Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Imogene Pass Run


Sorry about the brief hiatus from posting last week, we had a busy week with work and other obligations (like sleep). Sandy has gone back to work after a nice summer of being pregnant and unemployed (lots of naps) and we're adjusting. Yeah, yeah, I know, just wait ...

This past weekend we traveled about 75 miles north of Durango and over three mountain passes to Ouray, CO so that I could run the Imogene Pass Run ( with Scott, Molly, Scott's friend Andy and my co-worker Josh. For those of you that didn't click the link, the Imogene Pass Run is a trail race that goes from Ouray to Telluride (sometime home of Tom and Katie!!!) over, you guessed it, Imogene Pass, a 4wd jeep road. The race is 17.1 miles long and there's really only one hill on the course, but that hill is 10 miles long and gains 5,310 feet of elevation, topping out at 13,120 feet. Yeah, it's a haul. This is the third year we have gone to Ouray for the race. Two years ago Sandy and Scott were thoroughly obsessed with this race and worked about as hard as two people could to get in shape, only to have the race shortened because of snow on the pass (instead, we just did a loop where we went about halfway up the pass and then back to Ouray). It was a serious bummer, but they both did very well on the shortened course (except for the half mile or so after Scott drank some chicken broth at the "summit"). Last year they were slightly less obsessed, but they still worked very hard and finished the full course on a bluebird day. Molly also did the race last year (she was pregnant year 1) as did their neighbors Adam and Elisa ( I did the race too, but somewhat casually as Elisa had some significant altitude issues in the last few miles of the climb and I elected to hang out with her to make sure she got over the pass okay. We were technically DQ'd for not making the summit on time, but Elisa soldiered on bravely and we eventually made our way to the finish on our own.

Anyway, Sandy was out for this year due to the twinkies, but I decided this was my best year to run the race on my own and see what I could accomplish. I hadn't done much specialized training for running 10 miles of uphill (and 7 of downhill) and I didn't taper, but I have carried some fitness over from the Ironman and have also started serious marathon training for Tucson in December, so I was hoping I could make it to Telluride in 3.5 hours. I ran the first mile or so with Scott and then headed off on my own. The weather was pretty cool but clear and I hit my mile marks just as I had hoped, running the flat and moderate sections and power hiking the steep sections. The first five miles or so are really a series of flats and rolling hills and I made it to the 5 mile mark in just under 1:00. I tried to keep everything reigned in for the next 2.6 miles (where things get steeper) and I made it to the 7.6 mile mark and the last aid station before the summit right on schedule at 1:40. Then I started to hammer (meaning, hike fast, nobody except the very top guys run this part) the upper section hoping to make the summit by 2:30. I was pretty psyched to see that I was moving faster than just about anybody around me; in fact, I wasn't passed at all between the last aid station and the summit and I probably passed at least 40-50 people. The biggest surprise was coming to the 8 mile mark and realizing that my co-worker Josh was actually ahead of me at that point (how the heck did he get in front of me!!!!). I actually hit the summit 6 minutes ahead of schedule, but then wasted 4 minutes at the aid station trying to get the lobster claws that seemed to have replaced my hands in the cold to work so that I could get gloves on, mix up some Gatorade and open a gel. I had to actually get help from a very nice volunteer just to get the Ziploc bag of Gatorade open. It was pretty cold on top.

It was extremely frustrating watching all of those people re-pass me while I futzed at the aid station, but even more frustrating was watching another 30 or 40 people pass me in the first 2 miles of the downhill. Let me put it this way, the first two miles are steep, loose, rocky and very uneven. Its almost too steep for the speeds at which I like to run. Actually, it is too steep, so I thought it would be wise to just take it easy and be conservative and, you know, avoid any concussions or broken teeth or a fractured skull that might come from a trip or a fall. Well I was apparently the only one that felt this way as I spent those two miles feeling like a guy doing 20 mph in the center lane of the Interstate. Seriously, these people were nuts, but I have to admit, I only saw one person go down. It was impressive. Things flattened and evened out at mile 12 and I was able to step it up and re-pass some of the psychos in the last 5 miles, even ticking off some 7 minute miles. I hit the finish at 3:27, 3 minutes ahead of my goal. A good day's run I would say.

Final stats: 3:27:10. Summit at 2:24:28. 161 overall among males (out of 596), 29 in my age group (out of 107).

Josh ended up finishing about 7 minutes behind me, Andy came in around 4:04 and Molly finished in just over 5 hours. Scott had an unfortunate case of GI distress in the days leading up to the race and this made for a rough day, but he very bravely continued up and over and finished as well, just not as fast as he had hoped. Here's Molly finishing.

The rest of the weekend was spent hanging out at the rental house with the above characters as well as Andy's wife Lisa, their sons Owen (4 y.o) and Wesley (1.5 y.o) and Josh's girlfriend Rachel. We went to the hot springs pool, grilled burgers and brats and all of the adults watched the second half of the movie Cars even after all of the kids had gone to bed.

BTW, one of the best things you can do as an expecting parent is hang out with people with young kids. For example, Scott and Molly had a rough night with Audrey the night before the race (Friday night) and didn't get to sleep until 3:00 a.m. or so. I can't say I really learned anything from observing this experience, but it sure looked like it sucked. In fact, I guess what I should say is that one of the best things you can do if you're trying to decide whether to have kids is hang out with people with young kids.

Unfortunately I don't have a picture of me finishing because I beat Sandy to the finish ... again.

1 comment:

Kathy said...