And now for the executive summary of the race:
It was hard.
I've read a couple of other race reports that have sweet pics and stuff. Mine will have nothing of the sort.
Cold start in Cheyenne Mountain State Park. I really didn't know what to expect going in, other than I knew that it probably would be a tough race with the elevation gain. I didn't know what the trail would be like, what the overall race, people, aid stations would be like, etc.
Thus after shivering through the national anthem, nice touch, the gun was fired--err the park ranger guy said "go" and we were off. OK this huge convoy of camelbak toting trail runner dudes was off. I appeared to be standing still as they ran around me. The first section of trail was fairly wide, nicely maintained, and gave no indication of how the last ten miles would be. I was rather suddenly introduced to the joys of trail running about five minutes in when I was tackled from behind by a guy who tripped and fell into me. Despite "winning" the joust, it was sort of unnerving to realize this was a full contact sport. Thankfully, due to my epic pace, I was quickly behind the main convoy and didn't have any more would be tacklers trying to bring me down from behind.
It didn't take long to figure out this would be an entirely different race. After a nice little introductory loop, the trail started heading up and got more technical, rocky, tight turns, branches, trees, all the stuff that makes trail running "fun". (Insert standard running is not fun disclaimer.) I also realized that my trail running form most resembles that of an eighteen wheeler with no brakes. Getting up the hill was extremely slow, going down the hill occurred at break neck (likely mine) speeds. This resulted in the back and forth passing and being passed by the same runners over and over. I wound up "power" hiking (doesn't that sound a lot better than totally gassed trudging up a marginal incline?) quite a bit of the more extreme (and not so extreme) uphills. Considering some of the incline I really don't feel too badly about walking those sections. At a couple points I even passed some folks who were "running" while I was walking.
I wanted to try and make up as much time as possible on the downhills so on the first major downhill section I "put the hammer down". This actually was almost fun. It reminded me of being a kid in Montana and running down mountains (epic trail from Agnes Lake was the classic) and through trails. The down side was I was sprinting and working hard on that downhill only to be faced with the second major uphill section as a reward.
At this point it is probably fitting to point out a few comments on the volunteers. Generally speaking, the volunteers were great, very encouraging and helpful. With a couple of notable exceptions:
A) Somebody needs to teach these people how to fill up a cup! At every single aid station I was handed a fairly large cup that had no more than one inch of liquid inside. I seriously needed about five cups per station to get a decent drink. Needless to say I didn't want to stop and spend that much time asking for more and more cups so I usually got a couple and then drank from the bottle I was carrying. Seriously, fill up the dang cup! (I'm not blaming anyone for some dehdyration bonk that occurred later on but, seriously more than 1 oz per cup would be nice...)
B) I had a sort of unintentionally funny interaction with one volunteer who had asked me how I was doing. I replied that I was doing well (lies and still in the first half of the race) and asked how he was doing. His response? "Well I'm doing better than you look!" Uhhhhh I thought you people were supposed to be encouraging? I guess it could have been more funny if he had done anything to insinuate it was supposed to be a joke...Look I know me running is the farthest thing from beauty imaginable, and I'm sure I looked like death warmed over at that point, but couldn't you put a little bit of an optimistic spin on things? You know like "Hey I bet you'll live long enough to at least finish the race!" or something? :)
I was still shooting for an under three hour finish and as I approached the second major high point, I knew I had a lot of time to make up. I ran the second down hill as hard as I could, and pushed through to mile twelve still thinking I could maybe gut it out. Unfrotunately I hit the twelve mile marker, looked at my watch and saw there were only eight minutes left. Not going to happen. It was a major bummer, and I honestly stopped and walked for a bit internally raging at the fact that I was going to miss it. Ironically the official time was about three minutes off from my watch (no idea how that happened) and I finished much closer than I thought. Official time was 3:00:38. My watch time was 3:03:33. 38 #@$*(*%!@#$% in' seconds. But I digress.
Initially I was a little bummed about how slow that is, but considering the difficulty of some parts of the course, (I actually dropped down to hands and feet a couple of times) and that the winning professional time was 1:42 I didn't feel too badly. The winning marathon time (the marathon course consisted of two laps) was over four hours, equals more encouragement. Also I didn't get lapped which was nice.
Let me just say that was tough. I feel pretty good about getting through it. At many times it felt tougher than the marathon I ran earlier this year. Somehow I strained my foot about half way through which made things a bit painful, but I don't think it is anything permanent.
Once again, I had a world-class support team led by "teh wifey", the chilrunz, and my pops even made a guest appearance. Thanks! My first trail run is in the books, first official half-marathon is in the books. And now its time to start the ultra training plan.
Day 642 13.1 (some race reports have the course at 13.4) in 3:00:38.
Day 643 1.0 in 13:20 Uhh...pain.