Posted by: jawsome | December 19, 2010

El Chubbarino

It’s Sunday, and my body is delightfully sore almost everywhere. I heart trail running, it’s such a better workout!

The quick and dirty (tl;dr): yesterday I ran 22.6 miles in Horsetooth and Lory state parks with 5500′ of elevation gain in 6 hours, 37 minutes. What an amazing day!

The start:

8:00 wave (I'm in white)


I got to Nick Clark’s house around 7:30 waiting for the 8:00 am wave. Definitely outclassed by many of ultrarunning’s elites. Hard not to feel intimidated – (“what is SHE doing here?”) – and remembering, hey, we’re all out here because we love trail running and are insane. Why not run trails and be insane together? Just because Dakota Jones regularly finishes top 5 in ultra races doesn’t mean he cares if I come in last (or at all!).

As one observer so incisively put it, “this is going to be the most anticlimactic race start I’ve ever seen, isn’t it?” Yes. Yes it was. Nick described our wave as “the meat in the race sandwich”, as we were the middle wave between the 7 am start and the 9 am start. 46 runners over all!

The run:

We trotted off down the road over to the Horsetooth Mountain Park trailhead. Then began one of the day’s many ascents, up to “The Rock”. For those of you unfamiliar, Horsetooth Rock is a definitive rock formation overlooking Fort Collins. Not only do you have to climb up the hill, but you have to do some rock scrambling and summit the rock itself. Awesome views.  I tagged along behind Jeff O for the first couple miles (he took these photos, thanks Jeff!) and tried not to let the steepness get to me.

On top of the tooth!

We zigged and zagged through HMP for several miles before heading up to cross the infamous Towers Road (of Thursday night time trial fame). Every time I would come to the base of a hill (of which there were many) I would think (in my best Charlie Brown voice) “good grief!” But somehow, no matter how insurmountable the trail seemed, I always made it to the top. I would frequently glance back down and think, “huh. How did that happen?” I must be getting in shape!

The road down off of Towers (Mill Creek) was a divinely graded (for me) 3 mile section of downhill. Love. Except for the knowledge that I would be dragging ass BACK over that climb in just a few miles.

Chris, one of the FCTR members, generously hosted Arthur’s Aid Station at mile 12, and I stuffed some pretzels in my face and reordered my bag. Spent about 5 minutes there (I can really see how people get to dilly dallying at aid stations) then headed off…

The view from Arthur's Aid

…only to promtly go off trail for the first (and only) time of the day. I slogged back UP the hill (curses!) for about a quarter mile before realizing my mistake and bushwacking it back down to the correct path. The Valley Trail was lovely on the way back, until we hit Sawmill and Loggers which basically seemed to rise vertically at odds with gravity (and sanity). Hike hike hike up up up. Finally at the “top” only to realize that our devilish race director decided to tack on ANOTHER .9 mile segment (and the worst segment, to boot!) of Towers Road. Hike hike hike up up up.

Finally I was ready to cruise mostly downhill (I was at mile 17 at this point). Surprisingly, I was still able to run in spite of the 5 hours I had been out and the fact that this was now my longest (both in time and distance) trail run ever. Granted, I wasn’t running fast….at one point we had to clamber over a recently downed (huge) pine tree, and I just stopped and sat on the top of the fallen tree for a minute. It was one of those points in a run where you are so tired, but have to say to yourself, “welp, there’s nothing for it but to keep going!” There is no DNFing in trail running, unless you want your sorry carcass to become bleached out trail decorations. Onward!

The finish:

Why is it that no matter how long your run, the last three miles always seem so much longer than three miles? It defies logic. I finally made it back to the trailhead only to be greeted by the steep incline up the road back to Nick’s house.  22.6 miles by my Garmin (which was gasping its last gasp of battery life at this point – I hear the new one has longer battery life…) The course was supposed to be 21.6 miles, so clearly I wasn’t running the tangents. lol.


Back at Casa Clark there was a great, smelly party going on. Lots of good food, beer, and great company. Thanks again, Nick, for opening up your home to us! I brought a cheesecake, which in retrospect was probably not a good idea. Not only because most runners are extremely health conscious, but because even I (who has NEVER until this day turned down a delicious cheesy dessert) could not stomach it after 22 miles. Similar to the marathon, I could not eat a thing until at least 3 hours after the run. Even the thought of food was repulsive. I couldn’t even eat all of the pizza I ordered later. Maybe this is an answer to my food problem…just keep running until you’re not hungry!

All in all a great day – AMAZING weather and trail conditions for mid December. Can’t wait for next year, although we’ll probably need snow shoes!



  1. nice to meet and chat with you a bit. Good luck and always remember to have fun in your first ultra next year. I see you have Moab on your schedule. The scenery in of itself will keep you mind off the task at hand.

  2. Glad I stumbled across your report. You summed it up perfectly and I’m keeping your quote about DNFing for future motivation. I never properly introduced myself but I passed you on Wathen and we chatted a bit post-race. Great job!

  3. Congrats on your first big trail race! Sounds like a good day.

  4. Joselyne – great job out there on Saturday. Stoked to see you getting the bug. Please note that things get easier (and faster) the more you get out there and slog through the big vert days. Fingers crossed for your job situation – would be great to have a couple more trail enthusiasts in the hood!

  5. wow, sounds like a great time! i’m just getting into trail running myself and have my first couple ultras planned for spring, so it’s fun to read about someone else experiencing similar things!

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