Wednesday, June 27, 2012

From One Extreme to the Other...

Two weekend's ago, you might recall I did a little 4000' uphill race (it's here, in case you missed it and can't go to sleep until you do).

So to confuse mixup my muscles a bit, I ran a 2000' downhill half marathon in the mountains last weekend called the 'Slacker Half Marathon'.  Some evil masochist apparently thought running a half marathon where you lose 2000' in elevation would be super easy and thus deemed the race Slacker.

Don't be fooled...those little uphill "peaks" really were miserable when your
quads were programmed to go extreme downhill

But this race is anything but easy; as my quivering quads can attest 3 days post race - I'm still walking like a 90-year old geriatric who just ran an 100 mile ultra marathon.  For a race I didn't actually want to "race" for fear of not being able to move for many days after, I seem to have accomplished exactly what I didn't want to - sheer post race pain.  Running where you rapidly lose elevation and you're having to put on the brakes with that large quadricep muscle in the front of your leg will do this I guess - no matter what pathetic pace you run.  .

Though Mt. Evan's race didn't really leave me sore, it left me really tired.  Add that I have a really tough high altitude trail race next weekend, I did not want to run this race hard and destroy my body; I just wanted to run the first 5-6 at tempo pace and then use the remaining mileage as recovery and enjoy the miles along some gorgeous (and so far un-burnt!) scenery.  I had a goal of 2:00 - 2:05....and though I came in exactly where I planned (2:03:somethingoranother), I did anything BUT enjoy this thing.

We can mostly thank Mother Nature's desire to burn down half of Colorado for most of this:

Ryan was running the race also.  He started pre-season summer training last week so his coach told him to just tempo run it, nothing really hard.  Ryan's dad drove us both up, he was going to bike while we raced...this was actually a godsend because we didn't have to ride the bus to the start line.  I did the bus thing one other year and queasy-stomach me got a little motion sickness before the start.  I texted fellow bloggers Cynthia and Kathy to see if they wanted rides up to the start, but Cynthia wasn't there yet so Kathy and her crew all piled in my car and we had some fun girl chats along the way.

The race started at the base of Loveland Ski area.  Not a spec of snow in sight on the slopes (see weather forecast above).

One of the highlights of the day was sporting pink port-a-janes at the startline.  Let me tell you ladies, these puppies were awesome.....there was no urinal with pee splattered everywhere like male-infested regular port-a-johns.  How far as port-a-potties goes.

We line up for the start and it's hot!  At 8am at 10,836' high.  I knew it was going to be a rough day for me as the sun rose up over the mountains and started baking the valley quickly.  Me and heat are not good friends.

Mile 1: Total dust ball run.  It was a narrow path and on a dirt trail and dust is flying everywhere from runners in front (in addition to being a hundred billion degrees, Colorado also has not seen rain since about 1993).  Ugh.  So gross.  I was worried about Ryan and his asthma - which is exacerbated by dust - but hoped he was well ahead of the thick pack I seemed to be stuck in.

Miles 2-5ish:  This section used to be a continuation of the dirt path from mile one but now is a paved bike path. (I've run it many times for training...the pic you see in the upper right corner "about me" - and the one that shows up as my profile in comments - is taken on this once dirt section).  It's narrow but the crowds are thining some and I could quickly get a decent pace going.  It's also very shaded with all the tall pine trees so I didn't really feel the heat.  Yet.   But I felt fairly awful.  I had a horrible headache and my stomach was bothering me some and my over-zealous 8:40 pace felt miserable.  I think mile 4-5 I felt pretty decent, but I knew it wasn't going to last... I just had one of those feelings where you can tell early on it was going to end poorly.  You know what I mean, I'm sure.

Mile 5:  The paved bike path ends and you now hop on a paved service road.  Totally exposed to the blazing sun.  And a climb up what feels like Mt. Evans last week.  I decided 5 miles at faster-than-tempo pace was more than enough and I walked through the water station up the hill and poured massive amounts of water on me.

