Race Report: Mountain Madness Half Marathon, Steamboat Springs

1 Jul

Well I didn’t win the race but I FINALLY WON A DAMNED RAFFLE PRIZE! Got myself a sweet Honey Stinger t-shirt and a pair of awesome SmartWool socks. Two Steamboat brands to celebrate my near vomit-inducing finish at the 2012 Mountain Madness half marathon.

I did better than anticipated. Ended up finishing in 1:57:07 which I am hoping means that, barring some sort of race catastrophe, I am done with the 2+hour half-marathon finishes. Assuming, of course, that I don’t take a major training hiatus. But if I can get a sub-2 on THIS race, having lived basically below sea level for the last two years, than I feel pretty good about what’s going to happen when I go back down the mountain in August.

Here are some stats:

  • My Garmin clocked the distance as 13.26 and the race officials made an announcement that the course was, in fact, longer than 13.1
  • Starting elevation: 6,749ft
  • Max elevation: 7,169ft
  • Longest climb: 1.7 miles (!!!!!) at 3.1% grade incline, gaining a total of 276ft

I took a significantly different approach to this half than the last one. Because of the non-stop rollers, I knew it was going to be close to impossible for me to maintain a consistent pace or to shoot for negative splits. So I planned to take it easy until the turnaround at mile 8. But I wasn’t entirely sure what “easy” would mean.

The pack took off like gangbusters out of the starting gate. Seriously, I have never seen a race start like that. The field was miniature (45 runners total; more doing the 10k) and EVERYONE just bolted. I did not bolt. I stayed back and kept it as controlled as possible. So I was surprised to discover that right off I was already cruising at a 9 min/mile. I got a little worried that this was too fast for the first 5K but I was chatting with the guy next to me and felt fine breathing-wise so I just forced myself to hold the 9 until the turn onto the climb at mile 2, when I figured I’d slow considerably.

The slow down wasn’t as considerable as it could have been. The first quarter mile or so of the climb was intense. Just really,really steep. I thought for sure that I was going to have to walk the majority of this hill. But it flattened out a little as I got into it and I managed to keep running. I was very thankful at this point to have a coach who forces us to do bridge repeats every week. And very happy that I forced myself to do hill repeats ten days ago. That workout made this race possible.

The climb got worse again soon after. Mostly because it just kept going up and up and up and up. I passed the 10K turnaround point that I remembered from last year and thought, “You’ve gotta be kidding. We have to KEEP GOING UP?!” I did have to stop and walk at one point and, of course, it was like 100 meters from the highest point but whatever. Ain’t no shame in walking for a minute.

The downhill portion was SUPAH FAST! I had to hold my horses a little actually because I don’t have a ton of experience going fast down steep hills and I knew there was still a lot more race to go once I got back onto the “flat” below. Still, I got a little recovery in and got a few seconds back, which was good. Took my first gel at this point, around 45 minutes in.

Once I got out of the downhill section, it was right turn continuing down River Road for another, oh, 4ish miles. I’ve been biking this road a lot the last few weeks so by now, I know it pretty well. This was good as I was able to pace myself through the ups and downs leading to the turnaround at mile 8. I started creeping down into the 8:19, 8:22 min/mile pace and thought, “I’d better slow my roll” a little. I finished my 10K in well under and hour and was feeling good but I really wanted a sub-2 and didn’t want to lose it before the home stretch. So I did my best to lock it in at 8:44 for as long as possible. The rollers made this difficult but not impossible.

I started catching up to folks around mile 6 and passing people soon after. I absolutely LOVE running without headphones on these races because you get to listen to everyone else breathing. I’ll sidle up next to someone, listen to their breath, hear how labored it is and realize they’re working WAY harder than I am. This gives me a big mental boost and normally I just cruise right past them.

