Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Saturday, August 24, 2013

2013 Boulder Sunset Triathlon Race Plan

This one wasn't on my calendar originally.  But with the summer coming to a close, I was searching for a race that would meet the following criteria:

  1. It had to be at least Olympic Distance in length
  2. The cost had to be fairly low (under $80)
  3. It had to be a September event

As I looked through several online race calendars, I stumbled across the Boulder Sunset (I did the Sprint during my first season back in 2010).  The Olympic Distance had a $45 entry fee (plus an equal fundraising obligation) and although the race is on August 31st, I figure one day is close enough.  I also liked the fact that I could do some fundraising.  A close family friend is currently battling Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and so I wanted to be able to raise some money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society on her behalf.  Generous friends and family donated $135 to the cause!  Thanks to all of you.  It truly means a lot.
Swim Area at the Res (Photo from 303triathlon)
Background
It has been an unusual year for racing as I've tried a variety of events including an ultramarathon, a century ride, and a long distance swim.  Even though the summer is coming to an end, this will actually be my first triathlon of the year and it's hard not to be a little excited about it.  I feel like I'm in perfect condition for the event and coming off a half marathon PR a few weeks ago, I'm curious to see what I can do.
Race Goals*
For this race the theme is going to be Go Big!
1) I haven't always had the best luck at the Boulder Reservoir so my goal will be to change that this year. I'd like to have a PR on the 1500 swim this time. My fastest race time was a 28:00 something or other at Loveland L2L last year.  That said, beginning last winter, I've spent a lot of my pool time working on improved technique so I hope to see a payoff at this point.
2) One of my goals this summer was to improve my overall bike fitness.  I've been pushing the pace more on my rides and challenging myself to ride a bit more aggressively.  On top of that, I have the advantage of an actual tri bike this year.  My goal is ambitious, but I'd love to set a minimum pace somewhere between 21-22mph for this race.
3) Up until a couple of weeks ago, I wasn't really sure where I'd be on the run.  I spent so much of the previous year working on volume in preparation for the CPTR 50, I didn't feel like I had much in the way of speed.  Today I ran 4 miles at just under 7:30/ mile and I felt like I could have pushed that pace a little lower in an actual race.  I'm going to be ambitious on this goal and shoot for somewhere between 43-46 minutes.  I will be very satisfied with that kind of performance.
*As always, changing weather conditions or other factors may result in a need to alter some of these goals.
Time Goals
The chart below highlights my time goals ranging from Epic to Average.  I've set the bar a bit higher than usual, but I really want to challenge myself with this race!


Keys to Success
1) Believe.  If I want to perform and reach the goals I've set for myself, then I have to have confidence and faith in the training that I've done.  Positive thoughts and reminders are important and the only negative aspect of the race should be my splits.  Chris McCormack (aka Macca) talks about how he keeps a mental "filing cabinet" in his head when he races where he can access different motivations.  Here's what's going in my filing cabinet for Saturday a.m.:
For the Swim:
"You've put in quality swimming this year and dramatically improved your technique."
"You swam 2.4 in open water without a wet suit.  Think how much faster you feel in the suit."
For the Bike:
"While most folks spent the summer riding their carbon frames, you chose to ride your aluminum bike with the big, heavy wheels.  "You're my Boy Blue!"  Now that you are on a lighter bike, that pays off big time.
"It's hard to ride this bike below 20 mph."
"Don't be afraid to ride a little harder.  You're not going to kill your run because you are a stronger rider now than you've ever been."
For the Run:
"You spent 11 hours running 50 miles in the mountains.  A couple of hours racing an Olympic Triathlon is nothing.  You can push harder than you think."
"You just set a half marathon PR only a month before you turn 42.  You're faster now than you were in your twenties."
"Last year, the age group winner ran only 1.5 minutes faster than your best 10k time in a triathlon."
2) Focus.  In all phases of the race, it's important to concentrate and to stay in the moment.  This is especially true in the swim.  Concentrate on getting a rhythm established, and you will do fine.  Once you get on the bike,  same thing.  Start working on your cadence and work to keep a fast, steady pace.
3) Stay Cool.  When you get to the run, it's likely to be a bit warm.  Get cool as early as you can and practice smart cooling/ hydration throughout the race.
Race Week
Sunday- Weights (30 min)
Monday- Rest
Tuesday- Rest
Wednesday- Rest
Clean Bike, Get Tools and other Bike stuff together.
Thursday- Use your race checklist to pack everything so that you can get out the door on Friday afternoon.
Friday- Rest. Travel to Denver.
Saturday- Race Day.  Be out the door by about 6:30 a.m. as that should give you time to get to Boulder, get your packet, get set up, etc.

