Sunday, June 27, 2004

Slacker Half Marathon

Race Report
Slacker Half Marathon
Loveland Pass, CO
June 26/04

This race turned out to be pretty close to what I expected. There was only one ‘wee’ surprise. The race started in front of the ski lifts at the Loveland Ski Resort on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide – near the Eisenhower Tunnel – elevation 10,630 ft. The weather was better than forecasted – temps in the low 40s with a cloud cover to keep the temps low during the race. Since I wanted to run under 1:45 I lined up right on the start line with Big Dogs in front of about 600 runners. The race started at 8am.

It didn’t take long for the wee surprise – the 1st ¼ mile was uphill! Not bad enough the start line is at 10,630 ft but the 1st ¼ mile is uphill? My forecast came true – quickly. By the time I reached the top of that first hill I was desperately sucking for air and hurting like Hell! Fortunately the course then began its 2000+ ft vertical descent to the finish line in Georgetown. I gasped and struggled through the 1st mile in 8:00 flat. The 2nd mile was also above 10, 000 ft but at least the downhill slope helped ease the pain. By the time I reached mile 2 in 7:45 I was still sucking for air/oxygen but the pain was minor and manageable. The first 5 miles of the course were on a dirt-logging road so it was necessary to watch my footing very carefully – almost sprained my ankle around mile 3!
Reached mile 3 in 6:49? Hopefully the mile markers are wrong or I have blown the race already. Mile 4 in 8:09 and a total time of 30:46. I am certainly ahead of my target pace but not ridiculously so. The course exits the dirt road on to a paved service road at mile 5 – time 39:04.

At that point a competitor with a head of gray hair blew by me – SHIT! – he looks like he could be in my age group? I can’t stay with him so I decide to keep him in sight. I am still holding a sub 8 min pace but the pain level is increasing. When I passed mile 8 in 1:01:30 and a 7:21 pace I decided that I needed to back off. I knew that miles 9 to 12 were a very steep downhill from Silver Plume to Georgetown and I wanted to save some energy for that section. Mile 9 – 8:50 – I didn’t slow down that much? Mile markers must be screwed up again? At mile 9 the course turned on to a paved bike path and began a very steep descent into Georgetown. I was feeling much better and stronger and we were now at 9,000 ft where I train daily - time to make my move on Mr. Gray Hair! I averaged a 7:05 pace over the next 3 miles with the help of gravity. When I reached mile 12 in 1:31:41 I had pulled to within 20 ft of Gray Hair – but I had used absolutely everything I had doing it!

I was afraid that if I passed him right away we would get into a pissing match. He looked like he was fading fast – but so was I! So I decided to follow him for the next half mile and then I made my move. As I passed him I asked him what age group he was in? I was so pleased when he said ‘50+”. I told him I was in the ‘60+” so we didn’t need to kill each other over the last ½ mile – and than I made a push and left him behind. There was nothing left in my legs – they were running on energy fumes – and unfortunately the course had flattened out. There were even a few little hills in that last ½ mile. I figured with my time I had to be in 1st place in my age group and I was not willing to give that position up without a fight. So I used sheer willpower to suppress the pain and force my legs to keep running. Finally I could see mile13 and the finish line and the old bod gave me one final jolt of adrenaline to push me over the finish line in 1:41:09!

Needless to say I was pleased with both my performance and time. I had run a smart and strategic race to beat my target by almost 4 minutes! And I had indeed won the ROF (Really Old Farts) age group. It may have been painful (as expected) – but it was a great tune up race for my upcoming trip and marathons in Europe.

Stay tuned!

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