Horsetooth Half Marathon,
April 19, 2015
I had heard about this half marathon since I moved to Boulder three years ago and refused to even consider it because of the monstrous hills that came with it. After acclimating to the altitude and becoming a stronger hill runner I decided it was finally time to see what this race was all about, and I got my husband and my 2 best friends to join me! My neighbor and some other local friends signed up as well which made the whole day even more exciting.
We pulled up to the packet pick up area around 7:30 on race morning and the temperature was 35 degrees with 20+ mph winds. My first thought was “wow I did not dress appropriately for this race” since I was freezing already. We proceeded to sit in the car until the very last minute and thankfully it began to warm up and the wind calmed slightly. The course was altered this year due to construction so we had to walk up the first ~1/2 mile to the start line. At first, I thought this was fantastic until I realized we now started in the middle of a pretty steep hill with no warm up.
The race started and most of my friends took off. I took the slow and steady approach because I knew a 9%+ grade hill was coming soon. We crested the first hill within ½ mile and got some recovery time before the next hill “Monster Mountain”.
I think I was still warming up or still asleep because we were up and over the biggest hills of the race before I knew it, and my average pace was 9:27. Mile 1.5-3.0 was downhill/flat with some amazing views of the reservoir and I was able to get my pace down to 8:30 before the next big climb. Mile 3.25-4 was a 6% climb (Dam Hill) but soon we were going back downhill again and the views made me forget the pain. Over the next 2.5 miles I was able to get my pace down to 8:05. At this point you make a right turn and head away from the reservoir on a scenic country road that leads to the next big hill (Bingham Hill). I got to the top and it was time to take in a gel and lose a shirt. A quick downhill and back up the last big hill of the day and then we hit the bike path. I found this portion, mile 8-10, the most boring to be honest but with a tailwind and flat road I got my pace down to 7:50. At mile 10 there was a slight hill followed by a long straight section on a main road that I thought would never end. At mile 11.5 we were back on a bike path and turned back into the wind at mile 12.
Thankfully, we turned again shortly and I was crossing the finish line at 1:43:23, which was a PR for me! My watch said we ran 13.27 miles and my pace was 7:47 but officially it was a 7:54. My goal had always been to break 8 min/mi so I was pretty ecstatic. My husband quickly greeted and hugged me and told me he also had a PR of 1:35 and my friend Jen finished in 1:39, 3rd in her age group. My other 3 friends all finished under 2 hours as well so it was a great race had by all! Nothing celebrates a great day better than a fresh Fat Tire from New Belgium J
Elevation gain: 917 feet
Elevation loss: 1154
Net Elevation Change: -237
PROS: Views, amazing finish line party CONS: Had to pay for a medal, which they ran out of