Tuesday, March 8, 2011

That Dam Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, March 6
Half Marathon #24 (Repeated State)
Weather - Partly Cloudy, low 40's, breezy

The inaugural "That Dam Half Marathon" had only 159 registered runners. I really don't like to run in that small of a field (although I didn't know it would be that small when I signed up). I have a hard time pacing properly, and I'm much more likely to suck and run slower.

This event is part of the "Run Denver" five race series. Only this race (the final of the five) has a half marathon option. So... with that in mind, there were a few issues in my opinion with the race.

1. The website gives VERY limited information about the start, the water/aid stations, the course map. We had a hard time figuring exactly WHERE we were supposed to park, how often the aid stations would be, and the course map was a broken link on their website. The series is on Facebook, and they answered my questions about the water/aid stations pretty quickly, so that was a help. For next year, they might want to provide more detailed information. Most people running a half would like to know how far apart water stations are, if there are port-o-potties on the course, and what the elevation & course look like!

2. Port-o-potties. Even though there were only 159 runners in the half, there were close to 450 in the 5K option. Not to mention all the spectators and volunteers. There were only 6 potties at the start. A few more would have been awesome.

3. Schedule of events. The kids run was at 11:10... so smack dab in the middle of the half marathon race. Apparently the kids were BARELY out of the way by the time the winner came to the finish line. Also, the post-race food/beverage was limited by the time we were done. And the people who took even longer than me? Well... they weren't getting anything.

But... other than that, the volunteers are great, and they put on a good race.

Now... Rewind.

Of course we did the same thing for dinner. Applebees!!

Tasty Salad
Three Cheese Chicken Penne!
Tasty Dessert!
I also carb loaded with beer. I actually had two Bud Lights. AND... I stayed up past midnight! Which was ok, since the race had a late 10:00 start. I didn't even need to get up until 8! Even during the week I am up earlier.

We got ready, left the kids with R (he would be bringing them down in an hour for the kids run and to watch us finish). And drove down to Cherry Creek Reservoir. The drive only took about 30 minutes, and we were parked about a block from the start line by 9:00. We made our first bathroom stop, picked up our bibs, and then sat in the car. It was a bit windy, but 40ish degrees is perfect racing weather!

At about 9:35, I noticed that the lines for the port-o-potties already looked kinda long. We ditched our sweatshirts and headed over. Got through the line just a few minutes before the gun went off.

Me & L
And... I made a rookie mistake. I had set the GPS on my Garmin about 10 minutes before the race started. But I forgot to double check it before the gun went off. I ended up having to do an abrupt stop to restart the stupid thing. Curse you Garmin... And that set me off on sort of a bad start...

As I said, I have a hard time running in a small field. The half marathoners started about 5 minutes before the 5K, and the first 2.75 miles are along "Dam Road" over the reservoir. At the first mile marker I noticed I was going WAY too fast. I think it was because I was trying to "catch up" from my clumsy start, plus... we were running against the wind. I was working HARD! I tried to slow down, and right as I got to the fist water station/5K turnaround, I already felt tired. I was pleased that the 5K front runners didn't pass me until the turnaround.

The day was overcast, and running adjacent to a reservoir is BORING. The next aid station was at 2.75 miles. We had to make a weird 180 and then we were headed west on Cherry Creek Trail (I think). 

Chased her for a bit, she ended up SMOKING me (to the left on the hill is the Dam Road we had just run on)
Everything seemed to be going a bit better. The wind had died down. Then... we hit the section just before mile 4. A ridiculously huge downhill. Oh crap. All that means to me is that I have a huge UPHILL on the way back. I wasn't even able to enjoy the downhill... too annoyed and stressed over having to run back up it later.

Another water station around mile 4.25. We had been told there were four total aid stations on the course. We would hit them all twice since we were running an out and back. The winner ran by me just before mile 5. He didn't even look like he was breathing hard!

The course was on a nice, paved trail. There was a lot of foot traffic unrelated to the race and people on bikes. But since there were so few of us racing it never presented a problem.

I kept waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for that next aid station. It didn't come up until about the 10K marker... (or about a 1/2 mile before the turnaround). They handed out GU and even though I had just taken mine, I grabbed one. Tri

The way back was BRUTAL. I had fell back in the pack quite a bit. There were a few women I was "chasing." And by chasing, I mean struggling VERY hard to not lose sight of. I managed to keep going until about mile 8. I was exhausted. I have not had to take a walk break (outside of an aid station) in a race in about 6 months. My heart was RACING and I knew I had a tough section of course coming up. I probably took 3-4 walk breaks over the next mile or so. I was just so tired! And that huge uphill? Just as terrible as I imagined. Made even worse because when I had to walk it I was just behind a lady walking a creepy midget gremlin-like dog that was hopping only on its back feet and was wearing a pink sweater. I swear I did not hallucinate that.

I was PSYCHED when I got to that aid station at the start of the Dam Road. I took this quick picture after slamming my Gatorade. Would be really pretty if it was spring and the sun was out.

My only goal for the last 2.75ish  miles of the course was to run the whole thing. I just sucked it up and stared at what I knew was the finish area. Another crappy thing about this course... I could see the finish from 3 miles away! Talk about discouraging. And there were not many of us at this pace. There were a few women that I had been following for miles, and really, I wanted to pass at LEAST one of them...

I still have something left!
I spot the kids AND I smoked her!!
I am relieved to be done with this race. It was a lot harder than I expected.

Gun Time - 2:10:11
Chip Time - 2:10:01
Official Pace - 9:56
Overall - 95/160
Gender - 36/81
Division - 11/24
Garmin Time - 2:09:52
Garmin Distance - 13.15 miles
Mile 1 - 8:25 (TOO FAST!!)
Mile 2 - 9:19
Mile 3 - 9:37
Mile 4 - 8:59
Mile 5 - 9:34
Mile 6 - 9:33
Mile 7 - 10:31
Mile 8 - 9:58
Mile 9 - 11:10
Mile 10 - 11:12
Mile 11 - 10:26
Mile 12 - 10:11
Mile 13 - 9:28
Mile 13.1 - 8:26

We grabbed one of the last few chocolate fondue platters from the Melting Pot, a "goodie" bag (toothbrush and chapstick) and a few Powerades. By the time we were done eating (for people finishing in around 2.5 hours), all the vendors were tearing down their tents. I felt bad for the slower finishers. Especially since they also ran out of finishers medals!


  1. Um, I am not happy! Basically if I had trained hard and ran that race, I may not have even gotten a medal?? How do you not have enough for everyone? That really sucks - and I really hope they mail some out to the people that missed out.

    I'm glad you smoked the girl at the end. That's always fun to do!

    My next half is an inaugural one for my small college town. The things you mentioned are all things I worry about. I have never used my own water for a race (mostly 'cause they've been shorter), but for that half I decided I'm just going to go prepared just in case. And dang it, if I don't get a medal you'll probably hear me flipping out all the way in Colorado!

  2. Nice! I like little races AND I like your orange..very cute.

  3. Hey, really great blog posts… I've enjoyed reading through your blog because of the great style and energy you put into each post. I actually run AceHealth.org, a blog of my personal research and experiences. If you're interested, I would love to have you on as a guest blogger. Please send me an e-mail: bob.mauer65(at)gmail(dot)com, and I can give you more information. Looking forward to hearing from you.


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