Sunday, June 22, 2014
Redrum: Estes Park Half Marathon 2014
At that moment, I felt like I was going to puke something that looked like red rum.
I ran the Estes Park Half Marathon this morning as a hard training run. Might as well have been a race, except I wasn't thinking about competing. The effort was close to what I'd do in a race, except my legs are dead at the end of an 80 mile week.
I told Wheaties Boy the other day that I would happy with a sub-2 hour effort at the half marathon. This race is TOUGH. The fact that it starts at 7500 feet and tops out at 7900 feet, with lots of hills in between, is enough. The temperatures were perfect, it was about 50 degrees, but there was a stiff headwind for about 4 miles on the downhill section in the second half, which made running the downhill part a bit more difficult.
I was hitting 8:30 to 9:30 pace consistently, with one 7:54 and a 10 minute mile or two. I knew the effort was hard because I felt nauseated the whole time, which is typical for me when I make any kind of effort at altitude. The best I ever did at this marathon was a 4:12, in 2007, and I ran well that year in all of my other races. I've never done the half before.
The course climbs consistently from about mile 4 through 7, then there's a fairly steady downhill until mile 11 that's broken up by a few steep little uphill pitches. I was fighting that headwind and my splits were down in the 8 minute range but it was so hard.
I was working too hard to want to try a gel. It probably would have helped. I stuck to water. I carried my pack with a full water bottle and a couple of gels so I wouldn't have to stop at the aid stations. That turned out to be a good plan because every time I got to an aid station table, there were a lot of people and it was crowded.
It was interesting and somewhat entertaining to be running a distance that I rarely do anymore. I noticed a lot of funny things watching the runners. Lots of those multi-bottle waist packs, lots of compression socks, lots of camelbacks and running vest-packs. Looked like these people were out for a long day in the woods, like they packed a lunch and then some. But they were doing a road race that might take them 2 or 3 hours. Just interesting to see what people think they need for this distance. There were aid stations nearly every mile.
I ate a big breakfast at 4 am, but it was long gone and when I finished I was starving. When I got to 11 miles, we run by the Stanley hotel and I was to the point of taking deep sighs and wishing for it to over. So as we ran past the Stanley, I was thinking about how I felt like death, like redrum spelled backwards (for anyone who never saw or read The Shining). I looked at my watch at 11 miles and it was 1:39 something. Oh shit. I better push hard to get in under 2.
The last two miles of the race go on a fairly flat bike path until the last half mile, which is a steady climb up to the high school track. You finish with about 3/4 of a lap on the track. I felt a little better on the flats and picked it up, passing a lot of people. But I couldn't turn my legs over much faster, I know I would have been on the side of the path puking then. I just wanted to be done. My watch time was 1:57:29, and the chip time was a second or two off of that. My last 5K split was sub-27 minutes.
I also saw that I placed third in my age group, and the two women ahead of me were only ahead by 2 and 4 minutes. I decided not to stick around for awards, I wanted to get home and eat and sleep!
I drove back down the canyon and I realized it was the first time I've been on highway 34 since the flood last fall. I could not believe the devastation, of the river banks, boulders, trees, houses, and bridges, especially in the area around Drake. There was this one area that was completely leveled, and in the river there were still large pieces of debris in a few spots: washed out bridges, pieces of houses, furniture, pieces of cars, and other large objects that have still not been recovered. Lots of buildings with half the foundation gone, sticking out over the edge of the riverbanks, with signs all over the front entrances, driveways and windows.