Sunday, May 2, 2010

Short race report for the Greenland Trail 50K

I ran in the Greenland Trail 50K yesterday. This was my first race in over seven months, and my first-ever race at elevation. My last race was the North Coast 24-Hour/24-Hour National Championship in Cleveland, where I completed a disappointing 131 miles. It took me about three months to get back to 100% after the North Coast 24. But that was a lifetime ago. The Greenland Trail 50K was held in the Greenland Open Space, located about 20 minutes south of Castle Rock and 20-30 miles north of Colorado Springs along Interstate 25. When I parked my car I checked the elevation on my car's navigation system and it read 6,955 feet--much higher than I thought.

Before I go any further, the basics: I finished 5th overall--out of about 120 finishers--with a time of 4:14:59. The winning time was 3:52 by a guy who happens to be a 2:27 marathoner. The complete results are here. I'll post photos when/if I get them.

The course consisted of four loops within the Greenland Open Space, with short spurs entering the course and to access the finish line. According to my Garmin, the entire course was between 7,000-7,500 feet, with 3,331 of ascent and 3,336 of descent and a few decent hills but nothing steep. The trail was all dirt and mostly double-track. There was some mud and snow but overall the course was dry and in excellent condition. The weather was also pretty nice. Though the sun was out, in a few sections you really got blown around. It was about 30 degrees at the start and in the mid to high 40s by the time I finished.

The Greenland Open Space offers beautiful views of surrounding mountains, including Pikes Peak. Being a crystal-clear morning, Pikes Peak looked like it was practically glowing. Some of the views were magnificent.

I felt great pretty much the whole way, though there were a few areas on the final lap that I struggled. My lap times were:
  1. 59:42
  2. 1:00:56
  3. 1:03:46
  4. 1:10:32
I am not happy with that fourth-lap time. My marathon split was 3:33:12.I noticed that my quads really held up well as I was hammering the downhills. I think the weight-training is paying off. At such elevation and especially in the mountains, I think it's vital to have balanced and strong, but not overly muscular, legs. I'm doing single leg extensions--one leg at a time--with light weight and fairly high repetitions. Doing one leg at a time helps identify and address imbalances and weaknesses. I guess it's paying off because I was strong on the downhills at Greenland.

Back to the race: Overall I am very happy with the result. This time only a month ago we were in the car making our way out here to Colorado from Ohio. I had lived at sea level all my life. To go from nearly 37 years at sea level to finishing fifth overall in a race at 7,000-7,500 feet makes me feel upbeat, especially as I'm now preparing for the Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run on Aug. 21. My mileage over the past two months has been erratic and it's now time to get more consistent and try to hit triple digits for my Leadville training.

It's hard to say what my next race will be, though I'm leaning toward the Leadville Marathon on July 3 and, by then, hope to have conquered Pikes Peak--both ways (25 miles with 7,400 feet of vertical).

This week the goal as I recover from the Greenland Trail 50K is 80 miles.


  1. That's an inspirational race report! I'm looking forward to reading the Leadville one too!

  2. Great race report and congrats on a good race. I'm a recreational runner, at best, and cramped up pretty bad at the top of the climb during lap 3. Finished at 5:34 and some change, but looking into getting more serious with my running. Good luck on your future endeavors.