Sunday, June 12, 2005

Run the Rockies Half

Race Report
Sat, Jun 11/05
Run the Rockies
Frisco, CO
Half Marathon
1:50:38 - 2nd AG

Run the Rockies is one of my favorite Half Marathons in the High Country. The race starts at the base of the Copper Mtn ski resort (elevation 9700 ft) and runs downhill on a paved bike path to Frisco. The first 10K drops 600 vertical ft to finish in downtown Frisco (9100 ft). For those stupid enough to run the Half the next 11K runs through a series of rolling hills – many of them BAH (Bad Ass Hills) – on a bike path towards Breckenridge and then loops back on the same path to finish in Frisco.

We had rain and snow again on Fri night so it was sunny and a chilly 29F when 400 runners lined up at Copper Mtn for the 8:30 am start but it warmed up to a balmy 40F at the finish. I had set a goal of 1:50. I wanted to run under 1:45 but believed it was unrealistic to average an 8-min pace in my current marathon shape and the high altitude. Thus my strategy was to run sub 8s for the first 10 Km and then try to run 8:30/8:45s over the final 11K. At mile 2 I was averaging an 8:10 pace and sucking air desperately. Mile 3 was 7:30 and finally by mile 4 I had settled into an 8-min pace. I reached mile 6 in 47:32 and was wishing that I had signed up for the 10K and NOT the Half! But I needed the training/punishment/pain to beat the old bod into marathon shape – continue on! Mile 7 was fairly flat with a few hills – 8:46. Unfortunately mile 8 was all uphill and all I could manage was a 9:28 pushing as hard as I physically could! The pain level was increasing and my goal was not looking good? The hills continued and mile 10 was the toughest mile of the race – a very steep BAH! I managed to crest the top of that BAH in 9:31 but my legs were drained and my lungs were on fire! Thankfully mile 11 had a few downhills that allowed my legs to recover and my lungs to get some air/oxygen back into them –a 9:08 pace but the time was 1:32:38. I needed to run 8:45s for the final 2 miles – on dead legs and burning lungs?

Mile 11 was all downhill and I managed to push the pace back down to 8:14. But the time was 1:40:53 – only 9 minutes to finish the last 1.1 miles? I had noticed at least one or two ‘gray hairs’ or competitors in my age group on the return loop and I knew I could not catch them. But I wasn’t going to give up and continued to push as hard as I could but alas there just wasn’t enough energy in the legs and air in the lungs to hold an 8-min pace through the hills on the final mile and I crossed the finish line in 1:50:38.

I was neither surprised nor disappointed to learn that I had finished 2nd in my age group. I had figured a 1:45 would be needed for 1st place and that was the winning time. But I was disappointed in my time and performance. Even though I pushed as hard as I could and left nothing on the course I was not pleased with my progress and improvement. I guess I need to push harder in my training?
I WILL train/push harder this coming week to prepare myself for a very tough challenge next weekend – the highest paved marathon in the world!
Stay tuned for the next report.

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