Monday, July 16, 2012

Sand Creek Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, July 14
Denver, CO
Half Marathon #65
Colorado Half #12
Weather - HOT

Thanks to all the random mailing lists I am on, sometime in late spring I got an email with a discounted, inaugural half marathon. Total cost after fees was barely $40. So... not learning my lesson from last year, I registered for the Sand Creek half marathon.

There was a brief glimmer of hope that we wouldn't die of heat stroke since the race started at 7:00. However, we left the house at 5:30 to head to the race and it was already 70 degrees. It was going to be a long, hot day. We got to the start in less than 20 minutes. The sun was already coming up.

Packet pick up took about 3 minutes. We saw our friend Ruth a few minutes later. She was not racing, but was timing the race. We were parked literally about a hundred feet from the start, so we sat in the car for pretty much the next hour. About a half hour before we started, we spotted my stalker! I actually hadn't seen him since last July's horrible race. More on this later.

The race started on time, in the middle of a park. Meaning, on a sidewalk. So it was pretty narrow and congested on our way out. Again, I had not bothered to look at the map. Not sure if studying it would have mattered. Check out this ridiculously complicated course:

So the first mile was already feeling pretty hard. It felt like a long and gradual uphill. My legs were tight, I felt tired already. This was going to be a long day. The first aid station was just before mile 2. Mile 2 is where the course got really weird. Luckily there were volunteers at most of the intersections because otherwise, I'm pretty sure I would have gotten lost. On the out part to mile 4, we saw the leaders coming towards us. The leader was substantially farther ahead than the rest of the leaders. I had given a friend from Twitter an entry to the race, and even though I had never met him in person, I was pretty sure I saw him within the first 10 people. I think at the aid station around mile 3.8 was where the race really "fell apart" for me.

Barren, ugly course
I was so tired. My legs felt tired. L and I actually had a guy "drafting" off us, and the dude actually stepped on my heels a few times. TOO FREAKING CLOSE. I finally just jumped onto the side because it was SO ANNOYING. The course was boring to look at and there was no shade. The longer we were out there, the hotter it got. Mile 4-5 was actually slightly downhill and it wasn't as terrible as some of the other sections. A Facebook friend recognized me on the course (Hi Jill!). Even though we have done probably a dozen of the same races, we never manage to meet up. She assumed it was me when she saw L and I wearing the matchy, matchy outfits. Heading toward mile 6 (?) and we finally were running on trail.

Ha. Sweaty L.
We ran along this section of dirt/gravel before entering a confusing loop around some "lake." I say "lake," because it's on the map, yet I don't remember seeing any water. Also, it's at this point we catch up to my stalker. In real life!! I am actually running "fast" enough to keep up with him. Who cares that he is 75. He is a badass. He is also fairly grumpy and was muttering about the course and the mile markers. He didn't seem to know me. Which is weird...

The signs were confusing. Loop 1 -> Loop 2 bypass and teenage girls sort of dancing around. We decided to just follow the people in front of us. We were getting passed by the 10k people who had started after us. After we ran around the "lake," we came upon a fork in the road where there was just an arrow pointing one way. Apparently that meant 10k or loop 2 people but loop one went straight? Ouch. I am feeling too dumb for this race.

The only shaded part of the course was probably a quarter mile long. There was a photographer and an aid station. After we looped around, we headed up a big hill, ran along a plateau. Then we arrived back at the loop 1 and 2 signs with the teenage girls. We had to head to the right to run back around the road and do a reverse loop of where the 10k and 2nd loop halfers would exit. (Confused yet?) - headed back towards the shade and the aid station, up the big hill and plateau again. We are somewhere between mile 9 and 10 now, and I am EXHAUSTED. It feels like we have been out there FOREVER.

Only shaded part of the course
We meet up to the loop 1 and 2 signs and this time head to the left and do the loop around the lake again. I stop at the bathroom. No toilet paper (ew) and then to the right instead of straight to the shade/aid station. So keep in mind we are heading toward mile 11 and have had no water since about mile 8.5. We exit the weird loopty loops, and then head back toward the long stretch of desert dirt to finish up. The last aid station was probably about mile 11.5. Way too long since the last one. And, it was out of gatorade. Which was annoying.

