Sunday, April 24, 2011

Inaugural Cheyenne Mountain 25k (and 50k) Trail Race Report

When you live in Colorado Springs and participate in endurance sporting events, you will eventually sign up for a trail race. And when you hear of a cool new event coming to town, you might just sign up for it. That's exactly what I did. I put the Cheyenne Mountain 25k Trail Race on my calendar a few months ago as a Spring endurance event before my triathlon season really kicks in. It would also be a good chance to put my metabolic efficiency training to the test.

This wasn't necessarily and 'A' race for me, just one I wanted to have a decent showing and enjoy. My pre-race planning wasn't as detailed as it could have been. Also, it's a local race and I have a busy work week. I did try to get a little extra sleep Thursday night into Friday, and also shoot for 8 hours of sleep Friday night. Didn't quite make that and I got up a few times in the night to use the bathroom.

Let's start Thursday with my eating. I ate well during the day, but went to a social event in the evening. I wasn't hungry right away for the food (but did have a beer).
at the Women's Mtn Biking Association of Colorado Springs membership drive
By the time I was ready to eat, all the food was gone, except for beignets. I decided those wouldn't make a good dinner, so once I got home (about 9pm) I had a banana peanut butter chocolate Generation UCAN smoothie and went to bed. I usually like to have a much more substantial dinner 2 days before a race, as usually the day before I eat a bit lighter.

You can imagine I was a little hungry when I woke up on Friday but cooked myself an egg and veggie scramble (cauliflower, kale, tomato) topped with a little shredded cheese. I ate to my hunger during the day, but my meeting schedule put my eating slightly out of whack in the afternoon. After work I was headed straight to a Pikes Peak Tri Club social, but didn't want to make hamburgers and hot dogs my pre-race meal. Plus I wanted to pick up my race packet the night before instead of race morning.  I was craving sweet potatoes, but there wasn't a convenient place to get a baked sweet potato. Instead I stopped at Garbanzo's since I didn't pack that much food with me. I got a salad with chicken and falafel, along with some hummus and baba ganoush. The server put way too much vinaigrette dressing on it, and it contains quite a bit of pepper. I actually had to stop her from putting more on (note: next time just get it on the side). I had a few bites of the pita to help mute the pepper sensation in my mouth! (normally I skip the pita). This tided me over for most of the evening. When I got home, I got my race stuff around, thought through my race plan, and had a small snack of  yogurt and blueberries. I was in bed by 10pm.

Race day:
My alarm went off at 5:40am after an almost restful night's sleep. My legs had been feeling pretty good the last couple days with some reduced training load. I felt ready to give this race a go! Because the start time was less than 3 hours from when I work up, I didn't eat too much. A bit of yogurt, banana, and chocolate hazelnut butter. I meant to grab a packet of peanut butter (Justin's Nut Butter), but opened the wrong packet. still tasted good!

I headed down to the race site a little before 7am and was parked around 7:30 as planned. Temps were in the upper 30s, skies were overcast and the wind was chilly. It was a little chillier than I had hoped, but still decent running weather. A quick stop at the port-o-potty and then I headed back to the car to mix up my pre-race Generation UCAN - chocolate with a packet of decaf starbucks via. I consumed this about 45 minutes prior to the race start, just as I had done in training. At 8am the 50k runners started their race and I had 30 minutes to get ready for my start. I went back to the car to stay warm and make sure I had my electrolyte bottle ready to go. I cranked up some Amy Ray and chatted for a few minutes with Tim Bergsten of Pikes Peak Sports. With about 10 minutes until the start, I headed over for the pre-race briefing. I was feeling a tad hungry, but hoped the feeling would go away once I started running.

At 8:30am the 25k we were off. I seeded myself somewhere in the middle, which was probably good so that I didn't start out too fast. I would be out on the course for a while so no point in starting the first mile (which was uphill) faster than I needed to. By mile 2 my heart rate monitor strapped had slid down and was no longer around my chest. So...any data isn't really reliable, and I really would have liked that data.

