Saturday, January 08, 2011

Winter Series #1 - Race Report

Colorado Springs has a huge running community. One of the major groups is the Pikes Peak Road Runners, and they help coordinate a winter series. You might recall I ran the Fall Series at the end of last year. While the Fall Series is a cross-country series, the Winter Series is made up of a variety of terrains. This series also has a long and short option. The long series is for me this year, and today's race was 7 miles of trails at Cheyenne Mountain State Park. It has a reputation of being a tough race - they call it Hell's Hills.

Let's set the stage for the race. Cheyenne Mountain State Park is a relatively new park on the southwest part of Colorado Springs. It sits directly under Cheyenne Mountain (ever watch War Games?) and across from Fort Carson. Weather is unpredictable during winter in Colorado, but we were extremely fortunate to get sunny skies and no wind. It'd been a while since the last snow storm, but there were sections of some ice and snow on the trail.

I woke up at 7am with my alarm, knowing I needed to get up soon. After a quick shower and my standard metabolically efficient breakfast of yogurt, whey protein, fruit and peanut butter, I got ready to head down south. About 30 minutes later I was in the parking lot of the Safeway, where I was meeting a friend and client, Shannon. There is limited parking at the park, so it was highly recommended that we carpool. Shannon "picked up" a couple guys who asked for a ride. I had plenty of room in my car so Branden and Jared came with us.

Kelly and Jessica EXCITED!
We parked down the hill near the finish line, then walked not quite half a mile up the hill to the visitor center for registration. I ran into a few people I know - like Kelly Ping, the RD at the UCCS Peak Nutrition Clinic, and also my "rabbit" during the Fall Series. But there would be no chasing her today. I knew my heart rate zones based on yesterday's metabolic efficiency test, so I wasn't going hard today. The course is hard enough to keep the heart rate reasonable. So this was my first road race that I actually didn't try to race. And I succeeded, with the help of Shannon.

At 10:00 the short series racers started, and the long series started at 10:20. I positioned myself with Shannon towards the back. I had my yaktraxx on, as the race had recommended it due to potential snow and ice on trails. It was a little awkward at first as we ran back down the hill along the road before hitting trail, but I'm glad I had them on. As we hit the trail, which was near the finish line, the first short course racers were finishing.
can you ask for a more gorgeous day?
Once on the trail, we really went up for about 3.5 miles, and then came back down. My garmin shows 840 feet of elevation gain, although the race directors were claiming closer to 1100(?). The sun was out, there was no wind, and the scenery was amazing. We wound up the hills along the side of Cheyenne Mountain. I kept close eye on my heart rate so I wouldn't let it get too high. I walked some of the steep stuff. I didn't care if people passed me. Shannon and I stuck together for most of the race. I might have pulled a little ahead, but only by a few seconds. We stopped at the two aid stations (really the same place) at miles 2 and 5 to grab a cup of water. I actually stopped to drink it today. The trip back down the mountain was quite a cruise. I was in a comfortable heart rate zone and had fun bounding down the hill.
a few stairs to the finish line
Total time: 1:17:16, (avg pace 11:08min/mile)
Place: 10/18 age group
GPS and HR Data
Here's a link to full event coverage on Pikes Peak Sports.

Shannon and I met up with Branden at the finish line and walked back up to the visitor center to get my stuff. That was a nice cool down, especially since I got a glute cramp at the finish line! Once back down to the finish line we found Jared and headed back to Safeway and all went on our way. A nice (even though "slow") start to my 2011 race season!

1 comment:

Christi said...

Great job on some rough terrain. We did our group run at CMSP before the race started and it is always a challenge. I did this race last year and my time was very slow. But it is always fun to run there!