Sunday, August 23, 2009

RR - US Half Marathon

Race Report
US Half Marathon
Copper Mountain, CO
Sat, Aug 22/09
2:10:55 – 3 AG

Well, this was to be a BIG test – my first race since the Sarasota Marathon in Feb! After 5 months of rest/recovery and PT for the mystery injuries to my back and leg and 5 weeks of training I wanted to test my conditioning.

I had won this tough grueling race the past two years and set the course record (for OLD farts) but had no delusions that either were a possibility this year. I decided I would be happy if I could finish in 2:10 (a 10 min pace).
The race starts in the Copper Mountain Resort at 9500 ft. The weather was great – sunny and low 50s at the 9am start. The 1st mile climbs and then drops about 100 ft to the East Village. I thought I started slow as planned and couldn’t understand why I was hacking and sucking for air until I passed Mile 1 in 7:59! Too fast for the shape I am in! I immediately threw out an anchor and slowed down and passed Mile 2 in 16:51 – more reasonable! The next 2 miles we traversed and climbed a trail across a ski hill and I struggled to reach Mile 4 in 37:01. And we were just starting the tough part of the course since it climbs from 9400 ft to 10,600 ft over the next 5 miles!

I normally average a 10:15 min pace over those 5 miles but really struggled just to keep running up the mountain to reach Mile 9 in 1:32:12. I figured I could easily lower the pace to sub 9 min on the descent but what I didn’t figure on was missing the turn around shortly after 9 miles (for the past 2 years it was located at the top of Vail Pass)? There was no race volunteer, sign, etc at the turn so I continued to climb another 1/3 mile and 200 vertical ft to the top of Vail Pass before a kind person informed me that I had missed the turn! I was pissed off and immediately lost any incentive or motivation to push or hurt myself on the descent. I reached mile 10 in a 16:12 split and decided at that point just to jog the final 3 miles to the finish line!

I crossed the finish line in an official time of 2:17:55 but if I subtract the estimated 7 min for the extra 2/3 mile I figure I finished the HALF in 2:10:55? I was OK/happy with that time but immediately hunted down the race director and gave him royal shit for a poorly organized race and course!

Officially I finished in 3rd place in my AG and am not sure if the extra 7 min made any difference?

Since I didn’t expect to win I wasn’t disappointed and I still achieved my goal of running a long/hard training run w/o any (injury) problems so I was happy.

I followed that hard training run with another challenging training run (very) early Sun morning. I woke at 2am to drive to Leadville and arrive at the final check-in point at the 86.5- mile mark of the Leadville 100 Ultra Race at 3:30am. I had promised to pace a fellow runner/friend from FL (Adam Bright) through the final (13.5 mile leg) of the race. Adam arrived at the checkpoint at 5 am. We had 5 hours to finish the race under the 30-hour limit to earn the coveted Silver Belt Buckle. It was dark but unusually warm for this time of the year. We needed headlamps for the 1st hour through the forest along Turquoise Lake with a few sections of rocky and treacherous trails. However by 6am there was enough light to see the trails and by 7 am it was sunny and warming up. Adam was able to run and walk till the final 4 miles and then it was mostly walk and I had to play mind games with him to keep him moving. I know how bad I feel sometimes in a marathon – I could only imagine the pain and complete exhaustion he felt! But he used willpower, guts and determination to keep his wasted legs moving and crossed the finish line in 29:06!

As I watched him and others struggle and overcome their complete exhaustion to finish I confirmed my long-standing decision and wisdom to NEVER- EVER run an ULTRA!

Since both training runs went well I now have confidence to sign up for the Boulder Marathon in mid-Sept even though my longest run since Feb has been 15 miles?

Stay tuned!

No comments: