For as long as Jenn has been running, she’s been talking about Vacation Races Elk Double. Taking place in Estes Park, Colorado, the 5k and half marathon races are close to her home and events that she holds near and dear to her heart.
Quite the opposite of Jenn, I live in New Jersey, which means that I run on mostly flat land.
Jenn’s first half was down at sea level at the Atlantic City April Fools Half, with yours truly. Her second? The Vacation Races Rocky Mountain Half.
They’re about as different as two races can be.
As you can imagine, it’s a bit difficult to train for a race at 7,500 feet when you live in New Jersey. But knowing that I have a base fitness level from going to the gym and the fact that we were doing these races to primarily be together and have fun, I wasn’t too concerned with the elevation.
After visiting Colorado in 2015 for the BolderBoulder and realizing that my family HAD to visit Colorado at some point, I made it my mission to get them there. After a few years of me (not so gently) mentioning it (every chance I got), we planned our week’s vacation there!
We arrived the week before the race which allowed us to get acclimated to the higher elevation. Trust me when I say that this is important! I didn’t really have time to adjust when I was there during BolderBoulder and I didn’t want to repeat that yucky feeling.
The whole week was incredible and to be quite honest, I was looking at houses so I never had to leave. Plus I was reunited with Jenn and her crew, which basically meant life was pretty amazing.
The 5k was on Friday night and some gnarly looking storm clouds were rolling in as we picked our race gear up at the expo. There was supposed to be s’mores but that got shut down early (or maybe they didn’t have them at all?). We did a little shopping and then headed over near the start line which was just a short walk away.
One of the things that I love about Vacation Races is when you do a double, they give you a choice of your additional swag item. I got the t-shirt and also a Elk Double hat, which I absolutely adore! Jenn already had the hat and the long sleeve shirt from previous years, so she opted for a mug this year.
Jenn’s brother in law was running and after seeing a picture of the medal, my older son Lucas decided he’d like to run. He is his mother’s child!
The 5k had numbered waves to begin but I’m not really sure how they were doled out. We ended up in the 3rd wave and knew that we planned to take things easy, especially given as there was a long hill immediately after crossing the start line.
After that hill, the 5k was mostly flat though so we took advantage of that as much as we could. The weather was feisty; a cold wind was blowing through and because of the mountains surrounding you and being near Lake Estes, the noise from the wind was intense. We did intervals as we made our way along the lakefront.
You could hear the finish line festivities as we circled the lake – so close yet so very far! Jenn warned me that it was that way during the half too, which is tough during mile 12 of a race.
With the winds whipping we were getting more worried that we might get caught in driving rains which we were really hoping to avoid. Keeping our heads down we kept trucking along and crossed the finish line before the rain hit.
Got our super awesome medals, race goody boxes, snapped a few pictures, and then we were out of there!
After an awesome Mexican dinner with an equally awesome Pina Colada (yes, that’s right, we did eat Mexican and drink before the half – easy breezy), I went back with my fam to the hotel to get some rest.
I was dealing with chafing, due to missing some spots during 5k prep. Not going to go into too much detail on that but let’s just say it was down yonder. OUCH.
Having a taste of what the course was going to be like the next day had me a slightly nervous. That first hill alone was a beast and I knew that there were only more to come the following day.
However I knew that with Jenn by my side, we’d have a great time, no matter how long it took! I’ll be back with more on the half marathon next time.