Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Denver Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, October 16
Denver, CO
Half marathon #156
Weather - Sunny and warm
Every year I say I'm not going to run the Rock 'n' Roll Denver again, and then they do a super cheap registration. For the 2016 race, I registered on October 20, 2015 (two days after the race) for $50 plus a $7.99 processing fee. Have I mentioned how much I hate processing fees?


The expo was held again at the National Western Complex. Parking is $5, which is super annoying. The venue is not the best for an expo. A and I went to the expo on Friday afternoon, however, and it wasn't too busy. And it was WAY better than last year. We spent over an hour walking around and talking to people. We both got fun Halloween Injinji socks, and NOTHING else.

Race Day

In 2015 I had parked at the garage I use for work because it's freeeee. However, I remember having issues getting in and out with road closures. A few days before I looked at the road closure map and decided I didn't want to screw around with it. Instead, I planned on meeting up with Heather at her dad's office and walking over. We made plans to meet at 6:00, and I left the house a few minutes late at 5:37 (yes, I looked), and still go there a few minutes before 6. Waaaay easier than anything I've done in years past.

It took us just a few minutes to walk over to the start area, and since Heather planned on checking a bag, I kept my hoodie on. We ran into tons of friends and teammates before the start. Took lots of pictures and used the bathrooms a few times.
No filter. This was the coolest sunrise ever.
Heather was supposed to be in corral 2, and I was in 7. By the time we tried to feed in I think we ended up in corral 8, which was fine by me. I love how every year I estimate a stupid fast time that places me in a corral I have no right to be in.
Trying to get a picture of the giant full moon
At the start line
I warned Heather that I was going to go out slow and try to not burn out like I did the year before. The tall buildings were messing with my GPS a bit, it was hard to tell what pace we were running. My legs felt very fatigued from all the barre classes I have been taking (6 days in a row before the race), but thankfully, no tight calves.

The course was completely different (yet again). We ran up 14th to start, and then we weaved through random roads downtown. Did not love this section. We looped over by the Pepsi Center around mile 2 (which in the past was about a mile in) and hit the first aid station about mile 2.5. We ran by Coors Field and up the big overpass early (I swear that in the past this has been much later in the race). The Runners Roost aid station was at mile 4, and as always, was a great boost to see so many familiar faces helping out.

I was feeling ok until we headed down Lincoln. That's when the leg fatigue really set in and I started taking walk breaks. The 10k headed towards the finish while we turned up 17th, and I walked up the entire hill, much to Heather's dismay. This section of the course is one of my favorites because as we head out to City Park all the fast runners are coming towards us. We managed to see quite a few Roosters, including Eric, on our way to the park. Runners Edge had the aid station within the park, and again, it was awesome seeing friends helping out. Pete gave me a high five and then we headed out for the rest of the loop in the park.
Still fall colors in City Park!  By far the prettiest section of the course.
David was sitting on top of his van using his bullhorn to cheer people on, which was fun. The out and back on 17th was a little brutal, although I managed to make it until the loop by East High School before I pretty much fell apart. I had to take way more walk breaks than I would have liked. Heather is a trooper and still stuck with me. (It will be interesting to see how I can run on rested legs after my barre challenge is done).

We turned south on Sherman and ran by the Capitol, where a man was yelling "look at the twins! the twins!" Except for Heather being about 6 inches taller than me, I suppose so. I had NO kick left, but managed to run through the chute without walking. The course measured incredibly long (much like last year).

There was NOTHING in the finish area except for water, chocolate milk, cups of fruit and Cheez-Its. Womp.

We met Eric just outside the finish area, and I checked my phone to see that I needed to start heading towards Thornton to pick A up from her slumber party. We wandered around the finish area before getting a small team picture, and then we walked back to the car.
Tony, me, Heather, Eric, Andy
All things considered, especially since I spent most of the summer injured, the race turned out OK. I did, however, barely beat last year's time.

