Five Reasons I’m Excited to Run the Fortitude 10k For The First Time

The Fortitude 10k is produced by the same people that bring you the Bolder Boulder and is held on Labor Day. 2018 makes this a second-year event. After my Bolder Boulder post from this year’s race, a marketing person from the race saw my blog post on twitter and emailed me, asking me if I’d like to be part of the Fortitude 10k Blogger program, aka be a FORT Ambassador! I get to run the race and promote it and I couldn’t be more stoked! I was already thinking about doing the race and this just sealed the deal! I’m actually really excited to run the Fortitude 10k up in Fort Collins and can’t wait!

This year’s Bolder Boulder

Here are a few reasons why I’m shaking with excitement:

1. I get to visit Fort Collins!
While the Bolder Boulder is in Boulder, CO and finishes in Colorado University’s stadium, the Fortitude 10k is in Fort Collins, CO and finishes in the Colorado State University stadium. It’s no secret that the Buffs (CU) and the Rams (CSU) are rivals and I am a proud RAM FAN through and through! I went to school at CSU and am excited to run through Fort Collins and see the new stadium they built. I miss Fort Collins a lot; it was a great city to live in!

The ironic part of this picture is that I’m with CSU’s mascot at CU’s stadium!

2. It’s another big 10k with the same production quality as the Bolder Boulder.
The Bolder Boulder is produced, managed and organized exceptionally well. From the pre-race experience (registration, packet pickups, and bus system) to race day experience (plenty of port-o-johns, the wave system, and the expo area, etc), they really have developed a great system to accommodate thousands of runners. The Fortitude 10k is brought to you by the same team and I can only expect good things.

3. A new lunchbox!
Part of the swag of the Fortitude 10k is a lunch box full of snacks and goodies! I have a fair few from my Bolder Boulder races, but again, one from Fort Collins will be AWESOME!

4. The fact that I get to race a 10k!
Cross Country season is in full swing and as a coach, I’ve been running with the team. I’m excited to see where my current fitness is. My goal is to just run as fast as I can; no watch to guide me! I want to push myself, feeling like I gave it all on the course, and see what I can do. The course looks fun and pretty fast!

5. I get CO socks!
In addition to the lunch box, the shirt, and the free beer at the finish line, you get a pair of Swiftwick socks! I think that’s a pretty fun addition for registering! If the images are true, it looks like they’ll be Colorado socks, too!


Join me at the race! 

Register online HERE and use coupon code WWINF15 to save $5!

HURRY! Prices go up on MONDAY, August 20th, by $10!

Horsetooth Half Marathon 2013 – Post Race Recap

horsetoth half logo(Here’s another past due post. I started writing this post shortly after the run and am finally finishing it now. The Horsetooth Half was on April 21st of this year. I wish I had time to write this post sooner than now! I wanted my excitability to show through into this blog! I will try my best to recover my post race enthusiasm…it shouldn’t be hard, this was a great run!!)

I returned to Fort Collins to run the Horsetooth Half Marathon for the third time. This is absolutely, so far, my favorite race. It’s a beautiful course, love the half marathon distance, it’s put on by great people, and it’s challenging!

IMG_20130428_195136First and foremost, this race is most dear to me because about three years ago this was my FIRST EVER half marathon. I decided to attempt the half marathon distance my last year in college mostly as a way to stay in shape. I didn’t know much about racing, or half marathons in general, I had only previously done 5k’s (not even a 10k!). I bought one of the online training plans from runnerworld.com.

Back then, I was a newbie. I didn’t realize I picked a particularly difficult half. I probably had awful shoes (in fact, I think I was running in Nikes….GASP!), I didn’t know to train hills, and I didn’t have a clue as to what I was getting into! It was a big feat to attempt while working, going to school for my last semester of college (graduating), and juggling a social life (living with four rambunctious boys). But I did it. Actually, following a training plan for a race is probably the only thing that kept me exercising and in shape at that time. It gave me structure and kept me in line. I loved it! I remember I was working for a vet clinic at the time, Banfield Pet Hospital (the chain in Petsmarts), and the vet I worked for as well as another co worker were both really into running as well and motivated me to keep at it. The Vet himself had actually run the Horsetooth in previous years and offered me advice from time to time.