Race Day Information
The transition area opens at 8:30 (It's a long walk from the car to transition, so see if you can't remember to get everything in one trip).
DON'T FORGET YOUR USAT CARD!!!)
Olympic race starts at 10:00am
Make sure your bike is in a low gear
TURN ON YOUR BIKE COMPUTER prior to leaving transition


Overhead view of the transition area
Swim:Take your wetsuit down to the beach, but wait until close to race time to put it on.  It will be warm already so you want to keep cool as long as you can.  Get down by the shoreline and see if there are any larger landmarks for sighting.  If allowed, get in the water a couple of minutes before the start and swim 100-200.  If you can get an angle on the course, it would be good to line up towards the left as much as possible.  That said, there's no need to be up front for this one.  As soon as you are clear of the wash, work on getting into a rhythm and concentrate on that.  The last bit of the swim, remember to kick your legs a little more to get them warmed up for the bike.  Swim until you are very close to the beach and remember that you will be a bit dizzy as you stand.  Not much to do about that, but just be prepared to look like a drunk!

T1: As you get into the transition area, remember where your bike is located.  Some kind of reference point may help with this.  If you are staying focused, you shouldn't have a problem.  If there aren't strippers, you should have your wetsuit down to your waist by this point.  Get the suit off quickly and grab the hammer gel out of your helmet for the back pocket.  Put your helmet on and your sunglasses.  Use the extra towel to dry your feet as best you can, and then get your shoes on.  Head out of transition and get to the mount line.  Concentrate on getting on the bike and clipping in.
Bike: The bike course begins with a slight climb over the first few miles.  That said, don't be afraid to push on this part of the ride.  The second half of the course will be faster and easier so you will have plenty of time to recover on the back stretch.  Remember that your bike energy will ebb and flow a little bit as you encounter risers, wind, etc.  Even if you feel out of breath at some points, you will recover and you can get back into a groove.  You should have plenty of water in your bottle so aid stations on the ride shouldn't be needed.  That said, take your gel about 3/4 of the way through as this will help when you get to the run.
Bike Course


T2: This is always a tough one because you're tired and sweaty from the ride and you have a lot of things to do in as short amount of time as possible.  Start with your race belt.  Then pull of your helmet and switch to your visor.  Next work on your socks and shoes.  Take your time and get them on so that they're comfortable.  An extra 20-30 seconds sucks, but it is better than having to stop mid run.  Take some water and get going.
Run: It's about 1/2 mile before you'll really get your legs under you.  Do an assessment of how you're feeling.  There's an aid station outside of transition so if it's hot you can work on getting cool right away (just watch that your feet don't get wet).  The course will be out and back (2 loops) which is something a bit new for you on a triathlon).  It's a fairly flat course so there shouldn't be an issue with hills.  Once you get through the first 3 miles, it's time to assess again.  Miles 3-4 and 4-5 are key.  If possible push on these a bit more (remember you did mile 3-4 in 7:09 last weekend, so it's doable).  A trick for getting a faster split is to pick a distance a ways ahead and run at a faster pace to that point.  Take a minute or two to return to normal race pace and then pick another spot up ahead).  Remember that there isn't any racing left once you finish the run portion.  Don't leave anything out there.  Give it everything you got and you'll get a great result!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tri Bike Adventures

