Half Marathon #83
Colorado Half #23
Weather - Overcast, perfect
Packet pick-up at Sports Authority Field was a CLUSTER. Honestly, pretty much the worst venue I've ever been in EVER for pick up. It was confusing, crowded, we had to take an ELEVATOR to get to it. No stairs, no escalator. AN ELEVATOR. Shirt in one direction, bibs in another and VERY VERY VERY NARROW. NOT a fun experience.
We were supposed to be parked by 5:45 am for our 7 am start. We had planned on leaving our house at 5:00, but then a babysitting snafu didn't have us dropping the kids off at my parents house until 5 after, which is further away than our house. We hadn't expected Colorado Blvd. to be closed so far north, but luckily we got parked on 26th, just on the other side of the golf course, and it was less than a 10 minute walk to the start. We sat in the car for about a half hour, fueling on donut holes.
Then we walked across the golf course, where I shot this nifty shot of downtown:
It wasn't super cold, but I had a throw-away sweater on and felt comfortable. We went through the bathroom lines and then met up for a Half Fanatic picture, where we also found my new running buddy, Hope. We still had over 20 minutes to the start, so we cycled through the bathroom lines one more time before heading over to the corrals. While waiting, I got a picture of this guy who had his headphones SCOTCH TAPED into his ears. At some point, I think I'd find a different type of headphone. No?
I bet I had even LOWER expectations for this race than I did yesterday. Unlike previous races, Hope and I actually planned to run together. L ran up to start a few corrals ahead of us, and we started in the back of H corral. We both thought that we had started out too fast the day before and decided to go for a slow and steady day. Right off the bat, Hope was saying her legs felt very tired. For some reason, I was feeling pretty good.
At first, my goal was... what IF I can make it all the way to the first aid station without walking? My calves got pretty tight in the first mile, but we were going slow and they eventually loosened up. Got to the first aid station right around mile 2, and I had gotten there WITHOUT walking. HURRAY!! The aid station was up a gradual hill, but we jogged up the top (a pretty big accomplishment for me lately since I have pretty much been walking ALL hills). We turned the corner and got to run through the zoo. THAT was neat. A lot of the animals were out, and my favorite was the rhino that was running along the side of his enclosure "with" us. So cute. The volunteers in the zoo had the best signs, like "have a zoo-pendous day!" Loved!!
The zoo was also the only section of the course that felt "hilly" and the only really narrow section of the course. We hit mile 3 in the zoo and STILL, no walking. It's been months since I ran over 3 miles without walking.
Obviously, my next goal was to get to the NEXT aid station without walking. I was feeling GREAT. Not good, but GREAT. We ran through Park Hill and I saw someone that looked like one of the attorneys I work for (I asked Monday, and it WAS him) and shouted his name but he didn't hear me. Park Hill was a really beautiful neighborhood and I still felt great when we walked through the next aid station. I took my GU and off we went. Miles 4-6 were all through some neighborhoods. Nothing felt hilly and I was still feeling good. We hit the mile 6ish aid station and the halfway timing mat and I still hadn't walked.
We were surprised with an aid station at mile 7.2ish (when they say aid stations every 2 miles, I feel like they mean every two miles). And then we got to run through a fire station! They opened the bay doors and we ran through to blasting music and under an American and Colorado flag to the exit.
Then we FINALLY headed toward Colfax. The sun came out and it was feeling pretty warm. With the weird aid station at mile 7, we assumed the next aid station would be around mile 9. However, NO AID STATION at all until we hit mile 10. That was really too long! Hope was struggling, but we ran all of the 2.5 mile stretch of Colfax WITHOUT WALKING.
We entertained ourselves by pointing out all the sketchy hotels, car dealerships, dispensaries, liquor stores and pawn shops. I was surprised by the number of shops called "hair braiding." I really didn't know there was enough of a market for that to warrant an entire shop, much less more than one.
We finally got off Colfax and back into some nicer neighborhoods. Somewhere between mile 11 and 12, I was treated to one of the most amazing photo opportunities I have ever come across in a race:
|I might have embarrassed myself by telling them (more than once) how beautiful they were.|
|This, my friends, is what I have missed about running|
Official Time - 2:33:57
Official Half - 1:14:57
Overall Place - 3945/5164
Gender Place - 2453/3412
Division Place - 934/1237
MMR Time -2:33:59
MMR Pace - 11:39
MMR Distance - 13.22
Mile 1 - 11:17
Mile 2 - 11:05
Mile 3 - 11:37
Mile 4 - 11:16
Mile 5 - 12:17
Mile 6 - 12:10
Mile 7 - 11:21
Mile 8 - 11:46
Mile 9 - 11:23
Mile 10 - 11:31
Mile 11 - 12:20
Mile 12 - 11:43
Mile 13 - 11:17
Mile 13.1 - 10:03
We collected our medals and then were herded through a long line of "stuff" before we exited the finish area and were finally able to head to the beer garden and to get our free bbq. The finish area was crazy crowded. We all picked at our bbq (which was delicious, but I wasn't very hungry) and I drank my free beer.
We stayed long enough that before we knew it we were a bit late going to pick up the kids. We headed back to the car, daring to cross the golf course even though people were golfing. I *almost* got hit by a golf ball. We sort of misplaced the car - we knew the right street but I had not properly gauged how FAR down we had parked and sort of wandered aimlessly for about 15 minutes.
We hadn't really eaten properly for my birthday celebration, so post race food was at the Cheesecake Factory:
|Baked Mac n' Cheese, grilled cheese (sharp & jack), sweet potato fries|
- This race, overall, was better than I expected. I haven't been looking at courses before running, so even though I knew we were running through the zoo, I figured a bulk of the race was on Colfax. Pleasant surprise that it WASN'T, because that was the worst part of the race for me.
- The half naked firemen were a real treat.
- Running through the zoo was fun! Also something I haven't done in a race!
- I loved the medal (and removable charm) and the shirt is pretty nice too (women's cut!!)
- The expo was a giant cluster, crowded disaster.
- Seemed REALLY complicated to have three separate courses, but it was nice that even with over 5,000 runners, the half never seemed congested. Starting comfortably mid to back of the pack probably helped with that though.
- The post-race festivities were CROWDED. I did get my free beer with little effort.
- More info about where to park for both runners and spectators would have been REALLY helpful and would have alleviated some of the stress on race-day.
- I did NOT hate running. I felt AWESOME the entire race. I probably could have pushed more during the race and finished a few minutes faster, but I really enjoyed running with Hope again and she thanked me for sticking with her because she would have otherwise been walking.