Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon Race Report

It is week 2 of August, where I have at least one race per weekend.  I still don't know what I was thinking when I stacked my schedule like this......  Honestly, none of it was planned out like this on purpose.

This race is held up in the mountains, along the I-70 corridor before Eisenhower Tunnel.  So, not that scenic because you're within earshot of the highway the whole time.  It was the 35th anniversary of the race and race organizers decided to celebrate by offering a $15 entry.  Honestly, this is the only reason why I signed up.  I figured it could be fun and if I didn't feel like doing it, $15 was no big loss.

When I sat down with my coach post-IMCDA to discuss the rest of the year, our conversation went like this:

me: I signed up for GTIS, I think I'm doing it
coach: you know it will hurt, right?
me: yeah, but I need the altitude training for Ragnar
coach: (with one eyebrow raised in skepticism) ok.......

With my broken toe, I was at the race start with a whopping 3 weeks of running under me.  My longest run to date was 5.4 miles - 4 days prior.  I was hoping my IM base would carry me through and I was hoping it wouldn't hurt too much.

Nice steady downhill.  My garmin had a net loss of 900 ft.
My mother-in-law was visiting and I came up with this idea that I could hitch a ride with a friend to the race and Will and his mom could sleep in and then meet me at the race finish.  Then we could play in the mountains that afternoon.

I hitched a ride with Ryan.  The race had an 8 AM start but they closed the road at 6:45.  So that meant I had to wake up at 4:freaking:20 and meet Ryan at 5:15.  I'm sorry, but I hate hate hate getting up earlier than I did for my freaking Ironman races for some little "local" race.  Ugh.  Lucky for me Starbucks opened at 5 (!!) so I got caffeine for both of us.  And I ate breakfast on the way up (2 slices of gluten free toast with Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter - yum!).  It was dark and my breakfast was messy/melty, and I ended up with chocolate nut butter on my face for the entire time up until way after the finish when I met Will.  Awesome!

We got to the race start around 6:30, got a nice parking spot, found our Altitude Multisport club-mates, and picked up our race packets.  It was pretty cold - Georgetown is in a canyon and the sun had not yet reached us.  We went back to the car, arranged our layers, and decided to put both of our things in my backpack and use that as a drop bag.  We then stood around for a long time freezing.

At the last possible moment, I took my layers off and went to bag drop, then stood in line at the start.  It was a little confusing at first, because most everyone thought that we'd be running in the direction of Idaho Springs at the start.  Turns out we headed the opposite direction and did about 2 miles around Georgetown, back to the start, and THEN headed down the hill.  My coach told me to go at my IM pace for 8 miles (ie - EASY) and if I felt ok then I could go faster the rest of the way.  They had pacers at this race, so I had to make a decision.  My personal worst HM is 2:30, by personal best is 2:18.  I decided to put myself with the 2:25 pacers to ensure I started slow.  As I got into the group, I was met with a club-mate.  They were playing the national anthem and she kept talking (and I felt both polite and rude because I felt obligated to keep talking to her - she was nervous - and really rude because you know, national anthem).  A person next to us shushed us but it turned out to be someone that I've known since 6th grade and she was just being a smartass (although it would have been justified).  And another one of my club-mates found me soon after that. That's the really cool part about living and racing here - I run into new and old friends at almost every race.

I had 2 packs of Honey Stinger chews (not caffeinated this time....) and a handheld for water, as the aid stations were every 2 miles and I like to drink every 1 mile or less.  It was also pretty chilly but I knew I'd get warm later on when the sun got high enough to hit the canyon floor.  I ended up wearing my "sleeves" that I made for CDA - knee-high tube socks from WalMart with the toes cut out.  They worked pretty well.  I wore them for 2 miles then immediately ditched them when I hit the sunshine.

The plan was to take things EASY.  I was hoping to stick with my friends, but that didn't really work so well and I ended up being by myself.   I tried to find new friends along the way, but then I ended up running at a pace too easy / too fast or I'd get competitive and had to run faster to beat them.  I told myself to just chill and make my goal to stick with the 2:25 pacer girls.  That seemed to do the trick as I was 20 feet behind them for a good long time.  For the first 4 or 6 miles, I ran 2 miles then walked through the aid station and got my HS chews and drank some water.  I felt fine until mile 7 or 8, because, duh, I had only "trained" to 5.4 miles.  Of course things were going to hurt.  Through my 8, I was shooting for a ~11:15 or so pace, but since it was downhill, I'm pretty sure it was faster than that.  I was really going on effort, trying to keep things light and easy.  With mile 8 over and done, I was given permission to push more.  I think I took it a bit faster up to mile 10 but I don't think I pushed all that much more.

By mile 10, things were really starting to hurt.  You don't really think of this, but running downhill hurts.  My lower quads (by my knees) and my knees themselves were not all that happy.  But then my coach's voice popped in my head, yelling at me like she did during CDA.  You get the run done quicker if you run faster.  So I ran with a bit more oomph.  The plan was to run faster for a mile then to take a quick walk break for nutrition and water.  And that's what I did.  I ran nearly everything but some little uphills and I really pushed on the downhills.  The final stretch into Idaho Springs was a bit rollery, with uphills and I did manage to run those. That last mile actually felt really strong and I passed a ton of people.
I honestly don't know what I was doing here.
I also find this photo freaking hilarious.
Time: 2:19:08 (16 sec off of my PR.  Not sure how that happened.  Thank you Ironman base and net downhill course!)
Age Group: 236/392
Overall: 1970/3026

Everyone from my group seemed to have good finish times, mainly thanks to the downhill course.  Since my goal was Ragnar training, I was really intrigued that I didn't feel any effects from altitude.  The race started around ~8,500 feet and I felt just fine.  This gives me hope that my first leg of Ragnar, at 9,000 ft, will be fine.

Finish Expo was ok.  I got a pint glass with the race logo, a shirt, some free crap.  Food was really weak. Fruit and bagels.  Meh.  Then we met up with Will and his mom.  Idaho Springs is this dinky little town and it was innundated by 3,000+ racers and supporters, so we opted to head back to Georgetown to get Ryan's car and to eat lunch.

We had lunch and then decided to head up to Mt Evans, which is the highest paved road in North America. And also, nothing is better for half marathon recovery than low oxygen and dinking around at 14,000+ ft elevation.

baby goat!

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