Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fall Series III

I came down with a cold immediately following the marathon. The cold, combined with the soreness in my legs, kept me from running for two weeks following the race. I spent about 1.5 days after the race sitting around icing my sore ankle and soaking in the experience of what happened on race day. After that, I was pissed. Pissed that I did so poorly. Pissed that I really hadn’t prepared enough (despite convincing myself that I had). Pissed that my legs hurt so bad (both during the race and afterwards). It was then, when the sense of defeat gave way to anger, that I searched the internet for another marathon—I had to redeem myself. I had to truly conquer the distance. Of course, living in Colorado meant that the Denver marathon towards the end of October was the last marathon of the season. There wasn’t another local 26.2 until the following spring. The next closest race was in Arizona but with the holidays coming up I didn’t have enough time off of work to travel for running. Redemption would have to wait. But, it was time to get back on the trail.

I visited the website for the Pikes Peak Road Running Club and noticed that the 3rd race of their Fall Series was the following day. I hadn’t run any previous races in the series because I was focused on the marathon and the distances of the races were too short to fit into my training. The 6 miles of trail running for race number 3 would be a perfect first post-marathon run.

The race began with one lap around the track of a middle-school and then veered onto the trails of Ute Valley Park. Ute Valley Park is a section of open space that has miles of trails with steep inclines covered in rocks and roots. After the first mile on the trail the pain in my legs let me know that they weren’t fully healed from the marathon. No problem, my I.T. band issues had gotten me used to running with pain. The course went onto single-track at mile 1.5 or so and didn’t get off for a mile or two. This time was frustrating as I got stuck to far back in the pack and the pace was much slower than I would have liked. Passing was impossible and I only gained one spot when the runner directly in front of me caught his foot on a tree root and tumbled to the ground (I stopped to help him up before continuing…in front of him).

By the time the course was again wide enough for passing it was incredibly steep and made doing so nearly impossible. I was now in the last 1/3 of the race and I was exhausted. The steep inclines and the technical terrain had taken its toll on my not fully recovered body and mind. I walked the inclines and ran when I could. I finished the race with a time of almost exactly 1 hour. Over 6 miles my average pace was 10:00—much slower than I could normally run but for the first run after the marathon it served its purpose. It got me back on the trail and pushed me harder than I probably would have otherwise pushed myself. Time to get back in the game.

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