The fall racing season in Fort Collins is rich with quality races. September seems to be a popular month since the weather is cooling down but the risk of snow is low. With so many events, how do you pick the best ones? Ask your coach. Here’s how my conversation with my coach went.
Me: Coach, I have three races coming up.
Coach: Great. What are the dates and details? I’ll work on a plan for you.
Me: FORTitude 10K on September 4th, Black Squirrel Half Marathon on September 9th and Equinox Half Marathon September 17th.
Coach: Wait a minute…. You’re going to do a 10K and two half marathons over the course of 14 days?
Me: It’s really more like three weeks.
Coach: September 4th to 17th is 14 days. That’s three races, with two of them being half marathons in two weeks’ time. What if you skipped the middle one? Then you’d have a little rest.
Me: Oh no. I couldn’t skip that. It’s in Lory State Park and I love those trails. The course climbs almost 2,000 ft up Timber Trail and on to Westridge Trail where the view is spectacular! The course is totally runnable but a nice challenge. The post-race party is fantastic too. Live music, beer and a full breakfast.
Coach: Could you just volunteer at that race and you’d still get the post-race party?
Me: What?! How could I earn my beer then?
Coach: (sighs and shakes his head) Maybe you could take the following week off? If you race the FORTitude, then do a trail half, your legs will be pretty tired going into the Equinox Half. Just skip that one.
Me: I already registered and it’s such a cool course! It starts at the Mishawaka and runs down the Poudre Canyon. With all that downhill, I think I can PR. Besides, Lisa at Green Events has been nagging me to run it for 17 months. And if you know Lisa, you know not to let her down. A ton of my Runners Roost friends are running it so I feel obligated to run and help the team have a good showing. I’m thinking I could taper a bit for this one too since it is a nice fast course.
Coach: (fidgeting with pen and clearly annoyed) Back to back Half Marathons? OK. We can work on that. What about that road 10K on the 4th? I’ve never heard of that. Could you miss that one?
Me: No way! That’s the inaugural FORTitude 10K! It should be a nice fast 10K course through some pretty neighborhoods. The finish is in the brand new CSU football stadium- How cool is that?! I really don’t want to miss it because it’s going to be a huge tradition and when I’m old like you coach, I can say, “I was at the VERY first FORTitude 10k!”
Coach: (Crumples up training log notes and tosses them into the garbage can) Fine. Do whatever you want. Why even bother talking to me? (Tosses pen in the air and walks away)
Fortunately I coach myself so I got over myself not taking my own best advice. As it turns out, runner Dan did fine despite the concerns of Coach Dan. The race results and details are linked below for the real geeks. The lesson here is simply that sometimes, even when we know it’s a bad idea, it is still the best plan! I’m sure my performances could have been a bit better if I skipped one of the races. However, I ran reasonably well at each one, I enjoyed hanging out with friends and I got to meet some awesome runners that I never would have known if I skipped one of the races. Don’t get caught up in the “perfect” training and racing plan. Train smart, have fun and it’s OK to race frequently as long as you moderate your expectations for a top notch performance every time.
FORTitude 10k – 36:40
Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon- 1:46:21
Equinox Half Marathon- 1:19:03