Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ralston Creek Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Arvada, CO
Sunday, February 12
Half Marathon #55
Colorado Half #8
Weather -OMG SO COLD. 10 degrees at start, 18 degrees at finish

When I first heard about the Ralston Creek half marathon, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to run it. I mean, it is in FEBRUARY. The weather is SO iffy here, and I hate running when it is cold or snowy (or both). If I race in Colorado in the winter, I usually wait until the last possible minute to register so I don't have to run in yucko conditions. The lure of a medal suckered me in, and I registered before the last price increase on January 31.

Then came - Snowpocalypse, which dumped a couple FEET of snow. And then it snowed Friday night. Luckily, there was no snow OR wind on race day. But it WAS super cold. REALLY cold. Cold enough that I actually went out and bought some crazy awesome running tights. Well, technically they are crops, but since I am a midget, they are pants that are just a *tad* too short. Completing the outfit for the arctic temps? A YMX top covered with my Athleta 1/4 zip, a beanie and gloves. What's missing? A running skirt. Obviously, I adore running in a skirt, but in 10 degree weather? NO.FREAKING.THANK.YOU. I also wore three items I have never worn once, and the 1/4 zip I'd only done a short training run in. So this was brand new territory me. I know, I know, never try anything new on race day? Well, no wardrobe malfunctions and I didn't freeze to death, so I consider it all a success.

I arrived at the race start with no problems about an hour before it was supposed to start. Nearly froze to death walking across the parking lot to pick up my bag, bib, and timing chip. Immediately headed back to the car and cranked the heater. How on earth was I not going to freeze to death?? About 9:15 and I did a quick run to use the bathroom, and thankfully missed the lines. On my way back, I ran into a twitter friend -  Luke (@runthetrailsCO). It was really nice to chat with him and his fiancee - Courtney (@cisforcourtney). They are both adorable and super nice! We chatted until about 10 minutes before the race was supposed to start.

First long stretch of the course - those are people "warming up"
Had to run over to my car to pin on my bib (no race belt today). Headed over to the start about two minutes before the race was supposed to start. Lined up behind these two ladies - who were wearing bibs for Sherry. I meant to print out a bib, and forgot, but there were at least a half dozen people I spotted wearing them.

Almost immediately after I took that photo, a woman approached me and asked if I was W's sister. I asked how she recognized me, since I wasn't wearing my typical gear. She said my phone :D Chatted a  minute, then we were off. I started off with a pace I felt was pretty good, and immediately I was shocked with just how cold it was. I mean, the type of cold where you can really FEEL how thin the air is. The kind of cold where it hurts to inhale too deeply. The kind of cold where your face feels like it could crack and fall right off. BRRR. Luckily, most of my body warmed up pretty fast, although it took my toes about a mile or two before they didn't feel like they were suffering frostbite.

I was worried about how the course was going to be with all the snow we had been having and with the cold temperatures, we weren't having much melting. Most of it was just fine, although there were sections that were icy and snow packed, which meant I had to be a lot more cautious than usual.

Between Miles 2 & 3
I was SUPER glad I had worn what I had, I think I would have frozen to death had I been wearing anything less. I wasn't having any weird aches and pains, which is always a good thing. I was pacing pretty well, but it was COLD, and I just wanted to get this race over with!

The next aid station was just after mile 4, I grabbed a nearly frozen Hammer gel. I had to walk to take it because I couldn't get the package to open and it was NOT going down as easily as "unfrozen" gels. As an aside, I do NOT care for the Tropical flavor. Stopped about a tenth of a mile down the road to use the bathroom.

Since I didn't bother to look at the course or profile, and had never run in this part of town, I really didn't know what to expect. The whole first part of the course FELT uphill. (Luckily after I downloaded Garmin stats, it really WAS uphill and I was not imagining things). I felt like I was working pretty hard, and did take a few short walk breaks to give my legs a break. I really hate the snow and cold, but it was an eerily pretty day out:

Between Miles 5 & 6
About the time we arrive at the halfway point, I start wondering where the course turns around. And then, just before mile 7... I see this hill in the background. Probably hard to tell in this background the enormity of that hill, but that whole sections is switchbacks up to the top. Ugh. Glad I didn't know about that in advance. Yucko.

Aid station right at the base of the switchbacks. Those poor ladies must have been FREEZING, but were wearing their ski pants to keep warm. Yes, it was THAT cold. I ran up about 3/4 of the switchbacks, but took a few short walk breaks. Still had a little more than half the course left, I didn't want to use up all my energy!

At the top of the switchbacks... yes, we ran up ALL that
Took a quick picture and then was ECSTATIC to have some downhills. I literally CRUISED through the next two miles, posting sub 9 minutes for each. WHAT?? I haven't done sub 9s in AGES. I was feeling AWESOME at this point. Took another gel just before mile 9 (this one was NOT frozen since it was in my pocket). I was able to hold a pretty good pace for the rest of the race, although I probably did go out a bit too hard and did take a few short walk breaks. I passed at least 5 or 6 of my "rabbits" during the last few miles, which is always ego-building.

I was super happy when we exited the trail section. I had really been crossing my fingers hoping for sub 2:15, and when I looked at my watch, I knew I would do even better than that. I cruised down the road, and Courtney got an awesome shot of me as I ran by at about the 13 mile marker. How awesome is it that they stuck around so long. Luke finished in 9TH place in 1:22ish. CRAZY!!

For the first time in AGES, I had a little left at the end and actually sorta sprinted at the end. Amazing. Crossed the line and... YAY, my dad had brought A to watch me finish!

Bib #1433
Official Time - 2:11:35
Official Pace - 10:03
Overall Place - 268/421
Sex Place - 112/228
Division Place - 25/41
Garmin Time - 2:11:36
Garmin Distance - 13.16 miles
Garmin Pace - 10:00
Mile 1 - 9:11
Mile 2 - 10:02
Mile 3 - 10:46
Mile 4 - 10:06
Mile 5 - 11:31 (bathroom)
Mile 6 - 10:59
Mile 7 - 9:56
Mile 8 - 11:02 (this was up a mountain, so PLEASED)
Mie 9 - 8:53
Mile 10 - 8:59
Mile 11 - 9:10
Mile 12 - 9:48
Mile 13 - 9:44
Mile 13.1 - 8:11

Headed over to the finisher area and got some delicious chocolate banana bread, a diet coke (I don't care if it IS bad for you, I think it is tasty), some water AND a burrito. Another twitter friend, Daniel (@cybermallet) found me and introduced himself. I just LOVE the internet and all the running friends I have met through Twitter, etc. 

Anyway, all things considered, I am super pleased with how this race went. One of my better times in the last year, and I didn't die of hypothermia, which is always a bonus.


  1. Burrrr looks chilly but you did a great job even with those giant hills! Way to fly at the end and nice medal!

  2. Great "week before Austin" half. I can't imagine running when the weather is in the teens. Way to go.

  3. Great job, it is always a good feeling to sprint at the end!

  4. Becka, AWESOME! How exciting that A got to see you finish! I wore new gear for my race today too and wasn't disappointed. Sometimes you gotta do that to stay warm!

  5. Congrats on another half! And yes it's always a good thing to not die of hypothermia.

    Looks like a beautiful place to run. Love it when you have a little left for a sprint at the end :)

  6. I got cold just reading your race report! :) Congrats on a great race!!

  7. Oh ow, your lungs must have been hurting in that insane cold. Great job, and love A's hat!

  8. It was so blasted cold! I never did really warm up. I got a charlie horse in my calf at mile 2 that I never got rid of, and was so disappointed in my finish. Oh well, I just wanted to get through this one and will train for a better time in April in Littleton. Great job!

  9. very cool medal! and i love your running action shot-nice form and cute outfit-even though it isn’t a running skirt :)

  10. wow I was cold running in 20 degree weather, I can't imagine the teens- YIKES!
    HUGE congrats on 2 sub 9 miles- what a feeling!!
    Also love the fact you can turn capris into short pants-- awesome

  11. Wow - you get extra bonus points just for being outside in the cold! I had plans to run but I'm kind of glad the race filled up and I had to spent quality time at work...I used to be good at cold weather running but last month's awesome weather did me in!

    Congrats on a great run - awesome photos!

  12. That run looks beautiful! Way to pound it out in the chilly weather!

  13. congrats on another finish! was so nice to meet you! :D

  14. Great job on your time and running such an impressive race in those temperatures.

    I'm doing the 12 in 2012 too and please forgive me for not coming over to your blog sooner!

  15. I'm thinking of signing up for this race this year. I'm going to be in Keystone with some friends for a ski getaway and might sneak out to run this. It looks very scenic (coming from Chicago). Looks like you're doing it again this year so I'm assuming it's a good race?


I adore comments and I read every single one. Thanks for reading :)

Week in Review (July 10 - July 16)

Tuesday  (16,949 steps) - Barre Express with Gabi! Best class in a while, I was actually able to get through most of it. After work I met up...