Monday, October 8, 2012

Xterra Cheyenne Mountain Marathon Race Report

Team CRUD had a pretty good day at the Xterra Cheyenne Mountain Marathon and Half Marathon Saturday. Three entries, three podiums! Dan Vega won the overall men’s half marathon, Shannon Meredith won the overall women’s full marathon, and I rounded it out by winning the old farts category in the marathon. And for icing on the cake, Jeff Mulder, a good friend, running his first marathon, ran the perfect race by running the second half one minute faster than the first half. All in all, a fantastic day!

I decided to do the Xterra marathon about a month ago while out running the course with Jeff. Cheyenne Mountain State Park has beautiful trails with a nice flow of rolling hills that that were so fun I signed up as soon as I got home. This would be Jeff’s first marathon and he was running strong, and in training seemed to be doing everything right. With over 3,000 ft of climbing it’s a pretty tough marathon for a first timer.

So Jeff and I arrived at the start to a nice freezing drizzle with every indication that the weather was going to hang around for a while. No worries, just adds to the adventure. Besides I had bandages on my nipples!
Video of the start

After the first half mile or so I settled into what felt like a comfortable and semi fast pace. Shannon pulled up beside me and we ran together the entire first (of two) lap. The first hill seemed a lot longer than I remembered from the elevation profile, so I thought we must have already went over it and we were on the first of four big climbs. That was not the case; we descended a bit then started the first real climb in earnest; eight hundred feet in three miles. The descent never really felt like a descent because it was rolling with lots of short climbs on the way down. Shannon and I talked quite a bit during our time together and we were just cruising along. We ran a couple technical sections and I felt pretty good hopping through the rock gardens. Eventually we came upon the second big climb, about 500 feet in two miles. The descent again was rolling with a couple of semi technical sections which brought us near the start/finish area before heading off for another lap.

As we started the climb on the second lap Shannon must have got bored with me because she took off. Actually, it only appeared that way. Our splits show that I slowed down significantly, as my second lap was almost 15 minutes slower than the first. Shannon just maintained the same speed. At about 17 miles I was struggling a bit and just kept telling myself, only 9 miles, piece of cake. Then just 8 miles, stay loose, no worries, relax, keep going. At 22 miles the final big climb and I got a bit of a second wind. Although I wasn’t sprinting up the mountain, I did run it fairly strong. Coming down though, I was in survival mode and not anywhere near as dainty going through the technical sections as on the first lap. The entire last two miles I was looking back almost as much as I was looking forward. No one caught me so I was able to cruise to the finish in 9th place overall, and 1st in the 50+. Shannon placed 6th overall and 1st  woman. Jeff came in shortly after placing 11th overall, running a very very strong first marathon on a tough course in cold & wet conditions. A great  CRUD day indeed!

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