Writing, Running, Being.

The finish line is a shifty Thing and what is life, but reckoning?
Ani DiFranco

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cheyenne Mountain Trail Race


The Cheyenne Mountain Trail Race was Saturday at the Cheyenne Mountain State park in Colorado Springs. There was a 50K and a 25K race. It was an inaugural event and I was really excited to run the 50K. Can't miss an ultra or super fun trail race in your own town, right? I hadn't run at the state park much, even though it's only 5 miles from my house. I ran the 50K course (just 1 lap of it) last Saturday and ended up buying the Colorado State Park pass that day.

I awoke the morning of the race to my favorite running weather. Overcast, chilly and a chance of rain and snow. The race didn't start until 8AM and was less than 10 minutes away so I got to have a pretty relaxing morning. The 50K race started first and we had 70-something runners. The course was really fun. There were all different types of trails to experience. Some were quite technical and steep, some were smooth and mellow, it was a good mix of up and down, woods and prairie. And there were great views of Cheyenne mountain and Norad. The mountains were all gray and misty. Gorgeous scenery!

Here's Jonas before the race. One of the race's sponsors let him borrow that cow hat.

I took the first 8 mile section of the course pretty easy. The runners didn't spread out as much as I had expected, but it wasn't congested either. My favorite trail on this section was Blackmer loop. It was pretty heavily wooded and had some cool boulders with trees growing out of them. That Mother Nature is one hard woman to figure out. I can slave over my vegetable garden for months, investing in the finest soil, racking up the water bill, talking and singing daily to my plants and nothing grows except like four leaves of spinach and some squash, but trees can grow out of boulders?!?! Amazing. I really enjoyed the climbing on this section. I stayed pretty relaxed and enjoyed the cool weather. The climbs were broken up nicely with some fun descending. At mile 8 we ended up back at the start/finish area and then headed to the south part of the park for another loop/lollipop-thingy on some different trails. I got to see Brian and Jonas at the 8 mile aid station. Jonas was wearing a medal from the kids' race and ringing a cowbell. Cute!



I dropped off my jacket and picked up a bottle of Perpetuem. Brian told me there were 5 women ahead of me. Then another one passed me while I was talking to him. I made a goal to pass two girls and get into the 5th spot. The weather stayed cool and cloudy. It started snowing as I headed out on this second 8 mile section. The wind on the more exposed, southern part of the park was pretty brutal, but we didn't spend much time there before going up into the trees again. My favorite trail on this side of the park was the North Talon trail. It was a white rocky trail that climbed to the top of an amazing view of the mountains. I wish I had brought the camera. The descending on the Talon trails was roll-y and fun. I picked up the pace here and passed a few people. The Turkey Trot trail (I think) brought us back to the start/finish area again. This was the halfway point and I didn't get to see Brian here, but didn't really need anything so that was okay. Now it was time to head back to the north part of the park.

I was sort of dreading going back up the climb that I enjoyed so much the first time around. I was really surprised at how much the runners had spread out. There was nobody around and it got lonely and stayed that way for a long time. I was frustrated with how slow I was running and how tired I felt. I wasn't even at 20 miles yet! I took a caffeinated gel and kept plodding along waiting for it to kick in. At about mile 18-19 I started to see the leaders coming down the lollipop "stick." It was fun to see people running fast and I tried to feed off that energy and pick up the pace. It worked for a little while, then I entered the loop part of the lollipop and got lonely again. I got through the loop just fine, then it was my turn to run down the stick and see the people behind me. That and the descending got me feeling good again. I saw Brian and Jonas at mile 24 and got and a refill of Perpetuem (caffeinated!) to get me through the last 8. The winners of the 50K were coming in just as I was heading up Talon for the last section.

That Talon climb was really hard this time! I walked through a few spots. The leading women were running down the hill to the finish. The first 2 were within less than a minute of each other. The one in second place was only 20! She was absolutely adorable and each time I saw her she was wearing a huge smile and greeting us slowfolk...while running really, really fast. I slowed down a ton on the Talon climb and the loop portion of that lollipop. There was no one around me...so I thought. I started to get comfortable there thinking I had a nice cushion to still make top 5, then I heard some voices on the switchbacks behind me on South Talon, a little more than 5K from the finish. I was pretty sure one was a woman's voice so I picked it up, ran through the aid station and used the gravity of the descent to try to get a bigger lead. I looked back a few times and didn't see anyone so I still thought I was okay. Then with about 1/2 mile left, knowing I had gotten slow again, I looked back again and saw a woman. Crap! I was pissed at myself for slowing down so much. I got super anxious and didn't want it to come down to a final kick into the finish so I gave that last 1/2 mile everything I had left. I ended up only beating her by about 20 seconds. Yikes!

I was 5th woman, which I am pretty happy about. The first 4 ladies were all super fast. The winner was just under 5 hours and 4th place was still over 30 minutes ahead of me! I want to be able to compete at that level... I'm working on it! My time was 5:50:36 and was a significant 50K PR for me. Most of the credit for that goes to the fast course, but hey, a PR is a PR right? And a PBR is a great recovery drink, of which I would partake later that night.

I stole this photo off the race's website. Although I do look haggard, it's the only one of me not heel-striking or appearing to be 50 lbs overweight. Does anyone want to join me in establishing a support group for women (okay, men too if there's interest) who have been emotionally damaged by race photos of themselves? Seriously... ever feel like your race picture depicts two pigs in a lycra sack running in opposite directions rather than you running with grace and speed?


After the race, I wanted to hang out, but it was cold and windy and Jonas had fallen into a cactus and Brian had had enough of him. They both needed naps so we went home. Carrabbas catered the race, so I took home a plate of grilled chicken marsala and salad. It was really good! I took an ice bath and then tried to sleep but couldn't. That night I went to a party and stayed out til after 2AM dancing my ass off and partying like a frumpy mom in the midst of an early-onset midlife crisis college girl and realized that was a great way to train for 100s. My legs are feeling pretty good now. Tight, but not too sore.

Oh! I forgot to mention that I won a drawing that paid back my entry fee! How cool is that! Especially since we are broke and I paid for the race with a credit card and then neglected to tell my husband about it (we are so anti-credit card! I had major guilt about that). But it's all good now thanks to goSonja's blog! Thanks Andrea and Sonja. A heated argument about money has been avoided in my home!

I wish I had more pictures of the race, but since I don't, here is a completely unrelated video of Jonas singing his favorite song "Move It." He actually begged me to take this video and share it, so don't accuse me of exploiting him.

video