I like to race. A lot. Its possible that I race to much but I really don't care. With this in mind I started scoping out potentail races as soon as I got to Colorado in December. Since I have to work Saturday mornings through March it somewhat limited my options to Sunday morning races. I hate 5k's, see my last blog post, so I wanted anything 10k and up. The only race that really seemed to fit in January was the Frost Giant 10k in Estes Park so I signed up, blindly unawares that this race took place at an elevation of 7500 ft.
After my terrible 5k race from the week previous I was kinda dreading the 10k and doubting my run fitness. The 10k started at noon which was both good and bad. Good cause I got to sleep in but bad since I really can't sleep much past 7 and then spent the morning pacing around the house waiting to leave. I really should have got an hour or so in on the bike.
Driving to Estes Park from Denver I started to get a sense of what the elevation was going to be like as we started to drive up the mountains before dropping down into the city. I started getting a headache and generally felt like crap. Coming back down the mountain I started feeling better though and the view driving in made it all worth it.
The race had a very low key vibe which fit in great with the town and how I was feeling. There was a 5k that had started at 11 so I watched the winners come in and realized based on their times that the course was likely pretty tough. Not a large field of racers by any means but there were definitely some very talented ones in attendence. Looking up some of the names later on they included top 5 finishers at Western States 100 and winners of some major trail races in Colorado. They're fairly easy to spot as they all have big beards.
I had no clue what the course was going to be like so I figured I'd just take the start easy and see what the leaders were doing. The pace started out really chill. Surprisingly so until we made a quick turn and I saw what would be a mile+ climb out of town. I ran 2nd pack for most of it until everything started to break up at the top of the climb before a steep downhill into the offroad section.
Once we hit the offroad section things really started to unravel. We were running cross country on what could only loosely be considered a trail. Every little ascent seemed to take my last bit of evergy and I felt like I was shuffling up them. What was once 5th place turned into 7th or 8th quickly on the climbs. I'd run my way back into the group on each downhill but there were decidedly far fewer of those and I steadly faded out of the top 10. Looking back at my garmin splits I was barely holding it below an 8:00 min pace throught here.
The main portion of the race was offroad with the last mile a straight shot to the finish and back on pavement. Once I hit the pavement it seemed like a found a 2nd gear. Or maybe 3rd based on the paces I had been running. I didn't look back but I could sense that there was a little pack right behind me. There wasn't anyone ahead of me that it looked like I could catch so for me the race was now about holding off anyone else. The female leader pulled up next to me and that was all the motivation I needed to open it up. Other than her and one other runner I managed to put almost a minute into the other couple runners that were with me at the end of the offroad section. I obviously need to work on my climbing and offroad skills as I lost a ton of time in the middle miles. The end was a sprint to the finish with both me and the female leader crossing together. Without chip timing its a tossup as to who crossed first.
Looking back this is probably one of my favorite running race I've participated in. The course was without a doubt the toughest I've done but that makes it all the better. We apparently topped out at 7800 ft which probably didn't do me any favors but at least it seems like I'm getting a little more used to the altitude. Definite improvement from my previous race.
Coming into the finish.
I'm opening up a gap you'd think I'd be able to hold. Apparently I need to work a bit on my finishing kick.
Yes my face and possibly hat is covered in saliva. Wait till there are post triathlon pics where I've been chugging First Endurance PreRace the whole run and my face is covered in yellow slime. Its hot.