IMG_20130428_200236I finished my first half marathon on the Horsetooth Half course in 2 hours and 12 min. I didn’t stop running, not once, mostly for fear that I wouldn’t be able to start again but also so that I could prove to myself that I could run that long.

I returned to the Horsetooth last year, two years after my first, to start my Racing the States project. You can check out that story here. It’s good one, if I do say so myself. Still is my most popular/clicked on post.

The Course:

I love the course they have mapped out for this race. It’s starts at the base of Hughes Stadium (the Colorado State University football field) and goes up! You’re immediately subjected to a incline of 6.4% and then after a tiny level spot, back up at 9.2%! That’s only the first two peaks and they’re in the first two miles. There are still two more hills after that! If those inclines don’t get ya, those declines certainly will! Don’t be fooled by the down hill.

IMG_20130421_072807Needless to say, it is a challenging course, but it’s just challenging enough. After those four hills, the second half of the course is down hill and spits you right out at New Belgium Brewery. It goes without saying that the pain is worth it. New Belgium beer is still one of my favorites: mmmm…Fat Tire…..

This year, they added a full marathon to the list (and after checking out the website, they wont be doing it again next year with the Horsetooth Series). It started farther up in the mountains, and from what I was hearing, the snow wasn’t completely melted and the race was slightly less than 26.2 miles. The marathoners met up with us after a couple miles (luckily not having to do the first 3 hills) and finished the course at the Brewery as well.

The “race:”

My race was fantastic! I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it…well, maybe “enjoy” isn’t the right word for the hills, but all of us runners have some sort of crazy in us and view “fun” differently than the rest of the world.

I look so sexy when I run, i know, but check out that view behind me!

I look so sexy when I run, i know, but check out that view behind me!

I’ve already said how dear to me this event was, and this year was even better. I knew a handful of other racers. One, was a Newton Running Coach/Sponsored Runner. Nick is his name. I actually met him at a previous race. Actually, it’s a weird story. While at the Erin Go Braugh 7.77K (which I still have yet to do a post on), there was a Newton Shoe booth for people to try on and test the shoes. Post race, I just wanted to know about the shoes. I had just been introduced to the Newton line (working as a shoe sales(wo)man) and wanted to know what it was all about. I went up and talked to the Newton ambassador. Later that day, while I was updating my twitter, I noticed a picture was in my Twitter feed with the caption something like, “after party dance at the erin go braugh.” It was tweeted by a runner I had recently followed, randomly, probably referred to me in the side bar of twitter. Turns out it was the same guy I had talked to about the shoes.

At the horsetooth half, I was minding my own business when a bright yellow Newton vest crept up beside me at while running. I turned, becuase of the brightness, and noticed who it was. I called out his name and we began a nice frienly conversation about running. Actually, talking to him helped me run as well as I did this whole race. You see, we kept playing tag. Once we approached a hill, he would surpase me as I fell behind, but on the downhills and straights, I would catch up, run with him a little then push myself harder.

As we neared the end, with about 3 miles left, he crepted up behind me again. “Uh oh, I caught you again. That means it’s time for you to pick up the pace!” I did. And I finished strong, ahead of him.  (Turned out, with gun time vs chip time, he beat me by a minute or so! Darn!).

The "medal" this year was a plaque/trophy thing and the commemorative glass

The “medal” this year was a plaque/trophy thing and the commemorative glass

There was another friend of mine that I met through twitter (not in a creepy way, I swear). Ryan, the photographer at CO2 Photography had posted pictures of 2012’s Horsetooth Half on twitter and I stumbled upon them while searching. After staying in touch through the blog world and twitter, we finally met at a race the end of last year, the Pelican Lakes Turkey Trot. This time however, he was pushing a wheel chair up the crazy steep inclines of the Horsetooth Half. I called out my hello as he zoomed by me on the course, behind his fellow racer of the Atheltes in Tandum program.

