Sunday, April 15, 2012

CO Marathon/Quad Rock Preview Double

Saturday I ran the first 21 miles of the Colorado Marathon course starting with Pete, Cat, Celeste, Brian and Gabby at 6:30 in morning way up the canyon.  Celeste's goal in training to run sub 3:30 at the marathon three weeks from today was to run the first 5 miles easy (around 9 min/mile) the next 10 miles at goal race pace (8:00 min/mile) and the final 6 miles easy.  My job was to help pace her to this goal.  As it is so easy to do on this course, we started out too fast clocking the first couple miles well under 9 minutes, but we did settle in to a solid 7:45-8:00 minute pace for miles 6-16.  We backed off the pace slightly for miles 17-19 and then pushed on mile 20 for a very strong 7:36, then jogged the final mile back to the school where we had left the cars.  Total time for 21 miles: 2:50.  Average pace: 8:07 with a total of 12 miles under 8 minutes and 7 miles under 7:50.  It was a beautiful, cool, sunny morning in the canyon and a great day to be running.  Celeste is definitely fit, trained and ready for a marathon PR of sub 3:30 or better.

This morning was the official Quad Rock 25/50 preview run hosted by the race director himself Pete Stevenson.  The other race director was off messing around in California. It was windy and cold at 8:00 am in the Soldier Canyon lot at Lory State Park, but the skies were mostly clear despite the predictions for rain and snow throughout the morning.  More than 25 runners were present from all around the Front Range to test their strength on this course that is already being talked about as one of the tougher 50 milers around.

We started together heading south out of Lory on the East Valley trail running in a seemingly endless line of trail runners sporting the full spectrum of running apparel, hydration packs and trail shoes. Just over 3 miles in, the first climb begins as we headed west up Sawmill to Stout to the infamous Towers Road. On Towers, I met up with Brian and Tonks who had started from the Soderberg trail head. We ran together and talked for a while and then I was on my own for much of the first big decent down Spring Creek towards Horsetooth Falls. Near the falls, I met up with Victoria and a small group of other runners. We ran together to the upper Horsetooth lot at about mile 10 where a full aid station will be on race day. 
Celeste and Cat power up Sawmill
Scott and Sam were taking a quick break here to eat and fill water.  I headed out with them a couple minutes later to begin the second big climb of the day up Southridge towards the Rock.  The climb went smoothly and we hit the Wathen/Westridge junction feeling a bit tired and glad to be more than half way done.  After Westridge and a short stretch down Towers, we started the big drop down Mill Creek which is steep and somewhat technical and has always been a challenge for me to run well. Today, I felt great and ran this trail better than I ever had.
Scott and Sam looking epic as always at mile 18.
We took a break towards the bottom of Mill Creek before dropping down to the Arthur's Rock Trailhead where 25 milers (like me) will see their last aid station on race day.  From the Arthur's trailhead, we started our last and probably toughest climb of the day up the Howard Trail towards the base of Arthur's Rock.  This climb was hard.  Rocky switch back after rocky switch back take you relentlessly over 1000 feet up from the valley floor.  We were glad to reach the top and took a relaxing sit down break at the top before setting out for the final 4+ miles down the Timber Trail to the finish.  The weather had been strange all day starting with an unexplainable snow shower under a cloudless sunny sky while I was running down Spring Creek (I thought it was big flakes of pollen until I noticed they were melting on my skin) to blasts of icy wind while we sat near Arthur's Rock to sun baked warmth while climbing towers.  As we came out of the trees on Timber in the last two miles of the run, we got hit in the face with a full force snow/hail storm.  I had to hold my hand over my face as I ran to prevent my face being torn off by the blast.  A few minutes later the snow cleared and we hit the trail head and the cars and we were done.  Our total time on the trail was 5:06 for nearly 26 miles and over a mile of vertical according to my watch.  I am pretty confident that a 4:30 will be possible on race day.

photo by Sam

GPS Data


  1. Great weekend, nice job! I think you've got 4:30, which is a great time on that course, leading to a < 9 at Collegiate Peaks (even < 8:30)

  2. Geez man, you're making me feel lazy. I'm gonna have to give the full QR course a test run soon. The only question is 25 or 50?

  3. Mike: Thanks, it was a good weekend for running. I was thinking 9:30 for CP, but sub 9 would be awesome.

    Rob: You better go for the full 50 'cause one loop only gives you 5300' of vertical. That's hardly worth the drive up to the park for you.

  4. Yeah, Rob, I'm with Alex, any run with less than 6K or so of vert is hardly worth a Hardrocker's time. ;-)

    Nice job Alex, sounds like you're ready for the QR/CO Marathon race double in the same weekend instead of 6 days apart. I found 13.5 to be enough on Sunday.

    Have fun at CP, I bet it's a beauty of a course.