The last mile? LASTED FOREVER. We ended up back on the sidewalk, and I just couldn't keep running. I took probably 3 walk breaks in the last 3/4 of a mile. I only wanted to get done soon enough that I would beat my stalker. L finished a bit in front of me, and I really REALLY put everything I had into NOT walking the last .25. Supposedly I "sprinted" at the finish, but I just felt like crap and wanted to die. And my free race pictures:

And who should be the one to cut off my tag at the end? My friend Ruth! First thing she says, "so, did you get lost?" Ha. L grabbed me a bottle of water, and Joe (the friend from Twitter) found us at the finish. We chatted for a few minutes and then we realized it was already getting late and we needed to get the kids. We were heading toward the car but figured we should check out the free stuff being given away. I got enough free hummus to last me a few weeks. (Seriously, between the two of us we were given over 20 2oz packages of HUMMUS).

Me and Joe
Me and L
Bib #842
Official Time - 2:26:25 (Ouch)
Official Pace - 11:14
Overall Place - 258/303
Gender Place - 158/193
Division Place - 67/80
Garmin Time - 2:26:25
Garmin Distance - 13.04 miles
Garmin Pace - 11:14
Mile 1 - 10:03
Mile 2 - 10:29
Mile 3 - 10:48
Mile 4 - 11:13
Mile 5 - 10:39
Mile 6 - 11:30
Mile 7 - 10:53
Mile 8 - 11:31
Mile 9 - 12:08 (bathroom)
Mile 10 - 11:48
Mile 11 - 11:55
Mile 12 - 11:55
Mile 13 - 11:08
Mile 13.1ish -  10:44

Anyway, thoughts on the race.
  • Races in July CANNOT START SO LATE. It was almost 90 by the time we eventually finished. That's crazy. (And probably dangerous).
  • They didn't even advertise a medal, so I was surprised to get one. It was actually pretty cute.
  • The shirt... not crazy about it. Look at the logo at the top, that's what was on the shirt.
  • Pre race - VERY organized. Everything was fast, easy and efficient. Plus, they had pastries, water and coffee at the start.
  • Finish line was pretty awesome, lots of vendors with Vitamin Water, Snapple, sabra hummus, pita chips, Udi's bagels and bottled water. Seriously, awesome.
  • FREE digital race pictures. FREE. That's also awesome.
  • THE MOST RIDICULOUS AND CONFUSING COURSE EVER EVER EVER EVER. I talked with more than one person that missed at least part of the course since it was poorly marked. You should not need a college degree to run a race.
So overall, it was good. Improvements on course markings and a start at 6:00 would help a ton.


  1. I love the free digital race photos. More races should do that. Also, they must advertise the medal, come on!

  2. I agree that summer races need to start EARLY. It sucks that the course was so lousy, but it sounds like they handled things before and after the race pretty well. It seems like small, inexpensive races are such a crap shoot; some are really great and some are really lousy.

  3. I've told more than one race organizer (DE, IA) they should post about medals on their info page. Don't they know that's one of the 50 States rules? Good grief.

    Love the free race photos. You always take great running/racing pics. Lucky to get some for free.

  4. I'm a new follower and love to read your running adventures. I agree that races need to start EARLY in this Summer time heat. You rocked it though. I think you are a strong runner and I admire your skills :)

  5. I was supposed to run this too and was all signed up and registered! Then, I got up early on Saturday...and just didn't feel like it :) I ran 15 on my own instead! Great job!

  6. good job!! I don't think I could have handled the heat. You did great!

  7. free race pictures? your race entry fee was the same price as 1 picture would be at a big race. ha! and a medal. score! and yall looked super cute. sorry the heat sucked…

  8. Hi back, Rebecca :). Read this a couple weeks ago on my phone and then forgot to come back and comment - sorry. That course was miserable to say the least. I'm glad I didn't pay $ to run it, I just paced a friend in town from Crested Butte. Totally got lost on the "lake" section and never saw mile 10 and ended with 11.95 miles for the course. I heard the 10k was even more f'd up.

    Hope we run into one another here soon and have a real conversation :).

  9. I was just looking at this race for a possible summer half this year. Glad I ran across your review. It does look like they've moved the start time up to that should help, but that course does look crazy. Not sure what to do :)


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