The Blonde Runs

Colorado lovin'


…the Leadville Heavy Half Marathon (15.5 miles)

I’m sure my five readers are wondering how I did this past weekend with my back-to-back races. Considering I didn’t exactly train how I thought I should, I think I faired pretty well. And by “pretty well” I mean I finished both. Here’s how it all played out…

The boy, Erika, Danielle, and I headed up to Leadville on Friday night. And I really do mean “up.” Leadville is the highest city in the USofA at 10,430 feet elevation. On Saturday morning, Danielle and I prepped as usual (or as best you can when you are camping) for the big race. We all rolled into town around 7am for packet pickup and eventually made our way to the race start.

Danielle and I knew this would be a tough one, climbing to 13,185 feet at the top of Mosquito Pass.

With nothing to prove and no time goals, we started the race at a slow, conversational pace. Of course, the route began on an uphill. And as you would assume, there really wasn’t much relief, save a brief mile or so down hill, before the final, brutal ascent.

I had read that the average finish time for the half was 4h and 14m. So, I guess I was going for 4h and 14m. Or at least a minute faster. To be honest, I really had no idea what to expect. At least it was beautiful.

We ran until about mile 5.5 or 6, when the only choice was to hike. Everyone was hiking.

One of the best parts was watching all the frontrunners coming down the hill. Seeing the lead men and women was such a rush. They are some of the most encouraging people, too. Good job! You’re almost there! Keep it up! Nice job! It was like having a personal set of cheerleaders. You couldn’t help but to return the favor and encourage their pace and stamina.

When we finally summited, at the top of Mosquito Pass, at 1h and 55m, it felt like a huge accomplishment.

Now for the fun part and the faster part…downhill.

The rock field on that last mile or two before the summit was hard enough to maneuver hiking up, much less trying to run down it, avoiding the runners still ascending! There were a lot of little slips and ankle rolls along the way. Once we finally made it past that part, I was beginning to feel queasy. I recalled the same feeling from a previous run I had not two months prior. Uh oh. I tried my best to keep my mind off of it.

The hard part of this race for me were the final few miles. The small downhill we had on the way up (about a mile) was now an uphill on the way back. And although is was SO minor in comparison to the hike up to the summit, it felt much worse! Over 7 miles of uphill, followed by 5 miles of downhill, my legs were revolting. But I pressed on, each pink and black flag that marked the course were my points of contact.

With only two miles to go, my stomach began to revolt. I knew I had been doing a lot of jiggling around, coming down the pass so quickly, but this felt mulitcolor yawn worthy. I tried to ignore it as much as I could, especially since I was now only a half mile from the finish.

Finally, with just a few hundred yards to go, I had that feeling. That feeling that something is going to happen and you just can’t stop it. Since there were no porcelain gods on the course, I frantically made my way off the course to unswallow everything in my stomach (which wasn’t much). Sorry, town of Leadville.

Naturally, not one to quit, I kept running and even passed someone on my way to the finish. Danielle and I crossed in 3:11.

Before even getting my medal, I made my way to the side of the finish and wished there were trash cans there because I cried Ruth one more time. Sorry, Leadville. Now, I just feel like I owe the town of Leadville some community service.

*Note to all Race Directors: PLEASE have trash cans at the finish line so queasy people like me, who can’t figure out why they are getting queasy all the time at races now, can vurp in a contained area, as opposed to streetside.

After I assured the volunteers that I did not need a medic, nor a phone call placed on my behalf to 911, I cleaned up and laid down for a while. I’m lucky to have a boyfriend who isn’t totally grossed out when I readjust my fluids. Or if he is, he just doesn’t say anything, but helps me anyway. I really need to figure this out.

Once I was feeling better and smelling better, sans the runner B.O., I returned to the finish to finally meet Courtney! What a cutie! With her lulu shorts and fancy camera and easy conversation, I knew I liked her right away. Can’t wait to run with her soon! She was waiting on her main squeeze who was running the full.

This was a really tough course. Really. Not for the faint of heart. The incline alone was difficult; coupled with the elevation and this was a bear of a race. On one hand, I would love to do this race again, knowing exactly how to train now. On the other hand, I don’t ever want to do this race again!

I would be completely remiss if I didn’t say a big thank you to all of the race volunteers. Everything was very well organized and the aid stations were well stocked with great snacks, plenty of liquids, and fabulous people! They were happy and encouraging and it felt as though they wouldn’t imagine being anywhere else!

Because I had another half marathon the next day, I knew I needed to eat and take care of my legs. We headed back to camp to load up. Danielle would be going back to the Denver area; Erika, the boy, and I would head 2.5 hours north to Steamboat Springs, where I was looking forward to sitting in a hot tub.

Time- 3:11:14
Pace- 12:26
Overall- 89/403
Women- 21/177
AG (30-39)- 12/73 (apparently, this is a really competitive AG; especially in trail running; I mean, 12 of top 21 women were in my AG?!)

Next up: Steamboat Mountain Madness Half, the 2nd race of the weekend, and a huge bonk!




…back-to-back races

This is the weekend I’ve been waiting for! The weekend I overbooked myself to run. On purpose.

