Monday, June 11, 2012

Garden of the Gods Race Report

Before the race 

I think they're more ready than I am.

When I pick my races I often pick them for the scenery.  This one passed that test with flying colors.
I also like "easier" races - read flat.  Big fail here.  This was one of the hardest races I have ever done.  It was a constant up and down and the ups were not gentle short pitches.  I can quickly think of two other particularly hilly races I have done and one was right here in Colorado Springs - the Summer Round Up two summers ago.  Years ago before I ran I raced as a walker up an access road to a ski area.  There was no down, only up.  But this one still sticks out as the killer of all the races I have done.  Plus in case the hills weren't enough of a challenge it was extremely windy.  At one point going downhill was hard!

You don't see a whole lot of flat in this course profile.

I knew right away that I wasn't going to be racing this. I didn't have anything in the tank and felt it immediately even before the hills. I don't know if it was the altitude, the combined effort of running Waldo Canyon the day before and the travel to get here or if I just didn't have it in me to put forth the effort needed.  When Jameson asked me before the race what I thought I would run it, I casually said I would go for 10 minute miles but that might not happen.  Well it didn't.  And I'm okay with that.  I settled in right away to:

  • enjoy the stunning surroundings
  • take lots and I do mean lots of pictures
  • enjoy racing with my family plus frends
  • enjoy the racing atmosphere
Total success for these new goals!
Balanced Rock was the first formation we came to.  From driving the course twice I knew that it would be quite some time before I saw this again on my way out.  The hills started right away but I didn't realize quite how long they were until we were on the way back and I was amazed at the hills we had come up that weren't "major" hills but yeah maybe they were!  

You could see Kissing Camels from quite a ways off. It was somewhere as I was approaching this that I met Emily. I was so astounded that I totally blew the photo op. I couldn't believe she was this far on her way back when I knew she had done Waldo Canyon the day before plus lots of other running on still tired legs from various marathons. More to come on this!

 I saw the Kissing Camels on the back of one previous Garden of the Gods t shirt. From what I could see all of the t shirts have been quite different, a really nice feature for those who race it frequently.  (Are there masochists who do that?)

You could see Pikes Peak over and over again. It doesn't
get much better than this. 

The evergreens mixed in with the red rocks are spectacular.

One of my favorite parts was the sidewalk that went through the middle of some of the formations.  This part was also flatter than the rest. I will say though that when I saw the Mile 5 marker I could not believe I still had 5 miles to go.  I felt like I had already done 10 and I knew what those miles ahead looked like.  

Soon after we started down a hill and I really had the feeling the race was actually going to end at some point.  We were headed back and life was good.  I saw a man on the side of the road taking pictures so I asked him to take one of me.  Not my typical race for sure.

The next several pictures are on the way back where I couldn't believe all the down hills as I mentioned from the perspective that we had come up them I was glad to get back to Balanced Rock and know that the end was about 2 miles away.
Balanced Rock is still in the distance.

It's been a hard race but think of all the people
hiking up Pikes Peak in the distance!


I see Emily, Jameson and Margaret at the end cheering me in.  I know they had been waiting a long time.  Turns out Margaret, Jameson's friend who had done no training, was speedy fast! I take a picture of them because that is what I have been doing the whole time and I probably ruined the finishing picture Emily was taking of me.  Mary caught me just before with a short video.  

Sometime in the last mile my right foot really starts to hurt like my toenail is piercing my skin. I expected to look down and see a bloody shoe.  I was even limping a tiny bit but when I finished there was nothing too see.  I am just a wimp.  A happy to be done wimp!
All smiles to be done.  
Mary with her boot! She volunteered and then cheered everyone
on through the whole thing.
It turns out we needed to stay for the award ceremony as Emily got first in her age group.  It was an awesome plaque, Pikes Peak in the background with Garden of the Gods in the front.  The icing on the cake was that Bart Yasso presented it.  The pictures we got were just okay so we recreated it after.  
This is a 9 year old girl who ran the whole thing in a very decent time.  
I don't want to tell you how much faster she was than me.

25- 29 year old age group winners.

The recreation.

