The Bacon Strip 10 mile race on rolling county roads east of town is a classic on the Fort Collins running calendar. An old school, no frills affair put on by local running legend Jane Welzel.
The rollers on this course are short, sharp and constant. The route is a training staple for just about every road runner in town: four miles north from County Roads 13 & 18, one mile east on Co Rd 60, four miles south on Co 15 and one mile back west on Co 18 to the finish.
I ran the Bacon Strip as my first Colorado race soon after we moved to Fort Collins in 2006. It kicked my ass pretty good that day, as I remember. Today was much the same, although not for lack of air, but more for lack of power and giddyup. Driving out on Mulberry, I concluded that if I could dip under an hour I'd be happy.
From the gun, I was off the front with a fast-looking guy who I didn't recognize, and we went through the first rolling mile in a touch under six minutes. Soon thereafter, the eventual winner, Horsecow (?) Lonac, began building a gap that was clearly only going to get bigger and I settled into a flat six minute pace that would fade to 6:20s on miles with bigger hills. The eventual second place winner, Chris Aronson, cruised by me somewhere before the four-mile turn, which left me plugging along and feeling tired in third. I ended up fending off a couple of guys who I think were closing on me towards the end of the race, finishing in a lackluster 61:10.
I definitely feel like I've lost a step or two in the last couple of months, especially where power and leg turnover are concerned, so I might try and work in some flatter, tempo stuff when I feel like getting back into some training. For now, I'm still just floating along running 30-40 miles a week and enjoying a relaxed and beautiful fall season.
Here's a fun two-minute video compilation from last year's race: