XTERRA Snow Mountain Ranch 20K
This morning was the XTERRA Snow Mountain Ranch 20K trail race at Snow Mountain Ranch just outside of Tabernash. Although there was frost on the ground and I had to use the ice scraper on the car this morning, the day got hot fast. The course was really nice, winding through aspen forests, meadows, willow thickets, some lodgepole pines - all on trails with a few sections of dirt road. I would recommend this race to anyone; the course is really nice, the location is spectacular, and the volunteers and crew were great. Next year they are going to offer a full trail marathon, and not the 20K, so that may be something to put on your radar.
I started off with the lead group, keeping pace with them through the first couple miles, but had to drop back a bit on the initial 1,000' climb. Although I had tapered and rested, I'm still trying to figure out just how to race. I thought I was rested and would be good, but for some reason I wanted to hurl on the climb and was having trouble getting my breathing into a rhythm - I think it was mostly adrenaline as after about mile 5 I got into a good groove and was able to run the flats and hills really well. It surprised me a bit, as I didn't feel too nervous prior to the race, but obviously I was and need to keep working on the mental and physical game of racing. After the first big climb, the course was mostly rolling with some steep downs and a couple short ups. When I let the lead pack go on the climb, there was no one behind me so I ran the rest of the race solo, which was nice but I think I might have been able to get a slightly better time if there had been a rabbit in front or someone closing in on me and pushing me to go faster. Again, learning to race - something I have never done but find really quite interesting in all of its complexities and nuances.
Anyway, a great race on a killer course. The trails are open to the public if you buy a day pass at the Ranch, which is something to do now that fall colors are starting to show. It really is a beautiful setting. I got 6th place with a time of 1:50:49. Pretty happy, but obviously there is room for improvement; improvement that I think will come with more racing experience.