Race Recap: Black Canyon Ascent 2015


I am so, so far behind on my race recaps!! Trying to catch up means I'm going to try* to keep this one short!

*I always say that, and then end up babbling about who knows what. As always, feel free to skip ahead to the pictures...that's why I started this blog in the first place.

This was my third year running the Black Canyon Ascent (making it one of the only races I've done multiple times). I've just come to love it (and am desperately after an age group medal - SOMEDAY I will get one!!!) so I will probably keep doing this one year after year, so long as I'm still living on the western slope and am free that weekend! There's just something rewarding about running a race that is entirely uphill...

This year also marked my fastest time on the course, by kind of a lot, so that was very exciting - especially since this was the only year I didn't do any training on the course ahead of time (that means I really am getting faster!). Feel free to read about the previous two years here:


On a whim, never actually expecting them to say yes, I invited my college friends Taryn and Melissa to come walk it (about 1/3 of all participants are walkers) and they agreed! So we decided to make a fun weekend out of it, along with Melissa's mom, Tammy, and sister-in-law, Mallory. It also worked out very well that they have a super nice camper, so we ended up making a camping trip out of it, so we didn't have to get up insanely early and make the drive from Grand Junction to Montrose the morning of the race. Unfortunately Melissa had a work trip and her plane got delayed, so she had to forgo the race, but managed to get to town in time for the fun post-race events!

So, onto the race:

In the 2 years prior that I have done this race, it's always been very warm, so it was a bit of a change with cold, drizzly 40 degree weather this year. It looked pretty iffy, but we were hoping it would hold out until the end of the race (it sort-of did, I guess). The walkers start at 7:30, and the runners at 8:00, so we got to the start line around 7:00am - just early enough to get a parking spot, take a picture, and have a little bit of breathing time before I saw them off!

Mallory, Taryn, Tammy, and myself

After they left, I saw and chatted with a few friends from both Grand Junction and Montrose before doing a  short 1/2 mile warm-up just to get my legs moving (I was freezing at this point - but I knew it would actually be ideal running weather once I got started).


Finally at 8:00, we were off. I knew I wanted to go for a course PR, but honestly wasn't sure if that was within reach or not. On one hand, I am overall faster than I was in the years prior, but on the other hand, I hadn't been doing any uphill training. So I just settled on a steady, moderate pace. I wanted to push myself, but not too hard (pacing is actually pretty difficult on an all uphill course!).

AND we're off! Can you spot me?! (Photo by Julija Photography)  


This shows the first 1/2 mile of the course very well! (Photo by Elizabeth Riley Photo)

Mile 1: 10:25

Luckily, I know the course well, so that also meant I knew at about 1.25, a nice break comes. It doesn't flatten, but it gets a lot less steep, for about 1/2 mile. This is a nice chance to catch your breath and/or make up a little time. Shortly before Mile 2 though, it picks back up. There's also an aid station here, but since it was cool out, I opted to pass it without stopping.

Mile 2: 10:24

Miles 3-4 are always a blur. Not too much to note during these miles, other than NORMALLY there's some gorgeous views of the San Juan Mountains around mile 4 - but with the rainy weather the clouds were covering them all up (sad). There's also an aid station at 4, but once again I opted to skip it (my stomach was also starting to feel queezy - not sure what that was about!).

Mile 3: 10:54



Mile 4: 10:58 (I seem to be getting slower with each mile..)

I always think of Mile 5 as the steepest, but luckily since it's second to last, mentally it's easier to get through. I was looking at my splits throughout the race, but opted not to pay attention to my overall time until I hit mile 5 - then I would try to go all out for the last mile depending on where I was at.

Mile 5: 11:27 (told you it was the steepest...)

I was at 54 minutes and something seconds - much faster than I was expecting! This was a welcome sight, especially because the last mile is also the easiest. So I picked up my pace as much as I could and hauled it to the finish line. What's awesome about mile 6 is that there are a few short down sections including the last 100 yards or so to the finish line. I passed several people in this last stretch and finished in 1:03:xx - a course PR by 6 minutes!

Mile 6: 8:44 (I really did pick it up!!!)

I took a few minutes to catch my breath (and get my stomach feeling better) and get some water before deciding to jog back down a little and catch up with Taryn and Mallory who were less than a mile to the finish, and walk the rest up with them.

I took these on my way back down to meet up with Taryn and Mallory.

The clouds made for such a cool effect!

After we got done, we headed to the Amphitheater for the usual breakfast burritos (which were good, but slightly cold) and snacks while we waited for the raffle and awards. I did come in 2nd in my age group, but since this is a smaller race, they only give awards for 1st in each age category (I have an age group award for the other 2 Black Canyon Races, but not this one, which is why I'm determined to someday get one so I can complete my collection!). In the raffle, I ended up winning a voucher for a 3W Races event (although I haven't figured out which, if any, of their races will fit into my schedule yet). Towards the end of the raffle it was getting really cold out, and Melissa and her dad had ended up arriving - so we decided to head out after a quick stop at two of the Black Canyon overlooks:










After the race we headed down to Ouray for some relaxation at the Hot Springs followed by lunch at the Mexican restaurant there. The weather was CRAZY while we were in the hot springs (raining and blizzarding at times), but it felt so nice in the warm water!


Snow!
Love Ouray! I wish I had gotten a picture of the steam coming off of the Hot Springs - it was awesome!

RACE STATS:
Race: Black Canyon Ascent
Location: Montrose, Colorado
Distance: 6 Miles
Date: May 16, 2015
Elevation: Just under 1821' (I get different numbers every time I run this - the race advertises just under 2000' I think)
Bib Number: 1811
Weather: 40's and overcast at the start with some light rain during
Official Time: 1:03:05
Garmin Time: 1:03:07
Average Pace: 10:30 per mile
Overall Rank: 33 of 112
Gender Rank: 9 of 55
Age Division Rank (F20-29): 2 of 8
Garmin Splits: 10:25, 10:24, 10:54, 10:58, 11:27, 8:44(!!!)

Elevation Profile

Race Swag

Course Map


LIKES / WHAT WORKED:
  • LOVE the shirts this year! Bright yellow - perfect to stay visible with all of the road running I'm doing right now! (They also fit really well - much better than last years)
  • Very well organized event (although I could be biased since I'm friends with the RD :). Seriously though, it is - every mile is marked and they have aid stations every two miles. It was manually timed but they did a good job of it and had results posted online the very next day (and usually somewhere on-site during the event - but I didn't look for them this year).
  • The weather - this is actually a like and dislike this year. It was PERFECT race conditions (and probably contributed to my faster time), BUT it made waiting around for the awards and raffle at the end a little challenging! Luckily I threw warm clothes in my drop bag!
  • Despite the cold, the finish line is always great - Breakfast Burritos, M&M's, Gummy Bears, and Hot Chocolate (although they were out of the Hot Chocolate by the time I went to get some - probably because it was so cold, everyone wanted some!), and TONS of raffle prizes.
  • The Views (obviously). BUT, do note, if you've never ran it: you don't actually see "The Canyon" on the course. The course runs to the park, ending at the amphitheater. From here, you can kind of see it, a little, but really you'll want to take some time post-race to drive (or keep running) to some of the overlooks and check it out! Trust me, it's worth it!

DISLIKES / WHAT DIDN'T WORK:
  • Mostly just the weather (again good and bad...). It's hard to enjoy the after part when it's snowing (it did start snow/sleeting towards the end).
  • Also - tehy ran out of Hot Chocolate! That would've been SO good.
  • Oh and I'd really like age group awards to go 2 or 3 deep. I know it's a small(er) race, but it's not THAT small - they had over 200 people including the walkers. (I just want more bling, all the time!!)

WOULD I RUN THIS AGAIN:
  • I basically already answered that at the beginning, but of course! :)
 
Last...just a reminder to keep voting for me in the Runner's World Cover Contest! You can vote every 12 hours: http://coversearch.runnersworld.com/entry/610. Please and Thank You!!! :)

Comments

  1. This race sounds tough but awesome. I love the drive up to the Black Canyon but I've never even thought about running it. Great job on the fast time and AG placement!

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