10.16.2015

A Handful of Race Recaps

I'm sure this comes as a HUGE surprise to everyone (NOT!), but I got way behind again. Work has been busy and I've been applying to grad school, so I kind of just forgot. I guess I just need to do one big recap. Again.
PC: Joe Viger

USATF Mountain Running Championship / Collegiate Running Association Championship - July 25
Location: Mt. Bachelor in Bend, OR
Distance: approx 8km
Elevation gain: 1600ft
Surface: trail
Shoe choice: HOKA ONE ONE ChallengerATR

Finish place: 11th overall, 2nd CRA

Oh, my goodness! So, so, so much fun! This course was crazy hard, but it was so beautiful and I'm so glad I did this! My plan was to try to be conservative the first lap, and then get aggressive the second. The second time up the long climb was brutal, but it felt so good to let loose and fly on the final big downhill. I told myself that a "great day" would put me in the top 10, and I only missed that by 15 seconds, so I would consider this a very successful first outing at a US Mountain Running Championship. I also fell in love with Bend on this trip, so I'll definitely have to go back for the USA XC Championship in February.

ERS Black Hawk 10km - August 1
Location: Golden Gate Canyon Park near Golden, CO
Distance: 10km
Surface: trail
Shoe choice: HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR
Finish place: officially 2nd (crossed holding hands with 1st)

This was just fun. I drove down from Boulder in the dark, excited to have some fun playing in the woods. I got to the turnaround with the 1st man, but we had some confusion about the route, so we stopped and waited for the next woman (Bret), who was about 30 seconds behind us. After a brief discussion, we all continued on, and I spent the rest of the run chatting with Bret. She's a Williams College alum, so we raced each other frequently in college. With about 2km to go, another guy rudely pushed past us, almost pushing us down a steep drop to the right of the trail. (Note: trail runners are generally very polite on the trails. If you just announce your intention to pass, we'll scoot over to let you through at the first safe opportunity.) Bret and I talked and decided to hold hands across the finish line. It's not something I would normally do, but in the moment it made sense because it would've been rude for either of us to throw in a last-second sprint after we'd been running together so socially for the past few miles.

Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon - September 5
Location: Lory State Park near Fort Collins, CO
Distance: approx. 13.1
Elevation gain: 
Surface: trail
Shoe choice: HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat
Finish place: 1st woman

Yikes. This run was even harder than I expected. I knew there was a solid bit of climbing in the first half, but for some reason I still took it out aggressively. I think a major part of that was just not wanting to be stuck in a traffic jam on the long singletrack sections. The highlight of this race was the woman cheering in a squirrel costume around mile 8 or 9. The low point was the seemingly never-ending rolling stretch the last few miles. I kept thinking "are we there yet??" The only word I have to describe how I felt as I crossed the finish line was "relief." I was so glad to be done after running a little scared for the final miles. I was really hurting and I was worried someone would catch me. So, I was quite relieved to have held on to a 6+ minute victory. And I got a cute squirrel trophy!

Farmers 5000 - September 20
Location: Arvada, CO
Distance: 5km
Surface: Road
Shoe choice: HOKA ONE ONE Huaka
Finish place: 3rd woman

As you probably know, I've been competing in the Colorado Runner Magazine racing series this year. That's why I ended up running this small 5km that raises money for a high school in Arvada. I needed to place high and earn as many points as possible. My hope was that I could also run a fast-ish time. I went out too quickly the first mile -- it was a downhill, so it didn't feel like I was running that fast, but it definitely came back to bite me in the last mile when we had to go back up the hill. This one was not pretty, and the disappointment was compounded when I almost passed out during my cooldown. I'm not sure what that was about, and I'm still having occasional dizzy episodes. Hmm... Working on it.

Oktoberfest 8km - September 26
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Distance: 8km
Surface: Paved Bike Path
About 200m into the race. PC: Tim Bergsten
Shoe choice: HOKA ONE ONE Huaka
Finish place: 3rd woman

This was the final race in the 2015 Colorado Runner series, and I went into it with a small lead. When I showed up, I planned that I would only run if one or both of the other top 3 women were there. And Ashley was, so I had to run, but I was only going to run as fast as I had to in order to secure the series win (I needed to save something for my half marathon the next day.) The out-and-back course was slightly uphill on the way out and downhill on the way back, so I just sat behind Ashley and Kierann and let them set whatever pace they wanted. It was hard to just let them pull away in the last 3km when I felt so good, but I knew 3rd overall was enough for the series win, so I just held my pace through the finish line. We didn't run fast, but it was good to feel so comfortable at close to marathon pace.

Colorado Springs Half Marathon / USATF CO State Championship - September 27
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Distance: 13.1 miles
Surface: Road
Shoe choice: HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 2
Finish place: 3rd woman (2nd USATF-CO)

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again: you can't trust any race in Colorado that advertises itself as "flat and fast." They're almost always just saying (in fewer words) they are "flat and fast compared to the Pikes Peak Ascent." I went out at a smart, relaxed pace in 3rd place and felt pretty great through about halfway... And then the hills got worse. There were long, gradual hills mixed with short and cruelly steep ones. Around mile 9, I switched into "Survival Mode." Spectator reports of how back the 4th woman was went from "I can't even see her behind you!" to "She's about a minute back" much too quickly. I was living for the last mile and a half, which were downhill. I knew if I could get there, I could pick up the pace and get to the finish line. I managed to hold onto 3rd place, but I ran considerably slower than I had thought I would and it felt so much harder. It was a very draining weekend. But a pair of 3rd place finishes isn't so bad, right?

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Now, I'm in Bellingham, WA for the USATF Trail Half Marathon Championship tomorrow. With the strength I'm building in marathon training, I'm aiming for the top 10 finish that eluded me at the Mountain Running Championship in July. The course is beautiful and challenging and I feel SO fortunate to be here. Thank you to my wonderful supporters: HOKA ONE ONE, Flatirons Running, Racxers, GU Energy Labs, Hudson Elite, and my family!

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