Pilot Hill Take 2

The Pilot Hill 25K Classic in Laramie, WY was the first race I ran after moving to Colorado (What have I gotten myself into?). I missed it last year due to injury and the Quad Rock rescheduling, but I decided to give it another go this year on June 11. I felt like I had roughly the same fitness as I did in 2014, but I felt like I could run uphill faster… which is helpful considering this race has a 6.5 mile long climb.


My friends Nick “Professional Fell Runner” Clark and Stephen “Steve” Pretak took the lead, with another guy on their heels, followed by “Cookie” Mike Neal and Rob “Sexy Hermit” Ragfield. I pulled away from Cookie Mike on the climb (thinking he’d probably catch me on the descent), while the 3rd place guy fell back a bit. I caught up and passed #3, but he hung close enough that we reached the 9000 foot Pilot Hill summit at roughly the same time. While he stopped for a drink of water I drank from the bottle I carried with me. This gave me a good gap on him, but not enough of a lead to be comfortable.



I hammered the descent. When the course straightened out a bit I could see Pretak (#2) off in the distance. He wasn’t really gaining on me, but I wasn’t really gaining on him either. I never looked back to see whether #4 or Cookie Mike were catching me (looking back is a sign of weakness to the people chasing you). Fortunately, I had run fast enough to hold them both off.

I finished 3rd place in a time of 1:53:08. This was technically a slower time than my first Pilot Hill, but a small change to the course added about ½ mile, so I did run a bit faster. This was the first podium finish I’ve had in a race in the Mountain Time Zone. The first six finishers were all from Fort Collins, though I didn’t know the eventual fourth place guy.

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This was the second week we had our new RV and now the second race we’d taken it to. After the race we took the long way home by way of the Medicine Bow mountains and camped on Saturday night at one of our favorite places: State Forest State Park.

Quads Rocked

For the second year in a row the Quad Rock 50 mile race (back on May 14) was the race I focused on for the entire first half of the year. And for the second year in a row the race didn’t go quite as I’d hoped.

My training was good (not great, but good). On the Tuesday before the race on Saturday I had a sharp pain in my knee that cut my run short. I hoped it would go away quickly, but it did not. By Thursday I was worried. I even tried to run on Friday (I never run the day before a big race) and I only made it a mile before the pain set in. Now in full-on panic mode, I shaved my legs, kineseo-taped the hell out of my knee, and dropped from the 50 mile race to the 25 mile race. If I was going to run through agonizing pain I’d rather do it for 4 hours than 9-10.

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Photo by Melissa?

When the race started the next day I felt no pain. And not just for the first couple of miles as I expected, but for the entire 25. No pain. None. Of course, had I known that would have happened I would have run the 50… but I had no reason to expect that would happen.

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Photo by Erin Bibeau Photography

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Photo by Melissa

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Photo by Ryan Quinnelly

Only racing half the distance I was expecting means I felt compelled to run much faster. The three long climbs up the mountain were slow, but the rolling sections and the long descents I really pushed the pace. I lost track of how many times I thought to myself I’m going way too fast, I’ll never be able to hold this pace. For the most part I did, except for the climbs. The second climb went slower than the first, and the third climb was really slow. That’s me: good for 1½ climbs.

My local rival Cookie Mike passed my on the last descent to finish just ahead of me. I finished in 3:56:46, good for 12th place. I was hoping to break 4 hours.

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Photo by Melissa

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Photo by AJ Cohen

Recovery was fast and the mysterious race week knee pain never came back.