The ninth week of training for my 50k/50m attempt at the 24 Hours of Boulder is behind me. Due to a heel pain I substituted a bike commute to work for one of my runs. It seemed to do the trick as the marathon on Sunday, Boulder Back Roads Marathon, went very well without the heel issue reappearing.
The race was well organized. We picked up our race packets on Saturday. The shwag was actually useful items—tech t-shirt, tech hat and two pairs of running socks, plus the normal stuff such as fliers and coupons from the sponsors.
There is a great restaurant were we carb loaded called Sherpa’s in Boulder. Per the name they serve Nepalese food (similar to Indian in many ways) that is both tasty and reasonably priced. The restaurant is in a quaint Victorian house on Walnut Street with a flagstone patio with plenty of outside seating.
Back to the race at hand…
Ultrathoner and I arrived in the dark an hour before the race and were ‘lucky’ enough to be so early that we were directed to park about a half mile away. Not a problem. What’s a half mile warm up jog matter when there are 26+ miles ahead of us?
More support was provided in the predawn in the form of coffee and bananas. Many people were still picking up their packets for the half marathon that started an hour after the full race.
The sun rose and painted the foothills in a lovely rose color before going behind a band of clouds on the eastern horizon and staying there for the next several hours! Soon race time approached and the herd moved towards the starting gate. We were off among cheers and loud music propelling us out of the park and onto the dirt & gravel road.
The race was a training run for both of us so the only expectation was to finish and not injure ourselves for our ultra races this fall. This mindset worked for the first few miles.
Then the vibe of the runners and the beautiful weather and course caught up with me and my pace elevated to a marathon level. Knowing I only had 26 to run and didn’t have to conserve my energy for 50 miles made it an easy choice once I was warmed up.
The route was a modified loop (see map & race stats) with the turn around at mile 17 with only several miles repeated which kept the half marathon runners, with their later start time, essentially on their own course. With almost 2400 runners, three fourths of them in the half marathon, this was an important detail.
My pace was faster than any long run I’ve done in this training cycle. Until mile 24 I was feeling good with only a half minute slip in my pace. Walking through the aid stations, drinking water and several GUs all helped keep me going. The average pace slipped even more after mile 24 requiring me to dig deeper to keep on passing the now frequent walkers on the course. Perhaps it was more psychological as I arrived at mile 24 right at what should be my Boston qualifying time?
Either way I finished stronger and faster than ever before in a marathon. Long trail runs sure help. Not doing much interval or speed workouts didn’t help in the final miles.
The food tent right past the finish line was a great place to get out of the sun and refuel with Chipotle burritos, bagels, fruit and various drinks.
This was a well organized and supplied race. With so much of the course on dirt and gravel roads it was a trail runner’s dream course. I might actually have to train for this race next year.
Get out and Explore the World!