Where to start??? So many life changes in the past 30 days or so. Back in January I started using a coach again as I work to finishing Leadville in August. My training plan had me working towards Ouachita Trail 50 on April 16 as a prep race. This was going to be a race where there is some elevation but mostly tight cutoffs on a very runnable course. After running A-OK 50k I was very confident on having a great run at Ouachita. This was great until I got a job offer which I accepted in Denver. Colorado is the Mecca for trail runners and I felt it was time to take this step in my life. For years I've always told myself I'd move to some place awesome but somehow I wound up back in Plano,Tx where I was raised. It's a great place to live and I'll always be a Texan but the timing of this offer was such that I felt I needed to take this step in my life. My son is 19 and I really want to be able to be successful running mountain races so away I went to Colorado settling in Lakewood. I absolutely love it! I've got a couple of roommates who are also somewhat new to the area also and we are great friends so it's great. Back to running......
Logistically with a new job I couldn't make the trek to Arkansas to run Ouachita so I jumped online and found a double marathon in Fruita,Co. It seemed like a small race so it should be very doable even for a newly transplanted "flatlander". The weekend called for a major snow storm to hit Denver and Fruita was on the west side of the Rockies so Friday at noon I headed out. The drive out is just so beautiful! From mountains to desert but I was simply amazed the entire drive. The race I knew had more elevation gain than Ouachita which I had trained for. 4200 versus I had read 6400. Still tight cutoffs with 13 hours to complete the race. I saw there was 2 huge climbs on each loop and it looked like rollers the rest of the race.
Race morning- 40 degrees and a light steady breeze. 6:30 start right at daybreak and away we went. I kinda hung mid pack maybe going out too fast but it felt great. The race was at about 4500ft above sea level and my lungs burn pretty good the 1st coupla miles on runs up here but then I settle down and the same was true on race day. I'm pretty sure I was the only out of state guy there cause that 1st climb we didn't slow down much on that 1.5 mile scamper up a mountain. The terrain was like Bandera. It was desert and just rocks and more rocks.... The 1st 1/2 marathon took me 3 hours and I was where I wanted to be. My goal was a 6 hour marathon and have plenty of time for issues that might arise on the 2nd half. After the 1st climb I had hoped for rollers like we have in Texas but nope. Colorado & Texas is totally different. Climb up, get down, run a flat for a mile or so and go up again. I had been using just a handheld since September but used a vest for this race. It was ok but I didn't wash it out good before putting it away last fall. Mile 18 I got real sick. Just couldn't keep anything in me for a bit and really just kicked my butt. Between that and the 40MPH wind gusts when the trail took you around a ridge was just a beatdown. Mile 19.5 was the last aid and I was able to get some watermelon in me and started the trek up the last climb. It was a simple jeep road but went up for 1 mile with 2 false ascents. I'm just guessing but I think it went up about 1400ft. After that it had a few ups and downs like the rest of the course before descending on a trail that was just more rocks and then kicking you onto a jeep road to get back home. The cutoff was 6:30 and I came in at 6:50 so I couldn't go back out for the 2nd loop. Total elevation gain was 3648 on my Garmin. Nearly as much in 26 miles as the 50 miler I had trained for. I walked away frustrated a little with myself knowing that I could have made it had I not gotten sick but it was great training. I don't think I'm fully acclimated to running at 5000ft above sea level and my hill work has been limited leading up to this race. You run the race under the race directors rules but if they would make this a 14 or 15hr cutoff like many 50 mile races are it'd be a great goal race for out of state people but with 13 hours you have little room for error unless you have the speed to get far enough ahead. Live and Learn.
Moving forward, next month Me and Steven Monte along with some TROT runners fly out to Georgia for Cruel Jewel. After getting my butt handed to me, I've opted for the 50 miler this year. 15k ft of vert but most of it is in the last 25 which I ran twice last year. The clock is a non factor on the 50 mile race so I'm just going into it with the mindset that I'll be getting some great hill work. I've got a couple of weeks so I'm sure my coach will be having me working on climbing and running downhills as much as possible. I love it here in Colorado so far! It's cooler temps but the cold isn't bone chilling like Texas and Oklahoma and I can't wait to get more time higher in the mountains running. The trail community here is great just as it is all over Texas and I look forward to running more with them. Til next time #RunStrong