This August my mom and I took a trip out to Colorado for her birthday. Let me preface by saying we are not the typical mother-daughter duo. We don’t spend weekend getaways at spas getting massages, facials, or pedicures (although our feet deserve the extra attention). When we take a trip, the itinerary is almost always centered around a race and that’s how we like it. Races in New Places! My mom chose the destination and race for this trip – the Beaver Creek Half Marathon/10K in Beaver Creek, CO. (http://www.beavercreekhalf.com)
Now before this trip, I had never been to Colorado, or to any state with higher elevation for that matter. I was nervous; people go to Colorado to train for their event, here we were going to there to actually compete (let’s be real, just have fun). I knew that I would have to train a lot harder for this race than usual in order to hold my own up in the mountains. I ran trails as often as I could, in the heat of the day, just to make it that much tougher. After work, I would head to the high school track near my office and do sprints. When I was forced to train indoors, it was interval repeats on the treadmill. Anything to get my heart rate up and keep it up.
Summer days flew by and soon enough August 8th arrived. I met my mom at the airport in Denver and we began our journey toward the Rockies. Driving through the mountains made me feel SO small, it was nothing like anything I had ever seen before. The sight was not only gorgeous, but terrifying. Was I going to be running up something like that??
After a day and a half of acclimating to the elevation and doing touristy activities, (horseback riding before the race may not have been the smartest idea…talk about a sore tush!) it was finally race day. Much to my surprise, it was COLD! My choice of a singlet and Nike capris ended up being the perfect ensemble as the weather warmed up and the race began.
The race director was not there to console us “sea levelers” as he warned that “the elevation will crush you!” At this point, my mom and I just wanted to get this darn race over with! Of course she had twice as far to run as she signed up for the 1/2 marathon, I chose the easy way out and opted for the 10K (one loop). The first couple miles of the race were all uphill, single track trail – which I didn’t mind because I wouldn’t have been able to maintain a faster pace. As we ventured into the woods and onto steeper trails, the run became more like a speed-hike, gasping for air as we ascended the mountain. After what seemed like an eternity, the trail leveled off a bit (thank goodness!) and I felt a little more normal. I definitely felt a difference at such high elevation – it was as if I was always running uphill even when I wasn’t. The rest of the course had it’s share of ups and downs, and on the downs I let gravity take over. As I crossed the finish line (1:09:30) I thought about my mom, who was only a few minutes behind me and was about to do that entire loop again! Kudos to her!
I give this race a 9 out of 10. The course was absolutely beautiful (some local runners caught me staring at the landscape), well-marked, and the aid stations popped up right when you needed them! Caution to new runners as the elevation is definitely a factor to consider, (a slight jog from Starbucks to the parking lot had me winded) yet the trails were not very challenging, mostly dirt path. It was a great trip and a race that I will never forget – I can’t wait for the next one!