Race Report: CMRA 12k
Aurora Sports Park Cross Country
I had the opportunity to run in a race today put on by the Colorado Masters Running Association. I dropped my son off for an activity at 8:00, hit the race at 9:00, and was back to pick him up at 11:00. Quite the action packed morning, but it worked out well.
I’ve been wanting to do a CMRA race for a year now, and finally got my chance. They are a local club that puts on one race per month with varying distances and surfaces. Today’s race was a-typical in both of those categories! The races usually attract from 40-100 runners, and offer a chance to do a low-cost, no frills event. For a 10 dollar fee (or free to club members), I viewed it as another great opportunity to get some speed work in. It’s always easier to push yourself when in a race setting.
The couse was a 4k loop through weeds, brush, ditches, creek bottoms, grass, trees, willows, you name it. Add 4-5 inches of snow, with some ice underneath, and it made for quite a challenge. Runners could stop at one, two, or three loops – meaning there was a simultaneous 4k, 8k, and 12k race going on. The one catch was that you didn’t have to declare what distance you were racing before the start, which made for some interesting times as I would watch the runners ahead of me each time we came through the start/finish and hope they would pull off – because I was dying! Every time they would run on through, I would have to dig a little and keep up the pace.
I started way too fast, as is the norm – spiking my heart rate to 188 which is a new high for me in recent memory. I was in a group of 4 runners that was in the lead and had created a bit of separation from the rest of the pack. I badly wanted to stay with them, but ended up dropping off the back after a little over a mile into the race. I held my ground after that and went through the first lap in 18:42, just a few seconds off the leaders.
Happily, my lungs felt pretty good. They’ve been a problem when I’ve pushed it over the past couple of weeks. My legs were feeling it, though. I did a fast 20 miler on Monday, and then another hard 10 mile hill workout on Thursday. I slowed down a bit on the second lap, coming through in 19:20. Still holding my 4th position, but with a lot of ground between me and the first 2 guys. Third place was within reach, and I worked hard to keep him in sight.
I started feeling a little better the third time around, and concentrated hard on being as efficient as I could. That was a tall order when trying to run full speed through the choppy snow, breaking through the crust and slipping all over the place. There was a frozen stream crossing that took 3-4 steps to traverse and I fully expected to plunge through on the last lap. I could feel the ice sag as I ran across like a piece of plywood suspended on each end. It bounced as I ran and I could hear it hitting and splashing on the surface of the water beneath.
I cranked as hard as I could and closed the gap to the third place guy, but just couldn’t come around. He finished 3 seconds ahead of me. Just as well, he ran a strong race and deserved the placing for giving me something to chase all of that time. I was most interested in staying ahead of the runner that was trying to catch me, anyway. He came within 8 seconds.
My last lap time was 18:58, giving me a total of 57:01 for the 12k (7:39 pace) and 4th place overall. The winner averaged a 7:04 pace, which I think is a testament to the difficulty and condition of the course. It was a great workout!