I’m committed now. We arrived in Ouray Thursday and checked into the Beaumont Hotel. The picture is of Karen and Ellie standing outside the hotel on Main Street, about where the race will start tomorrow. The run will proceed up the hill in the background. We met some friends, Khris, Janet and Sadie Mae, for drinks last night at the Hotel’s Voodoo Lounge and had an Italian dinner at Bon Ton. The Voodoo Lounge has an extremely impressive wine list, especially what they serve by the glass. Our friends own an eclectic cooking and kitchenware store in town where Ellie bought an apron – and wore the rest of the night. Ouray itself is a spectacular setting, surrounded on three sides by dramatic canyon cliffs. The Uncompahgre River flows through town and is encircled by hiking trails. Ellie and I will hit the Ouray Hot Springs later this afternoon.
Khris, a graduate of NY’s CIA and accomplished cook and baker, ran the IPR several years ago and gave me advice. He told me to expect the uphill climb to start immediately, along with the pain. But that I could expect the early race excitement and associated adrenalin to get me through the initial shock. And then the trick is to simply keep a forward motion and soon my body would lose sense of the strain and carry me up to the summit easily within the cutoff times. I took this with a grain of salt since he completed the course in 3 hours and I’m planning on closer to 5 hours.
I ran the first two miles of the race this morning to prep, and I think Khris’ advice will pan out. I was indeed shocked at how steep the course began along Hwy 550. The route turned off the highway after a quarter mile and onto the hard packed gravel jeep trail that most of the race will consist of. I was breathing heavily (this begins at over 7800 feet) and my ankles and calves were burning. It occurred to me I should have included toe raises in my training regimen. I can’t whine about this course like I did Garden of the Gods because the IPR makes no pretense. It goes up for 10 miles. And up means a steady and steep incline. Even the apparent dips were still sloped upwards. But after the first mile, I stopped noticing my legs and I actually caught my breath. I’d settled into my pace. I continued for the 2nd mile which was my goal and would make a nice 4 mile workout. My lower legs did indeed become numb. Apparently you don’t really need lower legs for running, wooden pegs suffice. My thighs and hamstrings felt fine so perhaps I’m in sufficient shape for this little walkabout the San Juan Mountains.
At 2 miles I did an about-face and headed back down. I checked my time and was surprised to learn I maintained a 10 minute per mile pace. My confidence at making the cutoff times got a boost from that. This prep run was brilliant. I didn’t want to wear myself out with too hard a run before tomorrow, but I would have liked to go up 5 miles to the Lower Bird Mine. Khris told that the course will leave the jeep road there and detour through the mine. That will be cool. Can’t wait until tomorrow.