Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mountain Games

Just like in previous years, my man and I decided to head up to Vail for the summer Mountain Games and this year I was signed up for two events.  I stupidly decided to do the Vail Pass Half Marathon AGAIN and for the first time I signed up to do the 10K.  Both events are longer than they claim.  The half marathon is a nice 13.9 course and the 10K is a 6.9 mile course.  

Anyway, this year we had a bunch of other friends come up and it was a blast all around.  We left early on Friday, around 2pm and met up with my man's childhood friend Jeremy in Vail to walk around, pick up our packets and have some dinner.  As usual, I was tired before it even got dark and decided to go home around 8pm.  Chuck and Jeremy stayed out and they came home around midnight.  When my alarm went off at 6am, I got up, got ready, had some breakfast and left the house with the boys.  We parked the car at 7:50 and I speed-walked to the start line.  The race started at 8am and it seemed like there was more people than usual.  My strategy was to just run at a comfortable pace as much as possible trying to not underestimate the last 4 miles which are steeper and well above 9,000ft which also makes it hard to breathe.  

I wanted to call it good at mile 3. I was feeling tired and wasn't feeling overly motivated but I kept thinking to myself that I needed to learn how to push through that.  I was convinced that during my 50-mile race I will probably have that feeling of giving up more than once and I needed to learn to push through.  In  the end, I was there to train towards a bigger goal.  I kept going.  As I was approaching the second aid station at roughly mile 6, I thought to myself that I could just turn around and run back to town and it would legitimately be a 12+ mile run so I would at least accomplish the time/distance I meant to do that day, but again the thoughts of having to explain a DNF invaded my head and I decided to push through convincing myself that it was all in my head and I could keep going.  After mile marker 7, it starts getting steeper.  That's when you start gaining elevation faster. To avoid crashing and burning I decided to easily jog 1/4 mile and walk a tenth of a mile and to keep that going until the finish.  I thought of this strategy as a hill workout of 3 minute hill effort and a 1:30 minute recovery.  That seemed to work just fine. 

Once you go past mile marker 10 it gets even steeper for a little while before it seems to flatten a little.  No flats on this course... but I guess it's just not as steep so it looks flat.  I hit the last aid station maintaining my rhythm. It was mile 11.7 according to my garmin and the person there told me the finish was less than 2 miles away.  I still calculated 2 miles since I knew the course was closer to 14 miles than it was to 13. The path seemed to get flat and even go downhill so I just kept jogging as much as I could (I was not gonna walk the easy parts even if that had been my strategy).  I finally saw the finish line and even though it was uphill it was hard to walk so I just kept running.  I finished in 2h47m which is 15 minutes faster than last year.  That made me happy.  

I caught a ride back to town and felt like my bonking was out of control.  I felt like I was going to pass out and somehow managed to get up and buy a smoothie and eat some chips. Chuck and Jeremy eventually went to race their mountain bike event and I sat at the bar of the Red Lion to feast on a delicious burger and a couple bloody mary's.  Again later that night I crashed early as the boys stayed out.  

The next morning we had to do it all over again.  The alarm clock at 6am, breakfast and get ready to race.  Our 10K started at 8am and Lindsay and I met up with Sam.  Lindsay was the only one of us three who had done that course before and she was ready to beat last year's time of 1h52m.  So I made that my goal.  Lindsay is a really strong downhill runner and holds her ground darn good on flats.  She struggles uphill, but then again, who doesn't?  I've made a point of training on hills to become better but I'm still not that great... regardless, Lindsay and I make a great team because I make her push it on the ups, she makes me chase her down on the downs... we like to chat on the flats.  Sam joined to make the perfect trio! Sam had just run a 50-miler the weekend before so she was there for the fun of it.  We started off uphill and started walking 1/2 mile in, jogged a small flat and hiked the first big climb.  We were at the back of the pack but shortly started passing people once we started going downhill.  

The course was incredibly challenging, but fun.  There were lots of ups and downs and some dirt roads and lots of single track.  Heck! At one point we found ourselves going straight up a ski run and at another point we went straight down a different run.  It was fun... and once we hit the top of the last climb, Lindsay took off... It was actually funny how I could tell she was ready to be DONE.  Sam and I lost sight of her fairly fast and we didn't see her again until after crossing the finish line (and we were probably still like a mile or more away from the finish).  Sam and I finished in 1:39 and later learned that Linsday only finished 15 seconds in front of us.  Sam and I turned it on towards the end to catch this slowpoke blocking our sight of the finish line. ;)  Lindsay was the last finisher before Sam and I... too funny we didn't see her at all the last 10mins of the run.  

Happy runners (especially Lindsay!)
All in all the weekend was fun, but came back home exhausted as usual.  I was glad I got two long runs and I'm ready to tackle the next thing. And yes, I'll be back to race both the half and the 10k. 

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