Breckenridge is pretty much the most active city I have ever been. Biking + running trails, people walking around everywhere, runners left + right, great hikes just 5 minutes away. You can even rent bikes and go on biking tours of the city. So cool!
One of the other things Breckenridge does to promote fitness in the summer is put on the Summit Trail Running Series (sponsored by the North Face store). The series involves 6 different races throughout the summer. Each race has a long course and a short course to choose from.
We just so happened to be in town while one of the races was happening. This was actually the 3rd race of the series, but also the 3rd race the team has done in the past few years – last year and a few years before that. The race took place at Boreas Pass and Baker’s Tank. They offered a 4K and 10K option, which most of us opted for the 4K (Lord knows I haven’t been running nearly as much as I should be in order to run a 10K).
It was fun getting to warm up and run a race with a team. I’m usually at races all by my lonesome and I enjoyed having people to talk to and hang out with (freak out with) while we waited for the race to start. It was a really laid back race with maybe only 100 runners for both the long + short courses. No real start line or finish line and no timing chips. And really cool cloth bibs that we unfortunately had to give back.
Warming up. I promise I didn’t look this happy during the race…
They lined us all up with the 10Kers in front of the 4Kers (a 4K is roughly 2.5 miles, just so you don’t have to do the math) and gave the 10Kers a 2-ish minute head start. Then it was our turn. Going into the race, we knew that the start was uphill with a nice downhill finish. Matt, being the great XC coach that he is, kept telling us that it was only 5 (track) laps up and 5 laps down. I kept this in my head as we started running since I knew it would ease my mind a bit.
I started out in the middle of the pack and quickly felt the altitude all over my body. If you’ve never run at altitude, try running with a straw in your mouth. There is much less oxygen and it takes a toll on your breathing for sure. I started getting the “stars in your eyes, about to pass out” feeling less than a mile in (no idea my splits because I decided not to wear a watch). But, I had started out decently slow and just tried to pass people as I could.
The road had plenty of twists and turns with a gradual uphill. I was expecting much more of a steep climb, so I was happy with the gradual hill… until we took our last turn and had to climb probably an 8% grade for about a tenth of a mile. It was tough. I saw people walking in front of me, but I ended up being able to catch a few people at that point. Oh, and it definitely wasn’t 5 laps up, 5 laps down. That gradual uphill and steep hill was more like 8 laps (2 miles) into the course. It was definitely tough.
But, the uphill begin was actually my favorite part of the race. Sure, I was ready to run the downhill, but the downhill kicked my butt. It wasn’t steep, per se, but there were lots of rocks, roots, and switch backs. I was so concerned about falling or twisting my ankle that I slowed down a lot. Let me tell you, I have never been passed so much in a race. Ever. I’m pretty sure I ran that last half mile downhill much slower than the uphill beginning.
I knew we were getting close to the finish line when spectators started lining the trail. There was a girl right behind me and I was determined not to let her pass me. I picked it up knowing we were close, and after the final turn where I could see the “finish”, I kicked it in.
Unfortunately, I don’t have my “official” finish time. They ended up not taking the 2 minute head start from the 10Kers off the 4K times, so my time was off. Michelle, the other coach, timed herself with a 23:10 finish and she had finished about 10 seconds after me. (I had a good 30 second to minute lead on her until the downhill portion. Like I said, I ran super slow on the downhill.) But, either way, I PRed since I have never run a 4K before! Just under 23 minutes – about a 9:14/mile. I’m telling you, altitude running is ridiculously hard, but I can’t wait to come back and run the course next year! If only I could spend a summer training in Colorado…