Defn: a human male displaying evidence of devolution - exhibits distinctive "caveman-like" tendencies. This man often dribbles in public places; cannot drink a beverage without spilling it on himself, the floor or someone else; may also run into objects like lampposts & bushes; has a definite "sloopish & short legged" running style that is slow and low to the ground, often resulting in the dragging of knuckles.

These throwback neanderthals, along with their questionable diet, should clearly be avoided.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Slacker Half Marathon Race report

The race is billed as "...the highest DOWNHILL half marathon in the country...." and with almost 2500' of elevation drop, it results in speedy race times.   Mixed into the race is some climbing - more like gradual slopes - but with the downhill taking it's toll, 166' of elevation gain feels like so much more.

Starting in a sea of Sports Bra's and Compression socks at the Loveland Ski area at 8:15 am, temparatures were already pushing 60 degrees.  By the time I finished in Georgetown it was mid 70's and climbing.  I believe the heat did take it's toll somewhat, at least it certainly required paying attention to diligent hydration.

Was a bit of a dusty start as the herd set off down a dirt connector road through the ski field for the first 2/3 of a mile before we came to a paved bike path for the next 5 miles.

I really wanted to hold back at the start, without being held back by the crowds.  So I settled into a pace that carried me through the dirt stretch, mostly getting passed by people who were enjoying the downhill, but forgetting that the race was 13.1 miles long.  So, as soon as we hit the paved bike path and started a gradual upslope - the herd slowed.  It required some weaving through the crowd to keep up my momentum. 

At mile 1 my pace was 7:07, a little slower than I wanted to be.  I had decided at the start to set my watch to record mile splits, but was only going to watch the average pace.  My goal was to get through the first 3 miles at a 6:58 to 7 minute average.

Finish goals were to PR and beat 1:36:06 - a 7:20 average.  I felt very confident that I could do that.  Realistic and probably #1 goal was 7 minute miles average.  This too would be a challenge as I had run a (flat) 10K the weekend before at a 7 minute pace and thought that might (hopefully) translate okay into the 1/2 marathon distance that was mostly downhill.  If the planets aligned then I would get under a 1:30 finish time - but that would require a pace of 6:52 per mile.  In hindsight, I don't believe I have that ability.  Not going to write it off, but not going to anticipate it either.

Back to the race..... I didn't really care about if I was passing people or if they were passing me, I was intent on staying with the pace in mind, trying to watch that I didn't overstride on the steeper descents so as to really crush the quads.  I was also focused on making sure I grabbed enough water at the aid stations (every 2 miles).  I carried with me a secret weapon.
I learnt last year that Gel Packs and the like just don't sit well with me - so in trying stuff, these are the latest and greatest things I am trying on longer runs.  For the Slacker I had a couple every couple of miles.  I think they helped.  Mile 8 I had a bit of a problem with them when I choked / gagged a little trying to swallow some, but survived.

So as we made out way down the bike path I pushed forward and by mile 5 I was down to a 6:55 average.  I was feeling quite good, miles were clicking by easy and seemed fast.  Legs were good.  No pain at all in the knees or hips.  Temparature wasn't a problem as we were in the shade of the trees for most of the first 6 miles.  So far, so good.

At mile 6 we hit the next aid station and I knew from the previous 2 times I had run the race that a bit of a climb would follow.  We were now off the bike path and onto a paved road, plus into the direct sunlight and quickly warming temparatures.  It was only a 1/4 of a mile and (according to the Garmin) only 86 feet of climb.  But all of a sudden my legs felt like lead. 

My only regret in the race was that I possibly didn't eat enough for breakfast.  We had bananas with us, but left them behind in Georgetown by mistake.  That extra bit of fuel may have helped in that moment and for the rest of the race - perhaps the fish were just not enough.

Fortunately, the up section soon ended and we started down again.  By this time I was running mostly by myself.  Every so often I came up alongside and passed another runner.  I really had no idea where I was as far as place was concerned.  I was still doing okay, bouncing around the average pace between 6:53 and 6:58.

Coming into the aid station at mile 8 I realized I was starting to get quite dehydrated and had to make a conscious decision to get more fluids into my system.  So I walked through it, taking in 2 gatorade cups and 3 cups of water.  I realized then that getting a finish time of sub 1:30 was likely out of reach.  If I were to push it then I might have really overheated.  So, I instead went to plan B - trying to stay at 7 minute average or better.

I went into mile 8 aid station at a 6:55 average, mile 9 was then run in 7:17 and potentially my wheels were about to fall off.  The heat was now a factor, I was thirsty and my quads were now more than a little shaky.  For some reason - for which I was really grateful - there was another aid station at mile 9.  More fluids.  More fishies.  I pressed on, trying to hang on.

As we came into mile 10 we hit another flat, if not slightly uphill section and crossed under I-70 - which provided a bit of shade and relief, but also some slowing.  Coming out the other side we then would run right alongside I-70 for about 1 1/2 miles.  I quickly caught up to 2 other runners who were walking.  One of them, whom I later found out was the 2nd placed Woman, latched on behind me.

She stayed right behind me, dragging, drafting and I got a little frustrated - but in reality she was pushing me forward and it kept me on track.  She stuck with me till mile 11 and the next aid station.  I slowed to a brief walk again here and took on a bunch of fluids.  This was right around the steepest part of the course.  Quads were cooked by now, average pace was at 6:58.

I thought ahead of what the rest of the course held.  Fortunately the night before we had driven the last mile of the course and then walked the last 1/2 mile to see several more sections of climbing gradual upslope.  It was about a 1/2 mile of weaving through the town of Georgetown.

I knew that I needed some time to bank - as that last half mile was going to be a struggle.  Mile 11 was my fastest mile of the day.  6:33.  I also passed several more people during that section, the girl who had latched on at mile 10 dropped behind me.

Almost done, entering Georgetown and the flat and slightly uphill sections began.  I was grinding, suffering and so thirsty.  But I was still moving and passing by people that were now walking.  It was tough, mile 13 came as my slowest mile of the day (7:17) and the last .1 of a mile was a bit of a blur.

I crossed the line at 1:31:36 (official time was 37 - but my watch / time looks better) for a 4 1/2 minute PR, 5th in my age group and surprisingly 39th overall (1664 finishers).

As for the family, my son rocked a new PR also.  Taking 8 minutes off his best and finishing at about 1:46 - taking 2nd in his age group and getting a nice medal to go with it.  My wife beat her goal time also and finished in the top 29 percent of finishers.
Dude in the orange is my kid
It was a good race, factoring in the PR and my finishing place being one of my best ever.  Ultimately it was good training for the Pikes Peak marathon (especially the descent).  We are all really happy with our results and efforts - and already looking forward to next year. 


  1. Nice race report - and great time! I never new of this race; might have to check it out next year as it is in my 'hood.