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Summer races have finally arrived! This means no more traditional races for a while. For June, I decided to do a repeat and go for the Mt. Evans Ascent again. Last year, I enjoyed the race but was ready to take up the challenge again. I had been pushing up my miles for Leadville in July and thought this would be a good altitude test.
In chatting with my Mom, she decided that her and Dad would fly out for a weekend visit and come see the race. This is such a spectator’s race if there ever was one. The spectators can literally drive next to the runner the whole way to the top. Its not like a “normal” race where you might see a runner twice.
So my folks arrived in town on Thursday and I took that day and Friday off work. We spent a lot of time on our feet at various activities around town. This probably wasn’t the best thing for me in terms of resting up, but it felt good. My swelling in my thumb was starting to subside as well after the big fall. Bruises still hurt on my legs and arms though. We stayed out late the night before and I didn’t have the best pre-race dinner. This could haunt me.
On race day, the whole crew was up and cooking around 5:30 AM. I went for a small jog around the block just to loosen things up inside for later. We jumped in the car and hit Idaho Springs by 7 AM. From there its about 14 miles up the road to the start of the Mt. Evans road. I bailed out of the car, picked up my bib, and hit the bathrooms. It was a gorgeous morning up there. Warm enough for short sleeves when you were in the sun. I decided I would go in short sleeves at that point and just carry my 2 oz TNF jacket in my shorts. Good call.
I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to achieve in this race. I knew I wanted to beat my time from last year but I didn’t that didn’t seem like a hard goal. By how much? I had no clue what I could do. This race took my high altitude racing virginity last year. Learned a lot since then. However, I hadn’t been training specifically for this. I have been doing too many long miles in preparation for Leadville. But I am hitting the hills a lot so that should help. However, my upper body isn’t where it needs to be. My spring cough hasn’t gone away. Let’s just see how the day goes.
I headed up the hill with all my fellow runners while the train of spectator cars lined up behind us and made their way onto the course. A few miles in I heard the familiar screams and I turned to see a car full of family cheering me on. See you a little ways up!
At the first parking lot, the family got out and lined up on the road with other cheering families to watch the action. Here is the head of my cheer group!
Oh wait…here I come! Thank god I didn’t have to take pictures for once. Its nice having a roving camera crew and cheer section.
Still climbing. Feeling a little queasy. It seems to be my new race thing. I started out running very comfortable pace. After bonking at Colfax, I am gun shy. I keep holding back so I feel good…probably too much so. However, I was hacking and my stomach wasn’t feeling as good as it could. Legs are solid though. They want to get going.
However, I noticed the cameras were turning from me. Oh..must be the real running stars of the mountain! These dudes came out to check out the race. When they realized we are all wanna-bees, they took off down a sheer face full speed. Try that you humans!
Choose your own caption for my Dad’s expression. You can use the words “crazy”, “silly”, and “nuts” if you wanna get close. (Just kidding…I think this left an impression on him.)
Here is my Mom checking out the action. She got drafted into helping at the 9 mile aid station along with my wife. So as I ran in, I was like…you look familiar. She had a fun time. She got to chat with some runners and experience the Colorado running community and their graciousness.
That not so good feeling from earlier reared its head and it was time for a bathroom break. Luckily, I knew there were port-o-pots at mile 10…although not on the course. They were back a 1/4 mile from the road. So I booked over there and spent a few minutes. Then back to the race.
As the family waiting near the summit, my other #1 fan Reagan said she heard something? Anybody see anything?
As we started back up from Summit Lake, my crew drove up next to me and I downshifted to my walking pace. The run was done for now. Time to speed walk. I had a good conversation with the family through the car window as we travelled together. They told stories about the aid station and said we would see each other at the top. They left and I cranked up the music and did my fastest speed walking to date. I was passing a few runners. Last year, I couldn’t get over the “I must run” part of this race. Here I knew I should walk and I did it fast. I was reeling in the people in front of me as they struggled with run/walk/run/walk. It just beats up your drivetrain and wears you out. Slow and steady to the top was my strategy. I kept my eyes on the watch because it was easy to drift the pace. My legs and lungs were very comfortable with the action so I figured I would hold it till just before the end. See the dude with the big stride…that’s me wanting to break the 3 hour mark. Time to dig down a bit and hustle to the finish.
I crossed the line and my whole family was there waiting. How fun that was! I took my medal and offered to walk them to the summit. Everybody explained how they had been in the car with 2 kids for 3 hours and it was time to go. Enough said. Been on top of Evans more times that I can remember at this point.
I really enjoyed having everyone out there with me for this race. Although it was a PR for me on this course, it wasn’t about that as much. The PR was a given. I was more satisfied that we had a great day and a great time to come out and enjoy the mountain with my family.
Driving back down my Mom said from the backseat…I just don’t understand why you won’t move back to Indiana? I looked back and saw her smiling and rolling her eyes. I think she gets it now.
View all photos from this event.