Last April, I finally pulled the trigger and purchased a triathlon specific bike.  Not the fanciest bike, but one from a smaller brand with a quality reputation, and to be perfectly honest, a great deal.  I had been looking at a triathlon specific bike since I started triathlon some three years before, and while I've been happy with my roadie, it was great to get something a little lighter, and a bit more aerodynamic.
After a fitting at the LBS to make sure that everything was dialed in correctly, I was ready to go.  The funny part about getting the tri bike however was that I didn't have any triathlons planned until September and October.  At least I figured that would give me plenty of time to get accustomed to riding it.  Throughout the first part of the summer however, I remained on my roadie most of the time.  I had a century ride planned for late June and given the mountainous course, I figured a traditional road bike would be much better suited to the event.  Once that was over however, I started getting out on the tri bike a bit more, and although I've only notched a half  dozen rides on it,  I'm starting to get more comfortable.  With a triathlon now only a couple of weeks away, I will use it almost exclusively during my next handful of rides. 
The best place for these rides is out at the test track and in the last few weeks I've had two particularly good rides out there. The test track road isn't the most scenic of venues, but given that it is almost completely empty of cars, and the first seven miles have been recently paved, there aren't many routes that can compare.  A few evening back, when pressed for time, I went out for a "time trial" of 20 miles.  I kept the hammer down on the 10 miles out and back and finished in a little over 54 minutes.  It was the highest average speed I've managed on a bike over that distance and I felt surprisingly strong and comfortable on the bike.
Results from my 20 mile "Time Trial" out at the test track
 This past Saturday, I was able to get out in the morning and do a slightly longer ride of 34 miles.  With the triathlon approaching,  I didn't push the pace quite as hard this time because I wanted to practice saving a little energy for the run phase.  On the ride out I felt very good and though some of the steeper rises out there still cut into my pace, I managed to recover from them fairly quickly and maintain some momentum.  After I reached the turnaround and was a few miles back down the road,  something just "clicked" as I rode.  It seemed like my legs found another gear and I  settled into a "zone" where I pedaled smoothly and easily.  As I hit a few of the hills and inclines, I was able to keep my pace a little longer and make it a bit further up the hill.  It may not have been effortless, but it was definitely different.  It's something that I've experienced before when running, but not while cycling.
Last weekends longer ride of 34 miles.
Maybe that feeling won't return again, but I'm excited to see how things go in Boulder in a couple of weeks.  It will actually be my first triathlon this year, and the very first on my tri bike.  Look for a plan and then a race report to follow.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

EPIC! . . . 2013 GTIS Half Marathon Race Report

 Last week I sat down to develop a race plan for the Georgetown Race.   Here's an excerpt from that plan where I discuss my overall pacing and time goal:
Developing a plan for how I would like to run this race has been a bit of a challenge.  Initially, I envisioned shooting for a PR, but after doing a little speed work during the last couple of weeks, I realize that is probably not realistic at this point.  A PR would be right around 1:39:59, which translates to 7:38/mile, too ambitious for me.  Instead, I'm going to shoot for a slightly slower pace around 8:00 to 8:20/ mile.  My goal will be something between 1:44:00 to 1:50:00 total time.  Given the course and my current level of conditioning, I think that this is realistic target.
 I think it's great to develop a strategy for racing as it helps to visualize a positive outcome and serves as a reminder for important elements like staying focused, taking in proper hydration, nutrition, etc.  An effective race plan should also consist of more than one possible outcome because there are so many variables that come into play on race day.  It's impossible to plan for everything.  Having varied goals makes it easier to find success in any event, even when the unexpected occurs.    Nevertheless, as I found myself way back in the field of 3000+ participants, at the start of yesterday's race, setting a personal record in the half marathon was the farthest thing from my mind. 
Pre-race: 
We spent the night at Aunt Janet's (she took 1st in her age group by the way!) and Uncle Ron's place in Genesee after a long, slow drive up Highway 83. We took this detour after learning that the Interstate had been closed due to an accident.  Unfortunately, everyone else traveling between Colorado Springs and Denver had the same idea so it took forever to get north.  When we reached Parker, we decided to stop and have dinner.  As a result, it was after 9:00 when we finally reached her house, and at least another 90 minutes before our heads hit the pillow for the night.  The upside was that the trip to Georgetown was only about 30 minutes in the morning.  We arrived in plenty of time, and sat in the car for several minutes to avoid the morning chill that pervades this small mountain town (about 45 degrees at start time) as the sun is rising.    
Georgetown: Photo Courtesy of www.hikinghumanitarian.com, Thanks!
 Shortly before the race, I made one final trip to the port-o-potties.  They were arranged in a narrow strip and as you moved towards the middle, there were very short lines for waiting of only 2-3 people.  At the end of each row, a long queue of runner's were waiting patiently for the 1/2 dozen toilets at the edge.  After taking care of business, and with only about 10 minutes or so until race time, I mentioned this to those folks waiting in line as I headed for a quick warm-up.  Several of them expressed thanks, a few glared at me, and quite a few just stayed in line!  I'm guessing that those who kept waiting did not make the start on time.  Weird.
The first hiccup of the morning came at the start line.  My plan was to locate myself near the 1:45 start group and hang with them through the race.  Sadly, the starting line was a congested mess.  Runners were jammed together at the starting line, and several more were waiting as close to their wave as they could, on the shoulder of the road.  The race organizers had several trucks parked along the sides of the starting line, so there were only a few gaps where you could get into the starting area.   To make matters worse, the "pacers" were separated by only about 25-30 feet, which made everyone pressed much closer.  I managed to squeeze onto the road, but instead of being next to the 1:45 group, I was all the way back at the 2:20 mark.  There was absolutely no way that I was going to get any farther forward than that.  I took a deep breath and let it go.
The Race:
 Fortunately, the GTIS is a "chip timed" event so I knew that even though I was way back, I wouldn't actually get a start time until I crossed the mat at the official starting line.  From there the trick would be to negotiate myself forward through the throngs of runners and walkers until I was able to settle in at an appropriate pace (there was in fact a gap of about 1:40 between the start and the time that I reached the starting mat).  The first half mile of the race runs straight down a small frontage road before the course bears to the left and you begin a mile of twisting and turning through the streets of Georgetown.  During this first half mile, I moved over to the edge of the road where several faster runners, who must have been in the same predicament as I was, were successfully moving up through the field.  This did involve running on the shoulder in spots, and through a few weeds here and there, but by the time we reached the first turn, the field had opened up a bit and there was more room to maneuver.   At the one mile point, I checked my watch and  my pace was around 8:30.  Perfect for where I thought I'd be through the first part of the course. 
Mile two continues in town, but by the end, you are back where you started and have actually run back past through the starting area.  Shortly after is the first aid station and the mile 2 marker.  By this point, there was plenty of room to run.  I moved to the left side of the field and powered forward.  When I checked my second mile split, it had dropped to a 7:38.  Whoa, I thought, maybe I need to dial it back a bit.  At any rate, I felt good as my combined average through the first two miles was close to my predicted pace of around 8:00/ mile.  The course moved slightly to the right and along a gradual descent, so I just went with it.  In my mind, I'd slowed down, but when I reached mile three, my total time was just slightly over 23 minutes (the mile three split was a 7:14).  And I felt fine.  It certainly wasn't an easy pace,  but I didn't like I was running beyond my limits.  I continued to run like this over the next two miles with a pace of 7:09 and 7:22 respectively.  
Mile splits as recorded on Training Center

