Faster Every Year

After basically not running all winter, I ran three races in four weeks and hit some exciting personal bests. But doing well makes me want to do even better, so I’ve signed up for the 14 mile Devil on the Divide race on September 7. It features 3,300 ft of elevation gain with a summit at 13,200 feet. Every summer weekend I’m not hiking a 14er (which is never going to happen because they’re all still covered in snow!), I’ll be running up Flagstaff, Sunshine, Four Mile, Magnolia, and all the other Boulder roads that head straight up from the canyon floor into the foothills. But why get ahead of myself? That race is many months away, so right now I should be celebrating this year’s early wins!

The Yosemite Half Marathon, May 11

Goal Time: 1:45:00

Actual Time: 1:44:14

I burst out of the first heat, first wave with only about 50 runners in front of me. I immediately left the 1:50 pacer in the dust, and after watching several sub-8 minute miles fly by, I was confident I’d reach my goal time. I passed more people on the uphill segments, especially in the first five miles, which was a trail run.

Then we hit pavement and two big downhill stretches. My problem is that I’m not much faster on the downhill. Yes, it’s easier on my heart and lungs, but my feet and legs can only move so fast. Other people somehow have figured out how to take much more advantage of the downhill than I have. On those long stretches, I must have gotten passed by over 100 people. They were just flying by me.

The last three miles had a slight incline and with the finish line hiding behind some sharp turns, I just couldn’t muster that last explosion of energy I usually find right at the end. But I was happy with my time because I knew I had reached my goal. What I didn’t know was that I had placed! We left the race grounds almost as soon as all of us finished and only later did I look at the results and find out that I came in 240th overall out of 3,076 runners (top 8%) and third in my division (females 40-44). I’ve never aspired to win anything in a run, but I have to tell you, I feel really damn proud!

Bolder Boulder 10k, May 27

Goal Time: 49:49

Actual Time: 51:14

This was my fourth Bolder Boulder and my time keeps clicking down. I missed my goal, but I knew it was really ambitious. My fastest mile was a 7:40, but the rest were all over 8 minutes, so finishing in under 50 minutes wasn’t possible. I’m simply not that fast yet. But I gave it my all. I didn’t even pause for the bacon or cupcakes this year. I just ran! And when I compare my stats to my previous ones, once again, I am damn proud.

2016 2017 2018 2019
Overall Time 1:15:50 1:04:57 55:28 51:13
Average Pace 12:12 10:27 8:56 8:14
Division Place 254 (of 500) 141 (of 463) 44 (of 497) 16 (of 441)
Gender Place 10,264
(of 24,043)
5,525
(of 23,393)
1,920
(of 23,739)
932
(of 21,739)
Overall Place 23,110 14,672 6,778 3,853

Will I go for a sub-50 minute race next year? Eh…next year will be my fifth anniversary of running the Bolder Boulder. I think it will be time to do it for fun. Wear a costume, slide down all the slip-n-slides, take the jello shots, dance at the dance parties. We’ll see, but I’m thinking my time next year is more likely to be in the two hour range.

P.S. Three and a half weeks later I did a 10k in 49:31 in Chicago, a 7:59 pace. So apparently I am that fast, just not at altitude!

Ragnar Snowmass Trail Relay, June 7-8

This is a 24-loop relay done in teams of 8—or teams of 4 for the ultra crazy among us—between your starting time Friday and 4 PM Saturday. Starting times are anywhere from 9 AM to 6 PM (again for the ultra crazy runners), and ours was 11 AM. I originally wanted to be on an ultra team, but I’m glad I wasn’t because I didn’t fully understand the lack of sleep, the non-stop adrenaline, the heat and dust, or the brutality of the hills. All loops started and ended in Ragnar Village at 7,860 ft. My goal was basically 10 minute miles, with more time for higher elevation increases. And look how I did!

Mileage Elevation Gain Start Time Goal Time Actual Time
First Loop 3.6 844 ft 3:01 PM 40 minutes 38:29
Second Loop 4 576 ft 11:03 PM 40 minutes 40:53
Third Loop 6.7 1,526 ft 7:14 AM 1 hour
15 minutes
1:14:25

How do I feel? Umm, proud obviously! I’m kicking ass this year. I am beyond stoked about my time on the third loop. I managed to keep running (slowly) up most of the road portion, and on the steepest parts of the trail, I power hiked hard. My longest mile was only 13:08 and then I absolutely flew on the downhill.

But the main reason I wanted to do the race was for the night loop. I thought it would be a really wild experience and it was. The runner’s packet recommends a headlamp and an extra flashlight, and I’m glad I followed that recommendation. It was really dark out and people with only headlamps were moving slowly. I had a megabright torch that I swept out the next 20 feet or so, but even with that, the downhill was slower going than I had hoped. It was hard to see all the little dips and bumps in the trail, so sometimes my feet would land lower than expected, which was jarring, or scuff a pile of dirt and almost send me flying face-first into the ground. Better to slow down a bit than to fall.

I knew it was going to be fun, but I didn’t realize that it would be the freaking coolest race I’ve ever done. I was amped from the second we got there and the energy got higher and higher as we all sent each other off on our first loops with cheers and screams and then eagerly watched the transition board for each other to come in and tag the next runner. My teammates were an awesome group of girls from the Roaring Fork Valley I connected with online and my awesome friend Coral. We finished in 24 hours and 17 minutes, and that was after a serious ankle injury that meant our captain had to walk her last loop. I slept only 8 hours in the 60 of our trip, because I was so hyped up the night before, and, aside from the delicious meal they served us Friday night, barely ate because my whole body was wound up with anticipation. So I really can’t believe I did as well as I did. It was an intense and unbelievably rad experience that every runner should do!

 

3 Comments

  1. Nice results! You should be proud. And fear not – you CAN climb a 14er… today!! I was going to private message you because I’m in Beaver Creek and won’t get around to posting about it for a bit, but this seems like as good a place as any to tell you that we summited Belford on Thursday. Not Oxford – I’ll save the details for the post, but when we were in Leadville I was checking 14ers.com and someone had written up their trip report saying that they’d done it. That was good enough for us. Thanks again for the heads up and the 14ers.com recommendation!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. I heard it snowed again Thursday and some high roads were re-closed. I wanted to take my dad on the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway next week but most of that is still closed. You must have had a wild time – can’t wait for your post!

      Liked by 1 person

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