Race Review: Castle Rock Trail Festival Ridgeline Half-Marathon 2017

Trail Ridge half

This is a review of the Castle Rock Trail Festival Ridgeline Half-Marathon 2017.

First, a quick introduction to how I review races.

Races, to me, serve a purpose. I am not a gazelle and will never win any of these races, so I pick runs that are long and will challenge me. It is easy to stay with 5K’s, finish in a half hour and move on with your life. I want more than that. I want an experience and the half-marathon always seems to be a very rewarding distance. Things start to get ugly for me around the 8 to 9 miles mark and that gives me a good 5 miles to sort my life out. In a review we need to look at a couple things.

  • Did the race challenge me?
  • Was it well planned and organized?
  • Were there still beer and pancakes at the finish line. You know, that kind of stuff.

The History

This is my second year running this race. For me, the Trail Ridge run is the quintessential trail race. It is almost all up and down with a couple flat spots thrown in for fun. The fact that it is hard also makes it the gold standard to test your running. You can check out my previous post here, to hear about the troubles I had last year at this race. In short, I blew out the right calf at about mile 1.5 and the other one at mile 3. Basically I ran the last 10 miles on two calves that were seizing up with every step. Have you ever strained a calf and feel it tear a little with each step? That was me last year. I hobbled across the finish line and found a bench, unable to make it back to the car. It was then and there I plotted out my revenge on this race. I never said I was smart but I am vengeful.

So in the last 12 months I have worked on my midfoot strike, put a lot of effort into form and spent some time on the Castle Rock Steps. I couldn’t wait for the day to take my vengeance against these mountains.

The People

Castle Rock Trail Festival

The castle Rock Trail festival is just off 1-25 and Plum Creek Rd. inside the Phillip S. Miller park. It is easy to get to and parking is a snap. As you can see, the finish line is also the start line. All the volunteers were upbeat and the announcer did a great job of staggering the start. That is an important but often overlooked detail in these races. Let the gazelles fly and let the rest of us mosey on down the trail.

Trail runners are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Except for the old guy that yelled at me for wearing headphones, everyone was a joy to be around. In all fairness, this incident occurred on top of a mesa and everyone was set in their pacing. No one had passed anyone for a few miles so there was no reason to think anyone would be passing me. Oh, and there was plenty of room to pass. Okay, he was right, no need to wear headphones on a trail run. If anything, you can’t hear the rattlesnakes that way.

The only thing I would warn people about is that this is a hard race. If you are new to trail running or just getting back in shape, the Bear Chase may be a better choice for you. Or just do the 10K version of this one.

Unless you are like me and do both. The Bear Chase on Sunday and the Trail Ridge the following Saturday. I guess I forgot to mention the Ragnar 7 Summit Challenge I also did that week. No wonder my legs were tired. No excuses, I like a challenge.  Anyway, great people, the volunteers were very friendly and it was a good time.

The Course

Castle Rock Trail Fest

Castle Rock Trail FestCastle Rock Trail Fest

Castle Rock Trail Fest

Well hell, take a look at it. You get the idea. Some people flew through it, others, like me, chugged. That doesn’t mean I didn’t thoroughly enjoy getting my butt kicked again because I did. Things started breaking down around mile 8 and I just had to settle into that grind. At that point the feet hurt, hips hurt and I was just tired but that is also the time where you can bring out the best and the best races force you to cope with adversity.



Trail ridge 2017

trail ridge elevationtrail ridge 2017


So What I take out of this race?

What can you take out of this race?

I can’t say I am impressed with my time but it is an honest time. That was all I had to give on that day. I thought it would be faster but that is how it goes sometimes. This time is about 1 minute slower than my Bear Chase time and is about 3 minutes slower than my half marathon pace on asphalt. That gives you an idea of the quality of terrain you have to deal with. One last thing, they did have beer at the end of the race but the line was too long. I had margaritas waiting for me at Hacienda Colorado. Great race, see you next year.


Running Log Feb. 1, 2017- Record Day

Running Log Feb. 1, 2017

The day the dam broke.

Anybody who has run for any length of time knows the following two statements are true.

  1. On days where you feel great, you may not have a great run.
  2. On days where you really don’t feel up to it, you may have a great run.

And that is why you should run everyday. There is no rhyme or reason behind having a great run. All I can tell you is that you will never know if you don’t do it.

Simple as that.

This run was day 13 of my 100 day cardio challenge.

My what?

Yes you too can join me as I do 100 days of cardio in a row.


Because I love a challenge. Read more about the challenge here.

After 12 straight days of cardio, I thought my legs would be tired but that just hasn’t been the case.

From Frosty’s Frozen to the Snowman Stampede

There are 3 cool things about the Hudson Garden races.

  1. They are in the winter. You can get better while other runners get fat and lazy.
  2. They are a month apart so you can measure your progress while other runners get fat and lazy.
  3. You can enter spring in great shape while other runners are emerging from their winter hibernation and trying to squeeze into their clothes.

And that is exactly what I am after. Hot, nasty raw speed is what I am working on this month before the Snowman Stampede.

Let the 10 minute mile barrier fall

First there was Roger Bannister, now there is me!

Running Log Feb. 1

Laugh if you want my friends but that is not a misprint. That is a blistering (for me) 9:52 looking you square in the face.

Using the Lumo Run has been an absolute godsend for me. Not only does it record metrics I couldn’t get anywhere else, I have my own running coach talking to me as I run.

The coolest thing Apple has ever done, in my opinion, is give me the option to change the voice in my Iphone.

