Sunday, July 31, 2016

Chase The Moon 12 Hour Endurance Run

Last weekend I ran the Chase The Moon 12 Hour Endurance Run. This is a night race, ran from 7pm to 7am on the Highlands Ranch back country trails. They have a solo category along with a 3 person and 5 person relay. I signed up for the solo division several months back with the intention of it being my longest training run before Lean Horse in August.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that with it being held at night, I would probably be running much slower than normal and therefore I probably wouldn't end up getting nearly as many miles in as I wanted before the 12 hours was up. So I ended up doing Leadville Silver Rush 50 a few weeks prior in addition. That put this one less than 2 weeks after my 50, so I decided to just take this one easy and use it as a training run to get some good night experience in. And I'm pretty happy with my decision. I told myself I just had to do a minimum of 3 laps, which would be just shy of a 50K at 30.9 (although according to my Garmin I ended up with 31.4 - so definitely at least a 50K).

The race started at 7pm on Friday night in Highlands Ranch - a suburb of Denver. Luckily, it just so happened that I had a couple of work appointments that I could schedule in Denver during the day on Friday, so I ended up heading over Thursday night. Of course driving to different appointments all over the city actually ended up being kind of exhausting and I was pretty tired by the time I finally made it over to the race start a little after 5. Nevertheless I set up my tent and got ready to race.

The weather was super iffy as the race start drew closer, but thankfully it never did really start raining aside from a few drops. I ended up meeting up with several ladies I had met online and hung out with them and their awesome home base they set up - a canopy complete with sparkly lights, and music, along with glow sticks we could all wear!

The "Ultra Dirt Diva's" group on facebook!

LAP 1:
We started right at 7 and I kept an easy pace from the get-go, including walking some not very steep hills in the very first mile. I ended up settling in with a few other solo runners who all had the same "slow and steady" mindset as myself and we chatted a little off and on until the first aid station which was around 4 1/2 miles in. I grabbed a few snacks at the aid station and then headed out to what would be the biggest climb of the loop course. It went well though and there was an insanely beautiful sunset we got to witness as we made our way up. It truly was one of the most unique and beautiful sunset's I've ever seen... this is what I love about running! You get to see some pretty amazing sights! After stopping about 15 times for photo's, I finally made it to the top of the climb where you leave the single track for a nice wide gravel path for about 1/2(?) mile or so until doing a small loop on some more single track - then back on the wide gravel path for some nice downhill to the start/finish area. I finished lap 1 in about 2:10 - my fastest of the night (no surprise there) just as it got dark.

LAP 2:
After grabbing some food I quickly headed out for Lap 2. The race rules state that you have to switch directions every lap - so this time I headed back out the way I had just come in (clockwise instead of counterclockwise). I think it's so you're seeing people before they need to pass you and/or that you just see more people in general which is kind of nice when out on the trails alone in the dark. Whatever the reason, I headed back out, this time going UP the gravel path. I took out my Nathan handheld flashlight for the first time to try it out...and did not love it. I really can't seem to get the lighting thing down when it comes to running in the dark. Headlamps make my head hurt, and this handheld light was supposed to be angled perfectly for running...well it wasn't. I had to hold it weirdly. I eventually just got used to it and it wasn't so bad. It was definitely the brightest light source I had brought, so I think it was best for the situation...but it's leaving me still uncertain as to what I will use at Lean Horse. Back to running - I kept at it, doing the shorter singletrack loop, then back on the gravel path, then the longer singletrack loop to the aid station. Going this direction, the aid station was about 6 miles in, so I was pretty tired by the time I got here. I ate some food and had some soda before heading out for the last 4 1/2 miles of this lap. Sometime during this section I stopped to take a picture of the moon and could hear a bunch of coyote's howling. Right around the time that I could see no other people or the headlamps off in the distance - it was a little eerie. But I kept going and eventually finished lap 2 in abut 2:40. Much slower than the first lap, but it was VERY DARK out there and this whole night running is pretty new to me!

