First Race Finish In Almost A YEAR!
Ok so it wasn’t an ultra. It was only 8 miles. But this is my first race finish (besides the 24 Hours of Palmer Lake where I stopped running when I felt like it), since the Cimarron 50K on May 3rd of last year. The weather was miserable so I’m glad to have persevered and finished, instead of staying home and skipping the race like I wanted to when I woke. If Jason hadn’t sleepily wished me good luck, I might have crawled back into bed. If I hadn’t seen my friend Abby at the start, I might have skipped the start, even though I was there. I did sort of wimp out and dropped down from the 25K to the 13K (8 miles) but I made that decision before I even got in my car in the morning.
The race started under grey skies with the briefest glimpses of the sun. The race was billed as a flat and fast course – which would have been true if it wasn’t under 3-4″ of snow that had turned into slushy mud in some spots and ice in others. I’m not in shape for a fast race so I just settled into the conga line of runners trying to avoid the mud and puddles and not fall on the ice. I was immediately happy that I listened to my PT’s advice to wear grippy shoes, although I did wish I had worn my Salomon Snowcrosses instead of the Sense 5 SG. The carbide studs would have done amazing on the course today!
The course consisted of a constant but easy climb for the first 5k, then a sustained climb for about 3k, and then mostly downhill for the last 5k, making a nice loop of the Greenland Open Space between Denver and Colorado Springs. I made a goal to run as far as I could before I started walking and I was pleased when I made it to the turn uphill before I started walking. At that point the nice packed trail turned into a snowy mess anyways and I was able to walk as fast as the people in front of me were running. The 3 uphill kilometers went by quickly and soon we were working our way back downhill.
I love downhill running in the snow. Let’s be honest, I love any type of downhill running. But I especially love running downhill in the snow on a snow trail where you can really open your stride. Unfortunately the trail wasn’t wide enough to pass people and the people in front of me didn’t seem to enjoy downhill snow running as much as I do. I started to get a little hungry at this point, but it would have been quite the process to get my Clif Shot Bloks out of the back of my hydration pack (which I was wearing under my down jacket) so I decided to suck it up for the last 5k. There were a couple of opportunities to pass people during the last 5k, but not nearly enough. I frequently found myself walking behind people who were running uphill.
With about a mile left to go in the race I decided to make my move and pass the people who were now starting to walk on the downhills too. I passed a good number of them and was making my move to pass the last person between me and the finish line (at least that I could reasonably pass) when I stepped funny on something hidden under the snow. My ankle rolled and I heard the terrible popping sound that comes with a sprain. If the popping sound wasn’t enough, I could feel something was wrong when I tried to run. I thought I could walk it off since in the past that has been the best medicine for my multiple injuries. It hurt a lot when I tried to run so I walked until the people I had passed caught up with me. There was no way I was going to let them pass me back with a quarter of a mile left in the race. So I sucked it up and ran it in.
I was soooooo happy to finally finish a race. It has been a long, miserable string of DNFs between Lavaredo, The Rut, Antelope Canyon and even the Rattler/Cheyenne Mountain last weekend. Although I’m definitely not where I want to be at this time of year, and I was really hoping to get in a good ultra race before San Juan Solstice in two months, I’m very happy to have a finish to my name! I’m not sure of my official time but it was somewhere around 1:41ish. Since this is the only 8 mile race I’ve ever done, it also means I have a shiny new PR!
A final note: lately I’ve had my GPS watch in metric. Thinking about elevation gain in meters instead of feet is much more manageable (3.28 ft per meter, which means there are 304.8 m in 1000 ft). It’s also really nice that kilometers are shorter than miles, so thinking about only having 2 km left in the race somehow seems so much better than thinking about having 1.25 miles. It’s all just a mental game since the time required to cover the distance is the same regardless of whether you’re thinking about it in metric or imperial units. Maybe I just really enjoy doing math while I’m running since doing the conversions distracts me. Anyways, try switching up your units and see what you think.