Wow, what a great run to finish off 2010!
We had about 50 runners out for Mr. October‘s inaugural El Chubbo Grande Fat Ass 50k. With 3 start times, 3 routes to choose from, and no less than 38 opportunities to get lost, we had runners spread out all over Horsetooth and Lory parks. Everyone was in good company out on the trails and a friendly face was usually only a couple switchbacks away up or down the trail. Running conditions were ideal with clear dry trails and temperatures in the mid-30’s.
I had a blast enjoying my favorite trails with old and new friends and winning the 50k was icing on the cake. I’ve had a pretty good year of running accomplishments with decent results at Ghost Town, Jemez, Western States, and surviving the full Grand Slam series. But I never imagined that I could actually win such a prestigious and competitive event like this. I’m definitely going to bask in the glory of holding the El Chubbo Grande 50k course record for at least a couple days …or until Nick gets around to running the course himself to set a proper FKT.
I think the real key to my success this weekend was adopting some of Nick’s training strategies. About a week and a half ago, I stopped shaving. It’ll be several more months before I can really pull off the scraggly mountain hippy look but I’ve definitely seen some positive results from merely a quarter inch of facial hair. I have a few more weeks to keep growing my hair out for Ghost Town so I’m feeling pretty confident about my chances there next month.
I’ve also made some adjustments to my pre-race fueling strategy. Nick swears by glazed donuts before every race but I really believe that little chocolate donuts are a far superior pre-race fuel.
I started out with the 8am wave hoping to finish the course in 6 to 6:30 to give myself enough time to make it back to the potluck and beer by 3:00. On the first climb up to Horsetooth Rock, I fell into pace with Dan Brillon and we kept each other company on the trail all the way to Arthur’s Rock. We made it to the top of Horsetooth in good time and started catching up with runners from the 7am start on the Stout loop. This was quite a bit faster than I had expected to run but I felt good and just kept cruising along. At Arthur’s Rock, Dan decided to take the marathon route while I continued on up the Timber trail to the north end of Lory Park. I met up with Jen Malmberg, Alex, Mike, and Rob on the way down to the valley trail. On the next mini climb up to the Overlook Trail around mile 20, I finally started losing some steam. But Chris and Nick were waiting with an aid station set up at the Arthur’s Rock trailhead and I grabbed a quick water refill and a cookie and headed off down the easy stretch through the valley to recharge before the final beast of a climb up Sawmill to Westridge. My legs were getting pretty tired here but at this point more runners were converging into the final homestretch to the finish. It was a great mental boost to meet up with friends along the toughest section of the course. At the top of Towers, Sam finally caught up with me and took the lead for a few miles before he decided to take a turn at the Waterhole marker instead of the Wathan trail. I caught up with Tim Long just as we started the final big descent down Wathan and Tim stayed right behind me pushing me through to the finish at Nick’s house. (Tim claims that I was pulling him but I’m pretty sure he was doing the pushing.) My final time was 5:44 – a full 16 minutes faster than what I thought would be a good time.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to run a good hard long run and finish strong. This was my longest run since Wasatch and while I didn’t run an all out race pace, I kept up a pretty hard tempo effort at the end of the run. It felt really good to run well again. This event was just what I needed to get out and run a more challenging route at a bit faster pace than I’d normally run solo.
Nick really outdid himself on this one. This Fat Ass race/social run was organized better than many other official races I’ve seen. Mary’s design work was a very nice touch on the start/finish banner and her full course map was incredibly helpful. We may have cursed Nick’s course design once or twice on the way up Sawmill but the route was the perfect way to give our out-of-town friends the grand tour of our favorite trails. And it was a fun way to make the trail system into a new challenge for those of us who run here regularly. And of course, the post race at Nick’s house was a fantastic way to end the day. I really hope we can turn this into an annual tradition. Thanks Nick!
Here are a few photos from the run (including a couple from Nick and Rob)