Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11 20 Mile Remembrance Run (Race Recap)

Arvada, CO
Sunday, September 11
Weather - upper 40s at start, "hot" and sunny at finish

You may or may not have noticed that I have never once mentioned the 9/11 Remembrance Run. That's because I had no idea I was running it until about 12 hours before it happened. Yep. That's how I like to roll. This was only a bit of an issue because I am kinda/sorta in taper mode for my 50 mile race in 2 weeks. (2 weeks???), I'd already done my long run of the week on Friday, and Saturday night I was attending a wedding.

Sometimes I wear clothes that AREN'T meant to be run in
So. Instead of a day off, I went a wedding, tried to carb load, did NOT enjoy the open bar (sob), and got up on Sunday morning at 5:30ish to race. The MAIN reasons for THIS particular race? L hasn't really done much distance running. OK, nothing over a half marathon since... May. She is also doing the Bear Chase 50 miler so she wanted to get in a longer run. And her boyfriend doesn't race much and is running RnR Denver as his first full marathon and wanted a longer run. So I'm in by default :D

The race is SUPER local. Like literally only a couple miles away. Race day registration was only $35, and even though it was still dark when we got there, it took just a few minutes. The lady gave us the wrong bibs (more on that later), and we sat in the car waiting for the race to start. Had I known it wasn't going to start until 7:30, I might have opted to sleep a bit later. One of my teeny tiny complaints was that at least the 20 milers should have started at 6:30. More on that later too.

Once it got light out, the above was the backdrop on a stage for a group of kids that sang "Proud to Be an American."

And a bagpipe player
Start/Finish line
After a few trips to the bathroom (we WERE just sitting there for about 90 minutes), we got our pre-race picture:
We were pretty much the only people wearing red/white/blue - also had yellow ribbons in our hair
The 10/20 milers lined up and started together (a competitve 5k was starting an hour later), and off we went. I really had no intention of "racing" this race. L had decided to run with me again, which was SUPER, especially since the course was pretty much deserted, especially after the 10 milers finished.

The course was an out and back (and an out and back). Yes. The ten milers would run 5 miles out and come back, we would do the same thing... only twice. I *will* say that the course was pretty good. I've lived here pretty much my whole life and have never run on this trail, so it was all new to me. The first out wasn't bad at all. There was quite a bit of shade, and with a slight breeze, it was almost chilly in some parts. Just how I like it, thank you Fall!!

First aid station placed at the halfway to 5k mark, so pretty early, but nice. Second was at the 5k marker, and last was at the 5/15 mile turnaround. The website hadn't been very specific about placement of stations, so these were a pleasant surprise.

SUPER happy that there was a port-o-potty at the 4 mile marker, as I ended up using it both times on the "outs." L and I were keeping a pretty consistent pace, and without really having a time goal in mind, it really was a pretty good run. By the time we completed the first turnaround, we were realizing that a lot of the shade we had enjoyed on the way out was already gone. (This is where starting at 6:30 for the longer distance might have been beneficial). I didn't feel like I was struggling that bad yet, but it was getting hot, which always makes me tired.

We stopped and took these pictures around mile 9. Sometimes graffiti is amusing:

Cross the bridge heading toward the turnaround and see the only course photographer. I hope I didn't make my normal weird cringing face. We head out to the turnaround at the start/finish area, and are questioned why we are doing the turnaround if we are only doing the 10 mile. Yes, the woman gave us the wrong bibs at registration. Luckily since the race is TINY, they just wrote down our bib numbers and it was all fixed by the time we came back at the finish.

Halfway done, still feeling pretty good, but by now, it is a lot warmer and we are down to only about a mile of the course still shaded. I didn't take many pictures on the course, but almost all of it was run along Ralston Creek:

We hit the half marathon marker with roughly a 2:22 time. Meh. Not super fast, but we were keeping a conversational pace and not hating the race, so that was nice. Plus, I like to justify stops, and the first bathroom break cost us about 3.5 minutes. So there's that. A TON less people out after the 10 milers were done, so we were mainly just watching out for cyclists and pedestrians, as the path was NOT closed for the race.