And then it got interesting.  During the next 5 miles, I averaged between 6:57 to 7:07 per mile.  I generally don't hold that kind of pace in a 5k let alone in the middle portion of a half marathon.  GTIS is a "downhill" race, so I definitely got a boost from some of the descents, but there are also plenty of short, rolling, risers (I just can't bring myself to call them hills) along the way.  By this point I had blown past the 1:45 pace group with whom I had planned to run, and I was zeroing in on the 1:40 pacers.  At mile 10, I checked my watch and I was at a total time of around 1hr 13 minutes.  This meant that as long as I could finish running at about 9 minute per mile, I would finish in sub 1:40.  The question was, could I run around 9 minute miles?
Downhill with a few rollers thrown in for fun!
It isn't uncommon to "hit the wall" or "blow up" after pushing the pace too hard in the early part of the race.  I felt fairly confident that I could hold on for the last few miles, but I also remembered my experience at the ADT marathon, when after about 15 miles I was putting in the same effort,   but found my pace continued to drop to the point where I was lucky to maintain a 10:00/ 11:00 pace.  Now,  I literally lowered my head and willed myself forward with every bit of effort that I could summon.  I did slow down, but not by much.  In my last three miles, I clocked a 7:28, 7:29, and finished with a 7:55 (plus another minute or so for the .1 at the end).  When I crossed the line, the time on the clock said something around 1:38.  Given the amount of time I'd been delayed by the congestion at the starting line, I knew I was well under 1:40, and it felt great.  Checking the results this morning, my official time was a 1:36:51.  Good enough for 199th overall and 12th out of 162 in my age group.
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Post race:
The post race activities in Idaho Springs are held on the local football field.  Although this means that there is no beer garden, they invite a lot of sponsors in and so there is plenty of swag available for runners to collect.  In addition to the usual t-shirt, this year the offerings included a set of "stuffits" (which is like a running shoe freshener), Muscle Milk, Naked juice, FRS, O'Douls Beer (hey, a port in any storm right?), and of course, the GTIS pint glass (No doubt, I will be making a special trip to the liquor store to find a nice IPA to fill it with tonight).  I didn't linger too long at the expo however, as I wanted to catch the bus back up to Georgetown to pick up the car.  We made it back to Genesee by 12:30 or so, and Melisa and I stopped at a place called LoDo's near Quebec and C-470 where we enjoyed some lovely burgers and a beer before trekking back down to Pueblo.
Planning on filling this one with an IPA!

Long, Rambling Race Analysis:
This morning my legs have been replaced by two "pain sticks" which isn't surprising, but definitely worth it!  It's nice to set a personal record for a race and to do it at the age of 41.  My last PR at this distance would have been sometime back in the late 90's at the Steamboat Half Marathon (another downhiller) when I was in my 20's.  For that race I clocked about a 1:40.  Melisa also had a great race, and while she didn't PR, she ran a comfortable 2:12, which is only about 3-5 minutes from her PR a year ago.  This year she very little training (recording only one or two 6 mile runs in the last couple of months), and yet she finished the race feeling much more energetic and less exhausted than a year ago.  As I reflect on my training, I've also noted that my longest run in the last few weeks was around 10.5 miles.
So what gives?  Why was I able to PR after more than a dozen years?  How can Melisa run comfortably and finish close to her PR logging less than 10 miles/ week in the two months leading up to the event? Where did I get the capacity to run multiple sub 7:00 minute miles in the middle of the half marathon?  My guess is that it's a combination of the following:
Aerobic threshold training:  Beginning last winter, I embarked on an experiment using the Maffetone method for training.  For the better part of the last 6 months, I've done the overwhelming majority of my training at a steady pace, keeping my heart rate just below aerobic threshold (in my case about 138-140 bpm).  At the same time, I continued to build volume in terms of distance, culminating with a 50 mile run in May.   I kicked off this summer with a much bigger engine than I've had in years past, and as a result, I can hold a faster pace for a longer amount of time.
Easy on the running, heavy on the cross training:  I still love to run, and of the three disciplines in triathlon, it's still my favorite.  I love running for it's simplicity;  just you, the road, and your own effort to move forward.  But running is hard on the body, and the potential for injury is high.  This summer, I've done much more swimming, and even more cycling, and I believe I'm a faster runner for it.  I think the same holds true for Melisa.  Throughout the summer, she's spent more time at spin class, than she has putting in the miles running. Both of us are benefiting from a lot of cross-training that keeps us primed for running, without the wear and tear.
Rest:  Like most endurance athletes, I love the anal retentive experience of making and following a precise training schedule, and as I plan out each week, I'm always very ambitious.  In an average week,  I will plan for something like 7-9 training activities that I plan to accomplish.  I may include a rest day, but as I modify the schedule here and there, these wind up being few and far between.  Rest just doesn't figure into the equation the way it should.  In his book "Breakthrough Triathlon Training," Brad Kearns sums it up this way:
If you maintain a moderate amount of training, you will not lose any of the fitness you gained from your most challenging workouts or training periods.  In fact, you actually make the fitness gains while you are resting (p.122).
Leading up to this event, I just happened to have a busy week at work, coupled with some inclement weather that kept me off of the bike, and out of the pool.  Instead of the six workouts I'd planned for Sunday through Wednesday, I did my last run on Monday afternoon, and then shut it down for the rest of the week.  No running, no swimming, no biking, no lifting, no nothing!   I went into the race with four full days of recovery.  I was ready to run, and I had the energy to do it.
Nothing is impossible:  Okay, well some things are probably, definitely impossible, but I've tried to adopt a different perspective when it comes to racing and endurance activities in general.  For this race, I clearly set the bar too low in terms of what I thought I could accomplish.  I'd considered shooting for a PR, but dismissed it as out of my reach.  Then, during the race yesterday, there were one or two instances where I thought about slowing down a bit , but instead, I decided to push harder.  I still felt good, so why would I hold back?  Sometimes the obstacles that get in the way of our performance, are barriers of our own creation.  If we have a little more faith in ourselves, and our abilities, then we are capable of accomplishing much more.  We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.  And isn't this why we participate in the first place.  As athletes, we thrive on pushing ourselves, and testing our limits. 
Race Review:
 This year was the 35th running of the GTIS.  It is one of the longest running half-marathons in Colorado, and certainly one of the most popular.   The race is well organized and there are a multitude of positive aspects of this race.  This year, there was a special discounted entry for the event of $15.  Finding a race for this amount of money is unheard of (Hell, most 5k races cost more to run).  You just can't argue with a bargain of this magnitude.  It is also a beautiful mountain race.  Years ago when I ran, I didn't feel the same.  Back then the race crossed over the interstate, and I remember feeling like we were just running along a busy highway.  This year,  I didn't spend enjoying the scenery this year, but there are stretches where you run next to the river, and the mountains on either side of you make for a unique experience. The two mountain towns that bookend the race are also unique and charming.  If I do the race next year, I plan on finding a way to include a lunch at the Tommyknocker Brewery located on the main strip.  The post race area is also a highlight.  GTIS has some great sponsors, and they turn out to provide a lot of giveaways and freebies for racers. The post race area is enormous, and it's awesome to sit out on the grassy field with family and friends and enjoy the surrounding mountains and the fresh air.  In fact, the only suggestion I would make for the future is to consider moving to a wave start.  Normally, a race with 3000 or more racers wouldn't really need this, but given the size of the starting area, a wave start would be worth considering.  I would divide it into three to four waves based on a predicted finishing time, but even two waves (less than 2 hours, more than two hours) would make the starting area a little less congested.  And unless they can get a waiver to serve real beer on the football field, that's really about it!  The GTIS was a great race and certainly a highlight of my 2013 season so far!  
More results information

