Three Weekends, Three Races
What a whirlwind of racing May has been!! I started with the Cimarron 50K which turned into a crazy adventure on May 3, followed that up with the Mother’s Day 5K on May 10, and closed it out with the Colfax Half Marathon on May 17. I started out the month with a huge PR at the Cimarron 50K, followed by a slight PR at the Mother’s Day 5K (although I have run faster in one of the Boulder Stroke and Stride races but the results were never “officially” posted – just the unofficial ones). I was hoping for my 3rd PR in 3 weeks at the Colfax Half Marathon but at the 10K mark I decided to just keep enjoying myself instead of trying to push for the last 12K. I came in less than 2 minutes slower than my half marathon PR, which is pretty good since I really enjoyed myself during the race and even stopped to take about 30 pictures and talk with some of the volunteers!
The weekend started early on Friday morning with a run up Lookout Mountain in Golden. I had 24 miles and 6,000+ feet of elevation gain on my training plan for Saturday but knew it wasn’t going to happen to I tried to squeeze as much of that running on Friday. Lookout Mountain is a frustrating place because every time I’m there I think how runnable the trail is, and then I start sucking wind and back off into a power hike! I really need to just suck it up! Anyways the trail was in perfect condition and almost empty so it made for a great start to the weekend.
After putting in a full day’s work and picking up my race packet on the way home, I quickly changed my clothes and headed to Mount Falcon with Jason and Moose to test out some headlamps. My coach, Ellie, had recommended the Petzl Nao but I was little skeptical due to the $185 price tag. Petzl has two other reactive lighting headlamps, the Tikka R+ and the Tikka RXP, that I wanted to compare to the Nao to see if the extra $100 (really only ~$50 thanks to the REI anniversary sale) was really worth it. We started up while it was still light but missed seeing a spectacular sunset because of the rain clouds. By the time we made it to the top of Mount Falcon it was fully dark and the Denver city lights sparkled at our feet. Jason took a couple of pictures that didn’t really turn out since he didn’t have his tripod and then we headed down because I was getting a creepy, hair on the back on my neck feeling. Luckily nothing weird happened but I’m definitely listening to those feelings when I get them after our encounter the night before the Cimarron 50K. On the way down I realized why the Petzl Nao is $100 more expensive than the other two headlamps. It was like hiking/running in daylight with that thing. In fact you couldn’t even tell another headlamp was on because the beam was so strong. It even provided some much needed depth perception in the dark. Needless to say I returned the other two headlamps on Sunday afternoon!
The next morning I woke up with the sun to complete my 24 miles and 6000+ feet of elevation gain with a slog up Bear Peak outside of Boulder. Every time I “run” this route I forget how much climbing is left after reaching the saddle. Luckily I ran into some Rocky Mountain Runners right below the saddle and stopped to chat with them while we all took a snack break at the saddle. I’m looking forward to making it to one (or many!) of their weekly runs to hopefully help me become a faster runner. Anyways, they helped me climb to the true summit faster than I ever have before (a 20ish minute PR). I didn’t hang out though because Jason and I had plans to go to the farmers market so I skeddadled down off the summit and back to my car. Rounding out my 24 hour, 3-run period with 23 miles and 7300 feet of elevation gain!
After a fun day hanging out in Cherry Creek and then with some of Jason’s friends from college, I did not want to wake up for the Colfax Half Marathon. In fact I debated turning off my alarm and just running 13.1 miles on a trail somewhere later in the day. Luckily I didn’t give in to those impulses and dragged myself to the starting line in my new, amazing Salomon S-Lab Exo Skort. This skort is seriously amazing and I don’t know how I lived without it! The half marathon had a ton of different starting corrals (not sure how many but I was in corral J and there were still more than half the participants behind me). Instead of all the corrals essentially starting at once, the race announcer held each corral for about 1-2 minutes to allow runners to spread out and avoid congestion through the zoo. Yes, the race ran through the Denver Zoo!! This was perfect because I didn’t have to worry about the usual dipping and dodging that happens in the first couple miles of a large race.
The first three miles wound through City Park (the same place I ran the Mother’s Day 5K a week earlier) with the last mile running through the zoo. Not all the animals were out but some of my favorites decided to show their faces including the cheetahs, rhinos, flamingos, and elephants! Of course I stopped at each animal enclosure to take a picture and mile 3 ended up being my slowest of the whole race (but still an 11:xx min/mile).
After the easy start, the race started the long uphill along Monteview Blvd (also 20th Ave). Before the start I decided to just enjoy the race and not try for a PR. I’m pretty sure I smiled for the entire 2 hours and 15 minutes I was out on the course except for the last 0.25 mile where I was focused on finishing. By the 10K mark I decided I was going to try out a new walk-run interval thing, where I walked one block and ran three blocks. This didn’t last long because the running sections seemed too short so after 2-3 of these intervals I switched to walking one block and running 5-6 blocks. I kept to that plan until the last 5K where I ran the entire thing. Of course I still stopped along the way to take pictures, since the point of this race was to enjoy myself and captured runners going through the fire station, a picture with two fire-women, and one of a firefighter without his shirt on in front of an old fire truck. I also had to stop for about 2 minutes while the police let cars cross the race course on Monaco Parkway. Most of the runners around me were really annoyed but I just kept on smiling.
At the 10 mile mark (with 5K left of the race), I decided to pick up the pace and try to run each of the remaining miles as a progression run. I easily managed this with a 10:58 min/mile for mile 11 (which included the stop for traffic), a 9:47 min/mile for mile 12 (which included stopping to take pictures of the old fire truck), a 9:18 min/mile for mile 13 and 8:54 min/mile pace for the last 0.1 mile. I crossed the finish line at 2:14:52, about 2 minutes and 4 seconds slower than my half marathon PR. I could have easily PRed this half by at least 5+ minutes if that had been my focus, but I would have suffered a lot more during the race. I’m glad I took the conservative approach and just enjoyed myself. This was my most enjoyable half marathon ever and the first one where I didn’t question my decision to sign up for the race during miles 6-13.
The weekend ended with a relaxing dinner at home accompanied by some delicious Infinite Monkey Theorem wine and an early bedtime. The next couple of weeks are going to continue to be crazy until I begin my taper for Lavaredo. I can’t believe I only have three long runs left and then it’s time to put all this hard work to the test. I’ll try to keep updating this blog each week, but forgive me if time gets away from me. Hope you all enjoyed your weekend and if you’re looking for a great half marathon, I highly recommend penciling the 2016 Colfax Half Marathon into your calendar!