That DAM Half Marathon Race Report…

The Dash likes. ~ Dash Parr

1:26:50, 8th Overall, 3rd in Age Group PR*

*Full disclosure, this was my first half marathon, so a PR was inevitable.

I had high hopes for this past week’s race (That DAM Half Marathon) and I really wanted to throw down a good time and solid effort. Fortunately, my bod cooperated and turned a tough course into a fantastic time (both clock and experience).

The day started with an early alarm to get to the Colorado House Rabbit Society for our monthly volunteer session. Rach was extra-special awesome and got up VERY early in order to facilitate an early exit by yours truly in order to get down to the race in a timely fashion. We cleaned bunny runs quickly and I changed into my race kit and scurried out the door at 8:30. This provided plenty of time to get down to the race, get in a short warm up and get ready to run my first official half marathon.

Cool temps, overcast skies and steady-but-mild winds greeted us on race day. The field wasn’t particularly deep but there appeared to be some decent talent on the starting line on Cherry Creek Reservoir Dam Road when they started us right at 10:00. The first 2.5 miles ran across the dam itself and featured flat terrain and a bit of a cross wind. Like most races, things started to split early with two runners breaking away very quickly (eventual winner and SUPER speedy Japeth Ng’ojoy 1:13:46 and runner-up Trent Joseph 1:18:04). Needless to say, I wasn’t keeping up with these fellas and settled in about 10 meters off the back of the main group. This proved to be a mixed group of runners and I had a feeling that the group would eventually break apart as those with more experience and fitness dropped those who had gone out a bit too fast.

I eventually grouped up with several other runners who were pacing about the same as my target and we took turns leading for a bit until the first major turn of the race. At this point the course dropped significantly and we broke up again. I ran with one of Colorado’s top Masters racers, Jay Survil for a bit until I dropped a glove and had to spin back briefly. After this foible, I ran just off the back of Jay and and Chris Smiley (I believe) until the turn at mile 6.55.

After the turn, I picked it up a bit and quickly fell into a good rhythm despite the uphill return into the wind. I was passed by Mark Bockmann at about mile 8 and fell in behind him for a bit until I feared blowing up and retreated to a more comfortable pace. Miles 9 and 10 were a bit of a trial through the steepest portion of the course but I managed to stick with low 7s pacing and hang in there to the return to the dam road. At this point, I knew I only had 2.5 miles to go, still felt relatively fresh and was still running with good form so I set out to chase down a couple of people still within reach.

I caught Michael Nothem with about 2 miles to go and after a brief battle of wills (he did NOT want me to go past), I managed to surge and drop him in the final minutes of the race. I finished strongly into the wind with a final mile of 6:28 and yoinked a sub 1:27 for the day. A solid effort all around.

This tees me up pretty well for Boston and was a definite confidence booster going into the final 6 weeks of training. I really need to get a couple more long runs under my belt before the big event and am guessing Mark has those on the schedule for the following few weeks. This also qualifies me for the New York Marathon and I am considering that as my fall race instead of doing Denver. Need to pull the trigger on that fairly quickly if I am going to do so. Guessing I’ll have another shot at it, however, if that seems like too many big events in a single year.

Good stuff.


Recovering well…

LT100 Sub-25-Hour Buckle
Big ass buckle.

Yeah, it’s a lazy dog-dangling afternoon. ~ Homer Simpson

Relaxed on Sunday and Monday but then got back after it on Tuesday and Wednesday. I have found that getting the legs moving again shortly after a big effort really pays off and Tuesday’s run was no exception. It is remarkable how well I feel after the race – especially given how poorly I felt post-race in ’07. I attribute both the success over the weekend and the relative ease of my recovery to good form, consistent and voluminous training and great nutrition. So bonus!

More short recovery efforts (or lack thereof) scheduled for tomorrow and the weekend. Very psyched to be in this kind of mode this early post-race.


Horribly remiss..

Hope Pass
Hope springs eternal.

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. ~ Leo Tolstoy

Mon June 7: 00:30 2.87 miles, Casa Trails barefoot
Tues June 8: 1:00, 5.96 miles, Casa Trails
Wed June 9: 2:40, 14.95 miles, Big Zoo loop GGCSP
Thurs June 10: 3:00, 11.47 miles, Hope Pass hike/run
Sat June 12: 1:30, 8.51 miles, Casa Trails
Sun June 13: 7:03, 35.60 miles, Pbville Course
Total: 15:43, 79.36 miles, 13,770 vertical

I have been terrible about updating this past week due to… well… running a lot and work. Seems that is what it comes down to at this point. With just over 2 months to go until show time, I am getting pretty focused and made it up to Pbville twice this past week for training runs.

The week started a little slowly as I recovered from the heat debacle but then I fell into full swing by mid-week. After a couple of nice trail runs on Tuesday and Wednesday, I hit the road Thursday to go to Gunnison and since Leadville is right on the way, stopped to take a gander at the north side of Hope Pass.

The river is raging right now so I headed upstream to cross via the Willis Gulch bridge. Turns out that was badly damaged by high waters so plan B was put into effect. I headed farther upstream to Pete’s Campground (if memory serves) and the camp host alerted me to that bridge being closed due to the rushing water. Plan C. I happened to see another small (yet substantial) bridge between Willis Gulch Trailhead and Pete’s and that became my entry to the Hope Pass trail.