LAP 3:
I stopped at the start/finish area for a bit longer before heading out this time. Having lots of snacks, taking a bathroom break, and changing my shoes. I was already pretty tired and was NOT motivated to get going, but I also knew that the sooner I went out there, the sooner I would be eventually I set out again. This time it was back to running the loop counterclockwise - so at least I only had 4 1/2 miles to the aid station. There's some good downhill on this stretch to the aid station so I tried to run as much as I could, but it was dark and I wasn't very motivated so it was pretty slow going. I eventually made it to the aid station though, grabbed some more snacks, said thanks to the volunteers and kept going. Only 6 more miles until I could go to sleep! When I had done this section in the first lap I remembered running a lot of it...but I definitely wasn't doing that this time around. LOTS and lots of walking. Finally after what felt like forever, I made it to the short gravel section...and then onto the last singletrack section...which was terrible. It was only 2 miles but it took FOREVER. There was a timing mat about 1 mile in and I swear I was never going to reach it. I finally did, and FINALLY made it back to the gravel road where I ran it in (kind of) to the finish - this lap in about 3:05ish, for a total time of 7:53:05.

After I finished, I grabbed some food and then paid $5 to try out Elevated Legs for 10 minutes - a compression system that goes over your legs - looks weird, feels kind of weird, but good at the same time. It is supposed to help with recovery I believe. After that I headed into my tent and attempted to get some sleep. I think it was about 4:00am by the time I fell asleep and I woke up several times, but finally got up at about 6:00am as it was getting light out and most people were finishing up. I tiredly packed up my tent and decided to head out at about 6:30 while I still had some energy (I figured the longer I stayed up the more tired I would get) and hit the road. I stopped in Georgetown for some breakfast then headed to the Vail area. Scott had the weekend off as well, and I didn't want to drive all the way home on no sleep, so the plan was for me to look for a campsite in the Vail/Minturn area and then he would meet me there and we would camp and then hike on Sunday. Well, after wasting an hour and a half, I found exactly 0 open campsites out of the 3 campgrounds I had looked up and so I just ended up driving all the way home. So in my attempt to NOT have to drive 4 hours, I ended up having to drive 5 1/2. GREAT planning skills Kate... It went okay, but I did have to stop in Glenwood Canyon for a 20 minute nap. We ended up driving up to Ouray the next day for a hike in Blaine Basin instead.

Race: Chase The Moon 12 Hour Endurance Run
Location: Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Distance: 10.3 mile laps - so as much as you can or want to run in 12 hours; I did 3 laps - so 30.9 miles.
Elevation Gain: the race website says 1300' per lap, which would've been 3900' total - but I only ended up with 2,320 on my Garmin. That's a big difference, so not really sure. It sure felt like a lot more than 2320' with the constant ups and downs - even if they were short).
Official Time: 3 laps in 7:53:05
Average Pace: 15:03 minutes per mile
Overall Place: 42 of 78
Gender Place: 18 of 33
Division Place: 2 of 2
(Note - placements are calculated by total distance first, then by time - so technically someone could've been much faster than me, but only did 2 laps instead of 3 - I would still rank higher. So hard to really compare people in a race like this!).

Elevation Profile & Map

Post-Race Thoughts:
I did like this race, but I probably won't do it again unless I move back to the Denver area someday. The concept is nice, but the trails weren't my favorite. They were mountain bike trails (which I'm no stranger too since I run on them all the time here), but these ones were SUPER windy and a constant up/down/up/down which was kind of hard to find a good rythm for. Also, I thankfully didn't see any, but this area apparently has a lot of Rattlesnakes. There were signs all over the place and a few people reported seeing them. I also felt like 10.5 mile laps was almost too long for a timed race - I think it would have been more fun if they were more in the range of 5 miles or so, so you could see people you knew more often and stop by your "camp" (if you set one up) more often. All this being said, it is a really well organized, well put on race. The course was very well marked and they even had glow sticks out once it got dark. The aid stations were super well stocked and the volunteers were great. The shirts and finishers medals were awesome as well. If you live in Denver and are looking for a different experience, or night time running experience, I do recommend this one.

(I would normally post these with the corresponding part of the recap...but since this was a night race, these were pretty much ALL taken during the first lap)

One of the many signs warning of rattlesnakes!
Seriously, this sunset! I can't even...
The moon we were supposedly chasing!
Getting the Elevated Leg treatment at 3:30 in the morning!
My tent in a sea of tents!