Official Time - 2:23:11
Official Pace - 10:56
Official 5K - 33:066
Official 10K - 1:07:06
Official 10M - 1:48:52
Overall Place - 3868/6661
Gender Place - 1991/4113
Division Place - 355/705
Garmin Time - 2:23:33
Garmin Distance - 13.70 miles
Garmin Pace - 10:28
Mile 1 - 9:53
Mile 2 - 9:28
Mile 3 - 10:03
Mile 4 - 10:10
Mile 5 - 10:27
Mile 6 - 10:42
Mile 7 - 9:59
Mile 8 - 10:41
Mile 9 - 10:43
Mile 10 - 11:21
Mile 11 - 10:33
Mile 12 - 11:44
Mile 13 - 10:32
Mile 13.7 - 10:18

  • The race is fine. The course is pretty good, although I think this was my least favorite of all the years I have run. The early miles had us running on roads that had sections barricaded off from construction and running over light rail and train tracks. Not to mention all the potholes. I guess that is just road running though.
  • There were plenty of aid stations and they were spaced pretty well. It was really warm, but I did not need to carry my own hydration and I was fine with that. In the past, there has ALWAYS been GU on course at RnR races. I did NOT see any this year. Somewhere around mile 7 they were handing out SOMETHING, but I did not recognize whatever it was. Two aid stations did not have Gatorade, but again, for me, that was fine.
  • Last year I remember the course being a bit crowded in the beginning, I didn't find it that bad this year. I did, however, hear that registration numbers were really low this year (like 4,000 less than the year before).
  • The shirt is red this year, which is nice. I assume it is Brooks since that has always been the partner vendor/brand, but honestly, it is still in my expo bag.
  • The medal is probably my least favorite out of all of the years I have run. At the very least, the neck of the guitar should be longer.
  • Getting in/out of the race (parking wise), was easier this year than any year I have run. I assume it is still a nightmare if you don't have an "in" somewhere.
  • Will I run again? I'm saying NO right now, but you know me... I'm fond of changing my mind.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Louisville Trail Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, October 9
Louisville, CO
Half marathon #155
Weather - brisk at start, nice

Pretty bummed for the last race of the Endurance Race Series, the Louisville trail half marathon. I had only run this event once, back in 2013. Then, the race was in early May, and I remember it being chilly and not a lot of fun. Thankfully, I have runnesia, and it was much better this time around!

Race Day

We were up early to be out the door by 6:30, arriving at the start around 7. The plan was to pick up our packets (A earned another free race entry for all her volunteering, so she was running the 5k) and for me to take the 7:30 early start. (I wasn't planning on taking the early start originally, but since we had tickets to an early afternoon Broncos game, I needed to get an early start).

Packet pick up was a breeze and there was no line at the port-o-potties. We went back to the car and got everything ready and then met up with Brandon at the Hoka tent so I could demo some shoes. Unfortunately, I can't remember which ones I tried. The laces were tighter than I liked and the toe box wasn't as wide as I prefer, but they were fine. With a little more time/prep I'm sure they would be a good shoe - and not nearly as "tall" feeling as my Cliftons.

The 7:30 early start was pushed back about 10 minutes because an aid station wasn't set up yet. Not that we needed the aid station, but the aid station was also a course marking for a turn shortly after the first mile.

Anyway, I was glad that Stacy remembered where the course went, because I sure didn't. Anyway, off we went. First we headed out west on the Coal Creek trail. This is the section I am most familiar with in other races. I had kept my long sleeve shirt on because it was still really cold when we started. I was happy to have it, I pulled the sleeves over my hands - they were freezing!

The first part of the course is fairly flat and not technical. There was a small, maybe half a mile section that was on pavement, but most of it was on a wide, dirt path.

Cow on the loose!

After a half hour or so (maybe about 2.5 miles in), we looped around a small lake/pond and headed back the way we came.
There was a coyote hanging out in the fields nearby, causing havoc with the people walking their dogs. He didn't seem interested in the runners, however. Shortly after the turnaround I shed the extra layer, AND the lead runner was heading towards us (a Roost teammate, of course).
About mile 4 was when we ran by the finish line and continued to head east for the back part of the course. I didn't realize that the back part was where the 5k and 10k runners had to go. I had told A the course was flat, so when I realized the biggest hill was on her course I figured she'd be mad.

However, I saw her when she was 2-2.5 miles in and heading in to the finish. She looked really happy!
I walked up most of the hill, enjoyed the flat on the plateau, and then the small switchback section down the backside, where there was another aid station. This section of the trail was really pretty, and I didn't remember it at all from when I ran it in 2013. About mile 7 I figured I should take some Honey Stinger chews, only to realize I must have left them in the car. OH NO! Luckily, there was an aid station soon after and they had jelly beans. Can't believe I actually forgot my fuel, first time ever!

I ran pretty decent until we turned around, and then I was pretty much done (not good, I still had like 4 miles to go). There was a lot more walking than I would have liked, and my legs were feeling pretty fatigued (I had gone to barre classes every day for a month, so it wasn't really a surprise). Took all my pictures from this section on the way back since I was walking more.

Atop that "giant" hill
I did finish fairly strong and was really pleased to go under 2:30 for the first time in ages.

Garmin Time - 2:29:21
Garmin Distance - 13.10
Garmin Pace - 11:24
Overall Place - 130/152
Gender Place - 87/105
Division Place - 31/40
Elevation Gain - 453'
Mile 1 - 12:33
Mile 2 - 11:34
Mile 3 - 11:47
Mile 4 - 10:57
Mile 5 - 10:26
Mile 6 - 11:08
Mile 7 - 10:17
Mile 8 - 11:14
Mile 9 - 10:59
Mile 10 - 11:57
Mile 11 - 11:39
Mile 12 - 12:35
Mile 13 - 11:07
Mile 13.1 - 11:24

A was at the finish line handing out medals for the kids' race (by the way, they nearly trampled me, lol). I made a quick stop to the bathroom and then went to the finish line party to hang out. There was a special awards ceremony for the season pass holders. I was surprised and super excited to get a custom growler, 6 pack of beer and medal for completing the half marathon distance at all 9 races of the season.
I have no idea what I'm looking at (Photo: Lynette Johnson)
ERS Season pass holders! Can you find me? (Photo: Lynette Johnson)
A got third in her age group, although only overall finishers received awards at this race.

We stuck around for a bit talking with people and ate a quick lunch before we had to head out.

  • What a difference a season makes! When the course was all brown and dreary I didn't like it nearly as much. Simply gorgeous with the changing leaves!
  • I really liked that the 5k and 10k did not do the first part of our course. This is the biggest event ERS puts on and there was NO congestion as a result.
  • Plenty of aid stations, and thankfully, they had food.
  • Gender specific shirts, royal blue color.
  • (Large) medals for all distances.
  • Awesome post-race party (although no beer allowed at this one).
  • I will be back again next year as an ambassador for the ERS race series. This year there were 9 races, next year there will be 10, with a new race in Silverthorne. I will have a discount code for the season pass (available for 10k and half marathon) and individual races later this year. What an awesome series this is, I am so happy to represent for them and hope to see some of my readers at a race next year. I have added the dates to my calendar if anyone wants to start planning ahead.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bear Chase Trail Race Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, September 25
Lakewood, CO
Half marathon #154
Weather - perfect

I was off to run the Bear Chase trail races for the 6th year. A had asked to run the Baby Bear (10k) this year as well.

Race Day

We actually had to get up even earlier than we did for a race in the mountains 2 hours away. Alarms went off at 5:05, and we were out the door about 5:30, arriving at the park around 6. I was really surprised to see someone at the front gate at that hour. For the first time in years we were parking inside the park instead of being shuttled in.

The start/finish was at Pelican Point for the second year, and we were ushered into a spot close to the fence. We saw David right away, fixing cones and spray painting the dirt for the loop around the parking lot for the half marathoners. It was chilly out, and we initially planned on hanging out at the start until 7 when I would be racing. It was still cold and dark, however, and no one was at the Roost tent yet, so I just used the port-o-potty and then we went back to the warm car.

We headed down for real around 6:35, when the sun was just coming up. I of course had to use the bathroom again, so I got in line. The race seemed smaller than in years past, but the bathroom line still moved slow. A ran off when she saw Phil, and I met up with Heather to get to the start line. We got some pre-race pictures from Lisa and Jen, and before we knew it, it was time to start. (I'm including pictures taken of A pre-race - I was already running, she didn't start until 8, an hour after me).

I was pretty sure I was going to be going slow, but Heather still wanted to run together, so I made sure to tell her that we were starting in the back and going slow.

When we jumped on the trail after the first .6, I was pretty sure we were dead last. Fine by me, I would rather NOT have to jump off the single track in the very beginning because I am slow. My legs felt like lead and my calves were fiery hot again, which I haven't had happen in a while. I think I made it through the first mile before I had to walk.

Somewhere around mile 2 my legs finally loosened up a bit. We got into a decent running rhythm, and time went by quickly as we haven't spent that much time together lately so we needed to catch up on all our gossip. We had similar mindsets on walking up all the hills (especially Mt. Carbon!) and then running the flats and downhills.

Ah, the lovely view of Mt. Carbon's base
Standard view of the lake from the climb up Mt. Carbon
Neither of us needed to stop at the Homestead, the first aid station. Shortly after we arrived at the river crossings. The first one seemed deeper than in the past and the water was definitely cold! During the ultra races this is always my favorite part - helps to cool down!
Water crossing #1!
Selfie at water crossing #3!
We ran up the sidewalk to Fox Hollow, where I slammed a cup of Mountain Dew before we headed out on the most exposed section of the course to Cattail. This section is mentally draining for sure. Could not imagine how I have ever run multiple loops here!

Very happy to see Pete and the crew. Filled up my handheld, grabbed a pickle and headed out towards "mini Mt. Carbon." A few people in front of us missed the turn, weird that there wasn't a course marshal out there this year. Luckily, I knew where to go.
This is so much steeper than it looks
Mile 8 clicked right at the top of the hill, which is also when I took off the arm sleeves. The course changed just a bit and we got to run down a nice section of single track towards the boat ramp. Alison was volunteering and I grabbed a small cup of coke and finally opened my Stinger chews, although I only had a few. I like that in this new course that we get to run the prettiest section at the end!

We came upon Ali (doing the 10k) and we were running along nicely in the shade. Just at mile 12, Heather tripped over nothing and  messed up her knee. Thankfully she wasn't seriously injured and we both ran well into the finish. A slower time than last year, but faster than I ran the day before, so I was happy.

Right as we were finishing, they were doing the awards - A got first in her age group!
These adorable kids tore up the trails!
We stayed at the finish for a while eating Flippin' Flapjacks, drinking pumpkin beer, doing a jello shot with Jen for her birthday, and hanging out with all our friends and teammates. This is seriously one of my favorite events of the year. Can't wait to come back next year!
Team picture
Jello shots with Jen
Winner, winner!
Jen (overall female 10k winner, A and Ben)
Official Time - 2:48:17
Overall Place - 190/241
Gender Place - 107/147
Division Place - 41/60
Garmin Time - 2:47:48 (weird)
Garmin Distance - 13.01 miles
Mile 1 - 12:34
Mile 2 - 13:53
Mile 3 - 13:43
Mile 4 - 12:45
Mile 5 - 14:02
Mile 6 - 14:37
Mile 7 - 12:01
Mile 8 - 13:07
Mile 9 - 11:44
Mile 10 - 11:33
Mile 11 - 13:12
Mile 12 - 12:51
Mile 13 - 11:36
Mile 13.01 - 8:52

A's results
Official Time - 1:15:32 (which is a substantial PR for her!)
Overall Place - 111/176
Gender Place - 73/126
Division Place - 1/2


  • Such an awesome event. Throughout the weekend you have your choice of distances - 10k, half marathon, 50k, 50 mile, 100k. Something for everyone!
  • The shirts this year are a sweet royal blue - will wear this one again for sure.
  • Medals for all distances (and buckles for the 100k runners). If only I was fast enough for an overall podium - those awards are super sweet!
  • The course markings are phenomenal (probably a giant pain to have to clean up though) - much respect for race directors David and Ben for this.
  • Aid stations are amazing. Plenty of volunteers, well-stocked with just about everything you could hope for.
  • Finish line party is super fun - music, food and beer.
  • I of course will be back next year. Just a little sad I missed the inaugural year, I could totally be a legacy runner. Anyway, I'll be back for year #7 in 2017.
  • Random tidbit - shout out to Brock, half fanatic from Florida that came all the way out to run this event after having read recaps on my blog. Hope you had a great time!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Snow Mountain Ranch Trail Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, September 24
Granby, CO
Half marathon #153
Weather - Overcast, lightly snowing, cold

The night before the race, the race director posted some pictures from the course - and there was snow!! It's been so long since I've run in cold weather, I couldn't figure out what I should wear. As I get older, I no longer appreciate being freezing while I'm running. I opted last minute to skip the skirt and wear tights. I also decided to wear a long sleeve tee over my singlet instead of just using arm sleeves. Turns out, the outfit was perfect.

Race Day

There was an option for an 8:30 early start, which I wanted to take advantage of since A and I still had a full night of volunteering ahead of us. We got up at 5:40 and we were out the door shortly after 6. There was no traffic at that hour, and other than the windy, curvy road through Berthoud Pass, we made really good time. We arrived at the start at 7:50. Saw Stacy right away, and she said that she was going to actually start at 8. Well that sounded even better! I grabbed my bib, used the bathroom, and we were ready to go a few minutes after 8.
Can you see the snow falling??
 There were four of us doing the 8 am start, and it was BRISK. Stacy, her friends Annette and Matt, and I head up to the trails. It was very lightly snowing and the trail was covered in a light layer of snow and frost. Matt and I ran together for the first few miles, and we lost Stacy and Annette pretty early on. 

There was one course marking where the 5k, 10k and half split. Some of the signs had blown over and I almost went the wrong way. Luckily, I was with someone else and we guessed correctly at which way we should go.

I spent most of the first loop taking TONS of pictures. Which, when it is super cold, is not as easy as it sounds because it involves a lot of taking gloves off and putting them back on. The course was super muddy between miles 1 and 2. The thick and clumpy mud that made my shoes feel ridiculously heavy. Matt finally realized that I was going to be super slow and he took off, which just left me running alone.

The aid stations were set up, but no one was out the first loop (which was fine, I had my Orange Mud handheld with Nuun). When I headed up the hill just around mile 3 I saw some deer run across the road, but I wasn't able to get a clear picture of them before they bounded off. At this point, I finally realized the first part of the course was being run in reverse from  last year, and cruised down the road section around the lake.

Headed up the hill at the aid station at mile 4. This section was snowy and muddy and wet. My shoes/feet got soaked and were pretty cold in this section. The downhill section was a bit hard to run fast because of the snowfall it was hard to tell where to step and not be in a rut.

Finally heading back to the start/finish, running down the hill only to turn around and head back out for another loop. The volunteer at the table seemed surprised that I was "so fast" and already headed back out. Haha.

Running up the hill for my second loop and the faster runners were already coming back down. I wasn't really that far ahead, even with my 55 minute head start, lol. It was interesting how much the course had dried out by the second loop. The sun peeked out for a minute here and there, it was still snowing, but it  must have warmed up a bit to pack down the dirt, either that or the other runners that had passed through had helped trample it down.

I took less pictures the second loop and was running a bit faster. Somewhere around mile 11.5 or 12 was when the wind picked up - the last 15 minutes or so were pretty dang chilly. I managed to run up the last hill to the finish (so brutal coming up at the end like that), and was pleased to see I had run under a 13 minute pace. Woo hoo!
I found A and then immediately went to get my jacket out of the car. Brrrr!!! I saw Stacy handing out beers - that meant she must have dropped to the 10k. Spent some time hanging out with other ERS ambassadors, got some food and more pictures, so A could volunteer for a bit longer.
Not sure who the gal on the far left is, Tom, me, Stacy, race director Jeff
Official Time - 2:42:58
Overall Place - 77/91
Gender Place - 52/63
Division Place - 18/23
Garmin Time - 2:43:49
Garmin Distance - 12.65 miles
Mile 1 - 14:06
Mile 2 - 14:26
Mile 3 - 13:41
Mile 4 - 11:25
Mile 5 - 14:21
Mile 6 - 12:38
Mile 7 - 13:07
Mile 8 - 13:03
Mile 9 - 13:02
Mile 10 - 10:52
Mile 11 - 13:33
Mile 12 - 11:52
Mile 12.65 - 11:51


  • Very well organized race, very well marked. Yes, there was a section that wasn't quite so clear in the beginning, but I know that these markings were all fixed by the time I started my second loop, so I'm assuming volunteers/organizers stood the signs back up.
  • Mile markers at every mile, different color markers for different distances.
  • Plenty of aid stations - there were three on the loop, more than I am used to in a trail race.
  • Start/finish line party is AWESOME!! Beer, food (burgers/hot dogs), music, etc. A good time for sure!
  • Gender specific shirts - black (again), which is nice.
  • Medal is super cute - shaped like a moose. Interestingly, there was a moose on the course this year. I didn't see it, but Stacy saw it and snapped a picture (around mile 5) before it ran into the woods. Not sure I would want to see one that close though.
  • HOLY COW THIS IS THE PRETTIEST COURSE EVER EVER EVER EVER. I remembered from last year that this was gorgeous with all the fall colors, and this year did not disappoint. If nothing else, it was even MORE beautiful with the overcast skies and snow.
  • COME RUN THIS RACE. I'll be back next year for sure.