Saturday, June 4, 2011

It's down to hours...

Steamboat Springs weather forecast for tomorrow morning

For the past few weeks I've been checking the weather in Steamboat Springs, Colorado almost every day, trying to figure out what it will be like when I finally get to run the marathon there. Today I'm in Steamboat Springs, so I can see for myself. In fact, 24 hours from now as I write this, I should be running.

Right now it's about 38 degrees outside; tomorrow it should be a bit warmer (although perhaps not at Steamboat Lake where the marathon starts—1,300 feet higher in elevation than the town). I'm not as concerned about the weather at the start of the race, where it should be cool and very runnable, as at the finish, where it could be starting to get uncomfortably warm for a marathoner. The forecast for tomorrow is for a high of 80 degrees!

The race starts at 7:30 a.m., and the temperature at that time should still be in the 40s. I imagine I will shed my sweats at the starting line and wear gloves for the first couple miles, if at all. Then it will be shorts and a singlet all the way to the finish. If all goes as planned, I should be halfway through the race by 9:15, when it will still be below 60 degrees. By 10 a.m., nearly 20 miles in, the temperature will start to be a bit uncomfortable, especially where the course is not shaded. There aren't a lot of tall trees in this area, so I don't expect much shade. If I've met my goal, I'll finish by 11 a.m., with a temperature of 67 degrees. That's tolerable, especially given the fact that there's no humidity here. But I will need to be very careful to hydrate; that's going to be the key to the race.

The other concern is elevation: The race starts at 8,126 feet and descends to a still-lofty 6,728. I really can't be sure how exactly I'll handle that. I got my first taste of running at elevation yesterday. We were on a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park and we were running late, so I gave Greta my pack and ran about 2 miles to the car so I could drive back and pick Greta and Nora up at a different trailhead a half-mile from where we were. The run felt good, but I was a little lightheaded at a couple of points.

From what I've heard, the first few miles of a run at elevation can be a big of a shock, but after a while you're able to adapt. Let's hope that's the case, otherwise I may be disappointed in the results.

For now all I can do is carbo-load and try to stay well-rested. There are gorgeous mountains all around me and I need to avoid the temptation to hike up them! Tune in tomorrow and you'll get my report on how I did.

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