And here's a video I got of the coyote's howling. Pretty cool:

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Leadville Silver Rush 50 Run

On Sunday I ran the Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile Trail Race (although you can interpret the word "ran" however you want - there was a lot of walking involved). This was my 4th Ultra Marathon (5th if you count the solo/unofficial 50K I did a few weeks back). I haven't done a lot of them, but I have done enough to get asked the question "why" a lot.

And as annoying as that can sometimes be (especially with the tone people usually ask it in), it actually IS a good question. And it's one I don't always know the answer to, especially during the middle of the race while enduring intense pain and suffering. During the middle of a hard race, I often find myself asking the question of "why"? Why did I voluntarily sign up to do this? Why am I putting myself through this pain? These were the exact questions going through my mind from about half-way through Sunday's race until I finished.

Well, I think it all comes down to this simple fact:

1. Because I can.

2. Because I like to prove that a regular, ordinary person with no special athletic talent whatsoever, CAN do hard things.

There is just something so rewarding about getting through something so miserable and knowing you pushed yourself. Knowing you didn't quit. Knowing you worked your heart out to finish it.

So that my friends is "why."

Now, without further ado, my race recap complete with pictures (as always):

Honestly, The Silver Rush 50 in Leadville has always been in the back of mind as a race I wanted to do. The Leadville races are iconic. Leadville is known for it's high altitude, tough mountain ultra's. Looking at the elevation profile, this race actually didn't look that tough to me though (probably why it appealed to me). The route has a total elevation gain of 7,382 feet - that is LESS than Pikes Peak Marathon which I did in 2014. This was almost double the distance. Surely it won't be that difficult, I thought. To say I was wrong is an understatement. Mixing that elevation gain with the altitude (almost entirely over 10,000 feet high and topping out at over 12,000' on four separate occasions) on rugged dirt mining roads over 50 miles made it seem pretty darn hard if you ask me now! Nevertheless, I persevered and got it done (eventually anyways).

For the first time ever in a race, I did not officially sign up until the day before - after driving all the way there and hoping they still had spots available (I'm such a planner, that this is unlike me, but I found out I could save $10 if I did it this way). Thankfully, they did have spots and I quickly got my bib. After that, Scott and I walked around downtown Leadville for a bit and then had dinner at High Mountain Pies - a delicious pizza place one block off of main. We then headed to Buena Vista where we were staying for the night with some friends of mine.

I got up at 4:00am the next morning (actually not that bad compared to some road marathons I've done), and we hit the road just after 4:30. I had to be at the start by 5:30 to make sure I had my drop bag there in time and it is a bit of a drive from Buena Vista (30-40 minutes). All was good with our timing and we ended up with just about 30 minutes before the start (perfect). I was pretty nervous by this point, but it was too late to back out now! With a few minutes before the start, I kissed the hubs good bye and headed into the mass of people getting ready to start.

Mentally, I broke the race up into 8 sections - each up and down section (so 4 ascents and 4 descents). I'm going to summarize each one based on that:

Section 1: First 11 Miles (approximately 2500' of elevation gain)
The race actually starts straight UP an old ski hill. It was rough, but I knew from the get go that I would just walk it. I was going to be out ALL day, no need to over exert myself this early on. So that's what I did when the gun went off - just settled into a nice walk to the top of the hill. After that we made our way south out of Leadville on dusty mining roads (so much dust!). Aside from the very beginning climb up the ski hill, the first 7-8 miles ended up being much more gradual than I was expecting. I ended up settling into a nice easy pace, alternating walking the uphills and running the flats and downhills (and there were surprisingly more flats and downhills that I expected). I felt like I did this very conservatively and felt great for the first 8. The last few miles up to 12,000 feet got a bit tougher - just much more steep and pretty rocky - but I kept at my same slow, steady pace and still felt okay.
Splits: 13:30, 12:44, 11:46, 14:02, 14:51, 13:29, 14:56, 16:24, 15:22, 18:18, 19:45

The initial hill climb!

