Not my best day at Collegiate Peaks. Thought I'd aim for low to mid 8's, depending on the conditions (which ended up being darn near perfect), and definitely 8-something. First half was around 4:02, felt good and felt like I took it easy enough, but blew up in second half and ended up at 9-even. Oh well. First half was a trail run, 2nd half was a trial run. Not happy about the results, but I can't act like I still didn't have fun out there. More than a handful dropped out of the 50, glad I stuck it out and got my money's worth: first time I'd been on my feet for 9 hours, so good training for longer stuff, I guess.
What went well:
1. Weather/Course conditions. Middle day of 3 day unsettled weather pattern, but mostly sunny/partly cloudy all day. A few days of rain/snow before kept the sand packed (relatively). So if you're reading this from the future, and it's raining a few days before, don't worry too much about mud -- the course does drain well.
2. Course itself, mostly: Beautiful views, rolling terrain and flats gave good variety, non-technical enough to go fast but not boring. One of my favorite spots was a flat mini canyon slotted between boulders on both sides.
3. Aid: ample, with an extra surprise station (I thought) around mile 20.
What went wrong:
1. Trail running training....: Whoops! Hadn't done enough trails this year. Most of my winter/spring running is on the flat side of town, where I live. This works great for spring road marathons, not so much for trail. As a weird anecdote that proved this: I was quite looking forward to the last couple of miles of asphalt at the end, and once I hit it, I felt like I was cruising comfortably! That should not be.
2. ...including walking: I walked early and often, but not fast enough, as I noted the few times in the back half when other people walked faster than me. My wife is a pretty fast walker, so when we hike in the summer, this ends up being pretty helpful, more than I perhaps thought.
3. Endurance training: Ironically, I put in more weekly miles for this time of year than usual (maybe 80s and 90s instead of 60s/70s) -- at the expense of a long (>5 hour) weekend day of ski touring or road biking. The upside is that running 4 hours and recovering is pretty easy now, but I haven't had as much training lately metabolizing fat for fuel.
4. Frozen hands: Need to do more investigation on this, but I have poor circulation in my hands. Maybe it's partly arm position and tension, maybe a lighter bottle or something on the waist, but my hands got cold and slightly swollen, and I could barely use them to tie my shoes and even grab a handful of food. It's not elevation, as I've had this problem occasionally in the winter. Maybe my light cotten gloves actually trap moisture and make it worse.
5. Getting lost: Not new to me! The course was generally very well-marked, but I briefly got off trail at a return river crossing (seeing a couple runners up ahead helped me back on track). Then the last road section had me confused. In the morning, I was totally relaxed and barely paid attention to where we were. On the way back, nothing look familiar, as I somehow expected that I'd be able to see town. After about 10 minutes of wondering, seeing no markers or other runners, I finally saw a single orange flag. Then, I missed the last (left) road turn altogether somehow, even though my entire being was focused on finding any sign or hint of orange marking. I knew which way the finish line was, and arbitrarily took the next left, learning later (when looking at the map) of my mistake (which ended up slightly longer due to a final 90-degree turn instead of a curve). So, yup, I didn't even take the right road in. DQ!
6. Shoes: This isn't a new complaint, but my Brooks Cascadia came untied...thrice. If I were given a year and the task to design laces that untied themselves more frequently, I don't think I could beat the stock laces. Shoulda bought new ones. With cold, cramped hands, two of the times took me at least 30 seconds (counting in my head to stay focused) to tie my shoes.
Then, I switched out to my road shoes (Mizuno Wave Riders) at the turnaround. It fixed my lace problem, and mostly worked OK, but I do feel like my feet got beat up over time. Ideally, I would've stuck with the Cascadias with some different laces, and saved several minutes of frustration. In case somebody's googling, some keywords: Brooks Cascadia 4 shoelaces laces untie untied come untied tie sucks replace.
I estimate the combination of the above to have costed, unscientifically, at least 2 hours, maybe 2 hours and 10 minutes, from my time, give-or-take. Pretty much.
This is all silly anyway. I still did manage to travel 50 miles on foot through a pretty corner of the world, which is pretty neat at any speed.
More later on course, views, beer, hot springs, etc.