I wasn't much looking forward to running Wyoming, but knew it was a guaranteed fast long run, which is otherwise hard to motivate for. Going in, I knew the course and event were not the most inspiring, meaning there would be little to take my mind off tired legs, but it would serve as a good test for trying to run fast when worn down, an eventuality that will be unavoidable next month at Big Horn (the worn down part).
An early 6:00am start and 75 minute drive meant I was up at 4:00 to get ready: Coffee, toast, oh it's raining out: search around for rain/wind jacket. What else? Nothing, okay let's go.
It was pea soup outside for most of the drive, which was a bit scary heading north on 287, trying not to hit a deer or something on the way. Despite the crappy driving conditions, I got to the Lincoln Monument rest stop about 20 minutes before the off.
Saw Alene and Ron Michaels from the running club before the start, and chatted briefly with Bryan and Dan Goding, and Corey H at the start. Bryan and Corey were doing the double, I was in the marathon, and Dan was doing the half. Between us, Fort Collins & Loveland were well represented and we had all the race distances covered.
Dan took off from the gun and was soon streaking into the lead. I tried to keep pace for a while, but gave up quickly, content to slot in behind two other half marathoners, with a couple of marathoners in close company. It was very foggy out, so there was nothing to look at but the gravely dirt road we were running down. Too bad because there are some cool rock formations in the area. Transitioning to the first climb after three or four miles of downhill, one of the marathoners took off and the other dropped back. I let the lead runner go, but kept him in sight.
By the time we hit the frontage section of the course, the wind picked up and blew us sideways for a while. I timed the lead a couple of times and was about 40 seconds back, picking up a couple of seconds each half mile. By about ten miles the course goes under I-80 and transitions back onto dirt road. I was slowly catching the first place guy, and sped past him as he shot into a toilet at the campsite. At this point we had been running fairly similar paces so I had no idea if he was done or would run to catch back up and compete for first. I just kept my pace and headed for the turn.
I hit the turn at 1:30 and got ready for the climb back out. It was self serve on the Gatorade front and I put way too much powder in my bottle, thereby rendering my fluids essentially undrinkable until the next aid, four miles down the road. It looked like I had built a decent lead on second - maybe three or four minutes - and a much bigger lead on third. Bryan (running the 52.4) was in fourth and looked very strong. Corey was five or six minutes back on Bryan.
Not much else to say about the race from here, other than I found a comfortable pace that I thought would be strong enough for the win, while not totally killing myself - with a view to my last week of heavy miles before Big Horn. I ended up running 3:12, with a 1:30 first half and 1:42 second. I felt decent on the back second, which has significantly more climbing than on the way out, and could have pushed harder if pressed. Had to sacrifice a glove with about six miles to go after an emergency trip into the bushes. It was a well-worn glove, and it served me well through the winter. I'm sad to see it go.
Dan ended up winning the half in 1:28, beating second by just under two minutes. Bryan was first to the turn in the double and Corey was second with about ten minutes between them. Although I don't know the results in the 50, it looks like NoCo was well on the way to sweeping in Wyoming.
The race motto goes something to the effect of "where the race director promises you nothing, and he delivers." They delivered again this year. But honestly what do you expect for $45? Thanks to all the volunteers who made it out and manned the aid stations, and for the well-marked course. Thanks also to Simon from RunColo for another race comp.
Went home via Cheyenne and stopped at Sierra Trading Post to pick up what I hope will be my shoes for Big Horn. Spent the rest of the day picking out a forest of waist-deep prickly weeds.