May 23, 2019

Weekend Recap / Race Report: Colorado Women’s Classic

Weekend of May 11-12

Last weekend, my friend Claire had convinced me to sign up for the Colorado Women’s Classic, a ten mile race in Westminster on Sunday morning. I figured that while I wasn’t really in ten mile shape, it would be a good way to force myself to get out for a long run, and perhaps burn off a few of the margaritas I planned to have Saturday night at my belated Cinco de Mayo party. I had so much fun running Ragnar Richmond two weeks ago, and was floored that I had managed to run 22 miles in 24 hours (albeit slowly); I am hoping that bodes well for me getting back to some longer runs this summer. Why not go for broke with a ten mile race??

While I should have been resting up Friday night (since I’m a firm believer that two nights before the race is the night where sleep counts), I threw caution to the wind and stayed at a work happy hour until dinnertime, rather than eating a healthy dinner and going to bed early, as had been my original plan. The cocktails at Citizen Rail were just too delicious! I also was thrilled to catch up with some good friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and we got into some surprisingly deep conversations. Definitely no regrets about my night!

Saturday morning, I headed to Chuze Fitness as usual, but skipped the Team Training class. I really wanted to get in there for interval work, but I knew that even (especially?) if I hadn’t gotten an amazing night’s sleep Friday, I really ought to take it easy at the gym the day before race day – so I figured I’d just do some light cardio on the elliptical, and then also get in some hydromassage. (I love the Chuze hydromassage!). Although I wasn’t doing Team Training, I bumped into my friend Heather waiting for class, and we made plans to meet up later in the afternoon. I knew I’d have a lot of party prep to do, so I invited Heather to hang out with me while I cooked. That turned out to be one of the best decisions of my weekend!

Remember my old Thanksgiving Excel? Not only do I still pull it out every Turkey Day, but I’ve also been adapting it for all my party planning the last few months. It’s so helpful to have all the recipes in one place, and I also add a timeline of what steps in each recipe to take when. It helps me to have a countdown of what’s supposed to be happening at what time, and know I’m not overextending myself by trying to make eight dishes in the one hour before guests arrive. However, it took me a while to grocery shop after the gym, which put me very behind on the dishes I was supposed to make Saturday morning. (And the things I was supposed to prep Friday night but didn’t.) So, when Heather came over in the early afternoon, I gratefully accepted her offer to put her to work… and between the two of us, we made a ton of food!

This year’s menu:

  • Watermelon Margaritas and Sangria Sangria to drink – I used Trader Joe’s Watermelon Cooler rather than dealing with juicing a watermelon myself, and it was delicious.
  • Tortilla chips and carrot sticks, plus Tropical GuacamoleSweet Potato Guacamole, and Spicy Chorizo Cheese Dip (and plenty of regular guac that a coworker brought, plus homemade salsa from a neighbor)
  • Corn tortillas + Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Honey Lime Chicken – this recipe is my friend Cathryn’s go-to, and it didn’t disappoint! I cooked up 5 pounds of chicken and had plenty of leftovers to freeze as well.
  • Healthy Mexican Casserole – Okay, this is where I went a little overboard. I quadrupled the recipe to make four pans, but the combo of not quite as many people showing up as RSVPed (about 30 vs 60) and the fact that most people came after dinner meant I had a ton of leftovers… three pans to be exact. But I’d rather have too much than too little, and this recipe is healthy, delicious, and freezes well.
  • (Not) Refried Beans – This was a flop, but I blame a faulty crockpot for the failure. I think it was cooking them on low instead of high, so they didn’t get nearly as soft and mushy as I wanted; when I left them going overnight in a different crockpot, they were much better.
  • And finally for dessert: Creamy Margarita Popsicles and Guacamole Cake, both of which I make every year and are a huge hit. This year was no exception!

I had a ton of fun hosting, and surprisingly managed to avoid drinking too much of the Sangria Sangria (warning, that recipe is delicious but strong). After everyone left, I managed to clean up the kitchen and get almost everything either into the dishwasher or hand washed, and headed to bed by 11pm. Mexican food isn’t really ideal for the night before a race, but I felt like I could at least get a good training run in and finish the ten mile race.

