Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Summer Heavy Medal

The first race I ever ran in was over ten years ago when I took up running for the first time.  I went home shortly after the race not realizing there was a whole social aspect after the race including awards.  I hurried home as my mom was watching my kids that morning.  I'd learn later that I'd come in second place, and the tiny little trophy still sits in my office.  As I've written here, I thought this would become commonplace, but I didn't realize what a competitive mecca Denver was to the very fast.

My "Sick" half marathon
I didn't take racing seriously and was another seven years before I got into marathons, and another nine years before I'd try a triathlon.  This year I took "serious" to a new level with a personal running coach.  This was my first summer under a new training discipline.  I thought I'd provide a racing recap just as the leaves are starting to turn shades of yellow and gold despite the hot temps in Colorado that makes it still feel like August.  I'll start with my last race of the summer this last Labor Day.

Home Field Advantage

August was a brutal month as far as my overall health.  It seems that each year as I approach Labor Day, I get some kind of body rebellion that throws my system out of whack so I've dealt with three weeks (or is it weaks) of not feeling great.  Tough considering I'm a mere five weeks and change away from my Fall Marathon (Columbus.)

After missing out on a 4th of July race, I was bound and determined to race on Labor Day.  My wife and youngest were off to Des Moines for his IronKids Nationals so I was left home alone with my other son, and my poor judgment.  The two weeks leading up to Labor Day, I'd spent a total of four days in bed with some kind of bug.
Neighborhood Podium

Poor judgement prevailed and I signed up not for a 5K, but a half marathon.  The Highlands Ranch Half was a fast downhill course (at least the first eleven miles) that ended .58 miles away from my house.  If healthy, I thought this could have been another sub 1:30 race or perhaps a PR.  I ran into a running buddy prior to the race and we both shared expectations.  Erik felt good...I did not.  Slight body ache or chills raced through my veins vs. the normal adrenalin.  I told him, he'd finish ahead of me (he did) and that I felt I had a 1:36 in my system.This was an inaugural race so there was bound to be a few glitches.

Registration was quite a bit higher than I expected and perhaps more than the race organizers had planned for.  There were plenty of buses to trek us uphill to nearby Daniel's Park for the start, but a mere eight (?) porto-potties were available for over 800 runners.  Do the math.  That lead to a lot of runners scrambling for a nature walk prior to the race.  Aptly, the inflatable run start arch deflated right before the late start.  Symbolic...yes.

After a short uphill start, the race wound down a dirt and gravel road through Daniel's Park.  Awesome scenery on top of the bluffs of Highlands Ranch were a perfect backdrop to the race.  Often you can see buffalo lined along the fences.  This is the same Daniel's Park we would adventure off to in High School usually up to no good.

I started out a bit fast, and knew my weak body would have a tough time hovering much more than a low seven minute mile pace.  Being dehydrated, I packed my own Gen Ucan-spiked Nathan water backpack.  That proved to be the right choice as the first water stop wasn't until mile 3.  I was surprised how comfortable the pack was throughout the race.  I doubt I'd try it in a full mary, but seems perfect for the smaller half that may not have water with the frequency you'd hope for. Once at the base of Daniel's Park, the race took off on the concrete roads of Highlands Ranch starting with a bit of a climb around mile 6-7. After that, it was once again all downhill until you hit mile 10.5.
My First Place AG Finish at the TriRock Triathlon

Two miles of uphill to finish was the reward after running in the downhill heat that was building.  I knew this stretch.  I loathed this stretch.  I've run it often on weekday lunch runs.  I tried to ignore the uphill.  Mentally, I told my lungs to take a break and let my legs take over.  I reflected on all the strength training my coach prescribed over the summer.  This proved helpful as I passed runners charging this hill, and was pleased I wasn't passed myself.

I was disappointed with the timing of being sick as I knew this was a fast course.  My prediction held and I finished with a 1:36.  More satisfying than that time was another podium awarded in my community's "Town Center."  My medal streak remained perfect for the summer of 2013.  My other races this summer.

Cinco De Mayo 15K

This was another home-court advantage.  I was a mere few weeks post-Boston and needed a fix.  My body was still a bit beat up from the hills of my third Boston, but my conditioning was solid.  I did not research the course and not sure if I would have raced it if I had.  This one ascended the nastiest bluff in Highlands Ranch.  My first "first place" of the summer in my age group (see race recap, "Fifty is the New Thirty") and my first "top five" finish coming in fourth place overall.
Looking like a 1st Place "Dork"

Greeley Triathlon

Wanting to give my body a rest and "tri" my hand at my third season of triathlons, I signed up for the only race my son and I would both compete in.  Seasickness and lack of any amount of quality pool-training muchless open-water swims had me regreting the first leg of this one in the water.  Once again, my overall conditioning helped and I had probably one of my best bike legs in a race.  My second 1st place AG of the summer. (Race recap.)

Slacker Half Marathon

This one had to be the highlight of my summer.  I wanted to break 1:30...something fierce.  My un-stated goal was to actually break 1:29 and qualify for the New York city Marathon.  A super fast downhill course and "peaking" in training and conditioning at the right time lead to a PR of 1:29:18.  Eighteen seconds off, but uber rewarding.  Good enough for second in my age group in a very tough field. (see "Silver Linings Playbook" race recap.)
Enthusiastic to say the least with a PR and some hardware

Tri-Rock Triathlon

This was going to be my second and last triathlon of the summer.  This was a special one as my Dad and my daughter (who would be going off to college in the fall) were able to watch.  Another horrible open water start (have to work on that next summer,) but once again made up for it on the bike.  The bike course had a bit of an "up-and-down," but I felt prepared as I'd studied the course the day before and assaulted it on race day.  For at least awhile, I reveled in a top five overall finish, but someone must have started with the women's wave as I was bumped out of the top five, but grabbed another first place AG.  I could tell that 2nd and 3rd place were a bit miffed that a part-time triathlete "bested" two dedicated ones.  ("I Was a YouTube Triathlete" race recap.)

Mt. Sneffels Half Marathon

This was my substitute for the race I really wanted this weekend; the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon (see Negative Nancy post.)  The consolation prize race proved to be a bonus as Ouray, Colorado and the surrounding area are breath-taking.

"Coolest trophy ever"  Slate material from the hills in the background
Speaking of breath-taking, this did just that starting out around 8000' of elevation.  The course promised a fast "downhill" course, but due to mudslides, they altered the course and it started with the first two miles including ascents uphill...my first uphill downhill race.  I never quite had the right energy for this one.  Perhaps my rigorous training and even more rigorous work travel had caught up with me.  Trips to Barcelona, Amsterdam, and several U.S. cities had me "plumb" wore out.  I faded right around the nasty hill (another uphill on the downhill course) at mile 10-11.  Good enough to take home a piece of Mt. Sneffels with a second place age group finish. ("Between a Rock and Hard Race" race recap.)

As I write this, I am still feeling the effects of the bug and (surprise, surprise) on yet another work flight to Boston.  If I had to run Columbus in the next few weeks, I'd set expectations similar to my Labor Day half...tempered.  After 48 hours in Boston and hopefully a simulated marathon goal pace long run, I will be off to Europe for two weeks.  Great fodor for my blog, but not great for re-charging a depleted battery.  I'm optimistic the right training in the next five weeks will have me prepared for perhaps another BQ.

After that?  R-E-S-T.

2 comments:

  1. Congrats on your summer races and good luck with Columbus!
    Danica

    ReplyDelete
  2. Congrats on a great summer. Good luck with the rest of the year!

    ReplyDelete