In mid-December I ran the Chubby Cheeks 50K. This is a fat-ass event (no entry fee, no bib number, pseudo-race, organized group run) that takes place on the trails of Horsetooth Mountain Open Space and Lory State Park. I hadn’t run long in two months, so I was eager to complete the full 50K rather than one of the shorter options (22 & 26 miles). At the starting line I overheard one of the other runners apologize to his acquaintance that he was only going to run the marathon distance that day.
I love Colorado.
I started off with a group of three guys I knew and one guy I just met. We ran together up the mountain at a leisurely pace and stopped at the top for a while to soak in the view.
We picked up the pace a bit on the way down before hitting bottom and starting the second ascent. The second descent was again fast. At the bottom the other 4 guys split off for the 22 mile turnaround while I soldiered on alone, now blasting music on my iPod.
I stopped for a bit at the top of Arthurs Rock before somewhat uncharacteristically bombing the next descent as well. Another trip halfway up the mountain and back down left me at the marathon turnaround point. I arrived there at the same time as a guy I knew (who started later) so we ran together for a few miles. He said he felt bad as we started the last trip up the mountain so I was on my own again.
I was moving pretty slow by this point. I’ve climbed the mountain twice in one run before, but not more than that. This event included 4½ ascents of the mountain and by the last climb I was pretty tired, though still in good spirits. I descended one final time and began the half mile journey back to the starting line, which was at the nearby home of the organizer (Nick).
Melissa and Will were headed to the after-event party and they passed me right at the end. Will got out and ran with me to the finish line. At 6h35m I definitely didn’t set the course ablaze, but I wasn’t really trying to run fast. This was a nice comfortable (at times) training run. With 7,500 ft of climbing it turned out to be the most I’ve ever climbed in a single day.
Despite the nice weather, apparently nobody else was stupid enough to run the full 50K that day. So I “won” by default. After a couple hours at the party two other runners finished the 50K, though I think they added a few miles by getting lost at one point.
It was a good way to end a good year: running with friends, running alone, climbing the mountain over and over again, running fast, running slow, walking, completing a nice long run just because I can, yet not killing myself in the process. It was only after the run that I realized that this was mostly the same course as the Quad Rock 50 mile race I’m running next May, which makes me even more glad I was able to do this run.