Monday, July 28, 2014

Prairie Dog "Summer" Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, July 27
Castle Rock, CO
Half Marathon #111
Colorado Half #47
Weather - Sunny, warm, humid

I ran the "fall" Prairie Dog race last year. Back then, it was a one-time race. They have since made the Prairie Dog a series, one race for each season. The Summer Prairie Dog half marathon was originally scheduled for Denver, but moved at some point a few months ago to Castle Rock.

I registered only looking at the date. I did NOT notice at the time that it had an 8:00 start time. If I have learned nothing else from racing, starting even at 7 during the summer is too late. Too bad, so sad.

Thanks to the late start time, we didn't need to get up until just before 6. My dad came over to pick up the kids at 6:20, and we left shortly after that, thinking we would need about 45 minutes to get there. There was no traffic on the way down. The address that the race gave us placed us in the middle of an empty field. We drove around for a few minutes, thinking we must have missed something. I saw a few vehicles pulled over on the side of the road and one guy was wearing a race shirt so I had L stop. Turns out, one of the cars belonged to our buddy, Ross. They were having the same problem that we were... finally, we just put in the name of where the race was starting (not the street address), and we found it.

Packet pick-up was fast and easy. There were only 4 port-o-potties (not enough), and we made it through the line only once before heading to the start. I started mid-pack with L and got passed a ton right off the bat.

Start Line
To be clear, I had NO expectations about this race. I knew it was going to be hot and sunny. I have been training solely on trails for pretty much the last month, which is clearly not prepping for a road race. My last half marathon was COMPLETELY miserable. Heading onto the path, and my friend Jill said hi to me. That would be my last interaction with anyone the rest of the race, as I somehow manage to run a pace no one else does. I felt ok at the beginning and was surprised to see the first aid station so early (turns out, it was .54 miles out... what). I was trying not to look at my watch, and was surprised to see that the first mile was sub 10. Somewhere closer to the mile 2 marker was when I started walking. My legs just do not warm up until I have been out a few miles, and this was no exception.

We had been told that there would be 12 aid stations on the course, so I was not carrying my own water. I was almost dead from heat and dehydration by the second stop, which was at mile 2. So hot! So thirsty! I started to worry that this was where my race was going to fall apart. If I just walked the rest, how long would it take me?

It was pretty along most of the path
After that stop I felt a bit better, but another 2 miles until the next aid station seemed like FOREVER. I recognized a lot of the path from the Castle Rock half I ran last June, and the Alien half last September - kind of a combination of the two courses.

After the turnaround I felt really rejuvenated. (I later would realize this was because the whole second half was downhill. Made me feel better about my struggles on the way out). I was worried I was going to burn out, and while I took some walk breaks, I felt substantially better on the way back. I probably passed at least two dozen people in the second half and that is always nice.

Hot, sunny, exposed, hilly
Goes to show that anything can happen in a race, and it ended up being one of my strongest races of the season.

Official Time - 2:16:33
Official Pace - 10:25
Overall Place - 76/131
Gender Place - 37/77
Division Place - 18/28
Mile 1 - 9:48
Mile 2 - 10:59
Mile 3 - 10:48
Mile 4 - 11:35
Mile 5 - 10:14
Mile 6 - 11:17
Mile 7 - 10:44
Mile 8 - 9:45
Mile 9 - 9:41
Mile 10 - 10:32
Mile 11 - 10:05
Mile 12 - 10:26
Mile 13 - 10:31
Mile 13.1 - 6:37 (lol)

  • The 8:00 start is insane. Ridiculous. 7 am or earlier.
  • It was really annoying that the address didn't work for so many of us. It was not that hard to get to, turn by turn instructions in addition to the address would have been helpful.
  • We were told there would be 12 aid stations, and there only 9. With the first/last one being only a 1/2 mile from the start/finish. So really, more like 7... Had I known this was going to be the case, I would have brought my own water.
  • Related: Aid stations were well stocked, plenty of volunteers. Water and Gatorade at all, and gels at 2 of them. The cups were the teeny tiny ones though, so I didn't get much to drink at any of them.
  • The course is pretty exposed, especially the 1.5-2 miles closest to the start/finish area. We really lucked out and had a slight breeze on the way back.
  • Course was very well marked, even though I was alone much of the time, I never thought I would/could get lost.
  • Nice race shirt and medal.
  • Post race food was good, but I was disappointed that the Noosa yoghurt samples were already expired!!!??? Wah.
  • Overall, I really was intent on hating this race due to the late start and exposed course, but it really wasn't as horrible as it could have been. Assuming the change the start time for next year, this could be a good one, although I likely won't run it again.


  1. 8 is way too late in the summer, what were they thinking?! but great job despite the heat :) It looks like a pretty place to run.
    That's a nice touch that the yogurt samples were expired, did you notice that before you ate one?

    1. I know!!! 8 am is late even for a shorter distance. And I did notice they were expired before I grabbed one... so sad, it is so good :(

  2. Congrats on the successful run. I enjoy the pictures. Would love to see a photo of the medal and t-shirt. Nice write-up!

    1. Hi Eddie, I just updated the post with a picture of the medal. Thanks for reading!

  3. first off congrats on a strong and speedy finish.
    2nd- i cannot believe they would offer expired yogurt... maybe 1 week away from expiring but not already there (especially something dairy related)
    3rd- i've learned running in summer, i always need my own water for long runs, despite what is advertised- better to be safe than sorry (and thirsty)


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