If you have never heard of this program, you should relaly check it out and some how get involved. Basically, this program allows athletes who otherwise can’t run to particpate in big events. A lot of the runs I do benefit this great cause and support the athletes. I’ve declared that once I’m strong enough (and maybe on a flat course), I would love to help out!

There was also as handful of people I knew from contacts through my school and potential job leads. It was very nice to know others around.

IMG_20130428_200526Oh yeah, I forgot about MY actual race! There’s nothing too notable about my run itself. I felt pretty confident and in shape. I was generally pretty distracted by talking to people while running or looking at the scenery. I beat my course record by about 10 minutes with a time of 1:57:18 (last year’s time was 2:07:59)!!! Not my half PR, but I’m damn proud of the course record!!!

The Post-race party:

Always a blast. I met my mom at the finish line and we promptly entered the beer garden and got our New Blegium Beers. There was a live ska band to entertain the delirious runners. I met up with a friend of mine from Fort Collins and he hung out with us as well. I even managed to catch some free swag they were throwing in the crowd: a brooks drawstring bag and Saucony arm warmers!

The Swashbuckling Doctors...or something like that

The Swashbuckling Doctors…or something like that

running for angels shirt and medalThe most important part:

I had also run this race in conjunction with a virtual 5K, Running with Angels. I had won a free entry, and in response, I promised to promote the race. If you remember, I had posted about this event in my blog and on Facebook. Maybe thats why I ran so fast, I was running with angels!

Special Thanks to my biggest fan/sponsor/driver/photographer/support team/psychologist/nurse/doggie day care/cheer leader/MOM. She always has been all of those things and even came with me to the Horsetooth on her bday weekend (the Horsetooth Half ALWAYS falls on her bday weekend).

IMG_20130423_214219

Additional Information:

Last Years Horsetooth Half Post

Horsetooth Half Marathon Website

Tim’s, the one who put on the Running for Angel’s Race, Blog

Horsetooth Half – Pre Race

Image 

I haven’t been very active in the blogging world since last weeks events, but this weekend is proving to be quite eventful for me in the running world.

Yesterday, I last minute decided to do the rave run at 8:30pm knowing that I’m getting up early this morning for the Horsetooth Half! 

This is the 3rd time I’ve run the Horsetooth, and even though it’s a very challenging course, it’s one of my favorite events! 

I don’t have too many goals for this event except to maybe PR for this Course of 1:57. My half PR Is 1:51 about; but this course is so challenging that I’m just going to go for course records here!! 

Good luck, run hard to all of you racers this morning or just going out for training runs! 

Getting my Ass Over the Pass – Wild West Relay – Post Race Recap!

wild west relayHow did I get stuck in a van with 11 strangers??? I’ll tell you how: The Wild West Relay!  I feel like “stuck” isn’t the right word though. More like “selected to be” or “privileged to be” in a van with 11 strangers feels better.

When I really started getting into running and races, I was introduced to the idea of relay races by searching the internet for runs in different states. At first I thought it was crazy or silly, but I think the idea of crossing hundreds of miles on foot is what intrigued me. I knew I probably couldn’t find enough of my friends to do a 12 person team, so I pushed the idea of a relay race off in the distance and added it to my bucket list.

After reading a blog post from Amy at Lavender Parking, she talked about doing the Wild West Relay with a friend of hers from their home town but decided against it. At the time, I was thinking about quitting my job anyway, and to be honest, if I signed up to do the race, I would have had to ask for two nights off from work – which after coming back from Alaska probably wasn’t going to happen. Instead, I used this as a time limit to find a new job and get out of that horrible environment – which, although not the brightest idea I’ve had, it did work!

