Indoor Training

"It's sad to see anyone inside on the trainer." That was the comment attached to an article about riding outside all winter lo...

Wednesday, February 28

Winter Series

An annual tradition in Colorado Springs, the Pikes Peak Road Runners Winter series had several Thelen Coaching Athletes racing. It's a four race series at a variety of venues around town - from the hilly Cheyenne Mountain State Park course to the flat Pikes Peak Greenway race. Sometimes weather shows up for the fun, sometimes it's more summer like conditions. This year had both, adding to the challenges.

Race 1 - Cheyenne Mountain State Park. This is one of the hilliest of the courses, especially for the long series, with the climb up to the top of South Talon. Even the short series race isn't easy, climbing up Sundance and returning to the finish via Talon. Dianna and Brenda tackled the 3(ish) mile course and came away with decent times for the challenging course. Dianna set a new PR for the course, running 38:45 - taking over two minutes off her time. Brenda finished in 45:59, making a good benchmark for her return to running. In the long series, Dawn battled through some hip issues to run the 7(ish) in 1:29:45

Race 2 - Bear Creek Park. The short course at this venue is another hilly race, taking on some of the bigger hills in Bear Creek Regional park. With a new start/finish this year, the course was a little longer then in prior years for both the short and long course races. That didn't stop Dianna from running another PR of 46:14 - nearly 2:15 faster then the prior year. Brenda also had a good race, finishing with a time of 57:17. Dawn looked strong the entire 8 mile long course race, finishing in 1:28:36.

Race 3 - El Pomar and the Pikes Peak Greenway. Flat and fast for both the short and the long series, but Winter finally made an appearance with 15* temps and heavy snow at the start. Challenging conditions for sure! Since the course went North this year, it was a different course then last year. Dianna ran 1:01:54 which is a solid time for the conditions. Dawn had stellar race, turning in a 1:51:10 despite the snow.

Start of Winter Series III - just a little snowy!
Race 4 - Black Forest. The last remaining original course from when the Winter Series started. Black Forest can always be counted on for a challenging race, regardless of weather. The course is unending hills - either up or down. Road conditions range from snow packed to ice to dry. And there is always a wind blowing. This year, the wind was stiff, howling from the north west, raking across the course and chilling runners and volunteers to the bone. Dianna ran another course PR despite the wind, finishing in 1:21:18, about eight minutes faster then last year. Brenda was over the cold that took her out of race three and ran 1:36:69. In the long series, Dawn toughed out the wind and the last two miles that seemed uphill and into a head wind to run 2:36:03.

It's a lot of racing in a short time and a huge commitment. Everyone who finished the series should be proud of themselves. It's also a great way to start the year as a runner - building a solid distance pace for the adventures and races to come!

Monday, February 12

Arrowhead 135

Judd headed up to Minnesota again for the Arrowhead 135 at the end of January. After setting a single speed record last year of 21:05, Judd opted to race in the new unsupported class. It would be great prep for the Iditarod Trail Invitational and a new challenge. Conditions at the start looked like it could be another fast year, with cold temperatures and light snow falling. The teperatrue was supposed to stay cold, but not super cold - in the 0-10*s range. Perfect for racing.

Pre-race shake out with the Back of the Pack Racing crew.
Photo - Judd Rohwer
The race stuck together to the first checkpoint, with Judd only a few minutes off his time from 2017. Conditions were still good, but starting to deteriorate. It was getting colder, the humidity was high for winter riding. Judd kept pushing through, but his pace was slowing. Given that he was carrying twice as much weight as last year, that was expected. Matching the fast time from 2017 while racing self supported was a tall order. With the cold weather (dropping into the mid -30s) some unexpected issues with his gear appeared. Better to have those issues now then up in Alaska, but it was still a huge impact on his race.

At the start, ready to go.
 Photo Dave Sears

With the gear issues and several mechanicals, Judd made the choice to bivy at mile 99. Stop and get some rest before he started making decisions that could have a negative impact on the race and his safety. It's hard choice to stop mid-race and bivy, but sometimes the safest choice. The track usually gets fast at night from the cold, but if you aren't making rational choice, it's time to stop.

Unfortunately, it also meant that he would have to deal with weather for longer. Instead of improving, the weather had continued to deteriorate with temperatures plummeting to below -40 over night. Frostbite was a real concern for many of the racers this year. After getting going in the morning, Judd was riding into a hard wind, with sideways snow plowing across the trail. But he pushed through, continuing to make progress and finally reaching the finish.

The finish! 34:36 - and that's snow falling in the photo
Photo Dave Sears

Yes, you get a fancier arrowhead for finishing unsupported.
 Judd's report is on the Back of the Pack website - with plenty of details about the race and the conditions.

Next stop? Alaska!

Tuesday, February 6

Rescue Run and Game Day 5k Results

Thelen Coaching athletes started the year off right at the Rescue Run, with athletes in both the 5k and 10k races. It's one of the harder races in town, with the first mile all up hill in both races, rolling hills from miles 1-5 in the 10k and then a downhill final mile. The 5k is uphill to the turn around, then downhill back to the finish, making pacing challenging. In the 10k, Dianna finished in 1:14:12, a huge PR for her. Not a bad way to start the year out! Dawn ran 1:10:36, setting a bench mark time for her 10k. That should be easy to beat given how hard the Rescue Run course is... And Jen decided to take on the challenge during her visit from NC, running 1:17:10 and as she said "not finishing dead last!" Not bad for someone from sea level. Brenda was the only athlete in the 5k, finishing in 44:39 - a little slower the previous years, but she's just now getting back into consistent running.

At the Game Day 5k a month later, it was another solid day of racing. This is one of the flatter courses in town and usually delivers some fast times. But it's also a very weather dependent race, being contested on the Santa Fe Trail downtown - very exposed to wind. This was one of the years where the weather had as much an effect on the race as anything, with a stiff southern wind blowing at the start and an upslope moving in before most of the Super Half races finished. Even so, Dianna ran almost identical time to last year, finishing in 33:41. Brenda also had a great race with a time of 41:14- one of her faster 5k times despite battling the wind for the last mile and a half. Dawn had initially wanted to do the Super Half Marathon, but with the timing for the Winter Series, the 5k proved to be a smarter option. And she made the race count, almost breaking 30 minutes - finishing in 30:07.