Sunday, August 12, 2007

RR Georgetown Half

Race Report
Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon
Georgetown, CO
Sat, Aug 11/07
1:44:25 - 5 AG

This half marathon is one of my favorite races in Colorado. It starts in Georgetown at 8500 ft and drops 1000 ft over rolling hills to finish in Idaho Springs at 7500 ft. It is considered a fast, downhill course and attracts more than 2000 runners each year – most of them ‘Big Dogs’ or fast/elite runners from Denver, Boulder and the Front Range. It is very competitive and I have never been able to place better than 5th in my Age Group in the five times I have competed in this race! I can’t afford to devote the time and effort for the speed work necessary to compete at this ‘short’ distance (that’s my excuse and I sticking to it!).

This year my friend Cynthia (aka Atilla the Huness) who is visiting from Sarasota joined me. After we climbed Mt Elbert (the highest peak in CO at 14,433 ft) on Thu we decided to rest on Fri for the big race on Sat. Since it is a point-to-point race, which makes the logistics harder, we invited Cynthia and Homayoun to have pasta dinner and stay at our place on Fri night. That way Cynthia and I could drive to the start early Sat morning and Homayoun volunteered to meet us at the finish line. My regular Sports Manager seemed very happy and content to relinquish her duties to Homayoun???

Thus Cynthia and I arrived in Georgetown at 7:15 am to allow time to prepare – stretch, etc. for the 8 am start. It was sunny and unusually warm – low 50s at the start. I warned Cynthia to start slow because the first two miles loop around Georgetown over rolling hills at 8500 ft. If you start too fast the altitude will kill you! I wisely followed my own advice and reached mile 2 back at the start line in16:03. I normally (always) finish this race under 1:40 so I needed to average a 7:30 min/mile pace. No problem as I started the 1000 ft descent over the next 11 miles? I passed mile 4 in 31:17 after two one- mile splits of 7:37. OH! OH! It was not looking good! I needed to lower the pace and I was already hurting and I knew right then that a sub-1: 40 wasn’t going to happen! I was beginning to realize that taking a summer off from racing and speed work is not compatible with expectations of racing fast times and being competitive!

I decided to back off/slow down to 7:45s to see if I could regain some energy? However when I encountered a few miles with lots of rolling hills my splits slowed to 8:15s! When I reached mile 10 in 1:19:30 I was hurting – really hurting- and I began to wonder if I would even be able to break 1:45? I considered saying “Fu** It” and cruising to the finish line but luckily Maddog jumped in (or should I say jumped all over me). He chastised me mercilessly for my ‘quit/give –up/wimpish’ attitude! He reminded me that I should not expect to be competitive in this race – especially after a summer without racing. My goal had been to use this race as a speed workout and to test my race conditioning. So I now knew the answer - my race condition sucked – it was pathetic! And the only way to improve it was to push the old bod as hard as possible to the finish line! A finish slower than 1:45 was totally unacceptable to Maddog!
Unfortunately everything he said was true and I agreed that it was necessary to accept pain and teach the old bod (yet again) how to deal with and run through PAIN! I struggled to reach mile 12 in 1:35:34. The (new) target was in the bag as long as I could keep my feet moving? However the final mile had some bad (but not BAH) hills as we approached the finish line in Idaho Springs. They felt like friggin Mt Everest! I started to become nauseous? I figured it was either because I was pushing my old bod beyond its limits or I was suffering some minor symptoms of altitude sickness because I was pushing too hard at the high altitude. No matter (as long as I didn’t puke in the middle of the course)! I ignored the nausea and pushed the old bod to cross the finish line in 1:44:25! The nausea disappeared almost immediately after I stopped (obviously altitude sickness from pushing too hard).

My new Sports Manager was at the finish line to take a photo. We waited for Cynthia to finish. She was aiming for 2:30 and when that time approached I walked back down the course to meet her and run in with her. Unfortunately I missed her because of cars parked on the course and missed cheering as she crossed the finish line in 2:32. She took one minute off her PR – at 8500 ft – so she was pleased.

