Saturday, June 24, 2006

RR - Slacker Half

Race Report
Slacker Half Marathon
Loveland Ski Resort, CO
(elev: 10, 630 ft)
1:41:55 - 2AG

Maddog is Back!!!!!

After the total exhaustion and collapse I suffered in my last two races I wasn’t sure or confident if I would ever race again? I did not know if the collapse was due to:
a) A strange virus/bug that attacked and kicked my butt for about one week
b) Over training because of Maddog’s ‘Suicidal High Altitude Training Program’
c) All of the above

However by the Tue following the unfortunate DNF at the Estes Park Marathon I started to feel much better. When I started a normal 10-mile training run along Lake Dillon I felt so good/strong that I decided to try some mile intervals – managed to run four 1-mile intervals at 9,100 ft @ sub 8-min pace! And felt good even at the end!

Maddog was ready to declare me healthy and fit to race again! But I wasn’t so sure and on Wed morning I ran a hard/fast 10-mile run on my favorite hill loop on Red Mtn – a 500 vertical ft climb over two miles! I felt amazingly strong during the run so I decided that I was ready for a tougher test on Sat. I would run (note I was careful not to use the word ‘race’) the Slacker Half Marathon since Maddog had already registered me for the race as part of his program.

Thus on Sat morning I found myself lined up on the start line at the Loveland Ski Resort at 8am with 800 runners. The weather was great – sunny and a temp of 49F. The race starts at 10, 630 ft (two miles above Sea Level) and climbs for the first ½ mile. The course then drops 2100 vertical ft over 11 miles of rolling hills to finish in Georgetown at 8,500 ft. My plan/strategy was to run smart – start slow and easy and if I felt OK I would pick up the pace. Thus I was a wee bit surprised/shocked when I passed the 1st mile in 8:01 sucking desperately for air. Still sucking for air at mile 2 in 15:37. By mile 3, I had settled into a smooth and easy 7:30 pace although my lungs were having difficulty keeping up with my legs.

The course emerged from a dirt/gravel road and trail in a National Forest around mile 5 and dumped onto a paved service road along I 70. I hit a ‘lull’ on mile 6 as it climbed gradually for about 1/2 mile. At first I thought, “Oh NO – it is happening again” as I began to feel very tired and an old fart passed me and I couldn’t respond! But when I crested the hill at mile 6 I seemed to recover and picked up the pace again on the downhill. I didn’t think the old fart was in my age group so I decided to just keep him in sight. I passed mile 10 in 1:17:45 and began a very steep downhill on a paved bike path. This is the steepest part of the course – drops about 600 ft over 2 miles! I stretched out my stride and let gravity carry me down the mountain while trying to reserve some energy for the final mile that is flat with several short, steep hills!

I passed mile 12 in 1:32:22 – much faster than I had expected. I had closed on the old fart but we were both struggling to push our tired legs through the hills on the tough final mile.

Maddog wanted me to make a final push but I was afraid that I might crash if I pushed any harder. I struggled to follow the old fart across the finish line in 1:41:55.
As we walked through the finish chute I learned that he was only 56 years young! I was very glad that I had not tried to kill myself passing him!

My time of 1:41:55 was 2 seconds slower than last year and unfortunately only good enough to win 2nd place in the Senior Division! Damn – I failed to defend the Senior Title I had won the previous two years because there was another (60 year old fart) in front of me! I should be a wee bit disappointed because I am in much better shape this year than last year when I was still recovering from the knee surgery. But I am too happy/thankful to confirm that the main cause of the exhaustion/collapse does appear to have been a virus and not over training - or just Old Age! And more good news – the pain/problem with the right hip that plagued me on the 3 previous races is gone!

Thus I am confident that I can resume Maddog’s ‘Suicidal High Altitude Training Program’ including the next race he has scheduled – a very challenging and brand new/inaugural marathon in Summit County on July 9/06. The race starts at Copper Mtn @ 9600 ft - climbs to the top of Vail Pass at 11,100 ft. – then runs 15 miles through a National Forest @11,000 ft before returning to Copper Mtn. The average elevation of the course is more than 2 miles above Sea Level!
Anyone care to join me – still time to sign up?

Stay tuned for the race report!

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