Second bathroom stop only cost about a minute or 90 seconds, it was pretty much right off the course, and L didn't stop again. We hit the turnaround at mile 15, and decided with the increasing heat (and of course us starting to get tired), that we would do short walk breaks at the mile markers that didn't have aid stations (roughly mile 17 and mile 19). We actually PASSED a few people in the last 5 miles. That NEVER happens for me, so it was pretty exciting. Also surprising was that we were NOWHERE NEAR the last people to finish. Also good for my ego. Of note, the runners in this race were REALLY supportive, almost every one we encountered waved or gave a thumbs up or said "great job" or something else encouraging. You don't get that in bigger races!

Made my FIRST phone call EVER during a race with about 2 miles to go to give my mom notice that we didn't have much time left until we were done so she and the girls could meet us at the finish line. We ran over this bridge 4 times:

Getting pretty psyched about finishing. Did I mention it was HOT? We get to the last major intersection before entering the park and there is no one flagging traffic. Luckily no cars close by, but another pet peeve of mine... you know there are still people on the course (again, we were nowhere near last), everyone should still be out at their volunteer posts.

We see the kids and they run to meet us just before the finish line and all four of us cross together. Nope, no pics, sorry :(

We look around... yeah. Nothing left. We were promised food, fun, patriotism. Apparently that was only for the "fast" or shorter distance racers as EVERYTHING but the finish line was torn down. And NO one was cheering at the finish area except my mom and the kids. I kinda hate that :(

The race itself was pretty organized with good aid stations, but it is ALWAYS disappointing when you get to a finish line and nothing is left. Starting the race earlier for the longer distance probably would have made a difference. I mean, not even a banana or bagel was left! Also of note. If you are someone that needs crowd support this is NOT the race for you. I didn't see ONE SINGLE SPECTATOR in all 20 miles. Seriously. We even ran through neighborhoods and not one person was outside watching or cheering. Pretty happy I treated this as a training run, for that purpose it went well! (Again, really don't want to complain, the race was only $35, and 95% of it was good!) Can't seem to find official times, but here is info off my watch:

Garmin time - 3:42:00 (even)
Garmin distance - 20.14 miles
Garmin pace - 11:01
Mile 1 - 10:41
Mile 2 - 9:58
Mile 3 - 10:42
Mile 4 - 13:44 (bathroom)
Mile 5 - 10:40
Mile 6 - 10:50
Mile 7 - 10:42
Mile 8 - 10:13
Mile 9 - 10:36
Mile 10 - 11:22 (turnaround, bib discussion)
Mile 11 - 11:15
Mile 12 - 10:17
Mile 13 - 10:52
Mile 14 - 12:09 (bathroom)
Mile 15 - 11:02
Mile 16 - 10:56
Mile 17 - 11:20
Mile 18 - 10:31
Mile 19 - 11:04
Mile 20 - 11:14

I have no idea how many people ran this (not many), so unsure of how we "ranked." Last year only 22 people ran the 20 miler (10 male, 12 female). Based on last years paces, we would have been in top half of women's times.

Edit: 36 people ran the race. Overall I got 22nd place, but 12/24 out of all females. Woot!! Official time 3:42:08 (L beat me by 1 second).


  1. how bad ass that you run a 20 miler on such short notice!
    Also- Love L's death pose lol.

  2. Um yea, I would have been more than a little peeved to find nothing at the finish. Not cool.

    But way to go...randomly tackling a 20miler!

  3. That bums me out that the finish area was basically abandoned when you finished. I was a back of the pack runner at Half #5 and it sucked. I couldn't even get cold water - I had water. It was just warm water that was left. And I missed everything else going on.

    No medal? I think all long runs deserve SOMETHING at least!

    I still can't get over 50 miles coming up. Not 50K, but 50 MILES. This could be an epic race report for sure!

  4. Great job on the race! Definitely bad ass!

  5. Wow! Way to just throw in a twenty miler. That is amazing that you are just prepared to run that. Love the graffiti pics, hilarious.


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