These are the two words that best describe this race.
Coincidentally, these are also the two words that I uttered the most frequently while running this race.
If that doesn’t give you some idea of how hard this race was, what about this picture?
Yeah. Not so pretty.
But I finished. Not in the time I was shooting for (2 hours) but then again, that’s what I get for attempting a PR on a trail I’ve never run six months after giving birth. I was somehow able to manage sprinting across the finish line. Pretty sure it was the thought of beer that did it.
Read on for the many things I liked (and the few I didn’t) about this race…
–The location. Bear Creek State Park is adjacent to Red Rocks Ampitheater, in Lakewood. It’s about 40 miles from Boulder and made for an ideal race course. Parking was easy with the Start/Finish line & post-race festivities a mere .4 mile away from the lot. But the real draw of the course was the fact that the trail race included this kind of stuff…
–Water crossings. Love them. It makes me feel like a kid, splashing my way across water and trying not to eat shit. The race had three such delights and while none of the water crossings were waist-deep, they were deep enough to really soak your shoes. Here I am, using that long stride of mine to get me to the other side…
–Post-race festivities. I’m a fan of races that take care of the runners when they’re done. This race went above and beyond. And I’m not just talking about the microbrew beer this time. Oh no. After we were done running, we were treated to stacks of flapjacks. I kid you not. It seems so logical. And yet, this is the only second race that I’ve ever been to that has served pancakes at the end of the race. I’m hoping more race organizers catch wind of Flippin Flapjacks, an amazingly delicious mobile pancake service. (Not only was Danny a great chef, he was also a really nice guy and humored my husband when questions about the pancake recipe came up.)
–My hair. This may sound silly but I never know what to do with my hair on race morning. One would think that after ten-plus years of racing, I might have figured out this particular detail. Unfortunately, the same thing always happens. I wake up, thinking of how I’m going to do my hair. I get frustrated trying to get my hair to do what I want it to do (namely braiding). Then, I think I’m going to make myself late for the start of the race so I just throw it into a ponytail and put my visor on. The problem with the ponytail is that it makes my back super-sweaty and becomes bothersome about six miles in. Buns can work sometimes but they can also feel heavy and lop-sided as well. The morning of this race, something clicked. I made two dog-ears and then successfully braided each. I tried going all Princess Leia but the braids wouldn’t stay in the buns. So instead I pulled the two braids together at the back of my head and put them together in a ponytail. TOTALLY AWESOME. My head didn’t feel heavy and with my visor on, the ends of the braids were just touching the top of my back. It felt bomber. This picture does not do the hairstyle justice. (Although it does my lats justice.)
–Free photos. Seriously. Normally, after a race, you get an email with a link to pictures of you and many options for buying the pictures. With this race, we got free downloads of our pictures. WHICH IS AWESOME. Like the pancakes, why don’t other races do this? You can still pay for prints, if you should so desire, but free downloads? Genius.
–Hills. To no one’s surprise, this was something I did not enjoy about the race. I checked out the race course online before running it and remember seeing a few hills, but boy, was I mistaken. There were lots of hills. Really steep hills. We even ran up Mount Carbon. My hill training was completely inadequate for this race and I’m not ashamed to admit I got my ass handed to me on many of the last hills of this race. Here’s my translation of the race elevation…
–The last 2.5 miles. This is where everything started falling apart for me. The official bonk, if you will. I was doubting if I would finish, I was walking up hills and everything was conspiring against me. There was a huge cloud of gnats that swarmed my head for half a mile, there were the runners doing the 50-mile race easily passing me although they still had 25 more miles to run, and there was an awful part of the course that ran alongside a highway. Blergh. And the worst thing of all? I had a really shitty song stuck in my head for this last stretch. I’m talking really shitty. If you’re going to get any song stuck in your head when you’re running, it’s best if it’s one that you like a little bit. I don’t know how it happened but I ended up with a country song in my head…that I’d only heard a few times before…in 1987. Yep. 18 Wheels and a Dozen Roses…Kathy Mattea’s hit. You want to know how much of the song I know? Approximately one line of the chorus. I was in ABSOLUTE HELL. And with all this going on, I was still able to totally fake a smile for the camera…
(Also, my husband asks that you politely ignore his third chin in the above picture.)
(I, on the other hand, not so politely ask that you ignore the baby weight I still have to lose.)
Would I run this race again? Most definitely.
Would I train differently next time? Most definitely.
Would I eat even more flapjacks next time? Oh, it’s on.
P.S. A quick report on nutrition for this race, since I know at least one person who likes to geek out on it like I do: I did everything wrong. This is definitely one of the causes behind the end-of-race bonk. I drank coffee before the race (only my second time since giving birth), thinking it was going to act like a performance-enhancer. The coffee did not help and in fact, caused some serious dehydration. I didn’t have any sports beans or emergency GU in my pockets. And on top of it all, I fucked with the pre-race breakfast. Normally, I have a mix of carbs and protein, like a bagel with peanut butter. On this morning, I went with a LARA bar. Not enough fuel. Sigh. Looks like I’m still learning.