7:10 when I went in to get my bib and use the bathroom. Suddenly, there was only a few minutes until the race started, so I had to head over to the line.
Unlike every other year - no changing leaves :(
I lined up towards the back and was surprised to see Monica! She was telling me that she was going to be in the back as she hasn't been running. We will see. 

As usual, Jeff (the race director) basically walked us all through the entire course before the National Anthem and then it was time to run. 

My coach had told me to take it easy, but if I was feeling well, he indicated that I could "push the pace" if I wanted to. Well, I felt like garbage. Right from the start. I overall felt fairly fatigued and just blah. 

I started walking halfway up the first hill and basically did a run/walk for most of the day. In the past, when I've been feeling good, I've been able to run a lot of the course. Not this time. It was chilly and a tad muddy from all the rain we had received the night before.

The first miles was probably the fastest of the day for me, and after that it all went downhill. I did not remember there being so much tall grass on the course. IT SMELLED HORRIFIC. I don't know that I have ever mentioned it on this blog, but the smell of wet grass is the worst smell on earth to me. I had already not been feeling great at the start, and all this grass made it even worse. 
I. Walked. A. Ton. 
It was still a beautiful morning, and I found myself chatting with a few ladies on the course. One was new to trail running and one was back to running after some health issues. They both indicated they were pacing off me. Flattering, but probably not in their best interest the way this was going. In and out of the first aid station, stopping only long enough to grab a Spring Energy. There was a mile-ish loop with some flat (that I walked), then a nice downhill (but I was afraid to run fast because of all the divots I couldn't see with the grass). So, I didn't make up any time, but that was fine. Back to the aid station, grabbed another gel then off I went.

One would think that I would remember the course better, since I've run it MULTIPLE times, but... I didn't.

Around mile 5 or so was when we got to the steep climbing section. I hadn't been paying attention at the start and hadn't really been looking at the markers, and was worried that Heather would end up on this section and then be annoyed with me. (Turns out, the 10k was actually the back half of our course, not the front half).
I passed one woman I had been chasing for a bit on the climb, but then I ended up behind a woman that was jogging slower than I was walking. In the past, this section was super pretty with changing leaves, but it didn't look like that this year. Also, it was extremely overgrown in areas - nothing like I have seen in the past. 
I had hoped the descending switchbacks would be nice, but it too, was overgrown, and some of the trail was even washed out in areas. I was still behind the slow jogger because I wasn't necessarily in a hurry, but finally I got irritated and asked to pass. That ended up being close to the end of the single track, however. We were then on a nice dirt path. Finally some runnable trail! 
There were a bunch of people wandering around closer to the parking lot (with kids and dogs), but thankfully no one got in the way. My stomach was still feeling off, so I was happy that there was a bathroom at the lot. Felt somewhat better after that. There was a bit of a runnable section on some wider road, but it was definitely really muddy in areas. A 50k runner passed me and was gagging and I thought he was going to puke, but thankfully he didn't (that I saw). Got to the last aid station, grabbed a gel. Walked up the hill to the outdoor church, and then I still had to walk a bit on the downhill near the lake. What a disappointment! There was some construction on the far side of the lake, and I saw a sign that there were no pedestrians allowed past that point, so I was wondering if I had missed a turn, but thankfully saw someone in front of me. Ran a bit more here, then realized I was almost by the start line (finally). I had felt so awful the whole race that if I wasn't as far mileage-wise, that I was tempted to drop. My watch already had me over ten miles, so I kept going. Blah.

Headed up the hill, walking, of course. More tall grass. More mud. 
I saw Heather! She was pretty unamused also. Sorry, Heather! A little running here and there, but I knew by this point that my goal of beating my 2020 time of 2:51 was not even remotely possible. The only goal at this time was to just not have anyone in my race pass me. I did get passed by a few more 50k runners, but with all the divots and grass, I was still not willing to risk an ankle roll.
The last hill up the grassy area was just as miserable as I remember. With how tall the grass was, there didn't seem to be a direct trail and I felt like I kept choosing wrong. Finally, finally, FINALLY, I got on the last section at the top before the descent. One of the ladies I had been running with in the beginning was right in front of me. I didn't think it was possible to beat her, but I at least wanted to keep up. Tried to save all my energy to run up that last stupid hill into the finish, and I did it. Woo!!
Not feeling great after crossing the finish, all I wanted to do was sit down. Grabbed my medal and headed over to where the beer was. Spent some time talking with Heather, Greg, Monica (and her friends). Disappointing race, but a beautiful day!!

Official Time - 3:08:39
Garmin Time - 3:08:42
Official Pace - 14:24
Overall Place - 72/80
Division Place - 14/16
Elevation Gain - 16,31'
Mile 1 - 12:55
Mile 2 - 14:50
Mile 3 - 1557
Mile 4 - 14:16
Mile 5 - 13:54
Mile 6 - 15:58
Mile 7 - 18:15
Mile 8 - 12:22
Mile 9 - 13:49
Mile 10 - 12:22
Mile 11 - 15:37
Mile 12 - 14:12
Mile 13 - 13:26
Mile 13.1 - 11:02 pace

Thoughts:
  • I love this race and I'm sure I will be back another year. I didn't have a great race this year, and I blame part of this on course conditions (ew to the mud and insanely tall grass), but I just also wasn't feeling great.
  • Medal this year was "meh" - I wish the ribbon at least was half marathon specific!
  • Boo that there were no changing leaves like years past, guess they are changing later this year.
  • Again, race shirt is optional, I'm not sure what this year's looked like, since I didn't get one.
  • Post-race party pretty good! I was feeling nauseous at the finish so I didn't eat anything, but they were back to having beer, which I appreciated.
  • Will I run this again? I'm sure I will! I hope the course is in better shape next time, and of course, I also hope to be feeling better.

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