Chasing Moons

Back in July Melissa and her friend Angela wanted to do the Chase the Moon 12-hour night run in order to prepare for the Javelina Jundred later in the fall. They decided maybe it would be better to enter the 3-person relay division and I volunteered to round out the team. On a busy Friday afternoon we braved the Denver traffic in the RV to make it to the suburb of Highlands Ranch a bit earlier than the 7 PM start. I parked right along the course so we would be able to stop by the RV between the 10.6 mile loops. Angela met us there after driving across the Rockies from the western slope. We surprised her with delicious vegan food from Native Foods Cafe.

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Team Ultraordinary (photo by Melissa)

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It was still light out as Angela ran the first lap. She didn’t know whether she wanted to do one lap or two, so I had to be ready to take off after her first lap, just in case. About the time I started getting ready Will locked himself into the RV bathroom. We tried explaining to him how to unlock the door, but he just couldn’t do it. With all three of us in full-on panic mode I began frantically searching hundreds of pages of RV manuals trying to figure out how to unlock the door from the outside. After a very tense 10 minutes we eventually figured it out. I finished getting ready, walked outside, and before long Angela showed up… sooner than expected.

She had a good run and decided to stop after one lap, so I was off, planning to run two laps before handing it off to Melissa (who specifically wanted to run in the middle of the night). The course was very clearly designed for mountain bikers. It was very, very winding and quite lumpy. There was really nowhere where you could get up to speed with all the turns and small hills. On the bright side the weather was fairly cool, so I was still able to keep the pace moderately high.

My big race for the summer was to be Howl at the Moon 8-hour in August, three weeks after this race. So I wasn’t going to destroy myself here, but I did want to get an idea exactly where my fitness was at that point. Things were looking good.

I finished my first loop, picked up some food at the RV, and went back out for another loop. This loop was in the opposite direction, which was fairly disorienting in the dark. I slowed a bit, but not a whole lot. I averaged 8:14/mile for the first two loops. Upon finishing, Melissa went out for her first of two planned laps. I changed into some dry clothes in the RV, ate food, drank fluids, and tried to get some sleep, setting my alarm for when I thought Melissa might be coming through.

I don’t recall at this point whether I saw her or not (I’m thinking not), but I eventually did see her lap time on the live results tracking website, so that gave me an idea when to expect her after the second loop. She would be done at that point, and Angela was done too. But there would still be time on the clock… and this is a race… so I decided I would go back out for more. I again set an alarm and tried to sleep. I probably got an hour or so.

Melissa was surprised to see me waiting for her in front the the RV when she finished her second loop. I think she thought I was done. I headed back out. It didn’t feel good. It must have been 4 or 5 AM by this point, I had very little sleep, and I already had 21.2 miles at a decent pace in my legs. This lap would definitely be slower. Midway through the lap I started to feel a little more warmed up and I increased the pace a bit.

By the time I finished my third loop there wasn’t enough time to cover another 10.6 miles, but there was a shorter 3.5 mile loop available. So I did one of those. I was moving quicker now. I think I did that loop 28 minutes or so. I reached the start/finish area with 41 minutes to go until 7 AM, but… they didn’t let me start another loop because the cutoff to start the last loop was 6:15 AM. I missed it by 4 minutes. And despite the fact I could have easily finished another loop in the remaining time our race was over. I ran my last 14.1 miles at a slower, but still respectable 8:56/mile.

Our total of 65.3 miles was good enough for us to win the COED 3 PERSON division. There were only 3 teams in that division, but a win is a win.

I was quite pleased with 35-ish miles at 8:30 pace without destroying myself. This bodes well for my big race at Howl at the Moon where I hoped to run at a slightly faster pace for 20 miles farther on a faster course at lower elevation. Sure, the weather wouldn’t be as nice, but how bad could it be? Stay tuned.