I’ve also started doing this thing–and I’m not totally proud of myself but whatever–where I creep up behind someone who’s in front of me and I just stay there for a minute or so, a few paces behind and just to the side, until they realize I’m there. I know they know I’m there because they will inevitably turn their head back just a little bit to see me. Once I know they’ve spotted me, I stay there for another minute. Sometimes they speed up, sometimes they don’t. If they do, I figure they’re scared. So I speed up too, knowing I’ve got the breath to maintain the increase in pace. If I do this long enough, they either bonk and slow down or I just end up passing them anyway. But either way, they’re psyched out and less likely to try and catch up. Mean, I know. But whatever. It’s the boxer in me.

I was really hoping that I’d be able to cruise down below the 8min/mile mark after mile 9 but it just was not happening. I even ended up slowing down a bit in the last mile. It was my legs more than anything. I took a lot of gel on this run, more than I have in the last few halfs. One 20 minutes before, one 45 minutes in and one (with caffeine) at the turnaround point. I even went back to the caffeinated gel in the last bit of race to see if there was any left. No such luck. I had an extra but didn’t want to waste the time struggling to get it open.

I checked my watch with about 600 meters left and was at 1:53. I had the very fleeting thought that I might be able to kill myself and beat my Key Biscayne PR (1:54:57). But I turned a corner and didn’t see the finish and realized I was already killing myself and since you can’t be more dead than dead, I’d just be happy with a sub-2. When I crossed the finish, I felt OK. Not sick but definitely not in my right mind. I think I said, “HOLY SHIT that was hard,” to the woman taking our bib tags for the raffle. Then I walked it all off for five minutes before shoveling a hand full of Skittles and an orange wedge into my face along with three cups of Gatorade.

The Austrian finished the 10K in something insane like 36 minutes and Danica finished in something equally absurd like 45 minutes. They both got 4th place in their respective genders. This was a really tough field, despite its being so small and I am very pleased with my performance. I ended up 21st overall and 5th in my AG. This is one of those races I was happy about as soon as it was over. Mostly because I followed it up with a Bloody Mary and breakfast at Creekside! Not a shabby way to spend the morning.

For those of you who care about such things, my roller coaster splits:

  • Mile 1: 9:09.15
  • Mile 2: 8:51.89
  • Mile 3: 9:42.23 (Part 1 of the big climb)
  • Mile 4: 9:56.52 (Part 2 of the big climb)
  • Mile 5: 8:18.06 (Downhill)
  • Mile 6: 8:44.18
  • Mile 7: 8:41.67
  • Mile 8: 9:03.49
  • Mile 9: 8:38.03
  • Mile 10: 8:33.25
  • Mile 11: 8:42.60
  • Mile 12: 8:19.71
  • Mile 13: 8:25.38
  • Final .26 Mile: 2:19.98
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7 Responses to “Race Report: Mountain Madness Half Marathon, Steamboat Springs”

  1. nomeatbarefeet July 2, 2012 at 1:44 am #

    The is nothing like FINALLY winning a raffle prize! Great job on the race. I wish I could find more trail 1/2 marathons around me. Love that distance.

    • mymultipersonality July 2, 2012 at 6:53 am #

      I’m really starting to love this distance as well. long enough to feel like an accomplishment but short enough so you can still push the pace. full marathon not for me right now but the 1/2 is great. this was all road though, no trail. might try a 4 mile trail race in a couple of wks. but will def take that one super easy as my trail skills are beginner at best.

  2. isaac976 July 2, 2012 at 8:23 am #

    I was reading … and all I can remember is the 1hr 57min and 13.26m .. haha .. AWESOME ! CONGRATS !

  3. AndrewGills July 2, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    Congratulations on your fantastic achievement. And on the raffle prize!! That’s pretty cool.

    I won a Garmin Edge 800 GPS from the raffle in the first race I entered last season. I’d never owned a GPS before and hadn’t thought that I’d want one. Now I use it ALL the time for navigation, training, racing and geocaching.

  4. iwanttobeatriathlete July 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    You rock, woman! You will be feared when you come back to the Alien ranks!

    • mymultipersonality July 3, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

      I have not left the Alien ranks. I’m just spreading alien love all across the continent. As for the fear, that’s the plan, man!

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