ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
[personal profile] ilanarama
This is it! The weekend of the Durango Running Festival, resurrected from the ashes of 2006 by race director Matt Kelly and the sponsorship of the Animas Surgical Hospital. When I ran the marathon portion (only) in 2006 I thought that it might be fun the following year to do the "double half" - the 25K trail race on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday - but then the race went out of business. When it was announced that the Durango Double was being revived, I jumped at the chance.

So today I ran the first half of my double, the Horse Gulch 25K. The course includes trails I run (and mountain bike) all the time, so I was in relatively familiar territory. The race started with about a mile and a half (all distances are by Garmin, as there were no mile markers) of the Animas River Trail, which is a paved rec path and mostly downhill here. This was nice because it allowed the 150-odd runners (118 of us running the 25K, the rest running the 50K) to sort ourselves out before hitting singletrack, but it also deceptively encouraged too-fast running, and my first mile was run in 7:40. After we crossed the river (on a bridge), though, we hit an uphill dirt trail, crossed a road, and began climbing in earnest.

I tried to keep my level of effort (and heart rate) approximately marathon-level, bearing in mind that I'd have to run a half marathon tomorrow. I ran most of the trail but did walk in the steep bits, and got passed by several people. I told myself I'd pass them later, but I really only passed a very few during the whole race. Pretty much everyone who passed me on this uphill was a guy; although I wasn't really keeping track, I figured I was in about 5th or 6th place among the women.

Somewhere about the third or fourth mile, past an aid station where I picked up an energy gel to carry along, I found myself running alone. I could see a group of three men ahead of me, occasionally disappearing behind a curve; behind me I could hear two women talking (and TALKING and TALKING, SHUT UP LADIES, how do you have enough breath to run uphill and talk at the same time? GRR) but I couldn't see them, even on switchbacks where I could look down and see the trail I'd just run.

mile    pace     +/- ft   avg HR   max HR
1.00	7:40.77	   -48	148 (74%) 168 (90%) 0:07:40.67
2.00	9:34.37	  +213	165 (87%) 174 (95%) 0:17:14.92 (Spurious HR here)
3.00	9:49.02	  +183	160 (84%) 165 (88%) 0:27:03.81
4.00	12:21.00  +366	160 (83%) 165 (88%) 0:39:24.65
5.00	11:09.37  +235	161 (84%) 164 (87%) 0:50:33.88

Shortly after my watch beeped mile 5 (5.2) the big climb finally flattened out and contoured around the ridge, and I knew it was time for the big plunge. The Anasazi Descent is a trail I don't like to run and am terrified of on the mountain bike. I tried to keep my speed up, but soon enough I heard the chatter of the noisy women behind me (and their elephant-like tread) and knew they were catching me. When the grade eased from "terrifying" to merely "scary", first one and then the other passed me. I was kind of bummed to see my relative position deteriorate so quickly! But I was at least able to keep them in my sight once the descent finished and we turned onto the much gentler Meadow Loop.

I had looked at the course map ahead of time and knew - or thought I knew - that we would take this trail to its intersection with Stacy's Trail, which ascends in big, easy switchbacks to another intersection; the 50K people would peel off onto Mike's Trail, and the 25K would descend Stacy's. (This is a loop I mountain bike frequently, and often run, so I know it very well.) There were people with bikes standing at the intersection and I saw the two women ahead of me turn onto Stacy's. But to my surprise, when I got to the intersection, the people - who turned out to be course marshals - waved me to the left, to stay on the Meadow Loop trail.

Sure enough, it was flagged with red - the 25K was flagged in red tape and the 50K with blue, and both colors had adorned the trails to this point. This meant the two women were actually running the 50K and not competing with me, hooray! (But this evening I looked at the online course map again, and I really think that the course was mis-marked and we were indeed supposed to take Stacy's, with the 50K split at Mike's. This would also help explain why the course was a bit short by my Garmin - although trail races are always short by GPS because of the switchbacks.)

The Meadow loop is fairly flat, and after a short time it goes gently downhill. A man caught up with me here but didn't want to pass, and we chatted a little as we ran toward the midpoint aid station. (Now, don't get on my case for doing what I'd just complained about...we were going DOWNHILL. We had plenty of lungs to chat!) I also ate about half my energy gel. At the bottom of the Meadow loop, Batman pointed us toward the aid station, where I dumped the gel packet and refilled my handheld water bottle. (Okay, it was an 8-year-old or so kid dressed in a Batman costume, along with his dad who was the official course marshal there.) Then I turned back toward the meadow loop and toward the second big climb of the day, the Telegraph Trail which parallels the Anasazi Descent up the ridge but is a lot gentler. I let the man behind me pass me just as the trail began to get steep.

