Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cheyenne Mountain 25k Race Report

This whole running thing is fun.  Races like today's definitely help remind me of this.
Cheyenne Mountain 25k Trail Race
16.8 miles, 2,146' gain/loss
3rd place, 1:59:08

When I first heard of this new race at CMSP, my initial reaction was one of skepiticism.  After all, two other races (Xterra Marathon and Fall Series) just sprung up in the park within the past two years.  The amount of trails in the park are limited, so there was nothing new here as far as I was concerned.  However, the timing of the race was good - Collegiate Peaks falls two weeks later - so I signed up for the 25k a couple of months ago.
Cheyenne Mtn 25k (looking south)
It was during a reconnaissance mission of the course five weeks ago that I originally aggravated my hip, and only in the past week have I finally seemed to have gotten back to full strength.  Needless to say, my last memory of CMSP was not an amiable one.  I did, however, get a good feel for the layout of the course that day - numerous tight, twisty turns.  Steady yet gradual climbs and descents.  Long stretches of groomed trail interspersed with rocky, technical sections.  I normally welcome technical courses, but nursing my injury had me worried that this would be too much too soon.  Turns out it was fine.

My plan was based on the desire to build patience, test my fitness, yet leave me fresh for CP50 and minimize the risk of re-injuring my hip:
  • Easy up the initial climbs (miles 1-4 or so)
  • Move into a better position on the north loop's descent (miles 5-8)
  • Crank up Talon on the south loop (miles 9-12)
  • See where I stood at the top of Talon.  Shut it down a little if possible (miles 13 - finish)
Things unfolded according to plan.  This video, courtesy of Pikes Peak Sports, shows I was comfortably in 7th place at the half mile.  Early in races, I will pay close attention to the breathing patterns of those around me.  A goal I usually have is to "sound better" than anyone else.  It helps me relax during the critical first few minutes, where a race can't be won, but can surely be lost.  I knew that Peter Maksimow and Tommy Manning wouldn't be coming back to me - they've both qualified for the U.S. mountain team before - but the other guys were all unknown quantities.  I just followed my plan and ran my race for the first half.

As we topped out on the north loop, I had caught sight of Paul Mann, who was the last person between me and the two leaders.  I estimate I had given him a good 25-30 second spot by the one mile mark.  One thing I love to do in trail races such as this is try and figure out others' strength's and weaknesses.  I noticed that I didn't seem to be gaining much on him during the uphills and open spaces, but the downs and rocky spots were where I would reel in substantial distance.  Once I made contact with him at mile 5, I tucked in behind him, chatted with him for a little bit, and passed him on a longer downhill stretch.  I suspected the rest of the race would be lonely.  I was only somewhat right.

As the miles clicked by, I just focused on form and steady effort.  I expected to be a good three or four minutes behind Peter and Tommy, but then I started to get conflicting messages.  One person said they were much closer, another said maybe more like five or six.  I was hoping that at the very least, I could keep the gap from growing any larger as I turned up the north loop at mile 8.5.  By now, I was passing many 50k runners, who had started a half hour before us.  Only one girl with an iPod in didn't try moving over for me; everyone else was extremely cool about it.  I took a peek ahead at one vantage point and saw what looked like Peter and Tommy, and they were MUCH closer than three minutes.  I took a glance at my watch, and looked again when I got to where they had been and the gap was only ninety seconds.  I was thoroughly confused - had I cut the course?  Were they just screwing around?  Was I actually running THAT well?  I dismissed option #3, but found myself with a little extra motivation to keep cranking up this stretch to see if I could make contact with them.  In fact, at the last switchback before the top of the south loop, I looked up to see that they were only about 10 seconds up on me.  I yelled at them to get their asses in gear as they had no business dogging it like that, and that's exactly what they did - BOOM.

Once I hit the long downhill from the top of Talon all the way to the finish, I couldn't see them anymore.  I knew I was sitting on a very large lead over 4th.  And frankly, I had worked my tail off to get up the hill.  So, I just shut it down into a doable gear and coasted home.  I was able to catch a peek of Peter and Tommy one last time just before the finish, and they had re-opened about a 90 second lead on me again.  The last few miles were relaxed and comfortable, and I began looking ahead to the looming 50-miler.  A nice touch was finishing in just sounds so much better than 2:00.  The 25k ended up being a good 16.78 miles on my watch.  Luckily, I was familiar enough with CMSP to know well before the finish that it was running quite long.

At the finish, I got world's longest massage.  It must have been 45 minutes long.  I got to catch up with a bunch of friends - Peter, Tommy, Amanda, Christoph, and 50k runners Brendan Trimboli and Brandon Stepanowich to name a few.  The post-race food was top-notch: catered chicken/pasta/salad from Carrabba's.  We hung around long enough for awards and to see the top 50k'ers finish.  Definitely a well-run inaugural event.  Low-key, yet with many nice little touches such as well-stocked aid stations.  It's hard to have fun when it's 35 degrees and blustery out, but I did just that this morning!  Can't wait to try my legs at 50 miles in two weeks! 


Mile splits:  7:52, 7:16, 7:13, 7:45, 7:38, 6:19, 6:34, 6:23, 7:07, 7:10, 8:07, 8:05, 6:37, 6:45, 6:45, 6:59, 6:02

I'll leave this entry on a light note.  Let the good times roll say the twenty year olds.


  1. Nice effort - congrats. But next time - roll the sandbaggers up and don't announce it!

  2. Solid race! You should have rolled up on those guys stealth like, catching them off guard might have made for a different outcome. Congrats!

  3. Nice job, can't wait to see you take on the varsity race for once!

    For the record, I didn't move over for you. I didn't know you were coming otherwise I would have thrown some elbows as you passed.

  4. nice run and nice chat yesterday, sean.

    oh and thanks for the pabst -- ultimate recovery beverage.