Monday, October 10, 2011

Rock 'n' Roll Denver Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, October 9
Marathon #5
Denver, CO
Weather - Chilly at start (upper 30s), sunny, no wind


I registered for the Rock 'n' Roll Denver marathon WAY back on February 4. That was SO long ago, I had only run ONE marathon. A month or so ago I signed up to volunteer as a leader for A's Girl Scout troop, and all day Saturday was to be spent doing "training." In Colorado Springs. If you aren't familiar with Colorado, that's about an 85 mile drive from where I live. I woke up to light rain by my house. And it was COLD and WINDY. By the time I got to south Denver, it was snowing. Long story short, glad that weather came on SATURDAY, not Sunday.

Anyway, typical carb loading dinner at our FAVORITE restaurant. Yes, I had dessert too. And a beer. Actually, make that two. I went to bed around 10:00. Early? Yes. But I had to be up before 5:00.

Alarm goes off at 4:46. Get dressed. In layers. L had warned me that bag drop at the RnR last year was total chaos. We had gone shopping for throw away clothes, and over my race clothes I had an awesome sweatshirt and some pajama pants. I also decided with starting temps around 40 degrees, I would wear my arm sleeves. R met us at the house, quick breakfast, and we were on our way. He knew exactly which lot to park in, and there was surprisingly no traffic. Plan was to stay in the car as long as possible to stay warm. We knew we had about a mile to walk, so we planned on heading to the start shortly after 6:00.

Brr
Check out L's awesome track suit!
There were a few port-o-potties outside the parking garage, we figured since there wasn't much of a line we would stop there instead of trying to find one at the start. Did you know that when dudes use the urinals in super cold weather steam comes out of the top? Yep. True story.

It was still dark on our walk to the start line. Again, luckily R knew where we were going. We had to pass the Convention Center on our way to the start. R was in a hurry to drop his bag (didn't he learn from last year?) and get into his super fast corral 4. L and I decided to take advantage of the indoor bathrooms and stopped again. Had an interesting conversation with a woman about how nasty it is that people don't flush toilets. If anyone can answer me this, I would like to know. I use public restrooms quite a bit, and I bet at least 30% of the time, the person in front of me hasn't flushed.

Anyway. By the time we leave, we have about 15 minutes before the gun goes off. I'm in corral 7, L is assigned to 9 (don't ask me how she was in a corral further back than me). We get to the start line probably 5 minutes before the gun went off. Good thing we DIDN'T have a bag to check...

About 2 minutes until wheelchairs start
We try to weave through the crowds to get to our corral. (Insert loud, crazy, maniacal laughing here). No one was moving. At all. AT ALL. We got stuck about corral 3 or 4. Everyone apparently decided it would be easiest to just wait for their corral to pass by then jump in. Problem is that there isn't any sort of sign saying where the corral WAS, and no one seemed to be running in the correct place anyway. We shed our throw away (goodbye, track suit) and took a quick picture:


I'm assuming we fed in somewhere around corral 7 or 8? The beginning was SUPER congested and crowded. There were sections where we were barely even able to jog. Once we got past the first 3/4 of a mile or so, it thinned out enough to where I didn't feel like I really had to weave in and out of people. Not really the point of this race.

There was a TON going on in my head. I mean, I only ran the Bear Chase 50 miles TWO weeks ago. My legs didn't feel like they had fully recovered. I was running in a pair of Newtons that I hadn't worn in over 6 months. It was the coldest I've run in since spring. I was secretly hoping to PR, but my real goal was to run under 4:45. A pretty tall order since I have been running consistently a minute per mile SLOWER than I was a year ago. I ran my first marathon, the Athens Marathon in Greece, last Halloween in 4:42ish, so yeah, lofty goal.

Anyway. The course weaves up and down Downtown Denver. I'm feeling pretty good the first few miles. I forget that I'd be taking pictures if I was racing out of state. So I take this one of Coors Field (where the baseball team, the Rockies, play):


There were TONS of spectators on the course and we got lots of compliments on our running outfit. I commented to L that I wasn't having my normal "early race leg cramps," but no worries, they eventually showed up (maybe around mile 5?) Saw one of my favorite signs of the day "Bet this seemed like a good idea 6 months ago." Yep. Sure did.

Once we got out of the downtown area with all the super tall buildings, it was a bit less shady, and I took off my arm sleeves because I was getting warm. Yeah, I know it was probably only about 42 degrees, but I'm acclimated... Tied them to my race belt, but dropped my towel in the process. Stopped to get it. I still had my gloves on, which I would alternate wearing and stuffing in my pocket until about mile 17.

Enter City Park just after mile 5 (I think?) Had to remind myself... more pictures:



I probably should have started writing this last night, I already seem to have forgotten quite a bit. I do remember that roughly around the 10K point, L and I were wondering how on earth a). We ran 50 miles, and b). How on earth we were going to finish this race.

