26 years living in Colorado and I’d never been to Aspen ... land of really, really, really, ridiculously good looking scenery and people.
Seriously, Aspen is all that and more. We drove up Friday morning to take an easy day of R&R prior to Saturday’s race. Our hotel was fabulous ... better yet we were unexpectedly upgraded to a premium suite - 2 bedrooms with separate beds for the kids, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, a huge living room, and and balcony with a view grand enough to make you feel like a billionaire! Super thanks to The Gant - the stay was wonderful!
And the rain! Sweet summer rain! Finally, the monsoon has come to Colorado!! I counted at least 8 storm cells on Friday afternoon. The air was crisp and cool. The ground and trees fragrant. We had a delightful afternoon window shopping, eating, and laying around doing nothing. Oh, this was looking good for tomorrow’s race!!
|Just sitting on our porch watching the storms roll through - happy sigh.|
So this race really was more of a training run. I was hoping to beat my Colfax time since I’ve been running regularly but certainly not at peak training like prior to Big Sur. But the real point was to pull off my third marathon in under 90 days to qualify for The Marathon Maniacs. Fortunately, the don’t take time into account - all that matters is that it is a timed marathon and that you finish.
This is the second year of The Aspen Valley Marathon. It is a point to point from Aspen along the Rio Grande Trail to Basalt. This was all foreign territory for me so I was really excited. Being a new race I opted to carry my own water (handheld) just to be on the safe side.
|A+ swag - nicely done Aspen Valley!|
The morning was ideal. 50 degrees with cloud cover. Last year 59 people finished the marathon. This year 145 - I'm very glad to see this race growing! But 26.2 miles felt a little daunting knowing that I’d probably be spending a lot of time alone. Ah well, nothing like a new challenge.
And merrily I rolled along. The trail followed the Roaring Fork River. It was lush, all the rain had the river truly “roaring”, the wetlands were stunning with small waterfalls along the trail. As John Denver said ...
“Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams
Seeking grace in every step he takes
His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake”
Yes, sir, I know exactly how you felt.
|I didn't take any photos along the way - nabbed these off the internet|
And then came mile 9 and I was visited by my arch nemesis ... gastric reflux.
I thought I had that monster tamed last year prior to my first marathon. I was so confident, in fact, that I had grown fairly lax in my strict pre-race dietary restrictions.
Ah, that punched in the stomach feeling, the sloshing gut, the nausea. I also knew the fact ... that wasn’t going to pass until I stopped. Worse, my gastric absorption basically slows to a snail's pace - what little fluid and fuel I could get down took forever to get where it was so desperately needed. On top of that I was sweating bullets - something I never do.
By the halfway point I knew that this just wasn’t going to work out well. If I wasn’t so close to my Maniac qualification I would have gladly taken the DNF - it was that bad. So I mulled over my options
#1 DNF - poor fluid and calorie intake with 13 more miles to go. This was the smart choice.
#2 Slow down significantly. Walk, crawl ... forget all about the time and just try to finish. But more importantly, stay OUT of the ER.
Yeah, I picked #2.
It sucked. But it was such a gorgeous day and the scenery really was that great. I plugged in my headphones, turned up the tunes, and made some game rules. Sip my water every 5 minutes. Just try. I couldn’t even drink from the cups at the water station, that volume made me almost retch. My handheld saved my butt. Try for fuel every 2-3 miles and WALK the whole mile after ingesting the fuel. End of story ... get the calories in no matter what. Run half a mile, walk a tenth of a mile. If I barfed then game over - call Eric and take the DNF.
And it worked. I finished. I’ll spare the rest of the details - frankly I don’t remember much after the halfway point - just left foot, right foot ... focus on the tunes and the view. Final time 4:54 ... ouch. Ah well, sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.
I am so glad that it’s over. Afterwards, lots of Gatorade and pretzel sticks got me recovered from dehydration, hypoglycemia, and hyopnatremia. The awful truth ... I was only able to ingest 400 calories and 16 ounces of water the whole race ... bad, bad, bad, I know.
But don’t let my rough day deter you from the race. The marathon is fantastic!!! The organizers and volunteers were great. The trail varies from groomed dirt and asphalt. There were some rolling hills but overall this has the potential to be a VERY fast race. And so amazing ... I had my moments that far surpassed “Oh, wow!” More like “Holy CRAP, am I really running through the middle of this??” And don’t forget that I ran stunning Big Sur just a few months ago - there were moments just as breathtaking.
I want to see this race grow. I want to see it as a major destination race that sells out within the first few days of registration opening.
I want to go back and chug down that trail like I know I could ... on the right day.