Race morning dawned smoky and hot. The smoke from fires burning all over Colorado was blowing into the city and settling. Not the best day for running! Add in the soreness from my run (hike?) on the Mount Rosa loop Wednesday and I was no longer sure it was a good idea to be running! But I was there and it was time to get serious. At least as serious as I was going to get with half of Colorado Springs stopping to say hello, that is! Serious meant getting away from Rock Ledge Ranch for my warmup, making sure I was drinking - ugh that smoke! - and generally see if I could finally get the timing right for finishing my warmup. Answer? No. I got there early enough that I had no issues parking - but way too early for the 30 extra minutes I'd have to wait for my start. Oh well. One day I will get it right, but between warmup, bathroom visits, socializing today was not the day. Not even close. And I somehow I still missed getting a photo of the 10 miler start!
|A little late to get the real start, but this will do!|
But finally, it was time for the 10k to line up. Nothing intimidating at all about toeing the starting line and seeing the road tip straight up ahead of me! There would not be the normal sprint from the line for anyone today. I stared up the hill. It was going to be a hard day. At the gun, the crowd surged forward and charged up the hill. Ouch. Starts are always a shock to the system, but this was worse then usual thanks to the hill. And it was only the first of many. The first mile of the race was almost 90% climbing! At the summit of the first hill, I was in second. The woman in the lead pulled away slightly as we dropped down the first small descent. We made the right turn to start up the first major hill - time to settle into my pace.
First place had about 100' on me already. But she didn't look settled on the lower slope of the hill. Humm. If I pushed hard now, would I be able to hold for another five miles? Wouldn't hurt to find out! I upped the tempo a little, driving back with my elbow and lifting up on my toes with each step. The gap closed slowly as I chased her up the hill. Just before the first water station, I made the catch. Now would I be able to hold it? I grabbed a small cup of water at the aid station to swish in my mouth. So dry already. Just a little further up the hill and then a long descent. While I haven't trained at all in the Garden, I remember the hills from when I was younger. This course is very much like the old MCI course back when I was in high school. I burned a few matches charging up the hill to make my move, so I'm looking forward to the downhill. Mentally at least! Physically it's a different story - I don't know how my quads will respond. So far so good - I'm able to float down the first major descent without issues.
Then we merge with the 10 mile course. I knew before the race started and when I signed up that where would be some traffic. What I didn't know if it would be the nightmare of the COS 5k or the smooth passing of the ADT 10k. It's hard to balance the speed of the shorter races and need to have the longer races start early. Luckily, the 10 mile field was already fairly spread out. While there was some weaving and dodging, it wasn't enough to slow me down. I just needed to pay more attention to where I was going. It also meant I had a little more cover from the women behind me in the 10k. I didn't know what kind of gap I'd gotten, but was doing my best to extend it as I cruised through the second water stop. Another cup of water to try to wet my dry mouth. Then the push up another hill, this one a shorter steeper grunt.
I was dodging more people now, moving through the thick of the crowd as I mothered down the next hill. This was another long descent, twisting around corners as we headed towards Balanced Rock. I normally would have worked the tangents through this section, but couldn't as easily with the crowds. But that also meant anyone behind me would be having the same issues, so I couldn't complain. It just took some adjusting my path at times for the smoothest course.
Around Balanced Rock we went and I was able to get my first glance of the race behind me. I had maybe a minute - but on this course that could get lost in a hurry. I had to keep my head on my shoulders and my legs moving. I was already counting down the hills towards the finish. Three more major hills, one little one. Just keep moving. As I crested the first hill, I caught a glance of a coworker cheering runners on. I waved and said hi as I breezed by. I'm sure I sounded happier then I was - two more hills to go!
The sun was climbing and getting hotter. Another cup of water at the next aid station. I debated running through the "rain" they had set up, but wasn't able to get around to it. A cup of water would have to do. There was one more aid station coming up in about a mile. I dug in for the upcoming hill. This one started gradual and then tipped steep near the summit. Those last few yards were rough. I was feeling the pace by now and starting to suffer on the climbs. But there were just two left - one longer and one shorter. I could hold the pace and keep moving. At this point in a race, my math skills go downhill. I'd looked at the course records before, but couldn't remember. Was it mid 44? 45? 46? And what pace would I need to hold to get there? Ouch. Fuzzy math indeed. At that point, you have to just turn the mind off and run.
I was never happier to be making the right turn towards the finish then at that moment. The 10 mile race turned left and climbed back up to the high point. We just popped up a little hill and then dropped into Rock Ledge Ranch. I'd run the finish loop before as part of my warmup, so I was anticipating all the turns and the last little climb. Finally - the finish like. I pushed as hard as I could, seeing the numbers clicking up towards 45 minutes. Keep pushing...
44:48. To my surprise, when I looked at the results, it was a new course record. I'd managed to keep the pressure up and broken the course record by about 2 minutes.
|Women's 10k podium|
And the most exciting thing? When I was cooling down I saw a huge rattle snake on the trail! Nice - but I got out of his way in a hurry.
|Umm... Yes, I will yield the trail to you, sir.|