Between a Rock and a Hard Race
|A true "Road Trip" staying here on the way|
Gunnison is hunting and fishing country as witnessed by the Sporting Good store in town that only sported hunting and fishing. In other words, no running department. It resembled the sporting good store that Rambo busted into to load up on artillery in "First Blood."
Second slight challenge of the trip was leaving my Power Bar Gel Blasts in the pantry at home. Rambo Sporting Goods did not have the gels, but the nearby "Piggly Wiggly" did. Panic averted.
We enjoyed our night in the small college town of Gunnison staying at a "slice of Americana" motel and catching an amazing dinner at the Twisted Fork restaurant. The owner and chef served us at the bar and shared some of the history and characteristics of the area. He is also a gluten-free chef and served us a "mean" set of Vietnamese tacos.
I'm used to cold in Colorado, but the chef claimed that you could throw a cup of boiling water in the air in the winter and it would be ice cubes by the time it hit the ground. In other words, it's damn cold. We caught a bit of pre-season football and a couple beers at the nearby Ol' Miner saloon and steakhouse before retiring at the Long Holiday motel.
Third minor hiccup of the week was screwing up my coach's training plan for the week. Apparently, my rest day was supposed to be Thursday. I took it on Wednesday. If I was a cell phone, I was down to "one battery square" so I took both rest days and had a short shake-out run in Gunnison Friday morning before we took the short drive over to Ouray. Self-doubt set in a bit as I was tired on the short three mile run. "How am I going to race at a PR pace tomorrow when a short jog feels labored the day before?," I was thinking. I "brushed it off" and enjoyed the ride along with the book on tape we downloaded to the iPod.
|Box Canyon, Ouray, CO|
Driving into Ouray, I began to feel, "Plan B" was an upgrade. While I'd been to Telluride the other side of Mt. Sneffels, I had never been to Ouray and was pleasantly surprised. Ouray sits in a valley with a history of mining from its early roots. We checked into our lodge on the river and head into town to check out the area and take a short tour of Box Canyon. Box Canyon had a raging waterfall that powered down the tight walls of rock and boiling water from literally the center of the earth was "piped" into town for the hot springs they're known for. There's a "family friendly" hot spring at the edge of town which would be the backdrop for the start of the race. There's another one in a nude resort outside Ridgway where the races ended slightly downhill from Ouray. If they'd only routed the race through the later, I could have checked off another bucket list item (nude 5K.)
Race "Eve" was somewhat uneventful other than another great dinner in the town framed by mountains and rock with an aura of Switzerland. With my trend towards Gluten-free, I was diligent to avoid any evil wheat products the days leading up to my race. Stomach issues that have marred previous races did not appear on race morning, but the new calamity I'm wrestling with was lack of sleep.
While I got to bed early on Friday night, I watched the minutes and hours spin by until after three in the morning. I counted sheep, I
|Playing "tourist" in my sexy compression socks|
In Ouray, we stayed at the Hot Springs Inn which was literally a short walk to the start of the race. The morning of the race was rather routine, but once again self-doubt entered in as I was just plain tired. Mentally, I had "written off" notions of a PR, but I planned to go ahead and shoot for another sub-1:30. The race started at the community hot springs pool and ran uphill into town. At the end of main street, we turned around to head back to the park area where we starte
|Downtown Ouray, CO|
|2nd Place AG Trophy Made from slate in the area|
At this point, it was "mind over body" and I knew that there was no PR today, but a podium was still possible. I had dropped to around a 7:30 pace the last couple miles, but threw in my "kick" the last half mile and was able to get back to a 6:31 pace. We ended with the sun beating down on us at the soccer fields in Ridgway. I looked around before I crumpled onto the grass in the shade and didn't see too many runners ahead of me. I wound up finishing 21st overall and 2nd in my age group. I went years without any race podiums and always feel fortunate to get hardware in the state of Colorado that's rich with fast runners.
This hardware was one of the coolest I've acquired. Locals picked pieces of slate from the nearby hills and mounted the brass plates indicating placement. This trophy was a hard-earned piece of rock.