Section 2: Miles 11 thru 15.5 (approx. 1500' of loss)
Once we reached the top of the first climb, we got some AMAZING downhill (note - I would not be calling this amazing on the return trip). It was a very non-technical dirt road with a somewhat gentle downhill grade and I just flew down it, probably smiling the entire time. These were my fastest miles of the day although I didn't really push my pace - just let the downhill gravity and still fresh legs do what they do best and run! About 3 miles into this I reached the Printer Boy Aid Station which was the first "big" aid station of the day (there has a smaller one at 7). It was a lot of fun to go through this one because there were a TON of spectators cheering us on. I grabbed some chips and soda and then headed out, making my way down another short descent.
Splits: 9:44, 10:55, 10:43, 14:28, 14:45

Some awesome downhill!

Section 3: Miles 15.5 thru 20.5 (approx. 1500' gain + 500' loss)
It was back to the uphill grind for miles 15.5 until about 20 with the exception of a 1/2 mile downhill section. Miles 19-20 along with it's return section (28-29), was my favorite part of the course. This was when you got above treeline and it was the most gorgeous green section with incredible views of the mountains in all directions. It was beautiful and a good reminder to myself of why I was out here - to experience this!
Splits: 15:22, 23:21, 20:51, 15:07, 17:52

Section 4: Miles 20.5 thru 24.5 (approx. 1000' loss)
Section 4 was mostly all downhill, but not one I completely enjoyed if I'm being honest. It was incredibly steep, especially the first mile down - which on top of just not being great at running down really steep sections, the fact that I knew I was going to have to come back up this soon made it that much harder to enjoy. Nevertheless I knew I had to get it done and make it to the turn around, so I did it - getting to the half way point in 6 hours and 3 minutes (right about what I was going for - I had wanted to be under 6 hours, but I could handle 3 minutes over). I spent a little longer at the aid station than I wanted, but I had to find my drop bag, change shirts (the frustrating under arm chafing was happening with my tank top) and refill my hydration pack. I was probably here for about 10 minutes before heading out.
Splits: 15:52, 12:01, 13:54, 21:30

Section 5: Miles 24.5 thru 28 (approx. 1000' gain)
Considering this was the least amount of gain for a section it sure was a tough one. My legs were definitely getting tired, but I was still feeling okay mentally which is the only thing that got me through this. The first couple of miles were fine, but that last mile to the top of this section was ROUGH. It was insanely steep. I found myself stopping a couple of times for rest breaks, which I really try not to do (relentless forward progress is the motto for ultra runners - even if you're going slow, you keep going and don't stop - unfortunately I still stopped a few times). But I kept at it and eventually made it to the top!
Splits: 16:42, 15:52, 28:33, 19:00

NOT the real steep section, I forgot to get a picture of that!

Section 6: Miles 28 thru 33 (approx. 1500' loss + 500' gain)
The reward for finishing the ascent in section 5 was that I got to run through my favorite section again. The glorious green beautiful few miles above treeline. It was lovely!
Splits: 16:16, 13:08, 14:14, 14:47

Section 7: Miles 33 thru 38 (approx. 1500' gain)
This was BY FAR the hardest section for me. The first mile and a half were fine - I reached the Printer Boy aid station which had a ton of people again which was a nice pick-me-up, PLUS someone had left their personal pickles (they had already been thru) which was a LIFESAVER. Pickles are SO good when it's really hot out and you need sodium! The problem came when I had to go BACK UP that wonderful "gentle" downhill section from the beginning. It had seemed so wonderful and gentle when I was going down it...but going back up it was AWFUL. It was seriously never ending. And the entire thing looked the same, so it felt like I was just walking in place. I would round a corner expecting to be almost done and it would keep going. Plus my back was really starting to ache by this point and I just about had a mental breakdown. I didn't know if I could do it at this point. I stopped and try to eat some more to see if it would help. It didn't. But I kept going, and going, and EVENTUALLY I made it.
Splits: 22:41, 17:39, 18:20, 20:29, 25:07

This stretch went on FOREVER.

