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Yesterday was theĀ RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) Colorado Cross Country State Championship 12k event. The race was put on by the Colorado Masters Running / Racewalking Association at Central Park in Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood.

A Brief Public Service Announcement:

The Colorado Masters Running / Racewalking Association is a great running value. The $25 annual membership dues cover entry into the dozen or so club races conducted throughout the Denver metro area each year. There’s a nice variety of distances (from 5k up to 8.5 miles) and terrains (including trail races at White Ranch just outside Golden, and Elk Meadow in Evergreen), and the races are scheduled once a month. Since I don’t really do any speed work, these club races give me a good reason to run at a quicker than normal pace. There are generally enough participants in each event that there’s good racing feel, but the overall attitude is friendly and low-key so there’s very little stress. The events also let me see more of the Denver area – and not just the races, but the local restaurants for breakfast or lunch afterwards. (The Rocky Mountain Road Runners look to have a similar deal with their “Trophy Series,” but I’ve never attended any of their events.)

The facilities at the park are new and clean (except for all the goose poop), and the race began with all of us spread out across the starting line on the grass.

And we’re off!

I liked this way of starting because there wasn’t the same amount of jostling for position that inevitably seems to happen during the first half mile of most other club races, and everyone had space to find their own pace.

The course itself was nice and varied; two laps with different running surfaces – grass, pea gravel path, hard pack dirt, single track, an uneven reclaimed prairie dog field, and a bit of concrete. No big hills, but a few very short inclines that were steep enough to break up the pace a bit – perhaps 150-200 feet of total elevation gain.

Me coming through to begin the second lap.

I was able to find my fastest sustainable pace pretty quickly after starting, and stick with it throughout.

With the exception of a narrow singletrack section on mile 6 where I stayed behind another runner rather than try to pass, I felt like I was running about as fast as I could without taking a risk that I’d lose control of my breathing. Since the race took almost an hour, I think I now have a measure for my lactate threshold.

I’m not sure how I’m going to use this new information, since nearly all of my training is done under a 140 HR, but I suppose it’s better to know it than not to know it.