The race consisted of two lollipops and a bunch of trail to get there. The first few miles descend up the hill and then you drop back down, cruise on past the parking area (lots of spectators with cowbells) and head over to the south side of the park where the big climb begins.

Here was my pacing plan: Run the first uphill section conservatively, walk if anything got really steep, and cruise the downhills. Then on the second half with the bigger climbs I have a little more left to get to the top and cruise the final few miles downhill.

Here was my fueling plan: Carry a 22oz bottle with electrolytes (Nathan catalyst) in my fuel belt, along with a Larabar for an emergency. The aid stations had HEED and Hammer Gels (which I use and tolerate well) so I planned to get my calories from them. The aid stations were set up on the sticks of the lollipop loops so we'd pass them on the way up and on the way down.

I think I stuck to my pacing plan well. I passed a few people early on and was passed by a few as well (and I would see those guys later.) At the beginning there were a lot of us close together, but that spread out when the real climbing began. At the first aid station I just grabbed a cup of water since we were still early on. It was good to see Anthony there cheering for me! I was hoping to hit this aid station again at about 45min, as I was feeling hungry and wanted to do steady but small "feedings." But somewhere in this first section is where the course was long. My Garmin showed 7.1 miles at the 10k sign... It was an hour into the race before I saw the aid station again. Once I got there I opted for a vanilla hammer gel. It tasted good! One packet has 90 calories and since it was cold out, the gel was thick, so I didn't get everything out of the packet. I'm guessing 70 calories here.
As I was wiping gel from my face, Tim B. was there with his camera.
the guy behind me passed me shortly after this, but I caught up to him later.
The next aid station was at the transition point (near the starting line) and not too far from the 2nd stop so I just got a little bit of water at this one.

Now were heading into the "flat"section of the trail that takes us over to the next big climb. And here the head wind was brutal and the winds were cold. I had to put my gloves back on at this point. I caught up to a guy named Pete and he commented on how tough the first climb was. I laughed and told him it got worse from here. I then caught up to a woman who had a nice steady pace. I was tracking here from a while back (she stood out in purple) and slowly caught up to her and passed her on a downhill. Once we got into the hills the next few miles I was running mostly solo and came across people every so often. I remembered running this trail in January when it was snow-packed. It was tough! This section had 850ft in pure gain (almost 1000ft total gain) from the lowest point near the parking lot to the top of the just under 4 miles. The good part (sort of) is that after mile 12, the last 4 miles are all downhill except for a few little bumps here and there. This is the section of the trail where the snow flurries hit.
a well-stocked aid station
When I arrived at the 4th aid station around mile 10, I grabbed cup of water and a cup of HEED and had a few sips. Probably only 10-15 calories here. Then it was the tough stuff. I would have to wait about 5 miles before hitting this aid station again, and was hoping for another calorie boost a little sooner. I met up with a gal from Wyoming and a guy from Kansas City at the top of the hill and we hung together down the hill. At this point my legs were hurting from the pounding so it was good to stay with a group and chat a bit.

Once I hit that final aid station, the guy and I stopped to refuel. I downed a cup of HEED (I'm guessing 20-30 calories - normal HEED is about 100 for 16oz and maybe I had 4oz of fluid. It seemed like a regular concentration.) I got just enough to carry me through the last few miles and I could turn it on (pretty relative on achy legs from the downhill pounding!) for the last little bit. The gal from WY had a camelback so she didn't stop...and gained a little bit of time on me (about 15s to the finish). I pulled slightly ahead of the KS guy at this point. The downhill slope eased up the last mile and I was able to kick into a strong pace (if 9mi/mile is strong) for the last 0.8ish miles.

