I was very well-prepared for this race. The only thing I forgot was underwear. So, like pioneering women of the past, I hand-washed my Vickies and laid them out to dry each evening (Friday and Saturday).
Now, about the marathon. Well, first off, at this moment I hate Colorado and will probably hate it for a while. Not that I was under any illusion that any marathon in Colorado would be easy; the Colorado triathletes and runners that come down to New Mexico and kick all our asses deserve our respect.
It's just that I did not expect the level of gleeful sadism that obviously went into planning this course. What I expected was ~8 miles of climbing, ~8 miles of rollers, and then ~8 miles of descent. This fantasy was based on this profile, which was posted on the race web site:
The race began at 9 am. The course starts out with about 8 miles during which you climb up 2000 feet. I watched the other marathoners get further and further away, eventually disappearing from sight. I was left playing can-and-mouse with a guy from New York who was in his 60s and overcome by the altitude, and what appeared to be an older gentleman who could not run and was trying to power walk the thing. I was under the additional stress of making cutoffs. I basically walked 8 miles uphill, with occasional jogging, and managed to keep my pace at about 15:20.
I made the first cutoff with 15 minutes left (cutoff was 1 hour), and the second one at mile ~7 with about 10 minutes left (cutoff was . I then had 45 minutes to make the 3rd cutoff at mile ~10.3.
That third cutoff is after a little 4 mile out-and-back. See above, how it goes down, and then steeply up just before mile 10? See that? When I saw that, I was horrified: it is a 300 mile climb over about 1/4 mile, and it was covered with large, loose rocks about the size of a basketball. Then it was flattish, to the turn around.
I looked at my watch: ten minutes to the cutoff, which was about .75 miles away. I ran hard, and passed a couple of guys. I looked at my watch: 4:54. I passed a couple of guys walking, and ran harder. I lept over rocks and sprinted down hills. 4:58. I turned a corner and there in front of me was the 20ish mile aid station. I had beat the cutoff by 2 minutes.
(I didn't know it, but Baboo had finished and was in the shower at this point in time.)
I was mildly curious about this, and wondered why I had two hours to go six miles. Whose idea was that? It was mostly downhill from here...
No. NO. This could not be the trail. I have not ever been so bad in any life as to deserve this. Then very, very far above me I saw a runner heading up, up, up. SHIT. By then all the swearing had left me, and I just stood, hands on hips, and muttered, "you have got to be fucking kidding me," and then girded my Vickies and headed up.
I hated Colorado. I hated its stupid mountain trails and the stupid RD who made this course and all the people out there that were faster than me...I was pissed at the blue sky, at the trees, and the rocks, and the water. And being pisssed gave me some energy.
I told the hapless aid station volunteers that this was my husband's idea, and that I've better get a big "I'm proud of you" and a steak when I got back. Then I got two full bottles of cold water and I was ready to, but by then, by then all the fight had left me. I knew the truth, as plain as the water in my bottles: I had now developed a lifelong malignity for Colorado.
Now, if you are a masochist, I'll tell you some good things about the race. The shirts are shirts you'd actually wear. Mine is a woman's brown cap-sleeve shirt; Baboo's is a manly blue shirt that looks great on him. The course is exceptionally well-marked, and it's small, and it's well-organized.
The next morning, we drove to Rio Grande Gorge and my plan was to run 12 miles to finish out a week of running 46 miles in honor of my 46th, but the wind was strong and I was tired, so we'll just have to call it at 44.