Reservoir Ridge 26, March Madness 37, Round Mountain 30, Crosier 26, Quad Rock 25...
Just over a month of consistent long runs every weekend in the 5+ hour range has left me energized rather than toasted. Part of the journey has been re-learning my pacing and working on my form late in the run. The other part has been just showing up, putting in the miles, and letting the benefits come rolling in.
I think it's all coming together. Yesterday I ran 3:50 at the Quad Rock course preview, subsisting on 2 gels and a couple of 13oz bottles with a single refill at 10 miles. I ended up running my fastest splits over the last 8 miles, and I felt so energized coming into Soldier Canyon, I'm confident I can play the first lap out exactly the same way on race day and turn around for a good second lap.
It was really simple: I took it easy on the first climb up Sawmill/Stout/Towers and the first descent down Spring Creek into Horsetooth. I stayed in control on Horsetooth and opened it up a bit on Mill Creek. And then I started to push on Howard and Timber. Amazingly, by not blowing it all in the first 90 minutes, I was able to steadily crank the dial from start to finish. I have gone out too hard in these races early on, and in the past I have not put in enough of a gauntlet of long runs. Because Round and Crosier were so vert-heavy, the Quad Rock course feels way more cruise-able. I think that's the best part of the Spring Vertical Series: you get so used to this steep, gnarly stuff that when you finally get runnable terrain, it's bliss.
So that's the plan for Quad Rock: come into the turn-around in 3:50 or so, having slowly increased the pace all morning, and then start dropping the hammer. Hard. I want my energy to snowball that second lap. None of this power hiking crap, which comes from running too hard too early. No stomach issues from running hard at the start and not getting my nutrition dialed in early.