Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Must Do!

Words cannot adequately describe the views you experience while running Rim Rock Marathon.  I'm not sure there is a more beautiful marathon!  OK, maybe Big Sur, but I haven't done that one yet.  These are not my pictures - I was racing!  While the photos are stunning, you really have to see it yourself to get the full experience!

The course winds from Grand Junction, on Colorado National Monument Park's Rim Rock Road and ends in Fruita.  A review of the course profile should prepare you for what the race is...2000 feet of elevation gain and 2100 feet of elevation loss.  There is very little flat terrain.  By the end you really were hoping for some flat terrain...

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The race takes you  through three tunnels - one on the ascent and two on the descent.  I was not a fan of the tunnels.  Sure it was "cool" but it was really dark!  While I read race reports that said the first three miles were the toughest uphill miles, I would add that mile four was no picnic...it felt the steepest to me.

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The high point occurs during the first half of the race...not a mountain race but if you are a flat-lander, you might feel it a little.  We were lucky that the weather cooperated - the predicted possible rain and snow stayed away and we had partly cloudy and partly sunny skies - and some windy sections...

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And the views are breath-taking...

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It was almost as if we had the park to ourselves.  The park closes the west bound lane to all traffic, so there were many miles of no vehicle traffic.  My kind of race!  I thought Ute and Upper Ute canyons were going to be the highlights.  And then came Monument Canyon.  Wow...

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Wow.  Wow.  I made the cut-off with a comfortable cushion (and at a few points I used the "I can. I can" mantra provided by Happy Trails).  Every mile marker seem to appear well before I thought it would and every aid station was a pleasant surprise.  I was weepy at mile 13 when I knew I would make the 20 mile cut-off with no problem.  I know everyone told me it would not be a problem, but I was feeling very undertrained going into this race, so I was extremely nervous about this.  And I was weepy again at a few points before mile 21.  I wasn't hurting or angry or sad, I was relieved that I was finally having a fun race.  Or maybe the hormones were in overdrive...

The volunteers were awesome and every aid station seemed to have Hammer gels, bananas, orange slices, pretzels, water and sports drink.  This was not a PR race for me, but I was happy with my effort.  The hardest part of the course occurred between miles 21-23.  I think this was the steepest downhill section.  And my lack of hill training really became evident on this section - such a shame to not take total advantage of the downhill.  I was not a fan of the last few miles outside the park on HWY 340 but the finish area was well in sight and kept me distracted from the traffic and the wind.

This was a great way to end a rather lack-luster racing year.  I think everyone "must do" this race...or at least make a visit to the park and hit the trails!  I know I will race this one again...and now I think I need to go and put more biofreeze on my legs...oh my poor legs!

Happy Running!

Laura

3 comments:

  1. Great job, Laura! This was my third time racing it, and you summed up everything I love about the course, and why I tell interested but hesitant runner friends that they CAN get over the Monument, and will find it fun and fulfilling. Glad you had a wonderful time.

    -Karah/Tired Mama Running

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  2. So, so, so glad you had a FUN race! We knew YOU COULD and you DID!!! Yay! We love that area and have run and ridden many of the trails in the Fruita area - top notch desert running, for sure - especially in the Spring when things are greening up (which is sooner than along the Front Range). Not so fun in the summer, though. Too hot. (for us, at least). The Monument is beautiful.
    Where did the race end in Fruita? At least the finishing miles were mostly downhill. :-) Well done.

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