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January and February

The first two months of the year were busy for my athletes. Most people think of winter as the off season, but not so much around here! Between early season running races and fat bike races, there have been some outstanding performances.

In January, both Shana B and Merideth B took on the hilly 10k Rescue Run in Colorado Springs. Shana finished in under an hour and Merideth ran six minutes faster then her prior best time for that race. But the month wasn't finished for them. They both were running in the Pikes Peak Road Runners Winter Series, a progressive four race series in January and February. The first race was a very hilly four mile race on the multi-use trails of Cheyenne Mountain State Park. Since this was Shana's first year doing the race series, we had no history and the goal was to run smart. We were also using the races as long training runs with extended warm up and cool down for prep for her goal half marathon. Merideth on the other hand ran the series last year, so we had some history. And she proved that consistent training and dedication pays off, setting new PRs at all the races. She was 11 minutes faster at the CMSP race and 9 minutes faster at the Noris-Penrose race.

Judd, rolling strong in the Arrowhead 135
Meanwhile, Don W and Judd R were in Minnesota, racing in the Arrowhead 135. It is a point to point snow race from International Falls, MN to the Fortune Bay Casino. Racers can choose between cycling, running or skiing to cover the distance. There's only three checkpoints and racers have to be prepared to managed and safety deal with the extremes of Minnesota weather. Don has raced in Arrowhead five prior times, with two DNFs. The goal this year was to finish and finish strong. But there is more to Arrowhead then just finishing. It's a community of riders all with the same common goal. For Don, helping one of his friends reach the finish line was more important then simply finishing fast. He rode the last 50 miles with Tedd and still set a new PR by over four hours, finishing in 33:02. And yes, that's 33 hours. Could he have gone under 30 hours? I'm sure he could have this year. But time on the trail was more important then the finish time. As for Judd, he did have a finish time goal in mind - 24 hours. This was also the final shake out of his gear for the Iditarod Trail Invitational at the end of February, so he was fully packed for an Alaska adventure. Overkill for this race, but important to make sure that everything works. Judd crushed it - finishing in 21:05, taking 15 hours off his prior fastest finishing time. He also set a new Single Speed Course Record in the process.

Don at the finish of the Arrowhead 135

Into February and it was time for the Super Half Marathon in Colorado Springs. Both Shana and Merideth were racing, as was I. For Shana, this was the goal half marathon. It was her first half marathon in many years and she wasn't sure of what time she should aim for, initially thinking a 2:20. I had my doubts about that - I thought it was a little slow. So we looked at the times from her workouts and the Winter Series races. I told her 2:05 - 2:10 was a much more realistic goal time, simply based on her workouts and other performances. Go for it... When I saw her in the race, she looked happy and strong. And finished in 2:05:09! Merideth also had a strong race - but hers was more mentally strong. The Super Half was a test half marathon, getting ready for the real goal in May. I always tell my athletes that we learn more from the hard races then we do from the easy ones - and this was was no different. Merideth finished strong, just outside her goal time. It was after the race, when she was looking at the results from her last half that we realized just how solid of an event the Super Half was for her. We might not have hit the goal time, but she was still 11 minutes faster then her last half marathon.

A slightly fuzzy photo of Shana after her successful Super Half Marathon

That wasn't all of the racing for those two though - there were still two more races in the Winter Series. They both ran the third race easy - it was the weekend after the Super Half and I didn't want them to force a fast race so quickly after a hard half marathon. I am especially proud of Merideth's performance at this year's Winter Series. She was faster at every single race, including the third one. Last year she did the 5k instead of the half marathon, but still took several minutes out of her time on the third race in the series. And the final race - the hilly 10k in the Black Forest and easily the hardest race in the series, Merideth was almost 14 minutes faster! Overall, she took nearly 45 minutes off her accumulated series time and finished 4th in the Athena class.

One final race result to report on - Chandler stepped off the trails and onto the road for a bit this winter, working on her speed before diving back into the ultra training. She made the drive down to Puebla for the Pueblo Half marathon on February 19th. It was a first year event by Mad Moose events, and fit perfectly into her work schedule as an ICU RN. The concrete was a little harder then we'd anticipated, but the course and course support was top notch - just what I've come to expect and love about the Mad Moose races. Chandler had a solid race, finishing in 2:07:39. I know she's looking forward to returning to the trails for her big races of the season later in the year!