Indian Creek Fifties

This past weekend (Oct 15 – sorry it took me a couple weeks to finish writing this) I ran in the 3rd annual Indian Creek Fifties. All I can say is wow, it was everything I signed up for and so much more.

I originally signed up for the 50 mile option, but time was not on my side again as the temps got into the upper 70s and 10 miles of mostly continuous up slowed my pace too much. I’m not disappointed though as I did get a finisher award and time for the 50K (which my GPS put at close 35mi). My wife and friend told me there were quite a few people who opted for the 50K finish instead of going out for a third loop even if they had plenty of time.

Anyway, my thoughts on the race…

I got up at 3:15am to drink coffee, change, and just my blood flowing before heading down to the trailhead. We had loaded everything into the back of the truck the night before so that we didn’t have to worry about it in the morning. I probably checked my dropbox a dozen times to make sure everything I would want was in there and I wasn’t forgetting anything.

My friend and training partner should up at 4:00, right on time for us to head on down to the race, so we loaded up the kids and we all got in and took off.  We got there a few minutes early so I drove through the two campgrounds and the trailhead parking lot to show my wife and friend the trails I would be taking, went to the main aid station “Reservation” and found a good parking spot right at the main loop.

I went and checked in, then sat in the truck with my family relaxing.

When the time came near for the start, I began getting my things ready; pulled out the headlamp, got my gloves on, pulled on the beanie, tightened my shoelaces, shoved gels in my pockets and made sure everything I would need for the first loop was with me. Then we headed to the Start/Finish line, took the obligatory pictures and waited some more.

The race directors made a couple of announcements about the course difficulty and that it wouldn’t be easy., something I think I definitely underestimated when I signed up.

Then it was time to go!

As could be expected, everyone kind of hiked up the first section of loop 1. It starts off going uphill and continues for about two miles. In the dark was cool to see all the headlamps marching slowly up the mountain like a glow in the dark caterpillar. I enjoyed listening to the different groups of people talk while we were on the initial double track/forest service road until it became single track further up.

After about 30ish minutes it was time to start heading downhill. Running single track in the dark with a fading headlamp is not as fun as it might sound. I just took it easy, going at pace I knew I could maintain without burning out my quads. Soon the sun started to come up and illuminate the trail and world around us.

sunrise

By this time I had started running with a super nice gentleman by the name of Jim. We started talking as we had similar time and pace goals for the race. It was nice to run with someone. Not long after we were running together, another guy, Ross was going at a pace similar to us and we just trotted along together talking about all kinds of different things. The perfect distraction early in the race. Thanks guys!

There are some amazing views as you come out of the forest and the dark and are heading down into the valley and Roxborough Park. I’ll let my bad phone photos do the talking here…

There really is a lot of great scenery on this trail, I’m sorry I didn’t take more pictures but I was more interested in a getting a decent time and hitting my goal paces.

After a more than a few miles of downhill and going through the valley, you start on a service road that narrows into easy double track, then you get to the only remote aid station this year at the intersection of the loops.

The two wonderful people working Rampart were David (?) and Fabian, were simply that, wonderful. They were really nice and helped everyone with a smile, even though they had to hike in gallons and gallons of water and all the food.

On the first loop leaving the Rampart aid station you head up some fantastic single track trail for a couple of miles before coming out on to some smooth double track. This double track fairly nice and rolling uphill through woods until you get to some single track that leads you back down towards the main trailhead parking and the Reservation.

When I made it into Reservation, I was so happy. My legs and body felt good and strong. My family and friends were there waiting for me. And best of all, I was right on schedule for my goal pace, 9:45am.

In the aid station I changed my shirt, got my water bottles filled, filled my handheld with Tailwind, ate some cookies, grabbed my bag of snacks and battery power pack to charge my Garmin. I gave everyone a hug and headed out to make the course’s second loop.

The second loop away from Reservation initially heads downhill. After all the other up and down, my toes were feeling a little squished, so I tightened the laces on my trusty shoes and went as fast as I could.

It’s rather steep places, so I pushed as much as I could and kept moving forward at a respectable pace while jamming along to the Grateful Dead. I have to let you know, “What’s Become of the Baby” is not really a song to run to. “China Cat Sunflower” is a great jam though.

OK, back on topic… running.

Once I got to the bottom of the down, it was time to begin the long and slow climb back up. It’s at this point you get to trek through some nice open meadows and then climb up Powerline Trail, a double-track/service road that goes up forever and ever and ever and ever. Every time I thought I was close to being back at the Rampart aid station, I discovered no, I wasn’t.

Due to the heat and my slow pace, I managed to run out of water and electrolyte drink before getting to Rampart. Once I was I there though, it was like a beautiful desert oasis with snacks and water and water that tasted like Tailwind. I drank a whole bottle of water as soon as I go there, which was way too fast and made my stomach queasy for a few minutes. Ate some cookies, watermelon, and everything else that looked good. Filled my water bottles and took off to continue on to Reservation.

It was hot and sunny and I’ve blocked most of the experience from my memory. (Not really but it’s not exciting.)

This part of the course feels like it takes forever and goes up forever. There is a lot exposed trail and it wasn’t as pleasant as it could have been. It was unusually hot for mid-October. Oh well, I pushed on until a couple of miles out from the finish  my friend met me on the trail to check on me. I was OK, just getting tired and once again, out of water.

Jogged to the finish line where I missed the cut off to continue on by 19 minutes. It was fine though because I had already determined I wasn’t going to do the third lap. I knew I wouldn’t finish it in time and I didn’t want my family to have to wait for me, while I plodded on.

Completing the 50K was still an awesome experience even though I set out to complete the 50miler. The Indian Creek Fifties is a TOUGH but rewarding course and I plan to return next year.

I should be running right now

My phone rang at 5:55am. I saw the name and shouldn’t have answered it. I knew it wouldn’t be any good, but if he was calling me, it must be something important.

Here I sit at the dining room table an hour and a half later with support, troubleshooting an issue.

Gave Kurt the sandwiches I made and let him know what happened. I wish I was out there on the trail too, running through the woods, taking in the fresh air and views.

Perhaps later.

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