That allows me to have a sexy but stern British woman who gently whispers in my ear to “Pick my feet up faster”.

Okay, sometimes she comes across as sexy but I think she loses patience with me on my cadence. On long runs she seems to get a little snippy with me. That is not Lumo Run’s issue. That is the physics of trying to lift up a size 13 shoe as fast as possible.

Oh how I want to increase my cadence to make my English coach happy!

Here is something cool

Lumo Run will give you suggested exercises to improve your metrics.


Running Log Feb. 1

The Metrics

Running Log Feb. 1

I have found that I can increase my cadence naturally by doing 3 things.

  1. Leaning forward from the ankles.
  2. Taking shorter choppy steps
  3. Most important, not trying to stop the feeling of falling forward. Usually I start freaking out when I get my lean right because I think I am going to burn out too quick aerobically. This isn’t the case and I need to get use to the feeling of just letting go.

Personal Records


running log feb.1,2017

I am really excited about this. I would estimate I gave around 95% effort on this run and it felt great.


Running Log January 27th, 2017

Running Log January 27th, 2017- Speed Day

Ok, stop laughing, yes this was a speed day for me.

This was also the first time all year that I attempted the Canterbury Loop.

The Course

The Canterbury Loop is a 3 mile run that begins with a .5 mile slight downhill that turns into a big uphill, then a big downhill. As you hit the 2 mile mark there is a short uphill followed by a short downhill.

That makes it a very interesting run. In other words, it is very easy to screw it up. Last year when I was over-striding and heel-striking, my calves would be on fire by the middle of the first climb. My first mile times were terrible and I would try and make it up on the downhill which turned out to be another big mistake. Over-striding and steep downhills are a disaster waiting to happen. This course pounded my calves into hamburger meat.

So let’s see how I did with my new running form.

My Time

running log january 27, 2017

The first mile still took it’s toll on me. The difference this year is that my calves didn’t blow up and I was able to keep my heart rate at a sustainable pace. The course was easier and dare I say, enjoyable? It is going to be interesting to me to see how these times change during the course of the year.

The Metrics

running log january 27, 2017

Look how close I came to being in the green for cadence! Whoopee! There is hope.

Personal Records


running log january 27, 2017

Personal records may be the coolest feature about Lumo Run. I love completing a run and seeing if I have any new personal records. I am not saying anything but I am closing in on the mythical sub 10 minute mile.  I could be so bold as to say I am closing in on 3 sub 10 minute miles strung together. If I could do that on this loop, that would be something.

If you are enjoying the misadventures of a big man running, check out Lumo Run for yourself. As an ambassador for Lumo Run, if you use my link and the code “MMG10”, you can get $10 off your purchase.

Click here for more info on Lumo Run.

Running Log January 28, 2017

Running Log January 28th, 2017

Operation Enduring Warrior Virtual 10K

So after 2 consecutive weeks of races, I had a weekend off.

So what did I do?

Complete my January virtual run challenge, of course.

This was a 2 part challenge for me.

  1. Run the Operation Enduring Warrior Virtual 10K for charity. (There are still spots open if you want to do this. Click here for details).
  2. Run 60 miles this month. As of January 28th, I am at 78 miles. Not a bad month.

I did the run after a hard speed workout on Friday, so I wanted to take it slow and easy.

By looking at my time, you will see I did just that.

The Course.

January challenge


If you know anything about me, you know I don’t shy away from danger, especially when I am running for a great cause like Operation Enduring Warrior. Okay, enough of the brave talk, I just opened my front door and ran west. This is Colorado and we have mountain lions and coyotes. Coyotes I see from time to time but you will never see a mountain lion. They could be 5 feet away from you in the bushes and you would never see it. Plus they are ambush cats so they attack from the back. If I worried about such things I would wear a backpack with punji spikes sticking out of the back for protection.

So why worry? My philosophy about wild animals is pretty basic. If they can take me down, they are welcome to eat me.

Simple as that. At 6’3″ and 245 pounds I have a lot of good meat on me. As they would say in the Lion King, it is the circle of life, hakuna matata.

Back to business. Usually I have a couple of courses I run that are outside my front door. This one is an extension of the Sulphur Gulch run. Instead of turning around by the Pace center, I keep heading west and end up on the Cherry Creek trail.

cherry creek trail

It is a nice, flat course with a convenient port-a-potty at the 3 mile mark. Beautiful.

My Time

Note: I was reading an article about runners with asthma and they said we should run everyday. Of all the asthma treatments I have tried, I never tried cardio everyday. Of course with all the things I read in a given week, this one had to stick in my thick brain as a good idea to try. So not only did I do this run after a speed day, this was my 9th consecutive day of cardio for me. Will it help my asthma symptoms? I will keep you posted. After 9 days, my legs still are fresh. They still move slow but they are fresh.


runners log January 28th, 2017Nothing special here but a nice easy run on a beautiful January day.

Here are the metrics courtesy of Lumo Run


running log january 28th, 2017

The cadence is still low but here is the interesting thing.

Look at the personal records for the run.

running log january 28th, 2017

The braking metric measures how much my speed slows down with each step. If you are over-striding and striking with your heel, this number is going to be high. Even though I was running with less than an optimal cadence, the braking metric tells me my feet were landing under me and I was falling forward. This is exactly what I want to be doing. This is a metric I would have never figured out on my own.

If you want to check out Lumo Run, Click here. Use the code “MMG10” and get $10 off your purchase.