Estes Park marathon…

Well, I survived my first race at 8000 feet.  It went as good as it could have.  Jasper was sleeping terribly on this trip.  He just didn’t do well not being in his room, and it got dark there very late, and it seemed to keep him up.  The night before the marathon, he got up every 2 hours, including a 3 am crying fit that went on for about an hour.  I was feeling so negative about everything at that point, I considered not running, and not writing anything on my blog because I felt like all that would come out was complaints.  I managed to sleep about another hour, and woke up feeling much better about everything.  The race was so small, that I could get there pretty late so Mike was able to drop me off.  So, at about 630 in the morning, Mike took me to the local high school to start, and my adventure began.

First off, this race gets an “A” for organization.  It is very small, but well done.  It was only $60 or so to enter, and shirts were not included.  At first, I kinda balked at this, but I actually think it is a good idea.  You could buy a shirt at the number pick up, and get exactly what you wanted.  They had tech shirts, women’s specific tanks, Ts, and long sleeve Ts (what I got).  It was only another $15 for a shirt, bringing your entry to $75, still way less than most marathons.   They also aimed to be “cup free” on the course, and gave you this goofy pouch thingie with a clip to stick on your shorts to fill up at the aid stations.  It looked like a giant condom.  No thanks…luckily I brought a water bottle.   There was also a 5K, 10K, marathon relay, and  half marathon going on at the same time with different starting points, but somehow they pulled all of this off.  So, there were actually quite a few runners, but only 100 or so in the marathon.

I was concerned about this course because the hardest looking hill went from mile 2-6 continuously.  I didn’t want to zap all my energy in the beginning.  Once we started, I realized mile 1 was pretty hilly too and panicked a bit.  I just didn’t know how my body would react to this much exertion at altitude.  I settled in though by mile 2 and went into cruise control to start the big hill.

This race is not one to do for a fast time obviously.  It is really a “pure” running race…..smooth surface, amazing views, and a chance to just zone out and be happy you are out there.  The entire race provides views like the picture I included.  I simply tried to enjoy the views while I worked my way up the big hill.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and I was moving pretty good.  The marathon folks said the elevation would add 30-40 seconds a mile and I would agree.   Even without the elevation, the hills alone would significantly slow anyone’s typical marathon time.

After I got to the top of the hill, I only had 4 miles until I got to see Mike and Jasper.  Mike and I mapped out places and potential times that I could see them on course.  I also coasted a nice long downhill to get to mile 10, trying not to totally bust out my quads too early on.   I was so excited to see Mike and Jasper, and see Jasper’s huge smile.    I would see them again at mile 23.5.  Things continued to go really well until the next major hill at mile 15.  This one was about 5 miles long and not too steep, but unrelenting.  I discovered the elevation stripped me of any extra “gears” to dig deep and get up the hill.  I felt like I was moving, but my garmin said otherwise.  I just hung on, looking forward to seeing my cheering squad at mile 23.5.  I finally hit the top of the hill about mile 20 and spent the next couple miles getting my legs back, and the spaghetti feeling out of them.  Just where they said they would be I saw Mike and my little Owl.  I blew them a kiss, told them I was tired, and proceeded onto the home stretch.  The race finished at the local high school on the track.  Coming onto that track, I was spent.  I ended up in 4:04, which for this race I was pleased with.  It put me as 5th woman overall, but  this was quite a small field.  However, as a flatlander crashing the altitude dwellers’ party, I was happy with how I did.

This is a really nice little race if you want a challenge with a beautiful vacation added in.  The aid stations were really nice with fresh fruit and power bars at most of them.  The volunteers were very helpful, standing at any intersection, making sure no one took a wrong turn.  The scenery was there for every step of the way.  This is definitely not a boring course.  I really enjoyed it and would do it again, but I look forward to running at sea level again.

Recovery is going well.  I took an ice bath afterwards, had a protein drink and a chocolate milk.  I did a little light walking with Mike and Jasper later in the day.  The plane ride home was painful, and I am still pretty stiff.  I went to yoga today, since I took the day off to get some errands done (side note….vacation with a toddler creates A LOT of work once you get home).  I suspect I will still be sore tomorrow, and I promised myself I would take most of this week off running, but overall, I feel pretty good.

When the going got tough, I just tried to remind myself how much I enjoyed running somewhere so pretty, and having my personal little cheering squad waiting for me.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

5 thoughts on “Estes Park marathon…”

  1. Love the photo of you with the mountain in the background.
    Alex and I are very proud of you Clea, good going!!! Guess you got your athletic ability from one of us- or maybe both.
    What do you think
    I think 5th place women is awesome!!!!!! I’m sure there were many runners used to running at that altitude.

  2. WOW What an amazing race! Great job!! Sounds like it went was as smooth as possible, especially since you had a few crazy nights of sleeping. You are such an inspiration lady!! I hope I have your kind of mental toughness during a marathon 🙂

    How are the legs so far this week?

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