Monday, May 27, 2002

RR Wyoming

Trip Report –Wyoming

Race Report
Wyoming Marathon
Cheyenne, WY
May 26/02

Wer'e back from our weekend trip/adventure. We had a great time.It's only a short 3 to 4-hour drive up to Cheyenne, WY from Summit County so after picking up our friends, the Grubers, we arrived in Cheyenne about 2pm on Saturday. Checked into the hotel and then proceeded to check out Cheyenne since none of us had ever been there. Not much to check out. There is a small downtown area that has an old train depot built in 1886 that is being restored and turned in to a shopping mall. The architecture is quite nice and there are also several old mansions in the downtown area that have been restored plus the state capital building - but that is it.We were glad that we had only booked the hotel for one night!The Wyoming Marathon is a small, low key race so I wasn' t too surprised when I had problems finding the registration desk. The race director had changed the location of the registration and pasta party but had not informed any runners who were not staying at the host hotel. However I and a few other runners were able to deduce that we should head to the host hotel where we found the registration desk and picked up our race packages.The marathon started at 6am at the Lincoln Monument on I 80 between Cheyenne and Laramie. Unfortunately it was much closer to Laramie which meant that we had a 45 minute drive Sunday morning to get to the start. The start was right beside the monument which was built in 1960 on the highest point on the interstate from coast to coast at an elevation of 8878 feet. The skies were sunny and it was a brisk 39 degrees (F) at the 6am start. After dropping me off my sports manager had to head back to Cheyenne to pick up the rest of the Maddog Support Team (who wanted to sleep in?) since Connie and Gerry planned to join me around 21 miles and run/walk the last 5 miles of the course.At 6am the race started and the runners headed east into the Medicine Bow National Forest. The first 4 miles of the course dropped steeply on a dirt road into the forest. At 4 miles I was averaging a 7:30 pace because of the steep decline. That was much too fast for that altitude and my training. I commented to myself " This is going to be an absolute bitch when we have to run back up these final 4 miles of hills on the return leg!"At 4.5 miles we encounterd the toughest uphill of the first half - a 3 mile constant climb. As I was struggling to reach the crest of that BAH (Big Ass Hill) at an 11:30 pace, I almost gave into my urge to walk. But pride would not allow me to walk that early in the race so I sucked it up (while I was sucking for air at 8,000+ feet) and struggled to the top. At 8 miles we turned east again on to a paved service road of I 80. During the next two miles over gentle rolling hils I realized that we had a strong tailwind pushing us along. Oh Shit! That means a strong headwind on the return leg!At 10.5 miles we turn north off the paved service road on to another dirt road into the National Forest. The scenery on this part of the course was spectacular! Rugged rock formations jut up above the pine forests. I am so awed by the scenerey that I didn't realize that we were running down a steep hill to reach the Half Marathon point. Elevation 8,000 feet! Time - 1:56:43. A nine-minute pace.Believe me. I was under no silly illusions of running negative splits! The return leg was 13.1 miles uphill at 8,000+ feet altitude (except for the backside of the BAH) and into a strong headwind! I figured that I would be doing well to average a pace one minute/mile slower on the second half: i.e. 13 minutes slower! If I could do that I should be able to finish under 4:10 instead of my original goal of 4:15 to 4:30. So I adjusted my finish target and started back!And the course immediately began to kick the shit out of me! The next two miles were sheer torture. I hadn't realized how steep that section of the course had been on the down leg. I struggled to hold a 12 minute pace up that damn hill to mile 15! But I managed to keep the legs churning (if you can consider a 12-minute pace churning?)Soon I was back on the paved service road running west into a strong headwind. Fortunately that only lasted a few miles before we turned back into the National Forest - about mile 19. I had expected to meet my support team at this point but I was about 15 minutes ahead of schedule. I stopped at an aid station to fill up my water bottle. There were only three aid stations on the course - about every 4.5 miles.Since that is not enough water for me I carried a water bottle so that I could drink whenever I needed and just filled my water bottle at the aid stations. This worked fine but cost me time to stop and fill the bottle.Still no support team so I forged on! As I was running down the backside of the BAH around 21.5 miles the support team caught up. Connie and Gerry jumped out of the car. Gerry planned to walk in and Connie planned to run in with me. Although I was only running a 9:30 pace it was still very difficult for Connie to adjust to that pace at 8,000+ feet from a cold start. So I had to leave her behind by mile 22 as I wanted to continue pushing as long as I felt OK! I thought that she would catch me as I was approaching the 4 mile climb back to the finish/start line and I figured that I would end up walking?At that point I started a psyche job on myself because I knew it would be necessary to get up that final 4 miles of hills. My first promise to myself was that if I could just continue running until at least mile 24 then I would allow myself to start walking at that point. Surprisingly I was able to hold a 10 to 10:30 pace up those first two miles of hills. At mile 24 I rewarded myself with a brief walk while I swallowed my last carbo gel and washed it down with the last of my water. Time to start running again! The old bod struggled valiantly to run an 11:25 on mile 25! But at mile 25 the hill/mountain seemed to rise at an impossibly steep grade and the heart, willpower and legs just weren't capable of running up that grade. So I started doing a combination of a power walk, then run, power walk, then run. I was on the verge of making the power walk longer than the run when I noticed another runner ahead of me. I had thought that I had no chance of catching him but he had been beaten down to just walking and I was gaining!Push the old bod harder! As we approached mile 26 I closed to within 100 feet but he heard the footsteps and responded accordingly. He beat his dead horse/legs and started running again and I was already pushing as hard as I could and I could not respond. So I followed him across the finish line about 30 seconds later for a time of 4:09:51! I was very pleased with both my time and my performance. I had run a smart race and finished much faster than predicted - and although my legs were tired I was not really beaten up and recovered quickly.However when I glanced at the results board I was disappointed to learn that the runner I had failed to catch was in my age group and thus took first place in the Senior Division! In hindsight I am not sure that I could have done anything about it in the last mile even if I had known - I would have had to make a move sooner?As I waited at the finish line for my support team I was surprised to see Gerry finish first? He had run the last 5 miles of that tough course and he hadn't run in over a year because of foot problems. Connie soon followed and we headed back to Cheyenne.After breakfast we decided to head to Laramie to check it out. Nicole and I had stayed in Laramie during my last Wyoming Marathon in 94 and thought that we remembered it to be more exciting than Cheyenne? But after a quick drive-by tour of downtown and the University of Wyoming, we decided to travel on to Steamboat Springs, CO. We were looking for a nice charming place to overnight and have a good dinner. None of us had been to Steamboat even though it is only 90 miles north of Silverthorne. We drove across the back country of Wyoming and northern Colorado and were treated to some spectacular scenery. The last 30 miles into Steamboat on Hwy 40 were very scenic but I don't think that I would want to drive over Rabbit Ears Pass in the winter. However it was spectacular scenery at this time of the year!Steamboat Springs is a very charming resort village. We immediately decided to stay overnight and enjoyed a great celebration dinner at a restaurant overlooking the Yampa River. Steamboat is at an elevation of 6,600 feet and thus was 15 degrees warmer than Summit and spring was many weeks ahead of ours. The main street is lined with fruit trees that were in full bloom. It is a very nice village but the major drawback in my opinion is that it is too remote and isolated. Denver is the nearest major city/airport and it is a 180 mile trip over a narrow two lane highway through the Rockies! Too isolated for me to consider living there. But a great place to visit. I discovered that the Steamboat Springs Marathon is being run next weekend. I would go back and run it but that would mess up my marathon schedule/plan to run my 200th in August. But I do plan to run it next year!

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