Section 8: Miles 38 thru 48.8 (approx. 2500' of descent)
Finally I had finished the last of the major climbing. This meant I was in the homestretch! Unfortunately it also meant I STILL had about 10 miles to go. There were rumors that this wasn't a "full 50 miles" - I honestly didn't care though. The race is called a 50,  so I'm calling it a 50 - however, it made it hard to tell exactly how much further I had. I did get to the turn around point at about 24.2, so I was thinking we'd come in around 48-point-something. I was trying to get myself to run the downs, but it was pretty tough. I was exhausted. I had also started getting side stitches whenever I ran downhill too much. So I just chugged along at a run/walk/hobble as best as I could. I tried to get myself to average 15 minute miles - I wasn't super successful, but kept most of them in the 16 minute range. I passed a lot of people walking, but I also got passed by people who had been able to pick up their pace. When I was about 3-4 miles to go I kept hearing guns going off (there must have been a shooting range nearby or something). My only thought was "if I don't finish because I get shot I'm going to PISSED". Thankfully I did not get shot!

Finally I knew I was close - I could see Highway 24! We got onto the short section of bike path from earlier that morning - I was almost there!!! But then we were directed onto a different single track section we hadn't done that morning. But I knew we had to be almost there... except that the single track kept going on. And up. And on. And up. For OVER a mile (one mile is quite possibly the longest distance ever when it's the last one in a 50 mile ultra).  And then there was the top of the ski hill from earlier with people cheering us on...but we didn't get to go down the ski hill, we were directed around it.... how long was this going to be?! Until FINALLY the singletrack went back down and I could see the finish line and the famous Leadville Race Series Red Carpet! I was going to finish! I very painfully mustered up a smile so I'd have some decent finish pictures and crossed that finish line in 13 hours, 21 minutes and 22 seconds. It was slower than my first 50 miler, but SO much harder so I did not care in the slightest. I was just happy to be done and within the time cut off of 14 hours!
Splits: 16:53, 15:58, 17:02, 16:03, 14:21, 16:16, 14:24, 16:29, 16:39, 17:12, 15:51

I finished!

Race: Leadville Silver Rush 50
Location: Leadville, Colorado
Distance: 50 Miles (my Garmins ended up at about 48.9 miles)
Elevation Gain: 7382 feet according to the race website. I ended up with 7490'
Maximum Elevation: 12,037'
Minimum Elevation: 9886 feet
Official Time: 7:21:22
Average Pace: 16:02/mile
1st Half: 6:03:14 (14:32/mile)
Second Half: 7:18:09 (17:32/mile)
Overall Place: 319 of 384
Gender Place: 80 of 103
Division Place (F20-29): 20 of 25

Elevation Profile
Course Map

Post Race Thoughts:

It's only been two days, so this is still pretty fresh in my mind and so I still stand by my thought that this was HARD. I spent a lot of time during this race thinking about how in the WORLD I am ever going to complete Lean Horse 100 in August.... but don't worry I'm not giving up or anything. I'm just going to keep training - and work on mental training as well. I'm also feeling extremely grateful that I chose an "easier" first 100 race. My 100 miler will have less overall elevation gain than this 50 miler did, so hopefully that will help. Nevertheless, it is still DOUBLE the distance. So it will be interesting! And I am still completely terrified (but still excited...I think).

As for this specific race, I did really like it. I feel the same about it as I did the Leadville Trail Marathon I did a few years ago - the Leadville Race Series puts on good races. I know they sometimes get a bad rap because they're very "corporate", but they do a good job. The course is always well marked and the aid stations are great - the volunteers at this were AMAZING and so, so helpful! I could've done with 1 or 2 more aid stations on the course because once you start walking a lot, 7 miles (the approximate distance between aid stations) takes a LONG time. I also could've gone for pickles...I'll have to make sure I bring those to Lean Horse! The weather ended up being really nice for this race - it did get into the 70's, but there was a pretty good breeze most of the time keeping the temperatures down. Overall, aside from how hard it was, I did like this race. I'm glad I did it and I know it was good for me mentally.

Random observation: I am actually not very sore post-race. I was more sore after I did the 50K last month...kind of bizarre, but I guess it shows my training is working a bit! All of my gear and clothing worked for the most part - I ended up changing shirts halfway through due to chafing and I ended up with 2 small blisters...not bad for being on my feet for over 13 hours though!

