As many of you all know, Colorado Springs has an amazing running community. While I don't have anything to compare it to, I can not imagine it could be better anywhere else.
This year my training, racing, and life in general has been significantly improved by that community. I don't believe I would be as fit as I am or as far into my "comeback year" as I am if it weren't for the community, especially my "neighborhood." The past two weekends have really brought that into focus.
Last Sunday was the Garden of the Gods 10 mile race. It is a difficult, hilly, 10 mile race through the Garden of the Gods. A few weeks prior to the actual race some friends and I did one of the "dress rehearsals." I was thrilled to complete it averaging less than 10 min miles. For a hilly road race, that is something I am proud of. The day of the race comes and my goal is to, once again, average under 10 mins per mile. I was starting (and hoping to also finish) with my comeback friend and fellow marmot, Katie Benzel. While she stated that her goal was also to be under 10 min miles, I think she knew we could do a lot better. And, once again, she was right. We started zooming (relatively).
There were many times that I thought I would no longer be able to keep up with her pace. But each time she started to pull away, I found something in me to push a little harder. I am sure some of it came from all the people out cheering! In the end we stuck together the entire race and managed 9:13 per min (according to the official race results, our Stravas didn't match). I would not have been able to pull that off, or think it was possible without Katie running and all the crowd's encouragement.
A small part of the community is the running group the Attack Pack. Eight years ago this week, I first ran with them. It was the first time I had found a group of people who ran my pace and stuck mostly to trails. As I have left the city (and country) and come back, I am always welcomed back. And new members are always welcomed in. This year we welcomed Rachel Jacobsen for the summer. Thursday was her last pack run for a while (as she is off to other adventures) and we ended our run with donuts and orange juice. It is something small (and ironic as she is gluten free), but shows how great a group we have.
Then this weekend, as happens most weekends, I tried to make running plans with friends. But with father's day, injuries, baseball games, and vacations, I could not make it work. So, Sunday (today) I headed out on my own. I pulled into Memorial Park in Manitou around 6:30 to head up to Barr Camp. A girl in the car next to me started chatting with me and informed me she was meeting others to head up as well and invited me to tag along. It turned out that we did not stick together very long, but I got back to my car and a note with her number if I had another weekend in need of a running buddy.
I felt good on the trail today and decided to head up a mile past Barr Camp. While I was running/power hiking solo, there were plenty of "good mornings" to keep me company. On the way down, when I passed Barr Camp I ran into Meredith Sherman and two of her friends. Meredith and I have known each other since elementary school, but after high school had not seen each other until this year. But, she did not hesitate to invite me to join them for the way down. It was great to have company and I was able to push myself a little harder than I would have alone.
This is just a small piece of what the community here is like and how I benefit. I feel so lucky that I live here and can enjoy all our mountains have to offer with such great people.
Top stolen from Tim Bergsten, bottom from Meredith Sherman :)
Info on Attack Pack: https://www.trailrunner.us/ ;