Last Sunday was once again a thrill for me as I completed my 5th Horsetooth Half. However, as I thought about a race recap I really wanted to relive it through someone else’s eyes.
I immediately thought of my good friend and runner Grant Fischer who graduated from Colorado State University last May and has been racing competitively with Siemers Dreamers – a Fort Collins based elite running group.
Grant’s list of accomplishments at CSU are long, but to highlight: Grant was a 4x All-American, Mountain West Indoor Conference Champion, and he holds the record for the indoor 5,000m.
Choosing a tough half marathon like this one for a debut was ballsy, but Grant came through with an amazing performance coming up 4th OA. Here is what he had to say about his race experience!
Why did you choose the Horsetooth Half as your 1/2 marathon debut?
I was planning on debuting in January at the Houston Half Marathon with my training
partners Jerrell Mock and Andrew Epperson, but I ended up getting really physically burned out from not taking a break after my final collegiate outdoor season. I took a few weeks off and began to look around for races in the spring. The Horsetooth Half was in my time frame and it’s a race that tours Fort Collins. It just seemed to align and felt right. I also knew it had prize money, strong competitors, and a fun atmosphere after the race (shout out the 14ers music and New Belgium!)
What was your training like going into the race?
After those few weeks off around Houston, I started training again in the beginning of
February and did base miles for the entire month. I probably averaged around 80 miles over the 10 week build up for this race but was hitting some 90-95 weeks and 18 mile long runs. The workouts I’ve primarily been doing have been strength based such as hills, tempo runs, and fartleks, however in the final few weeks we started to hit some track work and intervals.
Do you have any pre-race rituals?
I try to avoid getting into habits based on superstition but I do always have a strong cup
of coffee around 90 minutes before the start of a race.
Do you think you are stronger on the uphill or the downhill?
I’ve always thought of myself as a better downhill runner. I do hill workouts pretty
regularly though to work on uphill running and surprised myself with the dam climbing. I felt I handled the dams well but by my legs began to fatigue at Bingham hill where the leaders broke away. I’ll try to hit some bigger mileage coming up to prepare for longer races since I seemed to handle it well during the build up.
What were your expectations?
I wanted to contend for the win but my main focus was to enjoy feeling good for the first
race in awhile and to practice being tough in racing again. I didn’t really have any time goals in mind beyond being under 70 minutes and didn’t worry about pace at all throughout the race.
You’ve run this course for training many times- was there anything you
felt like you weren’t prepared for on race day?
Training in Ft. Collins is about as good as it gets. It feels less congested than Boulder
and has the same great weather, along with access to dirt, hills, flat, or whatever terrain you need for that day. I felt well prepared in my training but knew the last miles would be tough. I think the farther distance of the half marathon lends itself to higher mileage and more developed runners, so I’ll try to build up again in the coming weeks to 100 miles if I can still keep my workout quality and feel recovered.
What is your favorite part of the course?
I never thought I’d say this but I’ll never forget climbing the dams. It was unlike any race
I’ve done to climb such a steep grade and the views were amazing. The spectators also make this a unique event. I especially enjoyed the guy playing the violin right before Bingham Hill and the inflatable dinosaur costumes on the course.
How do you feel about your time/place finish?
I am happy with what I put together on race day and glad I broke 70 minutes. It gave me
some extra motivation to keep training hard and reminded me that I love to race and compete. I definitely hope to win this one in the next few years and will be back for a long time.
Is there anything you would have done differently during the race?
I put in some hard surges to catch the leaders right after the final dam downhill which
might have cost me a bit in the final miles.
Is this your new favorite distance?
It’s one of my favorite races and I’ll be trending towards longer stuff in the future. I don’t
think I nailed training or racing the half marathon distance yet which makes it a little more mysterious to me than a 10k or 5k which I’m pretty comfortable with. I can’t say for sure if I have a favorite, I just know anything below the 3k isn’t it.
What is coming up for you and how can people follow along?
Up next is the Bolder Boulder 10k on May 27th with my training partner Andrew
Epperson. We run under my former college coach Art Siemers and our team is based around him and called the Siemers’ Dreamers. You can follow along with our Instagram
@siemers_dreamers or our twitter page @SiemersDreamers.
I also tentatively plan to run the Portland Track Festival 10,000m in June in hopes of
qualifying for the USATF Outdoor National Championships in July. Lastly, I will target a fast half marathon this fall to qualify for the Olympic Trials marathon and join Jerrell (62:15) and Epperson (63:17 / 2:13:11) in Atlanta in February.
Best of luck to you Grant, and all the Dreamers! I’m really excited about the future of Fort Collins running!