Monday, May 9, 2011

Still Learnin'

Collegiate Peaks 25 mile race is in the books!  I finished!  My official time was 7:21:15 - 21 minutes past my "B" goal which is probably the closest I've come to a time specific goal set- so I'm satisfied. Speedy it was not.  Beautiful and fun it was!  And for this running girl, I think that is what my running journey is about - fun and beauty...

I arrived to Buena Vista, CO around 4:30pm on Friday.  An absolute gorgeous drive from Denver.   I quickly checked into the Best Western, which exceeded my expectations.  I then went to the Community Center and picked up my packet.  And guess what my bib # was?

Generous.  Exceedingly generous.  My bib# was just a reflection of how anxious I was to register for this race. 

I had dinner on my own at the Asian Palate.  Awesome coconut chicken and a Sweet George's Brown Ale from Dillion DAM Brewery.  Perfect.  I then made my way to the runners' meeting which the race director started early.  I met the aid station coordinator who made me super nervous about how hard the course was.  And then told me how two years ago a guy died running the race.  He seemed really nice but he needs to filter better what he tells people who have not done the race before!  At the meeting, I learned that there would likely be no wet crossings, the then gusty winds would die down, it would likely be warm, and 114 were doing the 50 mile race and 286 were doing the 25 miler.  This year marked a higher number of folks racing the 50 miler.

I slept really well.  The rooms at the Best Western had microwaves and refrigerators, so I was able to make my usual breakfast of oatmeal, protein powder and strawberries even though the hotel offered an early breakfast for runners.  I packed the car and made my way to the start about 30 minutes before the race.  Just one of many perks of a small race - not having to leave hours before the race start.

Like the runners' meeting, the race started a few minutes early.  It was a cool 36 degrees and no wind!  The first mile or so is mainly on a paved road.  Quickly, I found myself in the back of the pack, where I traded places with a few folks - they took the tiny downhills much faster than I and I happened to be stronger on the tiny uphills. 1.5 miles in I noticed that my right hamstring was cranky.  It has never been cranky.  I took note and moved on. 

We then found ourselves on a multi-use forest service dirt road.  The first big ascent took my breath away, but overall, I was happy with my ability to run most of the straights and downhills and not be out of breath.  But I did notice that above 8700 feet or so, I felt like my legs were not strong and at two points, I found myself a little light headed.

The second main ascent was really difficult and my hamstring would remind me it wasn't happy.  The majority of the road was sandy, very sandy.  And because it is a multi-use road, ATVs, dune buggies, motorcycles, and jeeps would occasionally pass by, kicking up dust.  The upside is that I never got angry or upset even when the tough got tougher.  I knew how long the ascent was and knew I just had to keep going at an even pace and make my way to the 18 mile aid station because then it would be all downhill from there.  My Garmin died on the way up- so it was hard to then gauge pace.  Maybe that helped me to not get discouraged.  But I also think it may have contributed to not pushing myself on occasion.

On the way up, I also got to see a handful of 50 milers on their second loop.  The leader was a good 5 or 10 minutes ahead of the #2 guy.  And the #2 guy was probably 5 minutes ahead of the #3 guy.  They made this look effortless.  Of course they were going down and I was going up!

After the 18 mile aid station, the course changes from a multi-use road to trail.  And the view of the peaks gave way to small canyons.  As I was going down, I saw the majority of 50 milers going uphill.  At this time, it was probably in the high 70s, low 80s and I was sending them lots of positive vibes because they had a long way to go.  I helped one 50 miler tie his shoe.  He was cramping bad and couldn't bend over to tie his shoe.  I offered him some S! Caps which he refused and he made his way.  Hope he caught a good second wind.

As the trail leveled out, one of the 50 milers warned me about a dog ahead on the trail.  I wasn't sure if this was code for coyote, because it didn't compute in my head that there would be a dog on the trail worthy of a warning.  And I had seen a lot of patches of fur on the trail...but lo and behold there was a dog.  A big three legged black dog.  He didn't look mean but he didn't look friendly.  I told him to stay and slowly made my way around him.  I made my way, checking behind me and the dog was following me.  Flashbacks of Cujo crossed my mind.  I would tell him to stay and he would for a few minutes and then he would follow me.  A 50 mile runner tried giving him water, but he just growled.  Thankfully the next aid station was in sight.  I reported the dog, and the aid station staff indicated the owner had gone down the trail to find him.  While the dog gave me the chills due to my overactive imagination, I was glad he was not a hallucination.

After this aid station, we were on a county road for a couple of miles until hitting a single track trail which followed the river and led to the finish line.  As I was making my way, two women caught up to me.  And I was determined to not let them beat me at this point in the race, and I held them off and made it across the finish a few seconds ahead of them! 

This was a difficult race for me.  It definitely drove home the point that more time on trails including at elevation is essential to building my strength.  And just more experience racing will hopefully help me get faster.  I was happy in how I managed my salt intake (go S! Caps!) and hydration.  My fueling fell short.  I took in around 800 to 900 calories, probably half as much as I should have - must. fix. this.  I love my trail shoes, Mizuno Cabrakan, and I dressed appropriately.

After the race, I ate the lunch offered to runners, took a baby wipe shower and changed and made my way to Bongo Billy's for an iced coffee and a fresh out of the oven espresso chocolate cookie for the trip home.  My refueling didn't stop until after Sunday.  I met at friend at Snooze and had eggs benedict and a red velvet pancake.  Yes I ate both.  Bu I did skip the hashbrowns.  I think my post-race appetite has been satisfied.

Next up: Steamboat Marathon, June 5.  Going to try for a marathon PR.  First going to rest up this week. Happy Running!



  1. Great job pushing your limits out there! That race looks like a whole lot of fun (except for Cujo).

  2. Congrats Laura on a great run!! Sounds like a beautiful trail and quite an experience. Best of luck in Steamboat to you :)
    Keep on running!!

  3. Ok, somehow we missed this post! Congratulations on completing a tough route. You had beautiful weather out there and what lovely pictures. Happy training for Steamboat-we have ridden our bikes along the road they use for the race course - very beautiful area!