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon Race Plan


This Saturday, I will be "racing" the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon.  While it's been nearly a year since I've done a half, it's been many, many years since I last did this race.  If I remember correctly, it was sometime before my oldest daughter was born, meaning it has been at least a dozen years.  My best estimate is that it was during the summer of '98 or '99. 
Since then, I've completed countless half-marathons as well as a few marathons and one 50 mile trail run, not to mention about a dozen triathlons of varying distances.  Still, I'm excited to do this race as it is one of only a few events on my calendar this year.  It has also become a bit of a family event.  My wife, a couple of Uncles and Aunts, as well as several friends are participating in the race.
Melisa at the 2012 Start
Developing a plan for how I would like to run this race has been a bit of a challenge.  Initially, I envisioned shooting for a PR, but after doing a little speed work during the last couple of weeks, I realize that is probably not realistic at this point.  A PR would be right around 1:39:59, which translates to 7:38/mile, too ambitious for me.  Instead, I'm going to shoot for a slightly slower pace around 8:00 to 8:20/ mile.  My goal will be something between 1:44:00 to 1:50:00 total time.  Given the course and my current level of conditioning, I think that this is realistic target.
Race Warm-up:  Normally for a longer race, I don't "warm-up" for the event.  Instead, I use the first mile or two to get comfortable and get my pace settled.  I'm going to adjust this for the race on Saturday.  I won't do a huge warm-up, but I do plan to do a bit of running beforehand just to get loosened up a bit.
The first couple of miles:   The first portion of the race is run  around Georgetown before it turns down towards Idaho Springs.  I'm going to start the race a bit slower than my expected "race pace."  This will give me a chance to settle in, and will also allow for the anticipated congestion that usually occurs at the beginning of a race.  Despite the mountain location, this is a very popular race in Colorado and given that the registration was a mere $15 this year, the race quickly sold out.  A peek at the results from a year ago indicates that there were at least 2000 runners, so I imagine this year will be no different.
The next section: This portion of the course is a slight downhill so it's a good time to maintain a steady pace.  I'm hoping to be slightly below 8:00 per mile on this portion to make up for any time I may have lost early on.  After that the course climbs a bit, but winds up on some dirt roads for the next portion (good news for me!). 
The rest of the race:  Most of the race is a gradual downhill with a few risers here and there.  I plan on running most of this section at a steady rate.  If I get close to the finish, and I'm feeling stronger, I'll pick it up a bit. 
Here's a breakdown of three possible race splits:
In year's past, there has been some pretty nice "swag" associated with this event including pint glasses.  The finish is on the local football field in Idaho Springs which means that there isn't a beer garden, but there are usually plenty of good things to eat and a few giveaways. 
Mostly downhill
As always, look for a race report sometime after the event.