I think I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth on this sombrero I bought four years ago that I wear exclusively for my annual Cinco de Mayo party.

After a coffee to get me going (long-time readers know I drink decaf 90% of the time but then use caffeinated coffee to give me extra energy on race days), I headed down to Westminster for the 8:15am start. I was a little later than I wanted, especially after the parking lot was pretty crowded, but bumped into my friend Claire at packet pickup. Her husband graciously offered to hold my fleece zipup, and Claire and I headed to the portapotties together.

We only had ten minutes till the 10 mile start (there was also a 5K and 10K that started later), and it was a long line… I kept debating whether to politely ask if we could jump the line, since I heard from the chatter that most of the women in it weren’t starting till 8:30am. However, the line moved quickly and Claire and I ended up getting down to the start with a minute to go. Perfect!

I had told Claire that my goal was to finish in 90 minutes, and that I thought I had about a 50/50 shot at making that. My longest leg of Ragnar two weeks before was 6.3 miles, and I had held a 10:00-11:00 pace there. Now, it was on trails, but it was also at sea level – so I figured those two would cancel each other out and I’d run about the same pace on pavement / gravel trails in Colorado. Still, I lined up not too far from the front of the pack, just in case.

When the race began, I wasn’t looking at my real-time pace on a Garmin (didn’t wear one) or Strava (had my phone tucked into my pocket); I was just trying to settle into something that felt like “racing” but doable for a long time. I found myself in the top three women for the first mile, at which point my Strava audibly told me my pace over the music: 6:50! That was much faster than I expected, but it felt surprisingly good. I always go out faster than I should, but this didn’t feel that excessively fast, at least physically. (Mentally, a sub-7 was really scary… I had no idea I was capable of that.)

Over the next two miles, my pace settled quite a bit, until I was clocking pretty solid 7:30s and felt that rhythm in my feet. I decided that my goal was to make it to the 10K mark still doing 7:30s, even if that meant I was too tired to do well in the last four miles of the race. I am signed up for Bolder Boulder over Memorial Day Weekend, and I figured racing the first 6.2 miles of this hard would give me a better picture of what to expect at Bolder Boulder.

The course was an out-and-back with an extra lollipop loop just after the end of the “out”; this meant I got to see all the women in front of me around mile 4 where everyone turned around, but then lost them as we turned onto the dirt trail that comprised the lollipop loop. Two women passed me around mile 3 (putting me in 6th place rather than 4th), but I didn’t try to keep them from doing so. While I was excited about the possibility that I might be fast enough to get an award, this race was all about running my own pace rather than worrying about what other runners were doing.

There had been a very slight hill heading up to the 4 mile turnaround point, and I was excited to get that slight downhill on the way back. It gave me some extra energy to cheer for other runners as I made my way to the lollipop. Out-and-back courses are my favorite for exactly this reason!

When I turned right onto the lollipop, I went over a small bridge, and then the trail changed from paved to gravel; at the same time, the course headed up a slight hill. The combo of those two things definitely slowed me down a lot, and I found it interesting that my 6th mile was the slowest as a result – 8:04 pace. However, I crossed the 6.2 mile mark in just over 45 minutes, which meant I had maintained a 7:30 pace for a full 10K! I was really proud – that’s much, much faster than I expected. Now, I wanted to see how long I could hang on. Could I do all ten miles at 7:30 pace?

Fortunately, the 7th mile gave back a little bit of that downhill – and I was able to drop my pace back down and finish it in 7:34. Now, I was back at the paved trail, and I had a pretty good idea of what I had left – some minor ups and downs, but a course that was largely flat. I hoped I could hang onto the pace!

I was definitely starting to get tired here, and this was where it was clear to me that I hadn’t trained for this kind of distance. But I managed to eke out a 7:39 for mile 8. As I got closer and closer to the finish, I started doing lots of crazy math to distract myself. If I ran nine minute miles, what would my finish time be? What if I ran 8:30s? Call me pessimistic, but when I start to get tired in a race, I try to figure out the worst case scenario – I find it comforting when I realize that even having one or two slower miles won’t totally ruin the race.