I contacted Amy and asked her about the race; if she wasn’t doing it then maybe they still needed more people. Sure enough, they needed about three more people, so they were glad to have me fill a spot. Amy put me in contact with the team captain, and after about one minute on the phone, and not much thought, I agreed to do it. It was the last weekend to register, so I knew it was a sign I should sign up. And that’s the story I told over and over to my team members about how I got involved in the mix.

I drove up to Fort Collins Thursday night and knocked on one of my teammate’s door….I was the last one there because of getting off of my new job late, and by process of elimination, everyone knew my name (and the fact that everyone knew each other or at least someone else on the team). Now it was time for me to learn everybody elses’ names….which takes me forever! I’m so bad at learning names…but being in a van for two days helps!

Ginger's Ninjas

Team Photo!

Race day:

Friday morning started bright and early. Our start time was at 7:30am. We met even earlier to get the vans loaded and the team together. We all headed to the Budweiser Brewery to pick up our race packets, t-shirts and to attach our “CAUTION! Runner’s on road” sign. My van’s sign was made my yours truly! Looks good, huh??

wild west relay sign

I’m so artistic!

wild west relay

Playing Bocce Ball

Being in Van 1, it was go time for me! Our first runner lined up with the others in our heat. The announcer counted down: 5….4….3….2…. and we were off! No, that’s not a mistake… on a bet, Mike, our first runner, took off with a five second head start. After one leg, the taunts and teasing from other teams became a 30 second lead, then a minute head start…I’m sure by the end of the game of telephone, er, race, it was probably a 30 minute head start! It was actually quite funny, and the “quarrel” was reconciled with a game of Bocce ball (is that really how it’s spelled???).

My Actual Running:

wild west relay

My turn to run!!

wild west relay leg 6

My route for leg 6

Leg 6: I was the 6th runner, taking off from my team to meet the second half of our team at the van exchange points. My first leg was 6.1 miles. It was an easy run, the hardest part being that I hadn’t actually ran 6 miles for awhile, but I completed it just fine. It was a pretty hot run at about noon…I am not used to running in the mid-afternoon heat…and Van 2 probably had even hotter temps! The coarse itself had a few hills here and there, but it was on dirt road which was unfamiliar territory to me since I usually run on the road. I definitely need to get more time on the trails! The last half mile or so was on the edge of a busy highway, warming us that if we didn’t cross with race volunteer, our team would we DQed. After that it was a short up hill and I high-fived runner #7 and sent Van 2 on their way. (By the way, I TOTALLY got a road kill on this leg!!!  I think our whole team got some more, as well as we were road kill at times too, but after the second leg, it was hard to keep track).

wild west relay view

I took this while running…

After finishing my first leg

Since we had a few hours to wait around, we grabbed some lunch, parked our car at the next van exchanged and attempted to nap. Attempted because it rained on and off and while I was napping in the van, my other teammates came piling in to avoid getting drenched.

Along the road, on the way to each exchange point, there was plenty of beautiful views to take in of the lovely northern Colorado landscape. Although I’ve lived in CO for most of my life and lived in Fort Collins for 5 years, I actually had never been to this part of the state. Such a breath of fresh air!

Pretty views along the way! Colorado is so beautiful!

Catching the sunset before its my time to run

My second route

Leg 18: After our second half of the team arrived, the hand off was made to runner #1 again, and we took off down the hilly mountain roads over Deadman’s Pass. The first 4 runners were running the steep inclines and declines, by the time it was my turn again, we were out of the mountains, but that doesn’t mean my run was easy. My second leg was the hardest for me. It was pitch black, 11 pm – 12 am at night. It was a little chilly outside, so I had trouble figuring out what to run in. I chose capri yoga pants and a light, long sleeved shirt. I had a 6.5 mile run through the dark valley of Wyoming, at least I think it was a valley, cause I couldn’t see five feet in front of me without my head lamp. By this time in the trip, I was tired and my stomach was upset. If it were any other day, I would have chosen to not run. I strapped on my reflective vest, hooked my blinking red light on my back (which would fall off about a half mile down the road and break) and attached my head lamp to my head. I took off into the dark and concentrated on running. Hills became endless because I couldn’t actually see the end. Cattle guards snuck up on me last minute, and headlights looked like mirages in the dark. I still made good time though, but not without feeling nauseous with the light of my headlamp bouncing on the road. I think I was the only one out of my team that didn’t like running in the dead of the night. I’m glad I had my music player tucked into my sports bra, or the dead silence probably would have freaked me out too; but that’s just the type of person I am.

