Sunday, April 18, 2010

Horsetooth Half


It was a great day for running in Northern Colorado today. I woke to thick fog and cool temps, but the sky cleared by the 8:30 start of the Horsetooth Half Marathon. The Horsetooth Half is one of the biggest and oldest of Northern Colorado running events and many people say it is one of the toughest half marathon courses in the country. The reputation for difficulty is mostly due to the big climb over the first 1.8 miles of the course from the start next to CSU Hughes Stadium to the top of Centenial Drive along Horsetooth Resevoir. From there the course rolls along the west side of the resevoir climbs over Bingham Hill and finishes with 5 miles along the Poudre River bike path to New Belgium Brewery.

I went in to the race hoping to run strong and finish faster than last year's 1:35and even see if I could get close to 1:30. I felt good as I ran through Pineridge to the start and even better as the race started up the hill. I hit the first mile in 7:55 which was faster than I had expected for the all uphill mile. I reached the top of Monster Mountain in 14:31 which I'm sure is a bit faster than I've ever ran that section before. Mile 2 was8:13 and I ran the mile 3 (mostly downhill) in 6:32. I continued on strong and relaxed, up the second hill past the next dam and flew down the big hill at the north end of the resevoir. I slowed a bit over Bingham, but held on and passed a couple people on the down hill side keeping my mile splits under 7 minutes. I hit the bike path with under 5 miles to go and felt like I could hang on to a 6:50-6:55 pace to the finish. I could see by this point that a sub 1:30 was out, but I could still run a course PR if I could maintain a strong sub 7 minute pace. I passed a couple more runners in this section and miles 9, 10 and 11 went by without too much trouble. With two miles to go, I was getting tired and struggling to hold the pace, but I worked on staying relaxed and kept pushing. When I passed the 12 mile mark and went through Lee Martinez park I knew I could pull off a sub 1:33 if I held my pace. I turned off the Poudre trail and on to Linden St. for the final 150 yards to the finish and sprinted with all I had left. I finished in 1:32:57 out of breath, legs tight. This was the hardest I had pushed in a long time. I finished 5th in the 35-39 age group and 35th overall out of the 1350 runners.

I saw Pete and Dan at the finish. They had both finished a few minutes before with great races, Dan in 1:25:-- (11th OA, 1st AG)and Pete in 1:26:27 (13 OA, 1st AG.

Ean was there starting her volunteer shift in the beer garden. The post race party with beer and a band and lots of sunshine was great. After the awards, Pete and I ran home for a 7 mile cool down and a 24 mile day.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

InSanitas


I took a sub day yesterday to go down to Boulder and run with the Special Idiots. SI is a amazing group of runners and adveturers that take off on running/hiking trips of epic proportions and the stories I've heard always blur the lines between hilarius and insane. I've met many of the Idiots at ultra races and on some runs in Fort Collins, but I had never been to Boulder to run with the Idiots on their home turf. Friday's run involved running multiple loops on the approximately 3.5 mile Sanitas Trail just west of town. The trail climbs 1250 feet in 1.5 miles to the top of Mt. Sanitas and then descends just as quickly to the trail head. If you do the math on what that rate of climbing looks like, it is roughly equivalent to a steep set of stairs. That is exactly what the trail looks like. In places, I was reminded of scenes from the Lord of the Rings and Gollum's secret route into Mordor. It was much prettier though.

The run was a birthday celebration for three of the Idiots--Chris, Kari and Staph. Their plan was to run enough laps to get a mileage total equal to their age. They invited others to join them. For me that would have meant about 10 laps or 36 miles. I woke up at 4 am to meet the group at 6 am at the trail head and I ran/walked 6 laps in just over 6 hours for about 20 miles and over 8000 feet of vertical gain. By the last lap my pace was reduced to slow steps up and careful hops down. My legs this morning had the dull ache of doing the equivalent of several thousand squats with 165 pounds.