I think I can sum up today's effort by saying: never have I been so happy to finish a 10k in over an hour.
I know what you're thinking: An hour? Seriously?!
It's not a fast finish time, I know. But my 1:06 is much faster than I thought I was capable of today, and more importantly, it felt fantastic to run a well-paced race, finish strongly, and feel like a runner again after so much time away.
The Frost Giant, which takes place in Estes Park each January, is a fun community event. It is different from many 5k/10k races in that the two races aren't run concurrently; if you like, you can run the 5k at 11 a.m., rest a bit, then run the 10k at noon. Many runners seemed to be taking advantage of that option.
Starting in downtown Estes, the race quickly heads straight up Virginia Drive, then connects with Big Horn Drive to cross Wonderview, then winds its way through a wooded neighborhood before turning left on MacGregor Avenue to enter into MacGregor Ranch.
The two photos on this blog entry were taken just at this point, coming into MacGregor Ranch on a dirt road. The course continues on a dirt road, then runners get to run on the grass along the fence that runs beside Devil's Gulch Road. Around mile 3, runners cross Devil's Gulch Road and enter a large cow pasture. This was somewhat entertaining running: great views of Lumpy Ridge landmarks like the Twin Owls Rock, coupled with enthusiastic volunteers, plus the added challenge of dodging cow "pies" in the meadow. We ran over hill and dale, crossing and criss-crossing the meadow, before heading back down the hill toward the finish, leaving the meadow right around mile 5.
It was at this point that I "took stock" and realized I still felt pretty good, so I sped up, passed three or four people, and made my way down the hill toward the finish line. When the American flag atop the Estes Town Hall flagpole came into view, I knew it was just a short jaunt further to the finish line, so I surged again. I was starting to feel a little lightheaded as I came into the finish chute, but it felt fantastic to finish with no pain and basically, feeling pretty good. I felt bad for my dad, though: I'd told him there was no way I'd be able to finish under 1:15, so when I crossed the finish line he was still in the car finishing the Sunday newspaper!
This week I'm traveling to Louisville and Nashville, and once again have the challenge of keeping my training mileage up while I'm on the road.
So, Kentuckians and Tennessee-ans... see you on the trail!