And now, I will leave you with a quote:

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." -T.S. Eliot

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Last Dollar Road "Unofficial" 50K

I'm now in full-blown training mode for Lean Horse 100 in August, and so I knew I needed to get a 50K (31 miles) in during late June as part of my training. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any races nearby so I just decided I would do my own instead. I'd always wanted to traverse Last Dollar Road - a dirt road that runs from Dallas Divide (west of Ridgway) into Telluride. I have read mixed reviews on whether this road is passable in a low-clearance car, so I figured running it would be a great excuse to finally check it out.

Planning it was a bit on the difficult side - the actual road is about 18 miles one-way from Ridgway to Telluride. I was definitely planning to do an out-and-back, but wasn't sure how doing the entire 15 out one-way would work since the forecast was calling for HOT temperatures and I would have no way to refill my water along the route. Thankfully, a few days before, my friend Laurie said she'd come along for the first part of it. Problem solved - we would drop my car at the beginning and drive her's a way's down the road, and I could leave water at her vehicle.

We met in Ridgway at 7am on Saturday morning and drove up Highway 62 to Last Dollar Road. There was a perfect pull-out not too far off the highway where I left my car and hopped into hers. After getting slightly lost (well, missing the turn), we ended up having to back track, but finally parked about 5 miles away from my car. I left 1 bladder of water at her car for her to leave out for me and then we started our run.

It started off gently uphill before getting a nice half mile or so of downhill and then ALL THE UPHILL. For 5 miles and at least 1500' of gain. Okay...the fact that it was called "Last Dollar Road" and not "Such-and-such Pass" had me thinking this wouldn't be THAT bad. Boy was I wrong. I essentially settled into a nice uphill power hike for 5 miles. At about 5.5, Laurie headed back to her car and I was on my own for the remaining 25 1/2 miles (wow that sounds depressing - I'm glad I didn't calculate that at the time)!

These views made the uphill a bit more bearable!

Laurie running up ahead!

We had mostly reached the high point of the road when she headed back, so that meant I now got to run downhill towards Telluride. And IT. WAS. HEAVENLY. Seriously, THIS is why I endure the uphill. For the amazingly blissful downhill miles to the most gorgeous views of the San Juan Mountains. It was wonderful. Definitely my favorite part of the run! I ran down, down, and more down for 5 miles total. I needed enough distance that I could have kept going further towards Telluride, but I decided against it. Turning back now would mean that I would have to add mileage later on, which I'm never a fan of (it's pretty tough mentally to add mileage at the end when you just want to be done!), but I knew that if I kept going "out", I'd drop another 1000 feet - which would mean another 1000' feet on the way back. Additionally, it would put me at 25-26 miles before I had access to refilling my water. I know from experience that I typically run out of water around 20 miles. So I figured I had better turnaround now. It was a HOT day, and running out of water would not be good.

The views from the high point! You can see Wilson Peak and Lizard Head!
The first section of down! It was wonderful!

Seriously, gorgeous!

So I turned around and run/walked/hiked back up the 5 miles I had just descended. It was definitely not as much fun, especially the last mile towards to the top. That was a struggle and my longest mile of the day. I hadn't done this much climbing in a LONG time, and I could feel it wearing me out until FINALLY I reached the high point again. I took a quick break to enjoy the views again before starting another descent. I was now 15 miles in, and I'm not going to lie, I was much more tired than I had hoped to be by mile 15. All the climbing had really gotten to me. But at least I was going "down" again for awhile and could hopefully recover a bit. There was a great overlook about a mile into my next downhill section so I stopped there for a minute for some pictures and kept going. Another mile down there was a pretty good shady section, so I decided to back-track and add two miles by turning around for one mile and running back down it (while I was in some shade). I then kept at the down all the way back to our starting point. About 1 mile from where we started (and where my water refill was waiting) I ended up running out of water, but thankfully, just as I had planned, my refill was waiting for me. I was at about 22 miles at this point. I refilled my pack and stopped for some snacks before heading back the 5 miles towards my car.