Miles 6-12.5:  Somewhere around mile 6 I mentally checked out of this race.  I didn't feel good - at all - and my head was screaming.  I swore if I saw someone drive by I was going to thumb a ride.  But the road was close to traffic and no cars were coming to save me.  I decided about mile 8ish that I just needed to let go how bad I felt and just slow the hell down and start taking in the views...drowning in sweat or not.
Thank you whomever I stole this off the Internet from
I ran when I wanted to and walked when I didn't and that seemed to do the trick and I felt much better.  I'd get to the aid station and walk about a quarter mile or so.  Part of me thought walking in a half marathon was about as lame as it gets, but remember, I really didn't care, and running seemed to hurt my stomach and head more.   I saw Cynthia up in front of me and I'd catch her when I ran but when I stopped to take a shower at each of the aid stations, she pulled ahead.  Whatever; this race wasn't suppose to be a "race" fo rme anyway.  About a mile and a half to go, you enter the Georgetown Loop Railroad Station, a little train that will take you to the tiny old silver mining town of Silver Plume.
Railroad bridge in the distance....see it?
I love this section of the course, so pretty - but also very steep - and it was getting HOT!  The altitude wasn't saving us today, and I was definitely feeling the affects of the heat.  We wound around the railroad station parking lot and head into the little historic town of Georgetown, where the race ends - eventually.

Miles 12.5 - 13.1:  The heat's beating the crap out of me and I'm really sick of this race by now.  I've run 2000' downhill and my quads are screaming they really hated me, then you hit the last section of town which is either flat or uphill - pick your poison.  I'm sure I was pretty dehydrated, even drinking 6 billion cups of water and Gatorade (badly dehydrated, actually - indicative by some issues later in the day that you really don't want to know about - trust me!).  I glanced at my watch and knew I could run a sub-2 hour if I wanted to kick it in.  And probably I should have - but I didn't really give a damn right now.  In fact, I cared so little that I just walked in the rest of the race and was perfectly okay with my 2:03.

I saw Kathy and her group of friends after I crossed and chatted with them a bit, then Cynthia came up and we talked some, too.  Good to hear about everyone's races....many of them placed in their age groups and raced well (aka: everyone but me!).  I needed to find Ryan in the sea of 2000 sweaty finishers so I wandered off from the group and found him sitting on the benches down the road.

He had hoped to run about a 1:35 but ended with a 1:38 (thanks again, Mother Nature)....but excitedly, placed 2nd in his age group.

After I ate a Popsicle and some grapes, I felt a little better but as we stood around waiting for Ryan's award, I realized I hadn't been re-hydrating and I suddenly felt really sick again and light headed....I had to sit down instantly and once Ryan got his award,we high-tailed it out of town.  It would have been fun to stick around some and talk to the girls and see if we won any of the numerous drawings they were giving away...but at that point, I'd have gladly PAID 10x the price tag of the free giveaways just to go home.

We piled into the car and I begged for a some cold Gatorade so we stopped at a gas station before hitting the highway home.  I was having more stomach issues (yay!) and so while I was taking care of that matter, Ryan suddenly felt nauseous and the second I got back to the car, he barfed all over the gas station's sidewalk.  On his running shoes. Awesome.  He actually had the audacity to try to get back in the car - puke infested shoes still on feet.  I really came close to losing it and told him the shoes go in the trash (thankfully, they were on their last treads anyway) and socks, too, if he wanted to ride in my car on the way home. 16-year old boys have many brain cells?  It was so nasty.  I still own him, so he thankfully chose the trash can for the shoes and socks!

I curled up in the back of my car, grateful for the ride home, and slept the whole way home and felt a heck of a lot better after a nice cold shower!  Ahhhhh!

It was actually a good day, despite my fate.  I got in a great tempo run.  I got to meet up with some fun ladies.  I got to run along some beautiful Colorado roads.  Ryan got an awesome AG placement and medal.  I was reminded I must hydrated like a madwoman in the heat.  And my quads got a killer workout.  Sometimes races teach us more about ourselves than a displayed clock time....this race was definitely about the experience and I am so grateful for it.
Yes, a dog tag for a medal.  I'm not going to was a free race and
I obviously got in a good workout, indicative how sore I was after :)
So you're probably asking where my mind is...running Mt. Evan's 4000' climb then a week later Slacker's 2000' decent!  Probably thinking I need some sort of racing intervention or therapy of some sorts (which I probably do....but that's a post for another time).

Ahhhhh, well, there IS a big purpose behind doing these two races....this weekend I'll be attacking this little trail gem in Leadville:

The Leadville Heavy Half race.  It should be interesting to see how this race unfolds in the next few days.  You may have heard that our entire state is practically one big fireball; and though Leadville is essentially in the clear, there is a fire not too far and I heard they may re-route us so we don't go to that tippy-top peak in the center of the profile.  Oh darn!!!!  I'll let you know next week how it goes....either way, I've done the work - I'm ready (sort of!).

Until then.....

Run Strong!


ShutUpandRun said...

Wow between you being curled up in a ball and Ryan puking, the excitement was out of control! Good job on that race! I CANNOT believe the elevation map for the Heavy Half. Seriously cannot wait to hear how that one goes.

