|Number of Runners||350|
Today was the day. The race I have been most excited about running all year. I have been wanting to run a decent length race at elevation. When I read about the Mount Evans Ascent, I knew it was the one. Its America's Highest Road Race. You start at the forest service entry gate and run 14.5 miles straight up to the top!
My training plan was really strict for this race: 1) whine about my shins; 2) get some runs in; 3) eat ice cream; 4) dread this day...and repeat! I wasn't really sure what to expect. I knew the altitude would hurt but usually when climbing in it, I am able just to move through it. However, uphill for 14 miles isn't going to be pretty.
The race started at 8 AM. Nice and sunny and warm. It could have been windy and snowy so I appreciated these conditions. We started up the road for the long haul to the top. The mountain is nowhere in site at this point so you are just blindly running up. After about 1,000 vertical feet you can start to see where we are going. See the white line just above the guy in front of me's head. That's the road. That's over there a bit, huh?
As things drag on, all you have to is look to the side for motivation!
However, even with that, I started pulling up and varying between walks and runs. It seemed to be the norm where I was in the pack. I would try and run until my heart rate went up to a 5.0. Then back to a walk until I got back to around 3.5. As soon as the next good song came on the iPod, I would try and crank again. However, some of the hills were steeper than others so I would often just walk those since it was only going to save a couple minutes if I tried to run...I mean shuffle my feet.
This was my first race where they were big on cut-off times. You had to be up to Summit Lake, which is 9 miles in, in 2:30. Otherwise, you were directed to the bus. I was nervous about that cutoff the whole way up but just kept doing what I was doing. I knew I was going to get there. So I made it to the lake in about 2:05. Yeah! I proceeded on and looked down. 25 minutes later people were being guided into the buses down below.
So the next cut-off was at the finish. You had to hit that in 2 hours. So 4.5 miles in 2 hours. Ok. But you gave us 2:30 for 9 miles before. Hmmm. Altitude! At this point, my body was really liking the walking. Not so much for running. I would try and put the pedal down and motor up but after a few hundred feet, I decided it wasn't going to get me there. Back to walking. It was kinda defeating but then I started noticing that everyone was walking. We made the cut-off so now people seemed to be satisfied with a slower pace. Sounds good to me! But I need more motivation...there it is in the snow bank!
Lots of families came and watched. You could pull up along side your runner and chat or give them snacks. Many would stop at the pullouts and hang out. Many offered me food and drink. It was a great atmosphere. The residents of Mount Evans weren't even interested in all the activity.
I can see the finish line. I tried to gas it up and run it in but I got 100 yards and about died. Guess I will be walking this one in!
Made it! My time was around 3:34:03, which puts me in 201st place of the 350 entrants. Official results over here.
The usual graph. Check out the elevation gain. Nice. Pay no attention to the pace. :)
The bad news is that you aren't at the summit of Mount Evans when you finish. You still have to climb a short section to get to the top. I am dead but I gotta go all the way!
Note to self: Climbing in gym shoes on snowy switchbacks is not good. But I made it. I am going to count this as a full summit. Hiking this would have been so much easier.
This big guy was just watching everyone up on top. What a life!
As I was coming back down from the summit, I passed 2 elderly ladies leaning on a rock. The one lady turns to the other lady and says, "I have been all over the world and this the most beautiful view I have ever seen". For some reason after these races, I get emotional. I think everyone does. When I heard that lady say that, tears came to my eyes. It is beautiful up there and its why I love Colorado...crazy outdoor activities in a gorgeous setting. Can't beat that in my book.
More pictures from the race over here.
So overall, not the fastest race I have done but there were obvious challenges. I need to train more for these types of high elevation runs. But I have enough steam to get them done with what I got right now. Can't wait to race again!