ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
[personal profile] ilanarama
Yesterday I ran the Kendall Mountain Run in 3:17:45, making both my goals of a) under 3:30 and b) not falling. I felt a little guilty when I proudly announced my time on Facebook and a few people thought it was a marathon time (26.2 miles), since it's about five minutes under my marathon PR and a plausible result - at least if you didn't know that I haven't been training for a marathon, or that I've had a big slowdown in the past few years. So then I hastily added that it was for a 12-mile race, which immediately had people boggling in the opposite direction, considering my half marathon PR (13.1 miles) is less than half that time! But it becomes more understandable when you see the elevation profile:

The course runs up a freakin' MOUNTAIN. (And back down again.) I didn't take pictures, but for some historical background and video shots of runners on the course (all much faster than me) from previous years, the organizers have put a nifty video on Facebook.

My friend Doug, who was also running, picked me up at 6am for the drive to Silverton, where we picked up our packets and then wandered around town seeing who else was running. My friend Ryan, who has gotten into running recently (and is as good at that as she is at everything else!) had texted me the night before about the possibility of registering last-minute, but decided to go hiking instead, but she was there at the start to cheer us on; I also recognized a half-dozen runners from our local club.

The first 3/4 mile of the course was on the dirt streets of the town, and actually very slightly downhill; I averaged 8:30 pace, knowing it would be the fastest I'd see all day. Sure enough, as soon as we crossed the bridge over the Animas River, the course headed uphill, and my overall first-mile (by Garmin) split slowed to 10:20 - which was still the fastest split of the day. That accounted for about 170 vertical feet, all in the last quarter mile.

The next two miles gained about 510 and 580 feet respectively, and both alternated moderate runnable sections with stretches where I and everyone else slowed to a walk. This is why I'm so slow at mountain trail races; I can run reasonably fast uphill, but I'm a slow walker, and as soon as I switched over to walking a bunch of people (also walking) passed me. When I could run again, sometimes I could pass them again, but pretty soon I had dropped back to a point where the people around me were walking about the same speed as I was. Amusingly, my overall pace for both these miles was the same, 16:47.

I stopped briefly to refill my handheld water bottle at the Deer Park aid station at mile 3.3. This was where the spur road we took to begin our late-June weekend backpack branched off, and also where the 11k race option - offered for the first time this year - turned around. I had already seen the first few people doing the shorter race on their way down.

They also had food typical for ultra races, candies and cookies and pretzels and dates. I grabbed a small handful of dates as I left the aid station. I ate one, but my stomach rebelled on the second, so I stuck the others I'd grabbed into a pocket. I'd only had a home-made granola bar for breakfast and felt like I ought to be hungry, but I was on the edge of nausea, possibly because I hadn't slept well the previous two nights.

My Garmin buzzed mile 4 at me (there were no mile markers on the course) at just under an hour eight minutes into the race, with a split of 24:06 (and 880' ascent), and shortly after that - I glanced at my watch and it was 4.10 miles for me, so something like 1:10 after the gun - the first 12-mile runner passed me on his way down the mountain, hauling ass like a bear was after him. Think about it: I had just passed the 4 mile mark, which meant he was about to hit his 8 mile mark. He finished in 1:31:05, a course record, and incidentally well before I hit the halfway point at the summit!

Mile 5 was similar to mile 4, a bit over 25 minutes to climb 825 feet. I was definitely slowing down due to the altitude by this point. My HR was also dropping, as it typically does at higher elevation. More and more people were coming down now, and I tried to stay out of their way. At this point I was at the back of the middle of the pack and maintaining position, rarely passing others, rarely being passed.

At 5.7 was the Notch aid station, which was a welcome sight as I had run out of water. I refilled my handheld and headed for the end of the road a couple hundred feet away...which is where the trail begins.

Calling it a 'trail' is an insult to trails everywhere, as it's more of a route, steep, loose, and rocky. I ended up reversing my handheld so it hung from the back of my hand rather than my palm, so I could use my hands to help me climb. The final part of the ascent rose 300 feet in about a tenth of a mile - and it took me four minutes, or a blazing pace of over 40 minutes/mile. This was partly because now more people were coming down than going up, and I had to stop frequently to let them pass. (Okay, and to breathe, too.) But eventually I hit the summit, where a guy with a clipboard recorded my bib number to prove I'd made it; I bopped the top of the cairn with my hand and said "ding!", hit the lap button on my Garmin (for a split of 0.9 miles in a bit more than 31 minutes, or just under 34 minute pace on the 700-foot climb) and then headed back down.

It was not really much faster going down the trail than it had been going up! I saw my friend Doug, who was about ten minutes behind me at that point (he finished about half an hour after me, as he took it easier on the downhill; he would have won his M70-79 AG if they'd had one, as he was the only person over 70 in the race), and worked my way past the people who were still climbing. I did pass a few people who were ahead of me, amazingly enough, as I slid down the dirt and rocks as fast as I dared. Then I was on the jeep road again. I passed the aid station, and turned on the afterburners.

Well, as much afterburner as I had, anyway. It had rained hard the night before, so the road surface was less loose and slippery than it would have been otherwise, probably why the winner had a record time. And by this point, there were only a few people still on their way up, so I rarely had to move off what seemed to be the best line to take in order to dodge them. On the other hand, my legs hurt! I was exhausted! It was so hard to run, and running actually fast seemed impossible. My first split off the top was 17:16, which included the trail scramble down from the top. After that, my miles ranged between about 10:40 and 11:20, which for me is quite slow considering I was going downhill. I did manage to not walk the flat and slightly-uphill stretches, but it was a struggle.

Finally, finally, I hit the bridge and the entrance to town. I was running pretty much alone by now; there was one guy about 30 seconds ahead of me, and nobody within sight behind me. Tourists on the sidewalks cheered as I trudged along the dirt roads to the finish. The awards ceremony was already going on, and coincidentally, I passed under the finish arch just as they gave the trophy to the winner of my age group, F50-59, a local woman who has run this race for 18 years, and probably won her age group every time. I had seen her flying by on the way down while I was somewhere past mile 5. She beat me by a little more than 34 minutes. Also, she's four years older than me.

My final statistics were not actually that great. I came in 188th overall out of 236, 62/87 women, 5/6 in my 10-year age group (nearly an hour ahead of #6). Actually there were only four women older than me in the race - the F60-69 AG contained one 68-year-old - and all of them beat me! Oh, well. I have not been running nearly as much as I was back when I regularly ran this type of mountain race, so I'm not really surprised. I'm happy enough that I beat my nominal goal of 3:30, and most especially, that I didn't add any new scabs to those currently healing on my knees!

Now, my legs hurt like you wouldn't believe, though I don't think I actually injured anything, just overused the muscles of my quads and glutes. Hopefully everything will feel good by next Saturday, when we head out into the wilderness for a week of backpacking. Then it will be time to turn my exercise attention to mountain biking in preparation for the Telluride-to-Moab ride in September. But I'll still be running 3-4 days a week, including attending the club track workouts, and hopefully by the time October comes around, I'll be ready to run a decent half marathon, and maybe even sign up for a late fall/early winter marathon.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-07-23 11:37 pm (UTC)
semielliptical: woman running in a field (running)
From: [personal profile] semielliptical
That is quite an intimidating elevation profile- congrats on a hard effort, and on not falling! (Not falling is my primary goal for every trail race.)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-07-30 05:56 pm (UTC)
blnchflr: Captain America Civil War (Default)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
Running up a mountain with nausea ;____;

Congrats on finishing and not falling!


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

August 2017

131415 16171819
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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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