The miles go by, we exit the park around mile 7.5. There is an out and back section about 1.5 miles long.  On the way back, I am killing time by commenting on the various outfits people have on. I managed to spot Cheryl from Razzy Roo when I was about at mile 9.  She looked great AND saw me waving at her.  How weird IS it to actually spot someone you know when you race? I only knew a handful of people running this race and most of them were ahead of me (aka, MUCH FASTER).

I was feeling like I was going to need to use the bathroom. They had plenty on the course, but there were also billions of people running, therefore, long lines. L remembered the course would be splitting around mile 11, I figured I could hold it. Get to the split in the road, and yeah, I sorta wished I was following the large portion of runners that were running the half... Bathrooms right there, so stopped real quick. Then off we go with a MUCH smaller field of runners for the last 15 or so miles.

Pretty nice out and back section through a neighborhood. I made sure to take a picture of how pretty the leaves look:


Wish I'd have thought to take a picture of the whole street, but, I was a bit brain dead already. After leaving the aid station (maybe around mile 12?) I saw a Marathon Maniac up ahead that I thought I recognized from another race... L and I chased him for about a half mile, caught up to him at the turnaround. I asked him if he had run the Bismarck Marathon last month... he had. Small world! We wished him luck and were on our way. I was pretty psyched to see our half marathon split as right about what I've been running lately. And I even felt a little better. But then... every mile lasted FOREVER.

Mile 14 took like 5 days to get to. Finally pass mile 14 and a billion hours later I see a group of guys with a keg of beer. I stopped and drank a cup. Of note? L did too. And she HATES beer. Thanks, random citizens at roughly 4th and Downing!

Still feeling... decent. Obviously my legs hurt, and I'm having a minor bizarre knee pain. But overall, ok. Still running. I'm getting pretty excited because my Dad was supposed to be bringing the kids to Washington Park to spectate. That's where I watched L run last year. We saw her 3 different points of the race over the course of about 3 miles. I was really looking forward to it. Get to mile 16, getting ready to enter the park. Half expected to see them along the street (where we lined up last year). Didn't see them, then figured they would be in the park area by the playground. Kept running... lots of random people out since the park wasn't closed for the race. Stopped to use the bathroom a second time. And by now I know that my family isn't coming and it totally bummed me out. :(  There was a course photographer somewhere around mile 18.5 or so:


Go around the corner and there is ANOTHER beer tent. I take another. And so does L. FYI, I think this is probably the most beer L has ever had in her life. She thinks she is getting drunk. Hilarious. So now we still have like 7.5 or so miles to go. Getting tired. And I'm a bit sad about my family not coming so my mind is totally in a negative place. Exit the park. Wait. Everything looks the same. Have we run this already? It looks familiar. I swore I gave that kid a high 5 earlier... we actually asked another runner if we were going the right way. We came to the conclusion we were in the right place. Then we run across a bridge over I25 (I think it must be Franklin?) and then running through more neighborhoods. I think. I honestly don't really remember this section of the course.

We had at least 2 people tell us that they remember us from the Bear Chase race. Either we are finally "famous" or we run to much...

We are still running. Some people are walking, so it is a pretty good boost to actually be passing people for once. The herd has thinned. We get to an aid station somewhere around mile 22.5 and there was some chalk lettering that said "Only 3.3 to go!" only when we left the aid station, it was a few minutes before we even GOT to mile 23. I know people mean well, but nothing irritates me more than things like "you're almost there!" No. We are not. At this point a 5k might as well be a marathon.

Still running. L had said the only hill left was towards the end. And boy, was it a hill. I think me and L were the only ones who actually ran up it. Well, in my head we were running, but we were probably jogging at about a 4.0 mph pace. But at least we weren't walking. Get to mile 26. Holy crap, we are actually going to finish this thing! I have the Glee version of "Friday" jamming through my headphones, and we do our best to "sprint" through the line, even though we don't have much left. We did pass a half dozen people in the chute, but the guy with the sandals? Yeah, he smoked us.

Last push for the finish!!
DONE!!!
Official Time - 4:41:45
Official Pace - 10:45
5K Split - 32:11
10K Split - 1:05:02
13 Mile Split - 2:16:10
20 Mile Split - 3:33:09
Overall Place - 1537/2381
Gender Place - 557/1020
Division Place - 109/207
Garmin Time - 4:41:40
Garmin Distance - 26.32 Miles
Garmin Pace - 10:42
Mile 1 - 10:13
Mile 2 - 10:21
Mile 3 - 10:11
Mile 4 - 10:22
Mile 5 - 10:39
Mile 6 - 10:26
Mile 7 - 10:00
Mile 8 - 10:07
Mile 9 - 10:23
Mile 10 - 10:13
Mile 11 - 11:07
Mile 12 - 11:18
Mile 13 - 10:40
Mile 14 - 9:50
Mile 15 - 10:17
Mile 16 - 11:12
Mile 17 - 11:09
Mile 18 - 11:01
Mile 19 - 11:22
Mile 20 - 11:10
Mile 21 - 11:27
Mile 22 - 10:35
Mile 23 - 11:26
Mile 24 - 11:23
Mile 25 - 11:13
Mile 26 - 10:41
Mile 26.32 - 8:50 (!!!)

As a random aside. My Garmin pace is EXACTLY what my predicted pace is per my RLRF program I've been on. EXACTLY. Since I wasn't doing the program for speed, but to build up mileage, I can't complain. Maybe when I fully recover, I'll speed up the training and see where it leads me. So yes, I plan on continuing RLRF. Love it.

4 minutes after finishing we don't even look that sweaty!
Awesome Finisher Medal!
So. The finish is somewhat underwhelming since the headline band, Smashmouth, was already long done by the time we finished. (HEADS UP ROCK 'N' ROLL, MARATHON RUNNERS MIGHT LIKE TO SEE THE BAND THEY PAID FOR TOO). Some food at the end, but I wasn't in the mood to take anything but water. It was a little chilly and we had a long walk back to the car. Plus, I was still upset about my family not showing up. :(

Marathon #5, COMPLETE!
We saw R briefly, then headed back to the car. The walk that only took us about 15 minutes on the way TO the race took about 40 minutes on the way back. Yeah. My legs were toast.

Thoughts on the race?

Good:

  • Plenty of water stations. Wish they would have had electrolytes at all of them instead of just every other one.
  • TWO GU stations. One at mile 8 and one around mile 20. AND... they were actually handing out Blueberry Pomegranate Roctane. Score! I'll admit, I took extras.
  • TONS of spectators. TONS. And the way the course was set up, we saw lots of people in multiple locations. One couple stopped us after the race, told us they liked our outfits and said we looked strong all race, and that they had spotted us a few times along the course.
  • I guess the music would be awesome, but since I listen to an iPod it doesn't do much for me.
  • Scenic course. For Denver metro, it was pretty flat.
Bad:
  • Really really chaotic and unorganized at the start. There should be a better way to line up at the start, but have to cut some slack since Denver IS set up pretty obnoxiously.
  • Again. It might have been nice to see the band. By the time we were done (1:19 before course cut off), there wasn't even EVIDENCE that they had been there.
Would I run this again?
No. probably not. Partly because they have already announced their date for next year, and I think it's going to be the same weekend as Bear Chase, and I'll be honest, I like the challenge of that race over the "competition" and "ease" of the RnR race.

Recovery... well, by the time we picked up the kids and got home and showered, it was after 2. I picked up burgers and fries from Wendys. After a quick lunch, L had to sleep since she was working later (poor thing). I had promised to take the kids to "Fright Fest" and this was really the only opportunity I was going to have. They had a blast:


And of course I was wearing my post-race "winter" gear, complete with my new socks from Razzy Roo:


Congrats to everyone who ran this weekend. And huge congrats to my Internet BFF for her new Half Marathon PR at Long Beach, Congrats Heather!

(If I'm leaving anything out... sorry. I really should have written this sooner. My memory sucks).

11 comments:

  1. Great run so soon after a ridiculously long race 2 weeks earlier.

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  2. Bummer that you didn't get to see A at the race sad face from me too :( I love it when my Puff is at the finish line. Makes a huge difference.

    This is the first I'm reading about RLRF... Off to check that out.

    Awesome race recap!

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  3. Nice job on a the marathon! We seems to be in the same races lately ;). I thought the water stations/volunteers were really amazing and the spectators were fantastic, too. I've run many marathons in Denver before it became a RnR and never had it that nice before. As for the bands, I thought they were not very many for an RnR race, but I had my iPod on also so it wasn't a big deal. Just not as many as when I did SD RnR.

    Anyway, congratulations!

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  4. Congrats!
    I only run halfs, but the headliner starting so early for RnR races bothers me too.

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  5. Great race! Even when it wasn't so great. Love your outfits too. Super cute!

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  6. Both marathons I've done have been RnR, and for both, the headlining band was done long before I crossed the finish line. Which is kind of awful.

    Also, I have those socks, too, and LOVE them.

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  7. Congrats on a great race! Love the part about L thinking she was getting drunk. So funny!

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  8. Yay! Congratulations on running so fast so soon after your 50 miler!

    At Seattle my only goal was to finish in time to see the concert. I didn't goof off much and I still barely made it. They certainly don't give you a big window at all.

    And I agree. I was just venting about this on Sunday. I know people have good intentions, but don't lie to me about distance. Someone told me I had a mile to go on Sunday - I freaked out because I thought it was less and I was going for a PR. But the same - don't tell me it is less when I have MORE. Then I just run pissed off!

    You two are totally famous in the running the world - at least to me. That cracked me up that L thought she was getting drunk from her 2 little bits o' beer! Heck, that might make 26.2 more bearable!

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  9. What a great race! You totally rocked it. Your splits are very impressive. It's always cool to see how your training really does prepare you! Congrats!!

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  10. Luv your blog, it was really amazing to see you out there. Thanks for including me in your blog. xoxoxo Cheryl

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