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Underarmour Killington 25k (3:20)

Underarmour Killington 25k (3:20)

The Underarmour Killington 25k was the hardest race I’ve ever run.  Yes, I’ve run a couple of marathons and yes I ran the Copper Mountain 25k last month at 9000 feet elevation, but Killington was harder.  For me anyway.  It was also the longest time running on my feet.  I’ve hiked longer, but never run that long.

Even though there were challenging portions, I enjoyed the heck out of it. When I finished the Killington race, I wasn’t 100% sure I would run it again, but after a few days, I do believe I would go back.  My reasoning for thinking about not rerunning it is straightforward: there are a lot of very steep downhills, and I do think it’s easy to injure yourself.  That being said I enjoyed it and thought the race was fun.

The drive from NJ to Vermont was uneventful, but it did take a lot longer than I anticipated.  I got there shortly before the race packet pickup ended the night before. You could pick up packets the same day, but I wasn’t sure how the morning before would play out. I wanted to be ready the night before.

The morning of the race, I ended up driving about 15 minutes down the road to get coffee because nowhere was open beforehand.  Last month at Copper, one of the places opened early which was nice.  It ate up some time, but I was up before my alarm anyway.

I got to the race start around 7 am, chatted with Allie, and by the time I knew it we were off. underarmour killington 25k

I was wrapping my mind around actually racing and the challenge it would be.  I didn’t have pressure to race hard, PR, and time was pretty much irrelevant because unless you run the course, it’s hard to fully explain every twist, knee-deep mud puddle, and 40% decline.

I was just at the race for me. I have a whole separate post about my lack of racing this summer, but I actually think it’s been good for me.

The race started, and the first mile was downhill.  I started way in the back because people kept passing me.  I don’t run downhills well at all, and I was being passed left and right.  Around mile 1.5, we started a serious climb.

The roles reversed, and I was passing people as if they were standing still.  I’m sure people just thought I started late but I was cruising by people (cruising being somewhere around 12 min miles).  I hit mile 2 around 12 minutes and was happy.

underarmour killington 25k

The next few miles climbed, and climbed, and also climbed.  It was very rocky like the Appalachians.  It was also extremely steep, and the inclines were anywhere between 20-40%.  After going for 40% for probably half a mile, 20% incline felt like a cakewalk.

I hit mile 5 around an hour.  I thought perhaps finishing 3 hours again would be doable, but the course kept getting more and more challenging.  So as the race progressed, it became clear I would only reach 3 hours if we ran on the roads.

The next few miles went between extreme uphill and extreme downhill.  It was either 20+% grade in one direction.  A few parts went off course and weren’t groomed.  You were just physically climbing up a mountain in knee-high grass.  I traded sports with a woman named Nancy and we got to chatting for a while (she ultimately left me in the dust the final downhill mile).

Underarmour killington 25k

Between 6-7 miles, we hit a peak with gorgeous views below.  All I could think about after reaching the peak was that eventually we would go down and there would be more downhill.  I took a second to admire the views and the top of the gondola.

Around 15k, I stopped at an aid station and went for skittles.  At Copper, I decided I wanted Red Bull, but at Killington, skittles appealed to me.  They were fine, and I had no stomach issues.

underarmour killington 25k

I took my second gel at mile 10.  I had gone back and forth between one gel per hour, but instead of taking it at 2 hours I decided to eat skittles and take the gel about 10 minutes later.

The next 5 miles were grueling, and I wanted nothing more to be done.  I like running, but the race was challenging me both mentally and physically.  I had no plans to quit, but I was exhausted.  The woman I was running with, Nancy, and I concluded we had about one more hour of running.

The next mile went up the side of a mountain.  It wasn’t an actual trail, but we just went up the side.  We climbed for a while longer, and around mile 11 we went downhill for a bit.  As we went downhill many people popped out of nowhere and passed me.  They gained minutes on me because I took the downhill nice and easy.

One male went charging the downhill and fell face first into a giant mud pit.  It was kind of comical because he was okay.  I just repeated to myself: make it out of here healthy Hollie.  Take it easy, no one cares about your time.  It was true, and I logged miles between 15-18 minutes.

