Monday, October 7, 2013

Redemption: Blue Sky Marathon Race Report

Last year, the Blue Sky Marathon was the first marathon I ever completed. I made some silly decisions, like camping the night before in a snow storm and eating some spicy noodles for dinner, which resulted in me never quite being able to warm up and also having to take two off trail excursions into the bushes. At the end of the day I was proud to have finished, but I gutted out the last 6 miles, walking almost all of the uphills, and finishing in just under 6 hours. I'm not the biggest fan of the course because I would much prefer to run loops in the Horsetooth Mountain part of the course instead of the rolling Blue Sky Trail out to Devil's Backbone, but I decided that I needed to do the race again to get a little trail redemption.

Ever since the end of August I've just been feeling burned out and my body was just telling me to quit for the season. I had put in some good miles with lots of runs in the 10-16 mile range, but since Mt. Werner I had only done one 20-miler. Also, after watching Cory complete such an epic adventure at UROC last weekend, I mentally couldn't get into the idea of running a marathon on a course that I had already experienced. Warning: If you are a guy the next sentence is about women stuff. The other unfortunate thing that happened is that the day before the race I was visited by my "monthly friend." I know why women don't really talk about it, because no one wants to hear about it, but I would rather run a race with a stress fracture than face race day with woman pains. There is a reason why Native-American women were sent to their own tent on the periphery of camp to suffer it out.

So race day came, and even though I wasn't so jazzed about the idea of running a marathon, at least I wasn't as anxious as I normally get before a race. It looked like the weather was going to be ideal and Nick Clark made some changes to the course due to the recent flooding. I was excited for a bit of new trail and it was going to add 350 feet of elevation gain in the Horsetooth section. Perfect... my cup of tea. 30 minutes before the race I took the good ol' I&I combination (Ibuprofen and Imodium) and I thought I was good to go.

The race started off comfortably. I know that I usually start out too fast, but I like to maximize my strengths so I thought it would be silly to take the Horsetooth section slower than my body wanted. I ran all of the uphills (it was more like a slow plod) and even though I started in a large group of women, I found myself overtaking most of them without really trying. I didn't feel like I was really pushing it, but when I got back to the Blue Sky aid station at mile 9, I was 15 minutes ahead of goal pace and in 6th place for women. I knew some fast ladies would overtake me on the flats, but what I didn't know was that my body was going to rebel. I hit the port-a-potty for the first of 5 times during the race. Not exaggerating.

The next ten miles were a blur. I think my mind is repressing the memory of how uncomfortable I was. Even though the race was really hard for me because of this discomfort, the most maddening part was that my legs felt so good. As soon as I started to speed up, I felt like I needed to find another hiding spot. I decided to just give up the competitive drive and run my own race. It was a beautiful day with some beautiful scenery and there was no reason to dwell on anything else besides the good stuff. There was a lot of self talk (yes, out loud) during this section.

Near mile 18... my nemesis mile

Finally about 4 miles from the finish, I started to feel a little bit better. It was at this point last year that I was feeling my worst. I remember coming in and when the volunteers told me I had only 4 more miles to go, I wanted to punch someone in the face. This year I was just so happy that they had a port-a-potty that I wanted to kiss them all. After that I kicked it into high gear and passed 2 women and 3 men. I sprinted it in to the finish and almost took over one more women before realizing that that would be really mean.

Season is finally finished

One of many frustrating things about having to hit the bushes, is that you have no idea how many people have passed you during that time. After the initial time, Cory told me that no one passed me, but during the ensuing 4 more times in which I had to wander to some distant willow, 14 other women passed me! A girl that I was running and chatting with at mile 13 ended up in 6th place in a time of 4:43. I'm fairly certain that I could have sustained that pace had I not taken all of my off trail excursions. She joked that I should get an award for running an extra mile. Unfortunately for me in the time window of 4:59 to my time of 5:06, 12 people finished and 10 of them were women. Yeah, it's frustrating that if I had finished 6-8 minutes faster I could have been top 10. At the end of the day, place is pretty arbitrary and anything other than 1st place is technically not winning.

All things considered, I'm pretty proud of how I did. I got to meet some fantastic people. I enjoyed a beautiful day. I had a great crew cheering me on. And I was only 3 minutes off my trail marathon PR. Next time, I'm definitely breaking 5 hours. I'm finally getting to the point where those last 6 miles of a marathon are my favorite part. Most of all, I'm really sorry that most of this post was about bodily functions.

And congrats to Brandon McCarthy who managed to complete his first trail marathon after staying up until midnight the night before at a wedding. Pretty BA.


  1. Ha! Just for kicks I Googled to see if anyone did a race report on the marathon and found this. I was behind you around 16-17 and saw you dart off the trail. I remembered thinking, damn she jetted quick off the trail. Didn't see you again until you passed me about 1/4 mile away from the finish. I think you placed right in front of me. I was one of the 3 dudes you passed. Way to rally and congrats! See you on the trail down the line...Dave

    1. Haha! I think I may have antagonized you a little telling you to sprint it in to the finish. You were looking really strong at the end!