I ran about 1.5 miles east until the junction of the Hope Pass trail then decided to get in a little more warm-up by heading down to the race-course crossing to check things out. Yeah, that water was flowing and I would not have wanted to cross it in those conditions. I spun around and headed up Hope for the first time since ’07. The trail was in really good shape and I made quick work of the lower, steeper sections and made it to Hopeless in under an hour. Since I was so far up, I decided to just go ahead and see how far up I could go before turned around by either snow or time. I did have to cross several very punchy snowfields but made it to within about 50 feet of vert from the summit before being turned by one last snowfield that just didn’t seem worth the effort. Ran back down and finished fairly strongly in 3 hours.

Sunday, I headed back up to Leadville to log some time on the section between the start and the base of Powerline. It rained and snowed the night before so conditions were a bit soggy. I thoroughly lucked out with the weather, however and only got rained/snowed on briefly while running around Turquoise Lake. The Colorado Trail section was super sloppy with a couple inches of fresh, wet snow but Sugarloaf itself was in pretty good shape. A few inches of snow up high and lots of water running throughout but overall it was great to get up there. I summited then dropped down to the pavement on the south side then spun around and headed back up the steep side. This was the first time I had climbed back up Sugarloaf and I have to commend those who can run this thing. It’s a bitch.

I felt a little tired heading back up and was reduced to a diminishing run/walk cycle for the remainder of the run. Not super confidence-inspiring but whatchagonnado? Ended up cutting off the Colorado Trail and Turquoise Lake sections on the way back to try to speed my return to Leadville. I had planned to head back up the Boulevard but given my tight timeline, I decided to stay on the tarmac in order to improve my chances of hitching a ride if I was unable to make it all the way back to my car in the prescribed 7-hour time limit. After run/walk cycles up the hill, I reached the cut off and started walking/hitching. Was picked up fairly quickly by a nice guy from Jamestown who dropped me off at my car after about a 1.5 mile ride.

Overall, I am feeling fairly well. I need to get better control of my starting pace and my focus. The word for the week is “patience” and I am going to work on putting it into play on each and every run from this point forward.


The Melting Begins…

And this time, no tears! ~ Tobias Fünke

Sun 18 Mar: 4:30, 25ish miles, Marshall Mesa/Bluestem/Shanahan/Mesa

As volcanoes in Iceland spew liquid hot magma into the stratosphere, grounding air travel over most of Western Europe, we are experiencing our own warming trend – loosening winter’s grip on the Front Range and producing a significantly less caustic liquidity. Spring has sprung in the Denver Metro Area and with the consistent warmer temps comes the goodness of improved trail conditions and glorious morning runs. Got out on there again this Sunday for some serious fun in the sun and felt pretty great, actually. Probably had a lot more to do with the forced taper than any fitness gains over the past week but it was good to just put it in cruise mode and glide for several hours.

My reserves started running out about 4 hours in so the last 1/2 hour was a little rough but all in all it was a great run. Started out with a short warm up on Big Bluestem then transferred over to lower Marshal Mesa and back to Bluestem. We then headed west to Mesa and north to Shanahan. At this point, we were hoping to rendezvous with some water we had stashed but an overly-concerned homeowner had gotten suspicious and called the Fire Department to come dispose of the suspicious material. Apparently, he watches way too much Fox News or something. So we headed back up to Mesa, then made our way to Chautauqua to get our hydration on.

It seemed as if everyone and their dog (literally) was out on Sunday so by the time I left Chautauqua and headed south on Mesa, the trails had become quite crowded. Mesa Trail is always pretty packed on weekends so I jammed up McClintock, intersected with Mesa and then continued on to Shanahan where I called it good and bee-lined it back to the Big Bluestem Trailhead for a solid 4.5 hours total. Power hiked a couple of sections but felt generally okay on the way back. Good fun on a Sunday morning.


Getting better…

Slow and steady wins the race. ~ Marge Simpson

Sat 17 Mar: 00:37, 3.5 miles, Casa trails with surges

As quickly as the snow is melting in the high-country, I am recovering and feeling stronger. The stomach is still not 100% but steadily improving. The legs and mind both are ready to roll… just have to hang back a bit to build reserves and get señor estómago to behave a bit. So tomorrow will probably be a bit shorter than normal.

Taking all of this in stride has been a bit of a challenge, to say the least. I have certain goals for the year and having a soft April was not among them. But I am looking at it as some time off, to rest and reflect on a great winter season of training. And a place on which to build for the next four months on my road to Leadville.

Today’s run featured some seriously un-runnable snow conditions. So I hiked that part of the course and relished the open-trail downhills that were tossed my direction later in the run. Not that I was really out long enough for a true “later” but it was good to get out, get the legs moving and enjoy the springy weather. Saw moose tracks not far from the house so that is another critter to add to the list of neighborhood buddies. They can be a bit feisty but I am really excited to get to see one in the ‘hood. Apparently there have been Canadian Lynx sitings as well in the area. I’d really be excited to see one of those! They were transplanted to RMNP and are on the move. Good stuff.

All in all, I am feeling pretty great. Just working to get back to where I was a couple of weeks ago, take the next few weeks in stride as I have wedding commitments the following two weekends, and hit the ground running (figuratively and literally) in May. Excited about what the future holds and that my guts are good again so I can enjoy all of Rach’s amazingly yummy food!


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