I ran most of this uphill as well, but the top is really steep (I've never even tried to bike the top part) and so I walked it. The course marshal greeted me with, "Good job! And there's a lady right behind you," so I immediately started running again so she wouldn't pass me. (She didn't! HAH!) At this point the trail rejoined the trail I'd taken up, so now I'd be retracing my steps until I recrossed the road at the bottom. The top of the hill was about 9.3 miles from my start - now it was pretty much downhill all the way, yippee!

mile    pace     +/- ft   avg HR   max HR
6.00	10:26.79  -422	160 (83%) 164 (87%)	1:01:00.54
7.00	 9:09.08  -110	157 (80%) 162 (85%)	1:10:09.50
8.00	10:08.01  +120	160 (83%) 164 (87%)	1:20:17.38
9.00	12:56.99  +336	160 (83%) 162 (85%)	1:33:14.20

Shortly after starting down I passed the last outbound runners (walkers). But the trail system wasn't closed, and I did encounter a couple of mountain bikers as well as some people walking their dogs. Fortunately everyone was aware a race was in progress and gave me the right-of-way (and hung onto their dogs).

A couple of miles from the end of the trail, a guy passed me wearing huaraches, basically old tire tread held onto his feet with thongs. He finished just a little ahead of me, and I asked him whether he'd made his shoes - he had! I was mostly running by myself, which helped me psychologically in keeping my pace a little slower than I was capable of running (and saving myself for the run the next day), but I made sure to stay ahead of the woman I knew was not far behind me.

I came out at the trailhead and crossed the road, thanking the policeman who was stopping traffic, and ran down toward the river. Instead of crossing the river and rejoining the paved path we had started on, the course stayed on a trail that I've biked on a few times - it's an pretty flat along the river as it runs along an old railroad grade, but then it climbs a few steep switchbacks back up to the frontage road and the finish line. I was by then pretty sure that the distance would end up being quite a bit less than the 15.5 nominal distance; because of this, and because I was running a lot faster than I had expected, I knew Britt would not yet be at the finish line. (I had told him I expected to be in sometime between 10:45 and 11:15, not having much of an idea how long it would take but guessing around 3 hours; I was going to come in at under 2:30.)

They had a chip-reading mat set up just before the last turn to the finish chute so the announcer would know people's names, but she's a friend of mine and recognized my bouncing ponytail before the readout flashed on her screen. It was great to cross the line and get some delicious local beer and pizza!

mile    pace     +/- ft   avg HR   max HR
10.00	10:54.65   -74	157 (81%) 162 (85%)	1:44:08.71
11.00	9:48.07	  -248	155 (79%) 161 (84%)	1:53:56.65
12.00	8:49.88	  -263	153 (78%) 159 (83%)	2:02:46.42
13.00	8:47.56	  -302	154 (78%) 159 (82%)	2:11:33.87
14.00	9:07.08	   +25	159 (82%) 164 (87%)	2:20:40.83
14.17	7:42.29	    -7	162 (85%) 164 (87%)	2:21:59.17

Britt showed up and felt bad about missing my finish even though it was my "fault" for running so fast. But he did take a nice picture:


Final stats: gun time 2:21:54, chip time I was the 5th woman finisher (out of 71), and won a pint-glass trophy for 1st in age group 40-49F, but actually the 3rd woman overall was in my age group (she is 41, though, and I am 49!) so I'm really second - but they don't "double-dip" the awards. I was the 25th human being to finish, out of 116.

Tomorrow: the second half...

(no subject)

Date: 2012-10-07 11:09 pm (UTC)
thalia: Delirium from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic (Default)
From: [personal profile] thalia
I just cheated and checked the results from the half, and, wow!!! You totally rock! I can't imagine two races like that in a row--especially with all the hills in the trail race.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-10-08 12:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes you do rock and got second place in my book. Thanks for the advice earlier in the week

(no subject)

Date: 2012-10-08 03:28 am (UTC)
delurker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] delurker
I love your super-bright shorts!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-10-09 09:13 am (UTC)
delurker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] delurker
Is this a strategy? Distract the other racers while you overtake them? ;)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-10-08 09:52 am (UTC)
meri_oddities: default - Woman looking out a window (Default)
From: [personal profile] meri_oddities
Congratulations. I'm seriously impressed with your accomplishments. I've done 2 races back to back like this, but I was slow for both of them. Still, it's a fun challenge to do it.

And it sounds like a fun event. Think they'll do it next year?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-10-08 03:00 pm (UTC)
traveller42: (Default)
From: [personal profile] traveller42
Congrats on the great race!

I'll wait to read the second part. :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-10-10 11:00 am (UTC)
blnchflr: Running (running)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
That's so impressive, with impressive on top considering it's only the first of the two races - off to read the sequel!


ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)

August 2017

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My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31

You can reach me by email at heyheyilana @


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