Thursday, August 9, 2018

Estes Park Marathon CO

The purpose of my recent trip to Colorado was the Estes Park Marathon. This was marathon #26 and CO is state #13 on my 50 state list. It was amazing! This is noted as one of the most scenic marathons in America, and I can totally believe that. The course was beautiful, the elevation was challenging, and the support was fantastic.

The high school for the packet pickup

Can you imagine going to school with that view?
Packet pickup was a breeze. Got to make some new friends, and that high school is the parking lot and finish line for the marathon the next day. The views from that high school were amazing. It would be so distracting if I was a student there.

Then I got the most not fun part of the entire trip. Small towns in resort areas aren't known for their early morning food sources. After packet pickup I discovered that the hotel had no breakfast option at all, and the only restaurant didn't open until 5 am. The last shuttle to the start line left at 5:15. Do I risk it? hell no. So my only option was to walk (in the rain, while drunk) to the McDonalds in downtown and get some biscuits. Ok I kind of wanted an evening snack anyway, but McDonalds is never an acceptable food choice. It's a decent coffee place, sure. But they just don't serve actual food. I bought 3 biscuits, ate one that night and two the next morning. They sat in my stomach like bricks until about mile 10. ugh.

I've never been this high before
The starting line was at the Dao House at 9200 feet elevation. This resort was amazing. I would love to come back and stay there for a weekend, or have a meditative retreat with friends or family. I even got to meet Wu Dang Chen, the daoist priest who owns the facility. I have never been at this high of an elevation before, and I have to admit I got a little dizzy just standing around the lobby! Not a good sign. At least they had coffee.

At 6:30 am they started the full marathon. The first 6.7 miles of the course were downhill. Except for a slight incline half a mile in. I have to admit, I had to walk that incline. I couldn't make it half a mile running at that altitude. INSANE!

Chilling at the start

It's a small race!

The incline half a mile in

that was an incredible sunrise
My arms "shunted" before I hit the first aide station in mile 2. That's only happened once before, and it is quite unpleasant! The aide stations, however, were all quite decked out. Plenty of gels, super friendly volunteers, everything was well stocked.

That sunrise was incredible

I saw a bald eagle flying over this lake during the 2nd half

Hit the halfway point at 2:25

Storm is starting to roll in

Another runner offered to take a picture for me

Hit mile 20 at the 4 hour mark
Going into this race, I wanted to be done by 11 am. That's when it was supposed to start raining. I hit the 20 mile marker at 10 am, leaving me one hour for the last 10k. Guess what? It did start raining at 11 am, and I did not make it. No pictures for the last 10k because I was one hurting honey. This was beautiful, but the storm was rolling in and I was ready to roll on down to the finish line. Right when I hit the Mile 24 marker the bottom really fell out. I finished in pouring rain with a lap around the track at the high school.

Still feeling good

Finished in the pouring rain

Still fuzzy in the car
Overall this marathon was incredible. Very scenic, the aide stations were impressive, the volunteers were all great. This is a small race, which I prefer. I finished in 5:20:36, my slowest marathon ever. 79/115 overall, 49/66 men, and 16/18 M40-49 puts me solidly in the back of the pack. I knew running at altitude was going to be a challenge, but what I got was so much more than that. This was an incredible way to knock Colorado off of my 50 state list.

No comments: