Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Denver Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Race Report

After two days on my feet at the expo, I was pretty beat. So I was more than a little worried about the race. But al I could do was get to the start and try to get to the finish. My goal for this event? To finish. And as a stretch goal, to finish under 3 hours. Not normally much of a stretch, but since I was liming on my way to the start, I figured I would just see what happened.

My hotel was about a 5-minute walk from the starting area, but I decided to get over there a half hour early to say hi and goodbye to Tara and the Gurus. Tara was very sweet and thrilled to hear that I (and Wil) would love to go to another event some time, if possible. She also gave me a VIP area wristband – sweet.

The sun had just started to come up when the race got underway. Rather than fight my way back to the corral, I just stood out of the way toward the front and stepped in when my corral (lucky 13) came forward. Clever clever me.

It was really really cold – 40 degrees – but the sun was up and the sky was brilliant blue. I had layered – jog bra, tank top, arm warmers, a long-sleeve thermal top, and my running vest. I also had a “disposable” top and sweats, which I took off when I entered the corrals. I had fretted about the vest – but in the end I was cold throughout the race, so I’m glad that I had it for the windbreaking warmth.

Suddenly, we were off. Wil advised me to go out at 3:1s – because that had been so successful in Seattle. But it was really hard going from the very beginning. I found myself gasping for breath (I often have a hard time breathing in Seattle cold), and I started a dry, hacking cough. I also had a bunch of different pains – or perhaps just one pain moving up and down my left leg. First my hip, then my knee, then my foot, then a really sharp pain where my bone bruise is. But I plodded along.

The course was pretty – we passed the stadiums, ran through old neighborhoods, and then entered a park… where we spent mile after mile winding around. It was a little odd – at one point, I could see groups of people running to the left, to the right, and to the left. It’s somewhat dispiriting to realize that you’ll be running back and forth. But it was a very nice park.

At mile 7 I felt pretty awful, and sent Wil a text message from a porta potty. “Only at mile 7. Grim. :(“ But I just kept going… slowly…

Finally we left that park, and ran towards another park at mile 10. Just before the entrance, we arrived at the Dude, straddling the course. He always makes me happy – and I was happy to be only a 5K away from the finish.

Still, by this point I was essentially limping and shuffling along – but I knew that I would finish (unless something really awful happened) , and that, so long as I didn’t dawdle, I would finish under 3 hours. Trust me, this was an accomplishment today.

At the full / half split, I saw a couple of marathoners – and couldn’t help thinking how happy I was to only have 2 miles left – not 15. Wow.

The last mile or so we passed the original Wax Trax record store (lovely), somewhat near Molly Brown’s house (apparently), and – wait for it – the ORIGINAL Quizno’s. Who said the course wasn’t scenic?!?

Turned right and was running straight toward the golden dome of the Capitol building – hooray! A volunteer said “You’re point two of a mile from the finish, and it’s all downhill! Honest!!!”

Not that I believed her… until we made a left turn and I could see the finish. So even though I really didn’t have anything in the tank, I ran as fast and as hard as I could to the finish. Not pretty – just pretty grim. 2:56:11. And possibly the most difficult half I have ever completed.

I went through the finish area – nicely organized distribution (not that there were a lot of people there!!!!), a pretty medal, and then I was out. I headed over to the VIP area, where I had been promised a mimosa. The very nice lady behind the bar poured me a glass of champagne with a splash of orange juice (“You earned it!!!”), and I helped myself to a belated breakfast.

A little while later they announced the winners, and then announced the band. I wasn’t really listening, so I assumed it was just an opening band. But they sounded okay, so I wandered up to the terrace to watch. Imagine my surprise when they launched in to “I Can’t Get Enough of You Baby” – at which point, I turned to the guy next to me and said, “Umm, is that actually Smashmouth?” Apparently, yes.

Two mimosas and 30 minutes of Smashmouth later, I was ready to head back to the hotel. I stopped at the Give Your Soul tent and exchanged my slightly tired Trance 10s for a pair of Brooks Run Happy flip-flops – and the nice people in the tent were thrilled. I hobbled back to the hotel (not the most comfy or supportive of footwear…), where I got cleaned up, packed, and even had a short nap before checking out.

The race – and the trip in general – was really hard going… but it was a great first experience! And I am already scheming to see what race(s) I can go to next year.

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