Quad Rock 50 Race Report

Hanging out on the back deck
No matter how many times I told myself I was better trained for Quad Rock this year I just wasn't convinced. It was a super busy week leading up to Quad Rock and I began to get nervous that I hadn't looked at the course profile or even thought about splits. So Dan printed me a copy of the profile and in about 5 minutes I quickly sketched out some splits based solely on what I thought I should be able to run for each section. 

After Dan got in his annual run to the top of Horsetooth I headed out to pick up my packet and grab some dinner. Thankfully Five Guys is right next to Runner's Roost. I'm not sure most would consider this a great pre-race meal, but hey it's delicious and James loves Five Guys. So burgers and fries it was. This year we rented a little cabin right on Horsetooth reservoir and while it was a bit tiny the location was awesome. Plus having a cabin always makes gear prep easier than working in the dark in a hotel room while James sleeps. 

My 3:45 am wake-up call came bright and early after James decided 3:00 was a great time to be awake and hang out. I made it to the race start with just enough time to check-in drop off my drop bags and relax for a couple minutes. I found Nick and we were ready to get started. I wasn't sure that starting with Nick was the best idea, he tends to go out fast and since he was only running the 25 I wasn't sure how this would play out for me. But in the end it seemed better than running up Towers by myself. 

Heading back out from the turn-around
Nick was pushing it and the first 3 miles through the rolling meadows were ran at about 8:30 min miles. Then we started the climb. I knew I had to hike most of this but still was running more than expected to keep up with Nick. Near the top I started to fall off his pace and knew I had to just run my own race. I got to Towers AS at 1:20, 20 minutes ahead of my splits. Not where I wanted to be so I forced myself to slow down and relax a bit. My stomach was already not feeling great and my head just wasn't in the race. I was doubtful I'd see Dan and James at the Horsetooth AS, so I planned to just cruise through before I could think about our cabin just down the road. I got to the Horsetooth AS 17 minutes ahead of my splits so I was getting back where I needed to be. As I started the climb out of the AS I heard Dan call my name. He had just pulled in and they were waving at me. I stopped briefly and thought about turning around to head down and see them, but I knew Dan would be so mad at me. So I just kept hiking and waving until I got around the first corner. 
Quad Rock scars

The climb out of Horsetooth up along West Ridge is so much more brutal than I remember it being. It's not crazy steep it just seems to go on forever! Of course I had completely blocked this climb out of my mind from last year. About a mile or so up the climb the guy behind me asked if I was local "because I seemed to really know the trails". I ended up running with Josh the whole way to the 25 mile turn-around. Of course about 15 miles into the race we were just running easily along a relatively flat section when I subconsciously decided the fastest way to run was to superman along the trail. I can tell you from experience it is not actually the fastest way to travel, but it sure does make for an interesting story! I slid so lightly across the ground I was actually surprised to see blood running down my legs. He was running a bit slower than my pace but it was the perfect pace to get me back on my splits and the miles pass so much faster when you can run and chat. We cruised easily into the start/finish right at 5:00 which meant I was exactly on my splits. Dan and James were there to fill my bottles and turn me right around. I was really feeling good at this point and was able to run out of the AS and push the climb a bit. 

My camo crew
The climb back to Arthur's AS I was able to keep a pretty steady run-walk through the whole climb which was a huge improvement for me. Now I just had to hang on to the last couple climbs. Climbing out of Arthur's was so much worse than I remembered it. I fell completely off my splits getting to the top 30 minutes off my times. It was just a plod to the top. I'm not really sure what went wrong. I didn't physically bonk, there was a slight bit of rain so not too hot, not too cold, not too stormy. I just mentally bonked. But once I got to the top I was ready to make up some time. I really started pushing the pace heading down West Ridge. I picked off two girls and countless guys. And I mentally prepared for the last climb. Last year I completely bonked on this climb and walked almost the whole thing. 

I was in and out of Horsetooth AS quickly. The AS at Quad Rock are super dialed in. I spent 8 minutes total at AS this year which was another huge improvement for me. At each AS I added more vanilla EFS or VFuel to one bottle and filled both with water. I was able to maintain about 150-200 cal/hr which was more than I usually take, but seemed to be the perfect amount. I didn't take in any other calories, just s-caps every hour. I'm sure mainstreaming my nutrition also helped cut down on AS time. So I started the climb and realized it wasn't as bad as I remembered so I started running. And I kept running and waiting for the climb. I finally caught a glimpse of Josh and pushed to catch up to him. By the time I did he was really slowing down. We ran together for about 1/2 mile before I had to go on. I power hiked the last couple hundred feet up the steep section right before you hit the Tower AS. 

Coming into the turn-around
At Tower everyone reassured me that it was all downhill from here. That is a LIE! Don't believe these people. It is mostly downhill from here, but there are a couple heartbreaking climbs left. I took off down Towers at a pretty good pace. I had made up time on my splits on the last climb and now had 1.5 hr to make it in under 11 hours. I was pretty sure I could do it, but not totally sure. So I knew I had to keep a good pace. After a couple miles on Towers you turn onto Scout (I think?). I love this trail other than the hill you have to climb up. Its short and not super steep, but after 40+ miles its a tough one to run. After that climb it really is almost all downhill. Just a few rolling hills back through the meadows. I finally hit the meadows and knew Arthur's would be just around the corner. It seemed like it was taking forever to get there though. About a mile before the AS I came up on another woman. She was not looking real good and asked me to send help from the AS. There wasn't much I could do for her and I knew there were a couple guys not too far behind me in case she needed more help. So I picked up the pace to the AS to send someone to get her. It's so hard to see someone make it to mile 48 and get so sick they can't finish. At Arthur's someone mentioned 7th woman, but I didn't believe them. At the turn-around I had counted that I was somewhere around 15th and had now passed 3, but that many others couldn't have dropped right?

Coming into the finish line
No time to think, just run. The meadows are a tough finish. You can see the finish as you keep meandering. My GPS ticked off mile 50 and I was still running. Finally, finally I turned onto the road and then right into the parking lot. Dan and James were waiting for me here and James was clapping and smiling! So hard not to do anything other than sprint across the finish line so you can go give that guy a hug. Apparently I was so excited realizing that I was almost an hour ahead of last year's time and so excited to see my boy that I was running pretty fast with a huge grin plastered to my face. After I crossed the finish one guy looked at me and asked "so your first 50?". I just laughed. Yeah no just stoked to be finished!

Well my A goal was 10:30 and 5th place for women. B goal was 11:00. I finished in 10:45 and 7th place. And I really kept to my splits. Even though I didn't hit my A goal I was pretty happy with my race. It was one of my smartest races and one of my first where I felt like I was really racing. Plus a PR by 57 minutes is nothing to cry about. We'll just have to see if I can continue to run well the rest of the season. If my training continues to improve like it has all year I think I'll have quite a bit of success come this fall!

Week May 5 - 11

Miles Running: 65
Hours Hiking and Running: 14.5
Backyard fun
James' favorite place in the cabin

The best way to drink your milk!

25 mile turn-around 

Learning to drink like a runner!


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