So I drove to Pagosa Springs - with my mind on the fire and my family - but also with a desire to just get away from some strain and stress.
I scoped out a couple of different sections of the course later that evening. I had found a happy place. The 13 1/4 mile course was at least 12 miles of singletrack - almost all of it smooth, dirt and just simply beautiful.
Pagosa Springs sits just to the West of the Continental Divide at an elevation of 7200'. Scenic, rugged, beautiful.
I started the race way too fast, trying to get to the single track where I knew passing would be difficult due to the narrowness of the trail. Shortly after we started I reminded myself I was nowhere near race fitness condition - my focus should be on just running, enjoying myself and eventually finishing.
So the miles clicked off, the first 5 miles were a gradual downhill so I dialed back on the pace and just settled into what seemed doable, comfortable - it happened to be an 8 min pace.
The runners spread out and we all settled in. I was leading a conversational pack for several miles, chatting about the trail, fires, stuff. At 5 1/3 miles and about 42 minutes into it, we took a sharp right turn and began the gradual climb for the next 5 miles.
With the now gradual uphill, my pace slowed somewhat but so did that of others in front of me and behind. Our conversational group spread out, I began passing people. The miles continued to click by. I was enjoying myself, not pushing hard, but still putting forth effort. By now I had purposed in my mind that breaking 2 hours was not only a realistic goal - but doable.
A few steeper sections slowed me, definitely a lack of training and fitness being the cause. They were short however and eventually after 10 1/4 miles or so the trail leveled out. By now I was down to an 8:45 avg but feeling fairly good - no aches or pains in my ankle or knees. No lack of hydration and not looking to eat the bark off the pines and aspen trees.
So, I ratcheted up the effort a bit, and pressed forward. The trail snaked through the trees which were thin in areas, allowing glimpses of runners ahead. They became incentive to catch. For the next couple of miles I began thinking I didn't have enough miles left to catch up to those ahead. That is a thought I very rarely - if ever - have. I am usually wanting a race to be done. But here I was saying to myself - "give me more, I don't want to be done".
Alas - the trail ended and the last 3/4 mile was on a forestry road. I put my head down and upped my effort more, passing a few more people and eventually finishing the 13 1/4 miles in 1:53 and change. Good for 23rd place overall and 5th in the always speedy 40-49 yr old age division.
I was pleased with how I did - still early in training for my goal race in August - this was a good indicator to show that I have a ways to go to get to peak fitness, but I am heading in the right direction. It was such an enjoyable course to run on, the organization of it was first class and I would consider doing it again.
|Socks and a homemade finishers medal - made out of clay|