Saturday, May 21, 2016
Fear the Deer Half Marathon
Elevation Gain: 2724 feet
What's been going on in 2016??
Over the winter, I started to get a bit more dialed in on my training. I was starting to feel like I was ready to race again and discover my inner greatness. In 2015, I had sort of lost my luster for racing, I really just wanted to explore the mountains without any added pressure. My goals are constantly evolving, over the past several years I've focused on road races (mostly marathons), stair climbing, ultramarathons and now I have moved on to the next phase - mountain ascent races! I've set some big goals for myself, I know that sometimes goals may seem crazy and unachievable but if they give you butterflies and at times you question if you'll be able to accomplish them - that means you picked a good one! I decided to hire a coach to help guide me, I still need to put in the hard work but this takes the guesswork out of my training. I know that I need to work consistent and hard and I'll start to see results. I'm already getting faster and have set PRs on several challenging uphills.
Fear the Deer
Deer Creek Canyon is one of my favorite local spots to run. It packs a punch as far as elevation gain goes especially if the first couple of miles. When I saw there was a race there, I thought it would be fun. We signed up but as the date got closer, I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to actually race since it wasn't part of my master plan and major goal races but decided that it would be a nice challenge.
I didn't really feel all that nervous before this race, I hadn't put any pressure on myself and just wanted to go out and run - that was a nice feeling compared to race anxiety I sometimes feel before major races (especially when I was stair climbing!).
Brady and I got to the race, did a short warmup and some strides. It was already 60*, sunny and the Colorado sun is fierce!! Everyone gathered at the starting area, this race had a pretty laid back atmosphere. The RD have some last minute instructions, counted down and we were off. The race started in the parking lot before veering off onto the trail and everyone took off like a bat out of hell. I knew that the first 2 miles were all uphill so I didn't want to get caught up in anything too fast, I just wanted to settle into my groove. A girl passed me early on and ran off into the distance. Another girl passed me, stumbled on a few rocks, I passed her back and then I never saw her again. In the meantime, another girl passed me and I found myself in 3rd again. Where or where are my uphill legs on this climb?? My heart and lungs were working heard but my legs decided to take the day off. We kept climbing, at times it was quite steep. We hit the section where I normally run up the stairs however they had it blocked off saying "no stairs, seriously". ah danggit, we gotta run up the "rock wall". Powered up the rocks and continued on my way. When we hit the steep climb after turning on to Plymouth Mtn trail, I could see the race directors had put all these little signs along the way. I'm someone who actually reads signs like that during races, Brady said he didn't even notice they were there. Saw one sign that said "good little trail runners always get beer", I thought I'm good, I'm little but I'm not really into beer. Another sign said "always follow the direction of your dreams...UP!", ah very clever since we were suffering up this climb.
We finally reached the top of Plymouth Mtn and turned onto Homesteader. Ok, I know this section is a bit easier, not a lot of climbing and some smooth single track. I waited for my legs to get back and started to push the pace again. I could no longer see the first or second place girls. We cruised through Homesteader then were forced into another climb on the Red Mesa loop. My legs were still feeling it on the climbs but I was trying to make up a bit for it on the other sections, I'm not used to running fast on trails so while the pace may have felt speedy, I'm sure it wasn't anything to write home about.
Going into this race, my plan was to feel strong on the climbs then whatever happened on the "flats" and downhills, would be what it is. However, this race really wasn't going to plan since the uphills didn't feel all that great. But I was gaining on the guys in front of me on a downhill section, wow, I'm actually catching up to people on the downhill?? That was a new experience to me. Downhills are a major weakness of mine, I usually get this horrible debilitating side stitch (I think some organs start tugging on my diaphragm, pleasant I know), the steeper it is, the worse it gets. And my mind during downhills just gets all negative, either its swearing at the stitch or its thinking, don't fall and jack your head on that rock there, watch out of that rock garden you might break your ankle in there. Yea, thanks brain, that's exactly what I need to hear every time I'm running downhill. The night before the race, I asked Brady what he thinks about during downhills and he said that he doesn't think, he just turns his mind off. My coach also told me "Take off the breaks. Descents are not a weakness of your body, but your mind. It's all about learning to drop fear". I definitely thought about that during this race, let yourself go and just go with the flow. I found myself taking tiny steps and dancing around rocks and it felt great!
We got to our first out and back section on the Golden Eagle trail. This was the first time I could see the girls in front of me and behind me. I could also see Brady, I gave him an encouraging hi and great job and we squeezed past one another. After the out and back, we had another downhill before hitting the steep section up Plymouth Mtn again. I knew that was going to be a grind, I just put my head down, took tiny steps and made my way up. We had another out and back on some scenic loop, this was the only portion of the course I hadn't run previously and it had a surprising uphill! That caught me off guard but nothing to do about it except put one foot in front of the other and go with it. The 1st place girl was still cruising, blazing it and looking effortless. The 2nd place girl was probably about 2 minutes ahead of me and the girls behind me were several minutes back. Once we got back to the main trail, I knew we had about 4 miles left and most of those miles were downhill. I did not want to get passed during those last few miles, I knew if some girl had a killer downhill she might be able to catch me since my downhill running still leaves much to be desired. I charged off and past a couple of guys, whooo I'm passing people on the donwhills. We hit a couple of minor uphills, legs were still not working on those. Seriously, what is the deal with my uphill legs today? We came down Plymouth, turned on the little bridge and hit Meadowlark. I knew from there it was only about 1.5 miles to the finish with about a 1/2 mile uphill then the rest downhill. I couldn't see anyone behind me and tried to keep pushing the pace. I hit the home stretch and tried to put on the burners to finish strong - 2:02. I was pleased with that, wasn't really sure what to expect with this race as far as time or place goes. Brady finished a few minutes behind me and would've been even faster but he rolled his ankle the last mile, dang, so close to being done!
- I am pleased with my race, my time and my place however this leaves me wanting more. I want to get better but I know the only way that will happen is to stay consistent and to put in the hard work.
- I tried to make a point to smile randomly during this race
- I failed on my nutrition/hydration for the day and that was one of my major goals. I was taking in water but not nearly enough especially for a hot day.
- Downhills can be fun if your mind lets go and just lets your legs do what they want
- Some guy told me I was a blast to follow because I'm such a smooth runner. Ah, thanks man, not sure it feels that way when I'm out there. Another guy told me that he loved my bright pink calf sleeves, bonus!
- I need to blog more this year :)
Strava data: https://www.strava.com/activities/583362458