Another classic race I am happy to finally check off the list. America's highest road race, going from a starting elevation of 10,600ft at Echo Lake all the way to the summit area near 14,264 ft. 14.5 miles and almost 4000ft of gain. The race also has an incredible history with it starting back in the early 70's.
With SJS 50 just around the corner, I felt like something a bit more intense with some good altitude would be a good preparation race. With it being uphill only, I wasn't too worried about beating the legs up too much on the road and with the pace being much slower with all that climbing, it kept the impact levels low and fairly easy to recover from. I met up with Craig and Jen down there. Wendy wasn't able to come and support because of how she has been reacting to higher altitudes while pregnant. It was a shame that she would have to sit out spectating a few of these races this year.
Getting to Summit Lake felt like the biggest milestone as the ground actually flattens out for a bit before the final steep switchbacks to the summit. It's also the area where the wheels start to come off between 12,000ft and 13,000ft and it was frustrating to have to gear down to a shuffle and eventually a walk. Even on the final corner where I could look across and see the finish with the announcer calling names, it was hard to muster a run.
|Can I breathe now?|
What a challenge! The altitude really worked me over. The climbing was brutally sustained and I was drained completely. Wanted to break 2:30 so just outside but close enough not to be too disappointed. The second goal was to get a trophy rock for men running under 2:40 so glad I got a piece of granite for my trouble :-)
Not sure I enjoy what feels like breathing through a straw for so long this high up. Also feel my size is a bit of a limiting factor having to hoist my frame all the way to the top of the mountain. A good reminder to continue to work on my strength in the off season along with a much faster cadence for hill climbing.
Looking forward to Wendy having a crack at this one next year as I think it's the kind of course she would love and being so historic really should be a must do for all Colorado runners. I know she'd get a lot of motivation from seeing Felix along the course too as there are a quite a few spots to watch from.
|Nice race schwag!|
|Craig nailed it with a 5th place finish!|