Yesterday’s long training run was actually the Rim Rock Marathon. I signed up for the race in late September not only get a proper marathon on the schedule for fall but also to ensure that I would at least have a long run of 26.2 miles prior to The North Face Endurance Challenge in December.
To sum it up, I couldn’t have picked a better long training run. The Rim Rock Marathon was a small race with only 200 or so people in the field. It was a road marathon but the scenery made up for that point. We ran 24 or so miles through the Colorado National Monument – an insanely beautiful part of Western Colorado.
Apparently last year’s race was run in a blizzard so I was pleased by the blue-clear sunrise that turned into an absolutely gorgeous day.
The first 13 miles of the run were pretty much up hill yet that didn’t bother me because my toes were still cold from the chilly morning start. Each turn of the serpentine course introduced a new, splendid view and on this clear day you could see for miles. The red rocks glistened and changed color in the rising sun. The bits of snow clung to the trees and crevices of the rocks.
We ran through a handful of tunnels that went straight through the rocks. Normally, those tunnels are off-limits to foot traffic but today the road belonged to the runners.
The last 13 miles of the course through the Colorado National Monument were pretty much all downhill or wonderfully flat. These were some of my favorite views of the day, perhaps because I was in the second half of the run or because they really were that stunning.
Every mile we were greeted by a wee mile marker and every 2 or 3 miles there were great aid stations. All the Hammer Gels and Salt Pills I could possibly want. I treated this run and especially the aids stations like I was trail running. I stopped, drank my water, said thanks to the volunteers then moseyed on. I didn’t simply barrel through as I normally would if I were really racing, rather, I simply enjoyed the day and the aid stations.
We exited the Colorado National Monument and spent the last two miles of the race on the road headed toward the finish. This wasn’t my favorite part of the run, but almost nothing could top the 24 miles of beautiful scenery I’d just run through. Still feeling good, I headed toward the finish and even passed a few people. Overall, I finished 45th with a time of 3:55. Glad to have the miles under my legs, I enjoyed the rest of the sunny afternoon.