Looking super awesome with my headlamp!

After finishing, we ended at Wood’s Landing and ate some over priced spaghetti to refuel. After watching a few local Wyoming cougars dancing around their table in the bar, we decided to pack it up and head to the camping area in Walden. The local high school opened their doors for the racers. They had free coffee, food, and offered showers ($5) for those who wanted it. The hallway was littered with racers sleeping in their bags. The guys on my team opted for the more comfortable lawn while me and my fellow girl teammate slept in the van. I think I only got about 2-3 hours of sleep, but by the time we were woken up, our van was one of the last waiting for their team.

Running bright and early in the morning

With one goal in mind (to pass a bunch of other teams) our first runner, Mike, took off into the morning. In attempt to cheer on his teammate, Nick stuck his head out the van window: “Alright, Mike, you’ve got a lovely summer morning. The temperature is a brisk 55 degrees…” -M: “stop talking to me.” -N: alright, what do you want? Us to stop every mile…?” -M: fuck off!! It was actually pretty funny and had our whole van laughing bright and early in the morning. Later on, while Nick was running, Mike would apologize for cussing at him.

For fear of literally being picked off the course, we decided to triple up runners. The first three ran normally, but runners 4, 5 and myself were dropped off at about the same time while the van swung around to grab them as they finished. (For people unfamiliar with relay races, this is allowed to save time, but you just have to let the race volunteers know when you start). Runners 4 and 5 had 2 mile and 4 mile legs respectively, and I had 6.7 miles to conquer.

Leg 30: Ahhh, finally the last leg! 6.7 miles! Since we had tripled up, I was left mostly unsupported without my van. I was a little groggy since I started a little before planned, but I ran like a champ – especially for it being a gradual uphill the whole time! My van found me when I was about 1.5 miles from the end…however, after asking them how far I was, they had mis-calculated my milage and said I still had about half way left to go. At hearing that I felt extremely exhausted! I really thought I was farther. I told my van to meet with with a mile left for one more water break. They took off around the corner, and much to my surprise, I was already at one mile left!! I honestly was so relieved/shocked, I asked if the sign was in the right place! One mile left! Seeing that I was so close and not just half way gave me a huge second wind and I kicked into high gear and charged off to the end. I ran 6.7 miles in about 1 hour and 2 minutes! So fast, at least for me! I finished through a tunnel of arms made by other teams and our van was done!

Van 2 started a little earlier to save time, so I didn’t get to hand off on my last leg. Feeling accomplished, we made out way to Steamboat Springs and had lunch (breakfast was already over, which really bummed me out cause I wanted Pancakes something horrible!)

After devouring a huge, juicy hamburger, we headed to the finish line to wait for out last team member. The finish line/festival was actually quite uneventful; very anti-climatic. We just crossed 200 miles….couldn’t we get a little confetti or something??? We waited for runner number 12 to come around the corner and we all filed in behind her to finish together; the announcer letting everyone know that Ginger’s Ninjas had finished the race! And that was the end!

Finish line!

Not gonna lie, that was an exhausting two days. By the end, I was so grumpy that I didn’t know what I wanted. I was complaining about random things that were important, and worried about things I couldn’t control. Half of our team was staying in a condo in Steamboat, including me and most of van 2. I kept asking questions that weren’t getting answered and it was strange to spend two days with one group of strangers, then to hop in another van with 6 new people. But after getting a beer and hot tub time, I was in a much better mood. The condo was really nice, although, a little expensive for me, but there was nothing I could do about that. And after getting in the hot tub time, the rest of our team met us for pizza, more beers and lots of laughs!