Rock/Creek Race Team member Jaclyn Greenhill placed 3rd Female at the Collegiate Peaks 50-mile trail race last weekend. Here is her race report!
Starting in the town of Buena Vista, located in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, it’s no wonder that the Collegiate Peaks 25/50 miler sold out in just a few days. At an altitude of 8,400 feet and surrounded by snow-capped 14,000 foot peaks such as Mt. Princeton and Harvard, one is able to get a fairly good idea as to what Colorado is all about. The race begins and ends near the Arkansas River, primarily following single-track and jeep trails along part of the old, historic Midland Railroad.
At the starting line, 400 participants were lined up and ready to go. The blow horn signaled and we were off. My plan was to pace myself off of my friend, who was out there doing the 25-miler, and then do the last 25 on my own. We started somewhat in the front of the pack. The first four miles were on pavement which had me aching way too early into the race. After about mile six I knew that trying to keep up with my friend was not going to happen. My legs were extremely heavy and my head was just not into it. I knew that I could drop down to the 25 miler if I wanted to and for awhile I was convinced that this would be the fate of my day. I kept trying to focus on the scenery and beautiful snow-capped mountains to uplift my spirits. Eventually this worked, and by mile twenty my body and mind started coming around. Its amazing what our minds can convince our bodies to do.
At the end of the first loop I saw my friends celebrating the end of their race. Luckily, I was feeling quite motivated by this point so I was not too hindered to join them. My friend Steven filled my bladder up with more Nuun, reloaded my pack with GU energy gels and went back out for my second loop in reverse. I was running in my Montrail Mountain Masochists and my feet felt great. I fell in love with the old Montrail Streaks, and was quite devastated to hear that they had stopped making them. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find the Mountain Masochists to be equal if not better fitted for my foot. They provide just enough support for rocky trails, but with low enough of a profile to keep my weak ankle from rolling with terrain changes. I had my Patagonia Draft tank on and my favorite Patagonia running skort. Both of these are extremely breathable, and prevent any sort of chafing that may happen in 50 miles of running.
The reverse loop seemed to be way hillier than the first, but it could have been the fact that my legs were feeling the mileage. Luckily, the weather could not have been any better that it was: seventy degrees, with hardly a cloud in the sky, and the mountains still looking as beautiful as ever. With my music playing (my treat to myself for the second half), I was able to get back on a good rhythm. I was happy to know that I was in third place, as well, and a good distance from the rest of the females. My motto is that I would much rather chase than to be chased. Placing my competitiveness aside I just wanted to finish the race to prove to myself that I am still in good enough shape to run a fifty. The rest of the day were still some mental ups and downs, but with all of the great volunteers and support crew I was able to overcome the downs. With plenty of food and water at the aid stations I kept myself well hydrated and energized. I have discovered that eating solid foods the second half of a race really helps my stomach out.
I hit the road and knew that I could possibly achieve my goal of finishing the race in under nine hours. Those last four miles seemed like an eternity but I knew that my body had made it this far and there was no way that I was quitting now. I heard the cheers and music and started to sprint towards my friends and dog who were waiting patiently for me. I crossed the finish line at 8:50:33 placing third female overall. This race was perfect for my first 50 for the season. The terrain was rolling, some great climbs along with fast flat and downhills. I would highly recommend this race to any and all trail runners who want to get a glimpse of what the Colorado Rockies have to offer.