Kate Geisen said...

My friend Chuck is vacationing in Colorado right now and is ALSO running the Heavy Half!! Too cool!

And you, you are insane, lady. :) I'd way rather run uphill than downhill the whole time. My knees hurt just thinking about it. I'm so impressed how you pushed through all that heat misery...especially when I know (think?) you guys aren't used to this kind of heat. I sympathize with the dust clouds, because when I was passed in my bike race huge clouds of dust just hung in the air afterwards. You can imagine how fun that was in the glow of the headlamp after dark. Thankfully, most people were off the trails by then, so it wasn't too often.

I've been thinking about my CO friends with these fires. The blog world makes everything seem so much more current of a current event...when you know people dealing with these things.

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

Man you live in such an horrible looking town! j/k

Can't wait to hear about the Leadville race!

Johann said...

Wow Jill, you are something else! But I must say that these races will be perfect preparation for your upcoming race(s). I've done some downhill races and I always feel the pain afterwards. I've never run a PR in a downhill race. I'm thinking of everyone there with all the fires. It is so terrible. I hope our Happytrails friends are ok.

CautiouslyAudacious said...

1st of all I'm always so jealous when I see your pics of the mountains! 2nd yeah downhill runs are hard on your stomach, legs, etc. Way to go, def. not a slacker!

Robin said...

The pics look beautiful but the race sounds brutal! You are both incredible...congrats! Good luck in the upcoming "adventure"

Rachelle Q said...

So amazing! You are one tough lady:) Way to push through and congrats on making it across the finish line on such a tough course!

Matthew Smith said...

Slacker? I don't think that's the best name for that race. It sounds super painful and not like too much fun. The scenery was sure beautiful! Good for Ryan on killing it! I know the heat was bad, but he did a great job!

Way to go!!!

Heather said...

That race looks really tough (and the Leadville one looks just plain scary!). Nice job with the course and conditions. We went on the Georgetown little train with Santa when we were in Colorado over Thanksgiving and it was just beautiful - lots of pretty stuff to look at least while you were suffering! :)

C2Iowa said...

Green with envy of Ryan -- no pun intended -- I miss being able to do that. And yes - 16yr old guys are missing a few brain cells.

Well done to you both!

Teamarcia said...

Um yeah pukie anything in the car just does not fly. You are a racing machine! Sorry it was so sizzling hot. Congrats to Ryan...chip off the old block! I mean YOUNG block!
Tell me you are safe from all those fires. I am terrified for you.

pensive pumpkin said...

First of all, the puke on shoes bit made me run pee. Just saying.

YOU ARE A ROCK STAR. As a fellow GI tract sufferer, I am amazed at this race report. Geez.

I love the quad pounding. So much more mental for me than the actual physical "my lungs cannot get enough oxygen to move my fat ass up this hill" parts. Now I wanna be a slacker too. But not that Leadville thing. You crazy.

Colorado people suck. ; )

Molly said...

I was thinking of you and those fires, stay safe!!!

misszippy said...

I think downhill races are so much harder on your body than uphill. Congrats for finishing this one, especially so soon after the ascent! You are a racing machine. I'd be lying on the ground injured head to toe if I did all that!

I have a friend going to Leadville for the marathon this weekend, btw. He is training for a new 100-miler in Steamboat Springs this fall.

SupermomE13 said...

You are totally hardcore!! Congrats to you and Ryan for a great job despite mean old Mother Nature. ANd I love the pink portapotties. I have never seen those before.

Good luck at the Heavy Half! Looks brutal but fun at the same time. :)

Kandi said...

Always an adventure when you race!
I can't imagine a 2000' decent. I do a 15k race that is mostly downhill but it is only a couple hundred feet drop over the course. A friend of mine said his legs are usually more trashed after that race than any of the marathons he's raced. I wouldn't say that (though I've only done the one marathon) but that race does do a number on my legs if I run hard.
Congrats to Ryan for an AG award!

Kandi said...

Forgot to mention that I love your train pictures. I sort of love trains. :)

Julie said...

You always make me laugh.

Nice job on this race..I think you've convinced me that although I've wanted to do it for a few years, such is not the case any more. :)

Bummed I can't hang with you this weekend, but I know you are going to do great. Hope the fires do not cause a problem for you and that your legs aren't so sore after that you can't ride on the 4th!

Char said...

Ughh! What was he thinking trying to bring his barf-encrusted shoes into the car where his mum is only just holding it together. Sounds like a really tough day. At least the train was picturesque.

Paul said...

A fun posting! Love the news graphic.

So we both have trashed quads now eh?

