Sunday, June 26, 2005

Slacker Half Marathon


Sat, Jun 25, 2005
Slacker Half Marathon
Loveland Ski Resort, CO (10,630 ft)
1:41:53 1st AG

This race was another strategic element of Maddog’s ‘Suicidal High Altitude Training Camp’ – important/necessary to improve leg turnover and speed!

I ran this race last year. It starts 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. and finishes in Georgetown at 8,500 ft. It is billed as ‘the highest Half in the country’ (wrong! - Pike’s Peak Ascent/Half finishes at 14,100 ft.) It is also billed as a ‘fast, downhill’ course? They neglect to inform runners that the 1st half-mile is uphill!

I won my age group last year in 1:41:09. I wanted to defend my Senior Title but felt – NO – I knew that a 1:41 was out of the question because I am not (yet) in as good as shape as last year! I figured 1:45 would win my age group so that was my time goal!

Because the race/course is fast it attracts many of the ‘big dogs’ from Denver and the Front Range and the competition is stiff. Thus I lined up with approximately 600 runners for the 8am start. The weather was great – sunny with a temp of 51F. Remembering that very tough 1st half-mile from last year I started slower – reached mile 1 in 8:19 sucking desperately for air/oxygen! Mile 2 – 7:40 so I was right on target with an average 8-min pace.

The first 5 miles of the course are a dirt and rocky service road through a National Forest. The road is in good shape but it is necessary to be very careful not to trip or sprain an ankle on the rocks. I reached mile 5 where the dirt road became a paved road in 38:24. I was ahead of pace? However mile 6 was a tough uphill and I slowed to 8:19. But the next 6 miles were all downhill. I passed mile 9 in 1:10 – still ahead of pace! Miles 9 to 12 are a very steep downhill on a paved bike path from Silver Plume to Georgetown. Last year I remembered having to brake most of the way down but this year I decided to turn the legs over as fast as necessary to keep up with gravity. I flew down that 3-mile section! Mile 11 was a blazing 6:10 pace! I figured the mile marker had to be wrong because I can’t remember the last time I ran a 6:10 mile – especially at 9,000 ft? I knew that the last mile in and around Georgetown was fairly flat with several small hills and I hoped that my kamikaze strategy would not result in a crash and burn? When I reached Georgetown and mile 12 in 1:32:26 my legs were shot but I figured even if I slowed to a 10-min pace I would finish in 1:42!

I dug deep and kept the legs moving even though I desperately wanted to walk. About ½ mile from the finish line I was ready to give in to the pain and desperate need to walk when I noticed a few runners closing on me. No damn way was I going to be passed in the last half-mile! Maddog screamed at me “Dig deeper – ignore the pain – push to the finish line”! At mile 13 there was a short, steep hill – shades of Estes Park last weekend? But this time I charged up the hill and turned the final corner to receive a huge surprise – in fact a SHOCK! The finish clock was reading 1:41 and change? I couldn’t believe I had run/finished that fast! I was so exhilarated that I sprinted the final block to cross the finish line in 1:41:53!

I had won my age group and successfully defended my Senior Title! Needless to say I was very pleased/elated with my time and performance. For once even the Maddog had no complaints/gripes/whining! I had run a smart, disciplined race (well- maybe a few crazy miles?) – had run way over my head and finished in a time that I thought impossible before the race! Proves that the hard work/training will produce improvement and good results!

Maddog says I must stay with the ‘Program’ so he has scheduled another difficult challenge/test for next weekend – the Leadville Trail Marathon. It is a trail marathon with a lowest elevation of 10,500 ft at the start/finish in Leadville and a highest elevation of 13, 185 ft at the summit of Mosquito Pass.

Stay tuned for the next race report - only don’t expect the same kind of results because I am not a good/fast trail runner and I intend to run slow and cautiously since I can’t afford to risk a fall or injury only two weeks before my next European trip/marathon.

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