|The view of the hillside from the starting line|
Y’all, I seriously loved this race, and a huge thanks to Columbia for the registration!! In fact, I daresay this single event sold me on trail races over road races! We arrived around 9:15 with plenty of time to spare before the 10am start. The run was very small, so there were maybe 75-100 people milling around the parking lot. The 11k runners toed the line right at 10am, and I would estimate that at least 80% of the people took off in that first group. Since the 5k runners ran the same course only shorter, we waited around for another 10 minutes before the event organizers asked us to line up.
I literally had no idea what to expect going into this race. First of all, this 5k would be my longest run in 8 weeks. Yeah, seriously! Second of all, it was a trail race with some serious elevation changes on the course. I was a bit nervous that my knee would freak out and I’d end up curled in a ball on some single track somewhere. Luckily, that didn’t happen. However, we did line up near the back of the group just to ensure I didn’t become a doormat for other runners 🙂
|Before the race: Angel, me, Cindy, and Craig. Wore my Mizuno Ascends for this race–kinda loving them!|
This turned out to be a poor decision because the trail immediately turned into very tight single track where runners could only follow each other in a single file line. I quickly realized that I was going to be faster than quite a few of them (gasp! That never happens!), but I was unable to pass them for at least 1/4 mile. Craig, Angel, and I managed to make a move and pass a group of women, but we lost Cindy behind us.
|View of Vail Resort: not where the race was but it was so beautiful!|
We kept going like this for another half mile before I told Craig and Angel to go ahead. My knee felt great but let’s face it: those two are better runners than me in general, and 6 weeks of minimal training didn’t help me any. They went ahead and I continued to enjoy every second of the trail.
You see, the trail was very techy and the narrow single track meant you truly had to pay attention to where you placed your feet. The aspen leaves are changing and falling in the high country, so the trail was littered with yellow leaves. Gorgeous, yes, but it also made it more difficult to spot the numerous roots and rocks that poked up out of the trail. Many a runner went down during the race (Craig and Cindy both did!) and I was trying my hardest not to re-injure my leg.
|Elevation chart of the race|
I turned around at the halfway aid station and headed back to cover the same return course. There were two decent sized hills on this course and my untrained lungs and legs were definitely noticing them! Vail itself sits at 8200 feet, so this made the climbs that much trickier. However, I was seriously captivated by how beautiful the scenery was, and I was thrilled when I realized that I was essentially running by myself for the entire return trip. I had somehow dropped the people behind me and lost those ahead of me, so all I could hear was my own breath and the occasional crashing of wildlife in the woods.
There was one last short and steep section that met up with the paved road and funneled the runners to the finish line. Naturally, I struggle with instructions so not one but TWO different volunteers had to yell at me to direct me back on course. Not sure where I thought I was going, but clearly I was missing the finish line!
|Me, Cindy, and Angel after the race|
After the race, I tracked down Craig and Angel and picked up my race shirt while waiting for Cindy to finish. Columbia provided all runners with wicked nice OmniFreeze Ice tech shirts that literally cost more than the price of registration. While waiting in line to speak with the man at the Columbia booth, I heard someone calling my name. You can only imagine my excitement when I turned around and was speaking to one of my blog readers, BRG! She had read that I was going to be at the race, and I was so glad to meet her! She totally dominated the race (smoking me in the process!) and even won her age group!
Total stats for the race:
Distance: 3.28 miles (according to my Garmin)
Total Elevation Gain: 862 feet (according to Garmin. The race website said 950+ feet).
Third in my AG, 8th overall…but don’t be impressed. I think there were 10 women in my AG and like 25 total, so it’s really not that impressive 🙂
Typically, I love larger events but I really enjoyed this smaller race….might be making a convert of me!