A few weeks before Boston, I registered for two races, back-to-back. The Leadville Heavy Half on Saturday, June 30th, and the Steamboat Mountain Madness Half on Sunday, July 1st. At the time, I thought, no big deal; I’m feeling great and I can maintain some decent mileage, while giving my body some recovery time after the marathon. Plus, these races were three months away from when I registered. Plenty of time to get in the training I needed.

I did pretty well with keeping up with some long runs and weekly mileage, until I got sick. Being out of commission for 9 days kind of felt like a set-back. And when I was finally back to running again, it was already the beginning of June. Oh sure, I’ve had plenty of trail runs and even “ran” some 14er’s (as best as that can be done), but overall, I don’t feel quite as ready as I’d like to be. But how often do we really feel “ready” for a race?

I know these two races won’t really be raced. I never intended to do so. That should take some pressure off! The Leadville Heavy Half is actually a 15.46 mile course; an out and back over Mosquito Pass, that until recently was closed due to a wildfire. The course profile is a little daunting, but I will approach as I would if I were running/hiking a 14er. At least I get to run back down! The other major factor for this race will be the altitude. The silver lining is that this will be a PR race since it isn’t truly a 13.1 race course! Yippee! I’m lucky to run with my friend, Danielle!

The Steamboat Mountain Madness Half is an actual 13.1 half. The course will be over several county roads and parallel the Yampa River at some points. I love Steamboat and just want to enjoy the area when I’m running. I think my legs will be pretty shot after the previous day anyway. At least elevation won’t be too much of a worry since I’ll be dropping 4000′ to run this one. That hill might hurt though! I’m lucky to run this one with Erika!

And of course, the boy (and the dog) will be there the entire weekend, cheering me on, taking pics, and just looking hot on the side of the course when I pass him.

My plan: Have fun. Exclamation points. I really have no choice but to just enjoy these races for what they are. Slow it down. Just have fun!

I’ll try to tweet along the way. Maybe even a pic or two. Albeit, blurry. Because we all know my iPhone pics look as though I just breathed on the lens to give it a blurred look. *don’t judge; holding out for iPhone 5*

Hoping to finally meet the running couple of the year, while I’m in Leadville! LC will be running the full, and he has a good overview of both the half and full on his site. Go.


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…the Front Range Sprint Relay

This was the race that wasn’t. Or couldn’t. Because of this. The High Park Fire.

Early Saturday morning, a small fire broke out just 15 miles west of Fort Collins, Colorado; the check-in and start area for the 1st Annual Front Range Sprint Relay. At the time, a 2 acre wildfire didn’t seem much of an imposition. But when it had dramatically exploded to a few thousand acres around noon, everyone started to pay attention.

The plume was very noticeable from where the boy and I were, 50 miles south in Boulder, so I wasn’t surprised when an email from Paul (Timberline Events Race Director) popped up in my inbox.

…As of now, the race is on and will go. As you know, fires are a fluid situation so much could be different by later today and tomorrow morning…There may be air quality issues on the first legs but south of the fire right now is fine as the wind is blowing northeast…

We continued to go about our day, making last minute preparations for the race. And occasionally, we’d check the news too. By that Saturday evening, the fire had grown to 8,000 acres with 0% containment.

…As of right now, the race is on with no changes necessary. The fire is northeast of the route and the wind is blowing away from where we’ll be…Obviously, if the wind changes direction, we’ll have to make changes. Worst case scenario is the air quality of the first legs would be so smokey, running through it would not be good for your health. We’ll make adjustments on the fly tomorrow morning if need be…

With a 4:30 am wake-up call, we headed to bed early. But when we woke, there had been an effecting turn of events.

Winds had shifted. The fire had grown. And an email was waiting.

…Conditions have changed dramatically. Winds have moved the smoke and there is a haze from the start to at least South of Loveland. My fear is that the smoke is probably sitting along the foothills for the entire course…We are at the start and it is uncomfortable to breathe. We cant, in good faith, ask people to run in this smoke. So it is with a heavy heart that the only smart but difficult decision, is to cancel the race…

Paul continued to state that he and his crew were at the start if anyone wanted to venture out, pick up the race shirts, and lament over a canceled race. The boy and I immediately headed up.

The wall of smoke as we entered Fort Collins

The race start: Hughes Stadium (about 15 miles from the origination area of the fire). Paul said he couldn’t even see the stadium when he had arrived a little before 5am that morning.

Although we weren’t outside for long, just to pick up the packet and chat for a few minutes, my hair smelled like a campfire.

We then drove the first few legs of the course.

While a some of the smoke had certainly burned off from the sun (no pun intended), the haze was still thick and my eyes began to burn just a little while we were driving in the area.

No doubt, this was not the day to be a race director.

In a post-race email, Paul expressed his sorrow, and also the fact that the race could not be rescheduled. Sadly, one of the team captains, as well as one of the race coordinators, ended up having to evacuate their homes that very day.

As of now, over 36,000 acres are burning in that area. There is still 0% containment. Much focus is going into effectively evacuating families/animals from the area (there is a Wolf Habitat that has had to evacuate also). 36 straight hours of evacuations. No one knows yet how the fire was stared.

Pray for safety and a change in the weather.