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Running Collegiate Peaks

What better way to top out a weekend in Buena Vista without a little jaunt up into the mountains?

I missed the Collegiate Peaks Trail Run by a weekend, so I thought I would just run the course. After all, I had all the information on how to do it. The race itself is one or two 25-mile loops depending on which distance you register for. And, for those of you not familiar with it, it is a doozy of a climbing race.
Elevation map ~ 8,000 - 9,400 ft.
 Sunday morning I woke up and just prayed the weather - and my body - would hold up on me for my last long training run before Comrades. Ideally, I wanted to do a 25 mile loop and then an out-and-back somewhere between 10-15 miles more.

I started out with cloudy skies and cold weather and just plugged along. With the weather, the beautiful scenery was muted and, honestly, I was more worried about what the day would bring me. I ran a mile into town and then started the course. As I ran back out of the town, I settled into a nice pace. I got to where the road turns to dirt road and it wasn't so bad. Whew! Looks like the rest would be runnable.

Got to mile 3.5 and realized I was supposed to hit a trail. Couldn't find a trail, so I ventured up the fire road more. Then onto another road and hit the trail I wanted to be on. While trail is ALWAYS fun, there were a lot of steep ups and downs (more so than the fire road). What it made me extremely aware of were my quads and how much they hurt on the way down.

 I looked up and... was that snow up there?
 Surely I wasn't going to go up that high.

I continued on and hit about mile 7.5 and found the water Ross and I had left. Then it was my first real downhill. Yay!
But as you can see by the elevation map above. All good downhills are only followed by uphills. And there was definitely plenty of that on this course. So, up, up, up I went.

I guess I was going that high. Snow. Seriously? It was 70 the day before down below.

As I continued climbing I really worried about my quads and the second half of the loop. Not so much the uphills, but I knew there was a long, STEEP downhill towards the end of the loop and I was worried about my quads. They were already screaming at me. So instead of looping around, I opted for an out and back and turned myself around at little over 13 miles.
Turn around point
As I headed back I realized a little HOW MUCH I had gone up. I now had gravity on my side and watched my average pace tick down. Never as much as you want, but down none-the-less. I was VERY happy to see my water station again. Refilled and on my way. About this point, I realized how much my legs hurt. A lot. It was odd because generally it is something else that hurts, but today it was my legs. 
On the way down. I look like I feel. Tired.
 As I bottomed out and headed back to town, I really assessed my leg situation and weighed my options. My nutrition was good, so I had the energy, but was it worth it? Once I hit the 25-mile mark where Ross was to meet me, I called Charley to chat and we decided to cut it short. Probably the best decision EVA. Two weeks away from my race I really did not want to do anything stupid or push myself too hard. I had had a good climbing run at 8,000 - 9,250 ft and worked on my nutrition (one of my major goals). It was time to call her quits and finish her up in the morning. I was happy and so was my family.

From there, it was some chili, Mix1 and onto the hot springs for recovery.

As for the run the next day - the "last" 15 miles - KILLED IT. And I feel great about it! 

Ordinarily, I think I would have felt like a failure for not completing my 35-40 mile goal that I set out to do, but I don't. 40 miles on that course so close to my race was an ambitious goal. I am proud of what I did do and that I had the wherewithal to do the right thing in this situation. As I was told by a Comrades veteran the next day, "You probably saved your Comrades by stopping when you did."

Here I sit 12 days out from Comrades. Tapering and ready for whatever the day brings me. That run may have taught me more about myself than my legs, nutrition, etc. It taught me to (smartly) go for a lofty goal and if, by chance, it doesn't happen then to be very proud of what you do achieve. I have put in the training and the day will be bring me what the day brings me. No regrets.


Karri said...

wow! amazing. i am excited for you and your upcoming adventure.