Maddog was not pleased! He was very disappointed with the time but not with my performance. He was shocked that I had placed 5th with such a pathetic time? I had run a smart race and given everything I had but the finish time was a clear indication that I have a long and painful road ahead of me to get back into race shape/condition! I will have to start speed work next week to beat my fat, out-of-shape ass back into race shape! Unfortunately there is no easy or fast solution. It will take weeks of intense/dedicated and painful training to become competitive again. But nothing else is acceptable to Maddog!

I must show some improvement at my next race/marathon in early Sept!

Stay tuned for the race report – or Orbituary!

RR US Half Copper

Race Report
US Half Marathon Copper
Copper Mountain, CO
Sun, Jul 15/07
1:59:06 – 1AG

This was one of two races I had planned to run this summer because – “Are you sitting down”? - I am not running any marathons this summer (Jun/Jul/Aug)!
I am taking the advice offered by several doctors and my trainer during this past spring when I was suffering all the problems with DVT and cramps in my legs –“You need to take some time off from running/racing”! I interpreted that advice to mean marathons?

As most of you know I have not raced since the Christchurch Marathon on Jun 3rd. I have been doing ‘easy’ runs in the mountains and a lot of hiking and climbing 14ers. But I wanted to run a few Halfs in the mountains this summer as ‘speed work’. This race was the first. Last year this race/event was a full marathon but it was changed this year to a Half and organized as one of a series of National US Races. When I looked at the race entries I figured that it would be difficult to be competitive since there were lots of elite athletes registered to compete in the National Series? On top of that Chris and I had just completed a tough climb of three 14ers on Fri. Thus I wasn’t expecting much!

The race started at 9 am on Sun – a bit late even for the mountains. It was sunny and mid 50s at the start. There were 350 runners in the Half. The race started in the center of Copper Village (9600 ft) and the first mile was uphill for about ¼ mile, then dropped down towards the East Village. Because the course had lots of hills and climbed to 11,000 ft I figured it would be difficult to run an 8-min pace and had set a pre-race target of 1:50. By the time I reached mile 3 in 25:42 I was becoming concerned and when mile 4 turned off on to a rocky trail that traversed and climbed the Alpine Ski Run at Copper Mtn I knew that a sub -1:50 wasn’t going to happen. I soon realized three facts:
1) My legs weren’t as tired/trashed as I thought they would/should be after climbing six 14ers in the previous week?
2) I found myself (surprisingly) to be in 1st place in my Age Group when I made the turn at the top of the trail on the Alpine Run?
3) A sub 2-hr finish would probably win my AG

However we were about to start the toughest section of the course! When we returned to the East parking lot at the bottom of the trail (mile 4) the next 5 miles climbed from 9500 ft to 11,000 ft. near the top of Vail Pass! Mile 5 climbed back through Copper Village to a paved bike path at 9600 ft. The path climbed relentlessly for the next 4 miles. I knew I had to save some energy for the final 4 miles back down the path and it was a painful struggle just to hold an average 10:30 pace over those 4 miles to the top of Vail Pass.
I reached mile 9 and the turn-around at 1:26:02. I had 34 minutes to run the final 4.1 miles! I needed to run an 8-min pace on the 1400-ft descent back to Copper Village!
Thankfully I got some incentive/motivation when I saw that another old fart had closed within 1000 ft of me at the top of the Pass. I stretched out my stride and let gravity pull me down the bike path and mtn. I reached mile 10 in 1:34 - a split of 7:58! Surprisingly –and thankfully – my legs felt OK and I managed to hold that pace until I entered Copper Village and crossed the finish line in 1:59:06!

I was very pleased with my time and performance – and very surprised that I had been able to hold off some of the best runners from Denver and the Front Range? And since it was an inaugural race I have the honor of holding the course record for my AG – for at least one year! I did stick around and collect my award because it was useful – running gear!

I am again surprised that my legs feel amazingly fresh after the race so Chris and I are going to climb another 14er on Mon before he heads back to Seattle.

Stay tuned for the report!