So yeah, I was a little quiet about this but I ran a race this weekend, The Bear Chase Half Marathon trail race. While I ran the half marathon, there was also a 10K, 50K and a 50-miler. The course is at Bear Creek State Park, which is on the complete opposite side of town from me and an area I have never run before, so that was pretty cool.
Physical Therapist is at your first real running race in over a year and a half post-injury? Hum... I was kinda hoping I'd get a pre-race leg massage treatment, like when I go in weekly and get my hamstring magically "fixed" - but ... uh...not so much. But it was pretty cool to be there with him none-the-less.
So let's just start this off by getting all the disclaimers out before I start writing about the race, you know so there are no excuses later on when I start whining about my pace :). Here we go: this is a trail race, according to Fast Cory, you have to let your pride down a little because the trails can quickly slam your pace to a halt when you're tackling big, bad-ass hills (and rocks, and dirt, and mud...); it was hilly; it was fairly warm; I waded through not one but three water crossings; I had an ominous scratch at the back of my throat for the past few days, many half sleepless nights this week; and my allergies are screaming in the red zone right now, my nose is a constant drip and my eyes look like I've been crying for weeks on end. I think those are all the possible race hindrance concoctions, could have sworn there were more, but guess not. Well, aside from the fact that my current post-injury pace is hovering just above the pathetic zone. But we won't go there. Again.
My goal for this race was not to race it for any sort of PR or even to knock out anything outstandingly speedy. My goal was to finish strong, and give me some indication where my currently fitness level is. And see how prior ailments held up, especially my foot. That's all. In fact, I had no customary pre-race anxiety attacks (love to train....racing not so much); when you have zero expectations, it's hard not to exceed them.
The first 6 miles passed without incident. The trail was dirt packed with many loose rocks which wandered through the trees around the lake. It was nice and shady with some rolling hills.
I found a guy who seemed to have a good, steady pace which seemed to bode well with how I was feeling (and he was kinda cute, which helps the pace :)) so I stuck behind blue shirt/green shoes guy for this entire stretch and I became his wingman. I probably was annoying him, whatever. I was pleased to see I finished the first 6 with a 9:25 pace...this is by far faster than I have run anything this distance for ... well ...you know. I knew I could run a bit faster here, but I didn't know if I could sustain this pace for the entire race duration so I was really pleased my old race antics of starting out too fast were not coming into play....but really, I had no idea how I'd fare by mile 10, let alone 12 or 13. Many times I recall thinking just how much fun I was having on the trails and how lucky I was to be running them! As mile 6 finished, the view of Mt. Carbon came into view. Let me just say that any hill which has a name associated to it, particularly a name beginning with "Mt." is gonna be one. tough. hill. Mt. Carbon lived up to it's Mt. name.
|Mt Carbon in the background. That sucker HURT!|
After I reached the bottom of the "hill", I managed to get my pace back on track and caught back up to cutie-pie blue shirt/green shoes guy, who got a little too far ahead of me on the hill. I still felt good at this point, but I could tell I was starting to tire. Just before mile 8, you see this sign:
Three River Crossings Ahead. And Rivers they were (at least for Colorado).
I think the stretch at miles 9-11 was probably the toughest for me, the trail was utterly exposed now, not one single tree to provide any relief from the heat (about 83 degrees). It was also very hilly here and around mile 10, I saw a patch of mud on the trail so I maneuvered off the side a little to avoid muddy shoes and yep, I bit it. I apologize if the two women behind me are reading this, the poor things almost went down on top of me but thankfully caught themselves. They couldn't have been nicer and helped me up. No trail race, especially one Jill runs (or bikes) is complete without a few battle wounds.
|Yes, this is the same knee, same spot on|
my knee even, where I had numerous bike
falls this spring/summer! That thing is
never going to heal!
I am actually thankful for the women directly behind me because my ego wouldn't let me have a little tizzy fit like I wanted so I just got up, brushed myself off (my hands were full of dirt and gravel) and got back into pace. But it wasn't easy and I saw my pace starting climbing into the high 10's. Mile 11 brought the last aid station and I was so relieved; I spent a couple minutes here downing Powerade and orange slices, and then headed for the finish.
One more big (and I mean BIG) hill to climb and once I reached the top, it was either the sugar from the Powerade or the euphoria or both, but I felt amazing.
|Off to the right in the middle, you can see the Red Rocks Amphitheater,|
home to many cool summer-time concerts.
I stuck around after I finished because I wanted to see PT-man come through his 2nd of 3 loops for his 50k. The guy is simply impressive....he never even trained for this race, heck, he barely even ran more than 10 miles a week to prepare, yet here he was running 32 miles (it'd take me a good 2 years to feel "ready" for something so scary to me). He came through about an hour after I was done and I helped him get some fuel; he was feeling great so onward he went for his final 13 mile loop. I decided then I had to see him finish so I talked to a few people I knew at the race then went to my car and turned on the AC full-blast and just chilled for a couple hours. Eventually, I went back out in the heat on the course and waited for awhile and finally found him, still running, and ran with him the last couple miles to the finish. Words can't even express how happy I am for him!
My 2:11 time (it was a bit long, 13.25 miles) wasn't even close to where I left my half marathon time road times of about 1:44 about two years ago, but I am just fine with that. For the most part. I ran strong, I remained strong, I had enough umph at the end to kick it into high gear, and I got to run on some incredibly beautiful trails. And I had an absolute blast! I plan to be back next year ...... and me and my foot are going to kick some serious trail butt, and it will be about pace! I can't wait.
I'm headed to the mountains tomorrow for a couple days, soaking in some yellow-turning aspen trees. I probably won't have internet so I apologize in advance for lack of blogging, but I will catch up upon my return, and I should have some amazing pictures to share. I hope to do a little cycling...and my newly beloved trail running!
Run Strong, my friends!
Run: 4.5 miles Easy/Recovery
Run: 10.2 miles. First 5 miles: 8x35 sec fartleks at 3K pace, Second 5.2 miles were steady pace and hilly
Run: 10.25 miles @ base
Run: 6 miles @ base + 6x35 sec hill sprints
Weights: 40 minutes
Swim: 1500 yds
Run: 7.9 miles at base on trails
Run: 13.25 miles Bear Chase 1/2 Marathon
+ 2 miles wu/cd
Run: 53.91 mi
Swim: 0.87 mi
Weights: 40:00 minutes
I need to - again - work on more weight training, more core work, I'd like to get a biking day in there, somewhere, and swim twice a week. Not sure where, but that's the goals. Overall a great week, and I am feeling much better this week, after my hamstring was "fixed" at PT on Wednesday. Looking forward to week 5!