This past weekend Woody and I ran the Louisville Trail 10k, about 25 miles from Denver – an easy drive at 6:30 on a Sunday morning. It was our first time running this particular race, and our first time running any race with the word “trail” associated with it. To be clear, this wasn’t a highly technical trail race like many are in Colorado, the trail – part of the vast trail system in the area – was packed gravel and even some paved sections.
We found parking nearby, picked up our bibs, and went for a short warm-up run along the first part of the trail. It was cool, breezy and a bit gloomy. Woody is still relatively new to racing and he was nervous about doing a 10K (our last one was BolderBoulder and while we’ve both run longer distances since, our race efforts have all been 5k’s). As always, I advised him to be conservative at the start – don’t go out too fast; it’s much better to have negative splits than go out too fast. Famous last words.
There were a total of 614 runners across a half marathon, 10K and 5K. So it was a small race compared to what I’m used to, but about the size of the 5k we ran last month. While I thought I could only run big races, I really don’t mind being able to line up at the start with just a few minutes before the start!
Gotta love a race with chocolate milk at the finish!
There was a count down and we were off – 15 minutes behind the half marathoners who went west out of the start; we went east. Much of the trail was pretty narrow, so I had to adjust to the crowd pretty quickly, but like all races the crowd thinned out pretty quickly. I knew I was putting in some good effort from the start but it wasn’t until just before we hit a big, long hill that I realized I had gone out way too fast. Not good. I tried to slow down but my legs weren’t adjusting. Down the big hill, turn around, up the big hill again. Still too fast. I wanted to slow down but I also didn’t want to lose ground on the two people who had been right ahead of me since the start.
Woody is much faster than I am, so when I saw him not far from the turnaround, I knew I was in trouble. The packed gravel turned out to be a bit more formidable than the packed dirt trails I run in the parks around our house – it’s a bit more loose – so thank goodness this wasn’t a more serious trail. The race consisted of essentially two out and backs – the second with a loop – with the start/finish in the middle. Aside from the start the course was void of spectators, but there was great support from volunteers at the water stops and a few crucial trail intersections to keep us on the right track.
Nearing mile 4 the fatigue was starting to set in, the consequence of going out too fast. I finally started to slow down out of necessity. My legs were heavy, my stomach was aching, but I was only running 6.2 miles. I finished 9 a few weeks ago, there was no question about whether or not I could run the distance. I just hadn’t taken my own advice and went out way too fast. Pure stupidity. With a slight, but long and gradual hill ahead, all I could think about were my friends running the Chicago Marathon who had 20 more miles to run than I did, there was no way I would give in.
I gave one final kick to get into the finish, was handed my medal (yes, this series gives finishers medals to everyone), chip clipped I went to find Woody, who had finished almost exactly 9 minutes before I did. This was not my finest race, so I’m very thankful that at least the view of the mountains was pretty spectacular.
My chip time was 55:25, an 8:56 pace. While it’s slightly better than my BolderBoulder finish, I’m certain that if I had gone out a little bit slower, I would have had a better finish. Sounds strange, right? Slow down to finish faster, but I’m sure I wouldn’t have had to push myself quite as hard those last few miles if I had just taken it down a little.
With all that aside, it was a great race with a variety of food and drink at the end. We agreed that we’d like to do it next year. And maybe a few of the others in the Endurance Race Series.
Our next, and likely last, race of the year will be the Mile High Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, right in our neighborhood!
Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend! There were a lot of people crossing finish lines around the country!
Woody and I are handing out treats on Halloween for the first time! What should we give out?