A Newbie’s Perspective.
As my friend and fellow Columbine (but much more actively involved Columbine) and I were enjoying our post race celebratory beer, we were talking about how awesome the race director was and how her love and respect for this sport truly is exemplified in this race. From the wonderful volunteers, to the training runs, to the hugs at the end of the race, she put her heart and soul into this race and made it such a wonderful experience for everyone. So, here is my experience.
The race started at 7:00am up in Pine, CO at Narrow Gauge Trailhead. Parking was limited to the first 70 cars then the rest had to park at the Fire Station and be shuttled in. There were several of the Columbines doing the 50K and one crazy 50 Miler (Kim, you are a mad woman) so we all met up to carpool at 4:45am and get one of those spots. We got to the start super early and chatted for a while. I was happy to have a car nearby to keep warm because I’m wimpy like that. Everyone was busy getting lubed up, eating and going to the potty. Speaking of the potty, this is normally something I would not care to mention, but it is worth noting that there is a park bathroom (one for women and one for men) with 6 stalls , but the water was turned off and they were the MOST disgusting smelling bathrooms ever. Like gag-worthy, burn-your-nose awful.
Columbines Women’s Running Club
Check-in was super simple. Janice, the race director gathered all of us around to give us last minute course instructions (follow this color flag, signs trump ribbons, especially pay attention to the “NO, WRONG WAY” signs, oh and 50kers- your course is more like 32 miles and some change rather than 31 miles and some change). Okay, GO!
Me and Melissa at the start soooo excited!
Kim, our crazy 50 Miler training for the Leadville 100
receiving last minute instructions
Here is the elevation profile.
Those hills felt every bit like they looked. I enjoyed the downhill sections at the beginning but almost hated them as much as the uphill towards the end. I just wanted gradual. I didn’t care if it was uphill or downhill. My hamstring was on fire – this I fully expected. I struggled with my hamstring all through my training and learned how to deal with that pain. It was never too intense that I felt like I was doing further damage. More of an annoyance. However, the hip pain was what would stop me on the trail and make me attempt to stretch it. It was the intense angle of the hill that made it hurt. So whether it was uphill or downhill, it hurt. I tried to run hard-ish on the flats, jog what I felt comfortable on those downhills, and just keep moving forward on the uphill (“Relentless Forward Progress” -is what I would repeat to myself). I make it sound much more dramatic than what it really was. I zoned a lot of it out.
The first 2 miles teaches you quickly that you will be walking those hills.
Oh you lovely gradual downhill, you were such a treat to run on!
hot, sunny, exposed, but simply stunning
I think this was the last 3-4 miles of the course. Not a bad view at all.
The course was somewhat crowded in the beginning, but a few miles in and you were on your own. Except for me, I met a buddy at mile 15 and we ran together the rest of the way. He even waited for me at an aid station when I went back for my second helping of Ruffles potato chips. Speaking of nutrition…
For me, this was the hardest part to comprehend prior to the race. With me having such a sensitive stomach, it was hard to fathom the amount of food I should be consuming during one of these races. I have found that carb loading the night before does not work for me. I don’t like how it makes me feel. So, I tend to carb load 2-3 days before a race and then stick with a normal meal the night before the race. So, here is what I did race day.
Woke up at 3:30am and made coffee (I drink it black). I made a plain egg sandwich (1 egg on whole wheat English muffin) and ate that around 4:00am and drank 6 oz of water.
45 minutes before the race: 1 Strawberry Honey Stingers waffle and a sip of water
45 minutes into the race: 1 Chocolate Honey Stingers waffle
There were 6 aid stations (at 5.3 miles, 10.1 miles, 14.7 miles, 20.2 miles, 24.3 miles, and 28.4 miles) and they were delightful!!! I can’t tell you how excited you get when you arrive. These volunteers were amazing at these aid stations (but that’s for later). I loaded up at the aid stations, but made sure not to hang out too long. I grabbed a large handful of Ruffles potato chips, a couple of pretzels and 2 Fig Newton cookies and drink 2-4 cups of ice water. I would eat this over the next quarter mile while I was running (or walking). I did this at each aid station. I also ate a peanut butter and honey wrap between aid stations 14.7 and 20.2 and it was da bomb!
I took Salt Stick salt tables every hour. I consumed water as I felt thirsty and loved drinking the cold cold ice water at the aid stations. At each aid station I would fill my hydration pack up with the cold water even if I had water in my pack just so it would be cool even if it was just for a little bit.
Post race nutrition: I had absolutely no tummy issues during or after this race. <A Miracle> The food was awesome and they had volunteers working the grill cooking up beef burgers, turkey burgers and veggie burgers, Vegetarian chili, pasta salad, Ruffles potato chips, homemade brownies, homemade oatmeal cookies, and mixed fruit, soft drinks, water, and beer (and good Colorado beer, of course). I ate about 30 minutes after I finished and I ate a turkey burger (no bun) with ketchup and mustard, pasta salad, some fruit, water and a can of Fat Tire beer. And for dinner later that evening: 3 large pieces of pepperoni pizza, 3 garlic knots and 1 large Summer Shandy. YUMMO!
Wow. Is really what I have to say about this subject. A good wow. This is not a large race with a paid team to help with logistics. From the volunteers who rode the course and then stayed at certain locations along the course to make sure no one moved course signs or ribbons to the volunteers grilling at the post race festivities, these were people who were out there all.day.long. and still smiling and greeting everyone like they were the winner. The thing that stood out to me the most was how thoughtful and intuitive the aid station volunteers were. This was clearly not their first rodeo. As they saw you running up, one volunteer would ask “What can I get you?” My reply, “Cold water, please.” They would then ask, “In your hand or in your pack?” My reply, “Both would be great.” I would then have someone pour me water and hand it to me; someone take off my pack for me and fill it up for me while I grabbed food. UH-MAZING!!!
The other thing that happens is how they totally make every single finisher feel like a rock star at the finish. There were a few volunteers camped out near the finish that would signal to the next with a cowbell (who doesn’t love a good cowbell?) and then by the time you got to the finish, you had all of the other finishers clapping for you as well as the spectators and everyone else. Many people even got hugs. Awesomeness! I watched the 2nd place finisher of the 50 Miler come in (looking way too spry to have just finished 50 miles) and as the race director congratulated him, he just kept complimenting her on such a wonderfully organized and overall great race and gave her a hug. Wow.
post race Columbine love
My Stats and Final Thoughts
6:00:58 – I was running blind since I accidentally stopped my Garmin early on and when I came in, I asked the finish line crew if I made it under 6 hours and they sweetly said “Well, kind of since the course was long.” And another volunteer said “This should make it a little better,” as she handed me my finisher medal and my 3rd place 30-39 Female Age Group plaque. But I still didn’t know what my time was until I saw the sticker go up on the results board.
26th Overall / 7th Female / 3rd 30-39 Age Group
Zero Music. Even though I do majority of my running and racing without music, I totally thought I was going to need some music motivation after so many hours out there, but I didn’t. I enjoyed the scenery, the company of other runners chatting as we passed each other. This was very much the closest I have come to meditating in a weird sort of way. Hard to put into words.
This will not be my last. I cannot begin to put into words the excitement and sense of pride I was feeling when I left the last aid station with 4 miles to go. I was going to do this! And finish strong and feeling good! It was amazing and quite emotional when I crossed the finish line! Nope, this will not be my last ultra distance.
If you are interested in doing an ultra, this is a great one! Check them out! Next year’s date is set for June 28, 2014….