Because there had been a 5K and a 10K on the same course, I was now getting three mile markers that helped me know how far the finish was. It was awesome to realize I only had 1.2, then 1.1, then 1.0 miles to go! I flipped my Spotify playlist from my racing power songs playlist to my finish playlist, and let the uplifting beat of Dear Evan Hansen’s “You Will Be Found” carry me home. Throughout these last few miles, I could see the 5th place women ahead of me, but I didn’t have the strength to really pick it up and catch her – and that was okay. I was thrilled to be where I was!

Smiling big, both because I’m nearly done and also because running in Colorado on a beautiful blue sky day is my happy place.

I crossed the finish line in 75:34 – very, very, very close to that aggressive goal I had set to hold 7:30 pace throughout. (I averaged 7:33/mile.) I can’t believe these splits – super steady!

Interesting that Strava registered 7:00 for the first mile, as I remember clearly it showed 6:50 in the app, because I was freaking out to be sub-7!

After crossing the finish line, I was able to take advantage of 3W Races’ awesome post-race amenities and get a ten minute table massage. Glorious! However, I was surprised to discover that my left shoulder was my tensest part. (And I normally hold my phone in my right hand, not left, and for this race, had actually tucked it into a pocket.) I can feel more yoga in my future!

I waited for Claire to come in, and we snapped a quick pic together, then I grabbed my age group award (6th overall, 3rd in my age group) and headed out. Great race!

How fabulous that Claire and I lost touch after college but both happened to move across the country and land in neighboring Colorado towns?? Good friendships never end 🙂

Race stats:
Distance: 10 miles
Time: 1:15:34
Pace: 7:33/mile
Overall place: 6/150
Age group place: 3/50

While I was incredibly proud of how I did, I wasn’t done with athletics for the day. My friend Chris invited me to join her family for an excursion to the Ninja Warrior gym in Lafayette, and I was really excited!

Judging from the incessant chatter on the car ride over, the kids were equally excited to show the gym to me.

I had never been to a Ninja Warrior gym before, and from the way the boys described the obstacles, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to hang. But the first obstacle I tried – rings over a foam pit – proved that I actually could hang – I didn’t do too badly on those. When I tried to do the ones that aren’t rings but are sticks pointing down that you have to grab, though, it was a total fail 🙂 I really loved how the gym had easy, medium, and hard versions of most of the obstacles, so you could start small and work your way up.

Except of this spider walk, which was just hard. I was able to get about halfway across it, but twisted my knee a little bit on one attempt and so gave up. On the bright side: look closely for the best photobomb ever!

My favorite obstacle was definitely the Warped Wall. I originally thought I had no chance at getting up it, and it was pretty intimidating when I was staring up at it. But Chris did some “practice runs” where she slowly jogged up to it to test out the incline, and when I followed suit, I found it wasn’t quite as scary as I thought. After a few practice runs, and two all-out tries, I managed to run high enough to catch the top of the wall… and on my second try doing that, I managed to make it all the way to the top and push the button to sound the alarm and send smoke billowing out!

Loved this! Though the view from up that high was kind of scary, and I took the fireman’s pole down very gingerly.

Chris’ husband had practically flown up the smallest wall and immediately moved on to trying the second highest, so I joined him there. I wasn’t able to get up that taller one, but I came pretty darn close, thanks to some tips from the trainers nearby. I really want to go back and try it again!

But our hour was up for the day, so instead, I headed home. After some resting up, I was back to Lafayette once more to round out my weekend – for drinks and catch up with Lauren at Acreage, Stem Ciders’ outpost with some of the most beautiful views in the Front Range.

Views for DAYS.

In all, this weekend had a lot of drinks attached to it, and I’m looking forward to a week of work travel where I can eat healthy and avoid the alcohol. But next weekend, I’m off to Munich… so I imagine more drinks are in my future there. Hey, you only live once, right? Perhaps after that I’ll take a bit more of a break… 🙂


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