The overlook one mile from the high point.
The view from the overlook.
Had to get at least one selfie!

It had been so long since we drove it that morning that I really didn't remember much about this section. It ended up being a mix of nice gradual up and downhills. I was extremely tired and hot by this point so I was moving MUCH slower than I wanted - walking A LOT - but I kept moving and that's the most important thing. It was tough mentally - I kept thinking, "how in the world am I going to run 100 miles if I am this tired doing 30?". But I kept at it. With about 2 miles back to the car came the most amazing views of the Sneffels Range (my favorite view in the state of Colorado). That helped boost me mentally a bit - along with the fact that the route became a bit of a steeper downhill, so running was easier. I continued on and finally made it back to my car at Mile 27.

The Sneffels Range coming into view!
Can I live here please?

Now was the tough part though. It had been SUCH a long day and I was exhausted. 27 miles is pretty good right? Did I REALLY need to go back out for 4 more? Honestly, probably not. I'm sure 4 miles doesn't mean much in the scheme of a full training cycle. BUT I knew it would bother me. I knew when the going gets tough in my 100 that I would probably think back to that, and it wouldn't help my mental game. I'd think about how I had quit. On top of that, I had also told several people I was doing this and I didn't want to come up short (would they actually care? Probably not - but it helped me to justify going back out). So I did it - I refilled my water again and headed back up the road I had just descended. I mostly power hiked, but I told myself that was okay. You're going to be power hiking in the ultra. All that matters is time on your feet.

I kept going and going. Of course every mile was SO slow and took so long. But finally I made it back out 2 miles - back to that gorgeous spot with the views of the Sneffels Range. Took a moment to remember why I was out here and what it is I love about running in the mountains. And then I turned around, turned some music on, and ran back down to my car - finishing 31.5 miles with 5,084' elevation gain, and feeling oh so happy (and proud of myself for sticking with it and finishing ALL 31 miles)!

That view!

Moving Time: 6:52:13
Elapsed Time: 7:53:24 (so apparently I wasted AN ENTIRE HOUR taking little breaks here and there and taking pictures - kind of sad - but I guess it just adds up!)
Average Pace: 13:14 minutes/mile
Elevation Gain: 5,084 Feet (much more than I expected!)
Minimum Elevation: 8,808 feet
Maximum Elevation: 10,702 feet (that's pretty high!)
Splits: 10:38, 12:14, 15:30, 16:25, 15:36, 11:42, 10:14, 10:30, 9:31, 9:56, 12:46, 16:26, 16:20, 19:33, 16:24, 9:57, 10:54, 9:34, 18:06, 9:38, 11:35, 15:41, 13:03, 14:51, 13:27, 14:33, 9:48, 15:13, 17:23, 14:43, 8:58 (clearly I wanted to be done!!!)

Route Map and Elevation Profile


So of course, that day, I was feeling pretty discouraged. I was exhausted by Mile 15 and slogged through a run/walk to finish all 31.5 miles. But, now that I've had time to think about it I feel better. For starters the route I choose had WAY more elevation gain than I had planned for, and given that, my average pace was not bad AT ALL. Plus the fact that of course I was slower than I'd be in a race because of lack of crowd support and just that general feeling of knowing the clock is ticking. I also had no aid stations and had to rely solely on what I brought (with a little bit of extra water waiting for me at mile 22 miles). This was also one of my first long "trail" runs in long time (even though it was technically a dirt road). I had done a 22 mile road run a few weeks prior, but the added time per mile really adds up in trail and mountain running - which is just something that takes time to adjust to. I've now had 2 long runs again in the weeks following - an 18 and a 21, both on trails and they felt better (obviously I know that is still a lot less than 31 - but I felt like I could keep going). I think there is just a transition period when you get back into trail running, and I feel like I'm now doing better getting used to it. Obviously, I still have a lot of work cut out for me and that 100 is NOT going to be a walk in the park, but I am feeling better and I know this 50K helped! I look forward to continuing my training throughout the next month and half which will include at least one 50 miler!

Flattop Mountain & Hallett Peak

I've been wanting to hike to the top of Hallett Peak ever since I found out it was the gorgeous mountain towering above Dream and Emera...