Saturday, February 7, 2015

Burning River for Ben: Super Half Marathon


Every year in Colorado Springs, on Super Bowl Sunday, the Pikes Peak Road Runners put on the Super Half Marathon and 5k. It has grown steadily each year setting a record of over 1,100 runners this year. I’ve never done this race and this year I decided it would be a milestone marker to begin specific training for the Burning River 100. Up to this point I have been getting back into the habit of running after a year of mountain bike racing, steadily building the miles but continuing to ride my bike and workout at the gym. From the Super Half to Burning River is exactly six months, a good time to start specific Burning River training.

I went to the Super Half with no expectations other than to run a smart race. It’s and out and back course along the Santa Fe Trail, slightly uphill on the way out and slightly downhill on the way back. My plan was to go out relaxed and keep the pace relatively easy then run a faster second half.  Problem is I didn’t stick to the plan.

Dave, Cristina, Roswitha, and Terry all smiles before the start.
Cristina, Larry, and Terry ran the 1/2 Marathon and Roswitha ran the 5K
From the start I was with a group that hit the 1st mile at 6:51… Ouch! Most of my running for the last four months has been 10:00 min per mile and slower. This was way too fast! But it felt easy and comfortable. I slowed down to what I thought was significant and the next mile was 7:01. I got into a pack of about five and we knocked out three 7:02 miles in a row. I felt relaxed but wondered if I could keep this pace for 13 miles. At mile six one guy surged and for some reason I went with him. We knocked out two 6:58 miles and then he pulled away. This is where things started falling apart. As he pulled away I could feel my hamstrings begin to tighten like banjo strings. I was sure I was going to cramp or pull a muscle. I shortened my stride and tried my best to relax. We were just over half way and I was tying up all over. My pace slowed and every time I tried to push it, I would tie up even more and slow even more.  I had arguments with myself; one side was saying "think only positive thoughts, focus on staying relaxed", the other side was saying "you idiot why did you go out so fast, why did you work out at the gym yesterday, man my hamstrings are going to snap, I feel like I’m running backwards so many people are passing me". No matter what I thought I was slowing down; 7:06, 7:11, 7:17, 7:19, 7:20, and finally I was able to shut my mind off and run the last mile in 7:16.

I finished a bit upset with myself for running such a stupid race and having such negative thoughts. The second half should have been faster; it was downhill. I felt like I was running backwards and a million people passed me. (Turns out only four passed as I dropped from 37th to 41st overall from the turn-around point). Roswitha kept saying that she was sure I won my age group because she didn’t see any old guys come in. I was sure I wasn’t even in the top five. Turns out that somehow I not only won the old farts category but set an age group course record in the process... That was a surprise.

I left everything out on the course

Never -EVER thought I would own a trophy with a football on it!
So I planned on starting in earnest training for the Burning River 100 this week. Problem was that pace left me so sore I couldn’t do much more than hobble the next couple days. By Wednesday I was feeling good but had a 7:00 AM meeting at work. Normally I get up at 4:00 or 4:30 AM to run 1 to 2 hours before work then ride my bike 45 – 50 min to work, then shower and be at my desk between 7:30 and 8:00. For this meeting I got up at 3:30 cut my run a bit short and took a shorter route to work. The meeting was cancelled. No big deal I slept very well that night.


Training is now real, six months to the start. And please remember I am working with a group to raise money for the Children’s Cancer Ward at the Akron Children’s Hospital. They serve cancer stricken children from all over the country and do an incredible job. Every dollar helps make this very rough time just a little more tolerable for these kids and their families. We've created a tax -exempt non-profit and we are dedicating our 100 mile race to an incredibly brave young man named Ben. Ben picked this organization because they do so much for the kids. All donations will be in his honor. Please donate if you feel it in you at BurningRiverForBen. Thanks!