Race recap: Garden of the Gods 10-Mile

I'm still trying to follow my 2015 goal of finding my joy in running. There's no point to any of this for me if I'm not enjoying what I'm doing.

Over the weekend, finding my joy meant heading down to Colorado Springs for the Garden of the Gods 10 Mile, the next stop in the Colorado Runner racing series. Having just been granted permission from my chiropractor to start running small hills 6 days before the race, I had absolutely zero expectations of myself in this race. My goals were to not run stupid and to enjoy the beautiful scenery. If I also happened to run a decent time along the way, that would just be icing on the cake. If I blew up spectacularly, that would also be icing on the cake. Basically, I was going to have iced cake either way, because I just love running in pretty places, no matter what. The other really exciting part of this race is that it would be my first in my new HOKA ONE ONE uniform!

Anyway... My previous longest run since my injury had been 6 miles. Since, at this point, 10 miles is pretty long for me, I decided not to add any extra volume to my week by doing any kind of warm-up. Smart, right? I just did a little walking with Alex and then drills with two 20-second strides a few minutes before the start. That may not have been my brightest idea, but it also wasn't my dumbest.

100m after the start in Manitou Springs
Like I said above, goal #1 was "don't be stupid." I have a habit of getting excited and running the first few miles of any race WAY too fast. With how hilly this course is (and at an altitude of over 6000ft), I didn't even have any concept of what that meant, so I focused on effort level. I was, of course, aware of how far into the race I was, but I never even bothered to check mile splits (for the first time in my life), because I didn't think they were all that important. I just tried to keep my effort level pretty even, and tried not to panic when spectators told me I was in 3rd place.

I found myself leap-frogging with a couple of the men. It seemed one of us was always better at the uphills and the other was better at the downhills. So, back and forth we went. On Twitter, HOKA ONE ONE uses the hashtag "#letsgoHOKA," and it gave me an energy boost every time a spectator yelled that to me. I am so proud to be representing such a wonderful company and I really felt the love during the race!

Around 7 miles, I started to become keenly aware of my lack of fitness. The combination of dehydration, a hot sun, no energy gels, and the monster hills had me fading fast. But, unlike in my marathon, I never once thought of quitting. I made a conscious choice to "embrace the suck" and I found myself smiling for about 99% of the race.

With a mile to go, a cyclist told me the 4th woman was only about 60 meters behind me. I fought as hard as I could to not fall apart. I was reasonably certain in that moment that, if she caught me, I wouldn't be able to respond. And, honestly, that's how I would want it. I wanted to be able to say I did everything I could and that I fully embraced "the suck." I gritted my teeth and clawed my way uphill to the finish line as the 3rd woman in 66:49. Before the race, I had told Alex my goal was "around 67:00," so I'm pretty impressed with my own prediction skills (which had always failed me in the past.)

After walking around some more with Alex and stopping to chat with some of my fellow runners about how much they loved their HOKA ONE ONE shoes, it was time to head back to Boulder. Although I've only been back to running for 3 weeks, and only ran 30 miles this week, I'm pleasantly surprised to discover my fitness situation is nowhere near as bad as I had feared and I'm more committed than ever to staying healthy so I can accomplish the goals I've set for myself in the coming months.


Up next? My dad is coming to visit for Fathers Day weekend, so I'll probably jump in either the mile or the 5k at this Thursday's Boulder Road Runners track meet at the University of Colorado track.

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