After I crossed the finish line I walked around a bit to cool down and then my body realized how hungry I really was. I felt a little low blood sugar so I grabbed a bagel that they had out and had a few bites while I walked to my car. (Probably should have had the Larabar instead!) I also needed some more fluids and filled my water bottle. Once I got to my car I mixed myself another packet of chocolate Generation UCAN and downed it. Yum! I grabbed my change of clothes and headed to the massage tent. They spent quite a bit of time on me and unfortunately I got too cold and was shivering a bit. Every time they tried to do a stretch, the opposing muscle would start to cramp! Then I changed into my Zoot compression tights and had a few extra layers. I then decided some real food might be a good idea and went and got some Carrabba's from the food tent. Garlic bread, Caesar salad, chicken marsala and pasta. I ate the bread and the pasta, a few bites of the chicken (but most of the mushrooms) and a few bites of the salad. That was enough for me. I chatted with a few more people. By now it was after 1pm and I needed to head to a friends house for a Miche bag party....

Hydration and Fueling summary:
22oz bottle w/electrolytes, ~10oz water, about 6oz HEED
Almost 1 packet Hammer gel.
Total fluid: ~38oz
Total calories: ~120
No GI issues at all.

Summary of Event:
Course was very well marked except for one section up at the top of the last hill.  Course was about 1.3 miles too long according to my GPS, but I'd rather have a course being too long than too short. Aid stations were well stocked with plenty of options (there was more food there that the 50k racers might want.) Fun race announcer, good post-race food. If only it weren't so windy and chilly.

Race Results:
Garmin GPS data
7/26 age group
19/64 all females
all results
Race coverage on

Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Garden and President Circle

Twice a year Tim's car club puts on a "Gimmick Rally." It's a fun trek through town, following a set of rally instructions with some sort of catch. It started at the Garden of the Gods and ended at Edelweiss, a local German restaurant. Since I needed to figure out how to get in a few hours on the bike and tomorrow's weather is not looking to be bike friendly, I decided to ride to the Garden of the Gods (about 20ish miles), do the rally, get a ride back to the Garden and ride home. I sent my Team In Training team to a nutrition clinic at Bicycle Village and a ride with the cycle team.

A little chilly at the start, but it was a beautiful ride. (GPS file of the ride.) Once I got down into the Springs, I took the hilly route, climbing up Rockrimmon to Vindicator, then up Flying W Ranch. I had a little bit of time before I needed to meet Tim (who had my clothes) so I did the small loop of the Garden. The early morning light on those spires was just amazing. Another reason why I love living and riding in Colorado!
The winds were whipping today!
I met Tim and the entrance to the Visitor Center and changed for the morning's event. A quick cup of coffee and light breakfast and we got the instructions for the rally. I think there were about 15 or so cars, so about 30 people participating in today's event. For the rally were given 16 photos along with the instructions and had to write down the odometer mileage we saw the landmark in the photo. The photos were not in order, and there was no guarantee that we'd actually even come across those landmarks (signs, houses, businesses). The instructions are such that you could possibly get off course and miss a landmark, but as long as you followed the instructions relatively well, you should get back on track.

A little after 10am we were on the road. The first part of the rally took us over to Cascade & Fillmore area- where one of the instructions was turn right at first opportunity after 10 different presidents. We wound around a little and did our best finding the landmarks. Some were easier than others. Then we ended up east of Circle drive going around in circles. Tim and I were pretty sure we got off course a few times and had to make mileage adjustments based on how far off course we thought we were. We knew we were in the right area and got back on track. We made our way through downtown and ended up at Edelweiss where we turned in our score sheet. Turns out we did pretty well, and even though we missed a few, we tied for 1st place. There was a tie breaker question and we got it, so we won!

My bike at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center
After we ate, Tim had to get to work, so I changed back into my cycling clothes and then got a ride back to the Garden of the Gods. My bike was still there locked up where I left it so I hopped on and headed home. The wind had picked up significantly but lucky for me it was a south/southwest wind and my route was north. I need to count my cycling blessings, as getting a 30+mph tailwind for 20 miles is rare! Usually the wind is a headwind no matter which direction you ride! Would like to have seen some of my speeds and power for this ride, but I didn't have my Garmin on the ride home (left it in the bag with my clothes). The only trouble I had was when my chain did a Schleck. did several times - I was able to recover it a couple times without stopping, but not every time. At least I was only a few miles from home but was able to make it up the final hills. Guess it's time for a new chain and an annual tune-up...