Friday, December 1, 2017

Rim Rock Run 2017

Rim Rock is my absolute favorite local race, so I was of course, in for another year. I had hoped to do the full marathon again, but recovery from my 100 was taking a lot longer than I had anticipated so I decided about a week before to drop to the Half Marathon. Not only is the Half Marathon half the distance, but it also takes out the hardest part of the course (over 2000' of elevation gain), and instead gives you the easiest and BEST part of the race (2000' of elevation loss!). If you like downhill racing, this Half Marathon is seriously, for you. It's SO. MUCH. FUN. If you just like scenic road racing in general, either the half or full is also for you (the full is great - but it is really hard).

Last year was the first year they added the Half Marathon, and I think it was a great idea. I ran it in a super speedy (for me) 1:41:44 - which goes to show how fast this course is (I couldn't run this time on flat ground without months of dedicated speed work). As mentioned previously, I was still recovering from the 100, so I wasn't really sure how this would go. I had only done one run over 7 miles in the past 6 weeks. I personally LOVE downhill running, so I knew I would enjoy it and run fast (for me), but I also had a feeling I wouldn't be able to beat my time from last year... so I decided to just have fun with it and run fast but also to still enjoy it and take pictures. I love taking pictures on beautiful courses, and that was one thing I didn't do last year, so I figured, I might as well!

I headed to Fruita around 6:45 on Saturday Morning, making it in time for the short pre-race briefing before we all loaded up on the buses that took us to the start. They dropped us off at the Highland View pull out right around 8:00am, giving us just shy of an an hour before the start. At 9:00am we were off. I started out at a hard but sustainable pace, but right away started stopping for quick pictures. In fact, I took SO many that I'll mostly let those tell the rest of the race for me. The first 6 miles are downhill, but not too steep, with the occasional short uphill sections, as you make your way from the start line to the visitor's center.

Passing by the visitor's center marks the start of the steepest (and for me, most fun) section of the course. I would guess the gradient is about 4-6% and you can just fly down it. This accounts for Miles 6-10, and has a lot of switchbacks as well as the two tunnels which are super fun to go through, especially since it's the only day of the year that pedestrians are allowed through the tunnels.

Around mile 10 you exit the Colorado National Monument and have 3 miles to go along the highway shoulder as you make your way to downtown Fruita. I find the first mile of this doesn't bother me because you still have some steep downhill, but the last 2 miles can be tough mentally. The course flattens out and you're tired as you're finishing up your final miles. But nevertheless, you make your way to the I-70 over pass, run up and over it, turn the corner and finish in Circle Park! Since the scenery dissipates as you get into town, I put my phone away for these last miles and concentrated on making up some time I had lost for pictures, and finished in 1:45:54 - not too shabby considering the amount of photos I took!

Independence Monument - the most well known rock formation in the Colorado National Monument.

Race Photo - ignore my terrible running form ;) !

Beginning the steepest section of the course as you make your way down and out of the Monument!

Overlooking the switchbacks and eventually onto Fruita!

Entering Tunnel #1

Tunnel #2

Race: Rim Rock Half Marathon
Date: November 4, 2017
Distance: Half Marathon / 13.1 Miles (although this course has run short the past 2 years, closer to 12.8)
Weather: 50's (PERFECT)
Official Time: 1:45:54
Average Pace: 8:05/mile
Overall Place: 63 of 358
Gender Place: Unknown (I can't figure out a way to sort results)
Division Place (F 29 & Under): Unknown
Splits: Unknown - I ran without a watch again this year - and honestly, I kind of love it on this course!
Swag: Race shirt, finisher's medal, pint glass with free beer, free photos

After the race I stuck around cheering on local friends finishing up while enjoying some free beer, and then went over to Hot Tomato for some post-race lunch (they have THE BEST pizza if you are ever in Fruita!).

They had a free photo booth after the race!

Finisher's Medal!

Post Race Beers with the Half Winner (in the dark blue jacket - he finished in 1:11 and change!

The best way to top off this race is with Pizza at Hot Tomato!

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