Lately my running has been very…sporadic, to say the least. Two weeks ago I had an extremely solid week with two-a-days, races and long runs. I hit a mileage high and was feeling pretty darn good about the Quad Rock 50M. If I jumped right into next week I’d probably be able to keep this confidence. The two weeks in the middle?! Well, we’ll forget they ever happened! Instead we’ll focus on the awesome that went down at the Snowman Stampede on Saturday, February 22nd! I had signed up for the 5 mile and 10 mile races in hopes of forcing myself into a double digit run. Sure, it was on flat pavement not on the technical climbing trails I needed but sometimes miles are miles! Right?! Close enough…
My last 5 mile race was in 2012 as a training run, long before I bothered with consistent speed work so I knew a PR was entirely possible, without too much effort. In the back of my head I knew I needed to save something for the 10 mile race but I decided I’d rather walk away with a 5 mile PR + miserable 10 mile as opposed to nothing worth bragging about. And maybe, just maybe, I could pull off two solid races…even two PRs. I went into the 5 miler hoping for an 8:35-ish pace. Initially I was a little concerned about holding a set pace, but the first few miles ticked by at well below 8:35 so I was feeling good. I kept reminding myself that there was a 10 mile race waiting for me. Turns out I’m just as good at ignoring myself as I am at ignoring everyone else talking sensibly. I finished the 5 mile race in 41:28 with a pace of 8:17…a 2+ minute PR! Not quite what I expected and I even let a red headed kid beat the pants off me in the finisher’s chute…I’m nice like that.
At this point I just wanted to sit down and eat the soft chocolate chip cookies I discovered next to the bananas. And it wasn’t just the cookies holding me back…we had jinxed ourselves by mentioning the non-existent wind. The 5 mile race was completely free of wind, but now that we had discussed this the wind was bound to show up. Spoiler Alert: It did show up, with vengeance! A few gulps of gatorade later (+ 3 more cookies) I was feeling pretty confident about the 10 miler. A little math told me anything under an average 9:50 pace would get me a second PR for the day. I was feeling a little cocky standing in the start corral – I had this, I could totally pull off a double PR!
Then I started running…my legs were very loudly asking me what the frick I was doing. Apparently the extra cookies had them thinking run time was over. By mile 2 they were much happier and the rest of the race was uneventful. I had ditched the Garmin for the 10 miler so I was just doing a lot of semi-accurate math in my head. Each mile was clocking in right around 9:00, give or take 10 seconds. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an easy run, but it wasn’t painful either. It was more of a mental challenge to keep the pace in check because I knew I could cover the distance. As we approached the turn around of the out and back course I started counting female runners…anything to pass the time! After the turn around I kept my eye on a girl running ahead of me. We had a pretty consistent pace on the relatively flat course. The only up/down was at the highway underpasses. I’d pull ahead on the uphills, she’d let loose on the downhill. After a few miles of this we decided to verbally acknowledge each other and grumble about the wind that kept shifting directions to be directly in our faces!
The wind really was annoying. If it wasn’t directly in your face it was just off to the side gusting hard enough to make you kick yourself every time you picked up your foot for a step. Super fun. I don’t think the wind really killed my time much, but it was mentally frustrating…but it did give me something aside from the distance to focus on. The bad mental math I was doing had me thinking I could pull off a sub-90 minute 10 miler if I kept on moving so I spent a little less time glaring at the invisible wind and more time focusing on one foot in front of the other. I rounded the bend to the finish line to see 1:29:xx on the clock. Boom. I had this! A double PR!
My official finish time for the 10 mile race was 1:29:20, a pace of 8:56 and a 9+ minute PR. Yes, that is correct…and the previous PR was on this exact course, two years ago, as a double race (5 mile + 10 mile) meant to be a training run. I think it’s safe to say I hope to be back next year for some more awesome! By now the soft cookies were no longer soft but I still inhaled a few before heading out for a 2 mile cool down with Courtney, who had also run the double. She is far faster than I am but that never matters on a “omg, why did I race that much” kind of cool down. She just moved back to Denver so if I stick with my speed work I may one day get a few training runs in with her crazy! One can hope (that I get faster and that she wants to be my runner friend!). So, there you have it, a two week late recap of a double race + double PR day that rebuilt my confidence in my ability to cover miles and still smile. The real icing on my weekend?! The 13.5 painfree, smiley miles I pulled off the next day! I just may survive (and semi-enjoy?!) this ultramarathon crazy!