The downhill wasn’t a smooth, rolling downhill.  It was going downhill on rocky terrain at anywhere between 20-40% incline.  My quads were screaming.

Then around mile 12-14ish, we went back uphill.  All I could think was, why are we going uphill…we should almost be done.  What is going on?  I had no bearings of the where we were in relevance to the finish line.

Finally, a pack of three dudes caught me.  They had gotten lost somewhere on the course so they sailed right by.  I looked down and 15 feet in front of me, the course as flat.

Was it flat forever?  Were we almost done?  One more mile of flat?  I started to really charge.  My quads were screaming, and I felt like I was at PRing pace.  I looked down to realize I was at 12-minute pace.  I laughed and just repeated one more mile.

All of a sudden, I could see the finish line.  It was coming so soon.  I was yearning for it.  I felt like I was in slow motion.  Someone yelled go Hollie, and I crossed.  I was done.  That was it.  I felt like I had accomplished the world.

underarmour killington 25k

I had a great time.  The course challenged me in ways running has never challenged me.  It was as mentally challenging to keep going as physically.

underarmour killington elevation chart

I like the trails, and I would do the race again.  For the fall, I plan to stick to the roads and chase some road PRs.

Questions for you:

What is the hardest race you’ve done?

Are you a better uphill or downhill runner? 

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Training Last Week: Working and Running at 12000 Feet

Training Last Week: Working and Running at 12000 Feet

So much to unpack from last week and weekend.  To say it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in awhile is an understatement.  I don’t even know where to start.  Training last week was good.  Even though I positive split like a boss, I had a decent “first workout back,”,  Then as most people know, over the weekend I ran the hardest running race I’ve done.  Can’t get much better than that!

Monday: 20 minutes easy
Tuesday: 60 minutes easy
Wednesday: 12X400 road/90 seconds rest (average 6:10)
Thursday: Am 30 minutes easy/PM: 2 miles Colorado
Friday: 45 minutes easy Colorado
Saturday: UnderArmour Copper Mountain Trail 25k (2:58)
Sunday: Rest and travel home

Thoughts:

There isn’t much to unpack there.  All of my runs were just that, easy.  I don’t have too much exciting about them because there wasn’t too much excitement that happened.  I ran easy.  My easy 2 miles in Colorado was a 2 mile (26-minute run) through the trails we were going to be running.  Running those miles, made me wonder, how the heck I would finish the trail race.

12X400 Workout:

The workout started well, and the first 6 averaged around 6 minute pace.  The second 6, however, just felt like a brick hit me and I couldn’t get my feet to move any faster.  I didn’t hurt injury-wise, but it was a reality check that I haven’t been doing speed the last few months so I won’t go as fast as when I was.  The second 6 averaged about 6:20 which with some work I hope I can progress faster than that again.

Copper Mountain Trail Race (2:58)

The Copper Mountain Trail Race was one of the best races I could hope for. I was running an intense trail race in Colorado, something I’ve never done, at an altitude I’ve never done.  I haven’t felt that nervous for a race since my first marathon, the NYCM.  I had no idea what to expect, and my only goal was to finish.  Making it to the top, I didn’t feel sick at 12000 feet of altitude, but to be honest, I think it’s because I hydrated well and took my time.  My slowest miles were definitely in the beginning.  They weren’t the hardest climbs, but I didn’t want to take it too fast.

The hardest parts (for me) were actually the technical downhill climbs towards the bottom.  Because I run (and walk) on my toes, my calves are far stronger than other areas of my legs.  I got passed by far more people on the downhill (maybe about 10 or so?).  I am very proud of my finish.  I had no idea what to expect and had zero expectations.  I could have finished in 4:29 (the cut off was 4:30) or the time I did and feel happy about it.  I’ll have a full recap soon.

The next week will be a lot of TLC.  I would like to get in a workout, I will be traveling again for a big family big birthday.  Probably no races next weekend, as I am going to the Taylor Swift concert ha!

Posts from the Week:

Today is My Birthday

Hiking Indian Wells State Park

Questions for you:

What has been your hardest race to date?

What is the highest elevation you’ve ever run? 

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