Yesterday I ran my first trail race. Matt and I got up at 6am ate some oatmeal for breakfast and headed out the door by 6:50. We got to Beaver Creek around 7:30 went and picked up our packets and t-shirts and went for a little jog to warm up our muscles. It was brisk in the morning, 35 degrees when we left summit, and around 45 degrees in Beaver Creek when we got there.
Ten minutes before start time we headed down to the starting line and waited with everyone else. The announcer made it a point to remind everyone that this would be the one of the hardest of the Endurance Race Series that we were running. He asked if it was anyone’s first trail race, and then preceded to tell us that we had picked a tough one.
The race information said the 10k was 700ft and the half marathon was 1,400ft. I ran my Strava app on my phone while running the 10k and it said 1,342ft. Matt ran the half and his said 2,700ft. And I believe it.
The course started out in Creek Side Park in downtown Beaver Creek. The first mile gained 300ft of elevation from a starting elevation of approximately 8,000ft. I started towards the back of the pack and had an 11 minute pace to start. We ran through some backyards on the grass and gradual singletrack. The second mile was much steeper and was a total gain of 421ft. It was composed of steep switchbacks up the side of the mountain. Like a lot of other runners my pace slowed way down to get through this part of the race.
After the steep uphill was a downhill section for 2 miles and I kicked it into gear and started running around a 10 minute pace. This was my favorite part of the race, I ate a couple ProBolts and took off down some steep single track in the woods. There were some logs to jump over, and I had to move quickly to avoid trees and roots. This is the kind of running I do on my own time and have a lot of practice with, so I felt really great. A couple of half marathoners were running with me at this point and I met a nice guy from Toronto who told me I had great footwork. We ran together and chatted for awhile and then when we hit mile 5, he took off and I slowed down to catch my breath going uphill again.
This part of the trail was on a dirt road and then up a gravel path. Running on the gravel almost felt like quicksand. My legs were definitely feeling it now. At this point I had distanced myself from other runners and ate two more ProBolts and for all of mile 6 and the next .2 I was sprinting downhill to the finish at an 8 minute pace. I placed 2nd in my age group and 31st (out of 97). Not too bad for my first race! Matt finished first in his age group and 14th (out of 68).
I really enjoyed running in the race. It is nice how running with a pack really motivates you to run a little faster, work a little harder and come out with a better time than you expected. I was very surprised to be called to the stage for 2nd place in my age division, and I got a free pair of socks. Matt got a pint glass for his 1st place in his age division win. We both were very happy leaving the race. And we even stopped at the Avon Bakery for lunch (which is the best bakery in Colorado IMHO). And guess what? I signed up for my first half marathon (Run the Rockies Trail) next weekend in Frisco. I guess you could say I got the race fever.
Big Thanks to Running Guru for the photos!