That's the way a lot of ultra runners say you get your quads in shape for a race...go out and trash them. We'll see!

Irene said...

What is going on with Colorado? It looks like you're out of the way of all of those fires, and I hope it stays that way.

I hope Mother Nature eases up! Sheesh!

Nice job on the race for you and Ryan! Nice times, even with that heat!

Ransick said...

Looks like a beautiful race but 2000' feet of downhill sounds brutal! Congrats to Ryan for placing in his age group!

That sucks about feeling bad after the race. I get that way too after a hard race or workout, specially when it's hot out. I would have lost it when Ryan did, so good job holding it together :-)

ajh said...

Good luck in your next race. You are a racing machine these days.
How is it in Denver? Sounds pretty awful and scary out there.

Tasha Malcolm said...

Seeing your pictures always makes me want to visit CO. I can't imagine running a race that loses 2000 feet in elevation. OUCH- my legs hurt with me just thinking about it! I also think more races should have port-a-janes- that idea is genius!

Jenny said...

You are amazing! Just amazing! :) xo

Adrienne Langelier, MA said...

Even if it was a pukefest, it was a very pretty one!!

You are one of the best of getting outside your comfort zone when it comes to races! Collect the whole set: up, down, and both!!

If I were you, after Leadville I'd brag about how tough I was for at least a good year of so;)

bobbi said...

I have learned that the steep downhill is way tougher on me than the steep uphill. Nice work getting through it, and good luck at Leadville (eek!! that course elevation is scary!)

thinking about everyone dealing with fires...I hope they get it under control...

brg said...

omg! you crack me up! I love how you describe races so much more realistically than I do! I saw you take off in the big dust ball at the start and just assumed you were ahead of me the whole time. You should have hollered at me the times you were catching up to me and I would've walked the water stations too and we could have run to the end together. Good luck at the Heavy Half - you're my hero!

Terzah said...

LOL at the "how refreshing....for port-a-potties" comment! I've never seen those either, and I thought I'd seen it all regarding port-a-potties (even had a peeping tom hiding in one's tank here in Boulder--fortunately not when I was in there doing my business).

That's one long downhill and it makes my underdeveloped legs hurt just looking at it. Ditto for the Leadville one. GOOD LUCK with that! It will be epic, that's for sure. But please be careful should fire become a factor, Jill--you don't need that in your lungs either.

funderson said...

Nice job Ryan! ...Jill! I've got to come and run that race next year. When registration opens you should remind me!
Also, Jill WAY TO GO on Mt. Evans. You kick butt.

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

YOu two a racing machines! Racing till you barf! ;-) That could get costly if you have to keep tossing shoes. heehee

Still so jealous of those views. The heat aside, the course looks beautiful!


Danni said...

Super impressive.

Jason said...

I agree with the notion that running downhill is anything but easy. It is a total fight the entire time.

Congrats on a good race. Rest up bigger things to come.

Anne said...

You are definitely back in action with all of these races. I'm assuming since little was mentioned that you're in an area safe from the wildfires. We here in San Diego know all too well how devastating they can be.

Marlene said...

You really have taken a liking to punishment this year, haven't you?? I don't know which of this series of torturous races sounds worse. GOod on you, Mama!

Denae said...

AWESOME job!! I want to run the ascent and the slacker after reading :)
I ran the slacker realy last year but wimped out this year.
This heat is tough!

Suz and Allan said...

Looks like a beautiful place to run!

On the Right Track said...

Jill, your pictures always amaze me!!! wow, what a beautiful course! going downhill is SO hard on the much pounding, right? I hope you are getting to feelling better soon, and holy cow...what a course route for that heavy half...good luck on that one! I love the pink porta potties too btw :)

Unknown said...

Thinking about you, I hope everything is okay!!!

jillconyers said...

Wow you did so well even under those conditions. Awesome job!

You pick the most interesting races :)

[Fitness, Health and Happiness]

Bubble Boy said...

You are one tough amazing runner and truly deserve to use a porto jane!

Unknown said...

WOW, you are NO slacker, girl! Always moving forward and thinking of the next TOUGH one!

Hope all is well with your family and kids! We are enjoying a full summer and lots of fun!

Your hilly challenges have been inspiring me, can't wait to hear about Leadville!

Lindsay said...

"started pre-season training" + "tempo run" do not go together. and they especially do not = 1:38.

you need to have your son tested with lance armstrong! ;)

the dog tag medal is kind of cool cause it's unique. i'm not hatin' on it.

pink porta pots remind me of when i was in kentucky and i had my very own pink one amidst all the *lovely* construction men!

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