Monday, June 07, 2010

RR -Steamboat Springs

Race Results
Sun, Jun 6/10
Steamboat Springs Marathon
Steamboat Springs, CO
Marathon # 330
4:20:47 – 2AG

This is (er - used to be) one of my favorite races in CO. The course is very scenic and the race well organized. The course is point-to-point starting at Hahns Peak Village 26 miles NW of Steamboat Springs. The elevation is 8128 ft at the start. The first mile drops 100 ft and then mile 2 climbs to the highest elevation of the race – 8178 ft. The course then drops 1450 ft over rolling hills to mile 20 and climbs through 3 nasty BAHs (Bad Ass Hills) over the next 3 miles and finally drops over the final 3 miles to finish in downtown Steamboat at 6728 ft.

I ran this race four times and won my AG three times in my early 60s with times ranging from 3:38 to 3:57. In 2008 my finish time of 4:01 was only good enough for 3rd place so I didn’t believe I could be competitive this year. With only one week of altitude training and still suffering GI issues I figured my target should be 4:10 to 4:15.

The Sports Manager didn’t return from the West Coast till late Sat afternoon so I traveled to Steamboat by myself. I picked up my race packet and enjoyed a nice pasta dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant.

Sun was ‘M’ day. The weather forecast called for sunny and warm temps. It is necessary to catch a bus to the start line at 6am. It was 50F at 6am! It was at little cooler at Hahns Peak Village but sunny and in the low 50s at the 7:30am start. There were 450 runners in the marathon and 1000 runners in the Half that started at the 13 M mark of the marathon course. The 1st Half is fast in spite of a few nasty hills because overall it drops 1000 ft. I have made the mistake in the past of starting two fast in this race so I decided to run a 9:00 min/mile pace through the 1st Half. I passed Mile 5 in 44:23, Mile 10 in 1:28:40 and reached the Half in 1:57:41. I was right on pace!

I knew the 2nd Half would not be as fast because there are five BAHs so I slowed my pace to 10 min/mile. I figured if I could hold a 10 min pace except for the 3 nasty BAHs at mile 20 then I should be able to finish close to 4:10? My legs were already beginning to tire so the 10-min pace felt good. I even managed to hold that pace through the first two BAHs at miles15 and 18. However when I crested the BAH at mile 18 my legs were very tired and heavy and I knew I was in trouble. I hoped I could hold the 10-min pace till the start of the BAHs at mile 20 because I figured there would be some walking required through those hills. But it wasn’t meant to be – by the time I reached Mile 19 my legs were wasted/finished – there was nothing left and I was forced to start walking! I knew right then that the final 7 miles were going to be very ugly and painful. I tried to use the ‘Galloway’ strategy – walk 1 min and run 5 min.

I reached Mile 20 in 3:08:13 and a split of 11:11 and now faced 3 nasty BAHs over the next 3 miles. The 1min/5min strategy/pattern quickly disintegrated and the run time became shorter and the walk longer but I somehow I managed to hold a 12-min pace through the BAHs. I crested the final BAH at mile 23 in 3:45 and realized that my target of 4:15 wasn’t going to happen. I would have to run a sub 10-min pace over the final 5K and that wasn’t going to happen.

Mile 24 was a steep downhill and gravity helped pull me down that mile in a split of 9:47. However when the course flattened and gravity no longer helped my legs refused to move and I struggled to walk/jog the next mile in 11:47. When I reached Mile 25 in 4:06:34 I tried to fool and motivate myself with a goal of finishing under 4:20. However my legs were wasted – totally finished – and refused to move. The last mile of the course runs along Main St in Steamboat and is lined with spectators cheering the runners to the finish. Maddog was not going to allow himself to be embarrassed by walking/crawling along that section so we walked/crawled for about 3 min to give the legs a chance to recover and then sucked it up and jogged the final section of the course to cross the finish line in 4:20:47!

When I crossed that finish line there was absolutely nothing left in the old legs or old bod. I didn’t even have enough energy to fart! Thank goodness breathing is involuntary because I didn’t have enough energy for that either! I shuffled/crawled to the car to get the camera for a finish line photo. After the photo I checked the race results. I was shocked! That pathetic/poor finish time was good enough to place 2nd AG. If I had achieved my target of 4:15 I would have won my AG? Clearly the fast dogs did not show up for this race! I did not deserve an award for such a poor performance and time – maybe for the perseverance and tenacity to accept a HUGE amount of pain to get to the finish line?

I have no idea why I suffered such a bad crash or collapse. The last time I suffered that much pain and hurt that much in a race was one year ago at the Boulder Marathon – the 1st race back after a 6-month sabbatical due the mystery back injury. But at least I had a reason - I was not in shape and had not trained enough! I think I am in good shape and believed my race strategy was smart but I have to assume the 9-min pace through the 1st Half was too fast? Maybe the past few months of illness and GI problems have taken a bigger toll on the old bod that I thought? Now I am concerned about my next race next weekend. The Estes Park Marathon is much higher and much tougher. And it has been a long time since I ran back-to-back (consecutive) weekends. Thus I am going to run much smarter and slower and hopefully finish with a faster time and MUCH less pain!

Stay tuned!

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