I am exceedingly pleased with this outcome. It would have gone better had I followed my race plan and not pushed so hard on the climbs—and the fact that I am still a bit sick I noticed throughout. Still: I could not be happier with my first race at altitude.
- 58th overall, out of 4617 = top 1.25%
- 48th among men, out of 1830 = top 2.7%
- 19th among 30–39-year-olds, out of 671 = top 2.9%
Somewhat more details observations on the race:
1. I went out too fast. I felt *really* good at first, and paid for it at the end. This is not new to me; I’ve done it in most races. Over the summer, I need to actively practice doing negative splits on tempo runs—and I need to do that with both downhills *and* uphills… see the next point! I also need to practice hitting specific tempos so I can do a better job holding myself to a given speed at a given time.
2. Hills, even little ones like this, still just murder my legs’ ability to keep spinning. *Especially* given the profile of [my next race][plhm] (it has literally 4× as much climb as today’s race did, and it starts ~1,800 feet higher), I need to spend some time this summer doing two things (in *addition* to continuing strength training and the point noted in #1):
1. Cycling! That should be a really helpful complement and strengthen exactly the muscles I need.
2. Speed work! Now that I have a really solid aerobic base again, I need to start amping up my anaerobic capacity in kind.
3. Not being sick would also help. Not that I can perfectly control that, of course, but I could feel the effect that had in terms of general physical fatigue and getting light-headed and a rather unhappy headache for the last five miles or so.
4. Bringing my own water is essential. I can *never* hydrate well enough with cups along the way. Best bet is probably a belt: I don’t need a *lot*, but more than I had today. I hydrated reasonably well ahead of the race, but I do not doubt this contributed to the headache and light-headedness. (I know they were at least partially from being sick, though, because I had those symptoms *all week*.)
5. Next time I run a race, I want to actually plan out a specific tempo and effort level on a per-mile basis, and see how that works. I *suspect* it will help. The main possible downside I see is that I might *under*-do it going at it that way, but if I end up having a lot of juice left I can probably make up a fair bit of that just by crushing the final 5k.
All of those thoughts on what I do next notwithstanding, I remain *really* happy with this outcome, and I am glad to be getting back into the swing of things.
One final note: the best data I can find online suggests that 5,000 feet of altitude is worth ~15–20 seconds/mile at this distance; that would make this race *very* close to my best. I suspect I would have run the same course at sea level *somewhat* faster… but not 15–20s/mi faster. Why? See #1 and #2 above: the real problem was that I went out too fast and didn't have enough leg strength left over at the end, *not* that I didn't have the aerobic or anaerobic capacity. (Looking at the [heart rate data][hr] from the race confirms this, and I noticed it even during the run: my problem the last few miles was leg endurance; my HR was actually *dropping* in miles 10–13.)
Training Plan Entry
How fast I can I run this? Best guess right now is that I'll be doing *well* – really well, in truth – to break 1:35:00.