So.  So.  I did not meet my 1:45 goal. I finished in 1:51:04 with a pace of 11:02 (Garmin).  My fastest mile was 10:38 and my slowest was 11:44.  I was 24/35 in my age group so age groups did not exactly rock in this race for me. I was 501/661 for females.  But I had fun!  And the fun wasn't over because then we went out the The Adams for brunch.  Not only did we go out but Happy Trails joined us.  I met them the last time I was out here and what could be better than catching up again! They even changed weekend plans to be there.  They got to meet my kids who they always hear about in the blog. It was funny to hear Kathleen ask Jameson about Jaxon who of course they know through the blog because once in a while I put a picture of him in it. 
Margaret and Jameson - they both had great races!

Emily and me

Steve, Kathleen and me

The whole gang

Would I do this race again? If I lived out here I absolutely would. But I would be better prepared.  I would practice on the course frequently ahead of time and taper before it.  I would do what I could to get into the mental game better also. But when I am on vacation my favorite way to spend time is running and biking and that is what I did before (and after) the race.  Last night I did a 10 mile ride on my own concentrating on not getting lost! One more day of fun in Colorado before I head home!


Jill said...

Not an easy course, for sure...I always like to think of it is a tough training run and it seems to help mentally :). I ran it probably 20 years ago and then not again until 2 years ago. It's definitely harder when you're older - haha. So fun you got to have a quick trip out here in our neck of the woods with your kids for some great family time running in such a gorgeous place. Nothing finer in my books! You did great! Impossible to predict a finish time when you have no idea how difficult the course is...all that matters is that you did it, and you had a blast. Mission accomplished! :)

How awesome are HT to change plans to see you. I had Rockies tickets yesterday so couldn't make it down for brunch....and I was up in the high country running Mt. Evans the day before so the race just didn't work out this year. Hopefully you'll return for another visit soon and we can get together.

In the mean time....I've had no vowels for my WWF's game for the past many rounds. Arghhhh!

Alisa said...

Breathtaking views.

Certainly a tough tough course and at elevation to boot.

You weren't far off your goal time, you should be proud that you had a good race.

Emily is just amazing isn't she!

Kate Geisen said...

How beautiful!! Wow, it looks tough though. Still, a great day to reframe your goals and ENJOY yourself.

Congratulations to Emily!

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

The rock formations are amazing. I've been there twice and it would be a tough race. How fun to see friends and family! (I thought I just might get to see HappyTrails in your post!)

Liz said...

That looks like the most incredible race. Considering the altitude and the course, I think your time was pretty good. Well done to Sweaty Emily for her amazing win, and now I really want to visit Colorado!

christa said...

Great job & such beautiful pictures!

Marlene said...

Looks like some incredible scenery. Love all the photos!! And so nice that the whole Halnon Family was running again. You all rock! Congrats!!

HappyTrails said...

Fun, fun, fun! If I end up getting a pair of Hokas, I might HAVE to run this next year despite 10 miles of PAVEMENT (hence the Hokas - springy, shock-absorbing pillows for the 'feets'). It was wonderful being able to visit and enjoy brunch with you and Mary and get to meet Emily and Jameson (Margaret, too). Glad you are having a fun-filled, whirlwind visit. Are you still doing your "tri" today??? And WHEN will you open your box??? What if the wetsuit doesn't fit??? :-)

Generation X (Slomohusky) said...

WOW!! It all sounds perfect to me. Great pix. I am sure it was hard though - what about the elevation? did that bother ya much?

Great shot of Happy Trails as well. They look great. Fun seeing the 9 year old win her age division - how many other 9 year olds were doing this one? :)

brg said...

great job running at altitude! How awesome is it that there is such a big field in our age groups!(i'm in the 50-54 ag) I totally love that. Congrats to you for getting out and throwing down!

brg said...

great job running at altitude! How awesome is it that there is such a big field in our age groups!(i'm in the 50-54 ag) I totally love that. Congrats to you for getting out and throwing down!

Kandi said...

Love the views. Sounds like a tough course. Glad you had a good time.

Ransick said...

Beautiful pictures! Glad you had fun with it and didn't let the tough course get you down.

Char said...

I'm so glad that you got so many pictures. It's beautiful there. Emily did her usual amazing job. Congratulations to all of you.

Katie said...

WOW - such a gorgeous and tough race! altitude is no joke before you add in all the up and down. congrats!

Teamarcia said...

Beautiful scenery but wow those hills are way out of my league. Glad you enjoyed!

Black Knight said...

Glad you enjoyed such tough race.

Lindsay said...

what a gorgeous course! i'd have to slow down just to take pictures, and i would definitely use the altitude to explain my slower time ;)