Today was the first race in the Fort Collins Running Club's Tortoise and Hare series. Nick, who organizes these races, and I went out yesterday afternoon to flag the course in Pineridge. It is a 3.75 mile full loop of the Pineridge Natural Area, my backyard and regular running grounds. This morning, Ean, Micah, Maddie, Shadow and I all headed over to Pineridge for the race. The race is free to all FCRC members and includes a breakfast at the Bagel Shop after the run. It was a cloudy, wet, and cool morning and we all quickly realized that we were underdressed. All except for Shadow who was very excited to be out for an adventure and for him the cool temperatures made it even more perfect.
There was a bigger than expected group of runners at the trailhead and Nick was busy getting people registered and calculating the handicapped start. Based on previous T&H race times or a prediced finish time, runners are set out one at a time, with the slowest starting first and the fastest leaving the start line last. Ean, Maddie and Shadow headed out at 8:00 am and Micah, who did not want to run, was put to work as a course marshal. I jogged around to try to stay warm and wished I had brought gloves. I was sent out at 8:19 and took off pretty fast. I went through the first two miles in close to 6:30 each and felt pretty good. I passed a couple of runners that had started ahead of me and got passed by two who had started behind me. When I hit the gentle uphill and single track on the south end of the course, I slowed considerably. I passed Ean, Maddie and Shadow and we exchanged some encouragements. I ran steady, but not very fast along the Timber Trail and hit 7:30 split for mile 3. With less than a mile to go, I tried to push and hoped to pass a few runners that I could see ahead of me. I passed one on the down hill back to the resevoir and one on the stairs back up to the parking lot and finished 21st out of 30 runners. My time was 26:01 and I felt pretty good about it. It gave me some renewed confidence for next Sunday's marathon after a couple weeks of very little running.
I jogged back a short distance and found Ean and Maddie and I took Shadow while the girls had a sprint finish up the stairs to the finish-- Maddie won.
We cleared out fast and nearly filled Rocky Mountain Bagel Works where Nick announced the winners and enjoyed bagels and coffee and time to talk with friends. I talked with JZ about his 50 mile race last weekend where he successfuly ran a qualifying time for the Western States lottery. We also discussed his plans for running the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim next weekend. This is a run that I have been wanting to do for a while and I wish I could join JZ and Eric Lee next weekend for what sounds like a great adventure. Maybe next time. . .