Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Denver Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, October 16
Denver, CO
Half marathon #156
Weather - Sunny and warm
Every year I say I'm not going to run the Rock 'n' Roll Denver again, and then they do a super cheap registration. For the 2016 race, I registered on October 20, 2015 (two days after the race) for $50 plus a $7.99 processing fee. Have I mentioned how much I hate processing fees?

Expo

The expo was held again at the National Western Complex. Parking is $5, which is super annoying. The venue is not the best for an expo. A and I went to the expo on Friday afternoon, however, and it wasn't too busy. And it was WAY better than last year. We spent over an hour walking around and talking to people. We both got fun Halloween Injinji socks, and NOTHING else.

Race Day

In 2015 I had parked at the garage I use for work because it's freeeee. However, I remember having issues getting in and out with road closures. A few days before I looked at the road closure map and decided I didn't want to screw around with it. Instead, I planned on meeting up with Heather at her dad's office and walking over. We made plans to meet at 6:00, and I left the house a few minutes late at 5:37 (yes, I looked), and still go there a few minutes before 6. Waaaay easier than anything I've done in years past.

It took us just a few minutes to walk over to the start area, and since Heather planned on checking a bag, I kept my hoodie on. We ran into tons of friends and teammates before the start. Took lots of pictures and used the bathrooms a few times.
No filter. This was the coolest sunrise ever.
Heather was supposed to be in corral 2, and I was in 7. By the time we tried to feed in I think we ended up in corral 8, which was fine by me. I love how every year I estimate a stupid fast time that places me in a corral I have no right to be in.
Trying to get a picture of the giant full moon
At the start line
I warned Heather that I was going to go out slow and try to not burn out like I did the year before. The tall buildings were messing with my GPS a bit, it was hard to tell what pace we were running. My legs felt very fatigued from all the barre classes I have been taking (6 days in a row before the race), but thankfully, no tight calves.

The course was completely different (yet again). We ran up 14th to start, and then we weaved through random roads downtown. Did not love this section. We looped over by the Pepsi Center around mile 2 (which in the past was about a mile in) and hit the first aid station about mile 2.5. We ran by Coors Field and up the big overpass early (I swear that in the past this has been much later in the race). The Runners Roost aid station was at mile 4, and as always, was a great boost to see so many familiar faces helping out.

I was feeling ok until we headed down Lincoln. That's when the leg fatigue really set in and I started taking walk breaks. The 10k headed towards the finish while we turned up 17th, and I walked up the entire hill, much to Heather's dismay. This section of the course is one of my favorites because as we head out to City Park all the fast runners are coming towards us. We managed to see quite a few Roosters, including Eric, on our way to the park. Runners Edge had the aid station within the park, and again, it was awesome seeing friends helping out. Pete gave me a high five and then we headed out for the rest of the loop in the park.
Still fall colors in City Park!  By far the prettiest section of the course.
David was sitting on top of his van using his bullhorn to cheer people on, which was fun. The out and back on 17th was a little brutal, although I managed to make it until the loop by East High School before I pretty much fell apart. I had to take way more walk breaks than I would have liked. Heather is a trooper and still stuck with me. (It will be interesting to see how I can run on rested legs after my barre challenge is done).

We turned south on Sherman and ran by the Capitol, where a man was yelling "look at the twins! the twins!" Except for Heather being about 6 inches taller than me, I suppose so. I had NO kick left, but managed to run through the chute without walking. The course measured incredibly long (much like last year).

There was NOTHING in the finish area except for water, chocolate milk, cups of fruit and Cheez-Its. Womp.

We met Eric just outside the finish area, and I checked my phone to see that I needed to start heading towards Thornton to pick A up from her slumber party. We wandered around the finish area before getting a small team picture, and then we walked back to the car.
Tony, me, Heather, Eric, Andy
All things considered, especially since I spent most of the summer injured, the race turned out OK. I did, however, barely beat last year's time.

Official Time - 2:23:11
Official Pace - 10:56
Official 5K - 33:066
Official 10K - 1:07:06
Official 10M - 1:48:52
Overall Place - 3868/6661
Gender Place - 1991/4113
Division Place - 355/705
Garmin Time - 2:23:33
Garmin Distance - 13.70 miles
Garmin Pace - 10:28
Mile 1 - 9:53
Mile 2 - 9:28
Mile 3 - 10:03
Mile 4 - 10:10
Mile 5 - 10:27
Mile 6 - 10:42
Mile 7 - 9:59
Mile 8 - 10:41
Mile 9 - 10:43
Mile 10 - 11:21
Mile 11 - 10:33
Mile 12 - 11:44
Mile 13 - 10:32
Mile 13.7 - 10:18

Thoughts
  • The race is fine. The course is pretty good, although I think this was my least favorite of all the years I have run. The early miles had us running on roads that had sections barricaded off from construction and running over light rail and train tracks. Not to mention all the potholes. I guess that is just road running though.
  • There were plenty of aid stations and they were spaced pretty well. It was really warm, but I did not need to carry my own hydration and I was fine with that. In the past, there has ALWAYS been GU on course at RnR races. I did NOT see any this year. Somewhere around mile 7 they were handing out SOMETHING, but I did not recognize whatever it was. Two aid stations did not have Gatorade, but again, for me, that was fine.
  • Last year I remember the course being a bit crowded in the beginning, I didn't find it that bad this year. I did, however, hear that registration numbers were really low this year (like 4,000 less than the year before).
  • The shirt is red this year, which is nice. I assume it is Brooks since that has always been the partner vendor/brand, but honestly, it is still in my expo bag.
  • The medal is probably my least favorite out of all of the years I have run. At the very least, the neck of the guitar should be longer.
  • Getting in/out of the race (parking wise), was easier this year than any year I have run. I assume it is still a nightmare if you don't have an "in" somewhere.
  • Will I run again? I'm saying NO right now, but you know me... I'm fond of changing my mind.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Louisville Trail Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, October 9
Louisville, CO
Half marathon #155
Weather - brisk at start, nice

Pretty bummed for the last race of the Endurance Race Series, the Louisville trail half marathon. I had only run this event once, back in 2013. Then, the race was in early May, and I remember it being chilly and not a lot of fun. Thankfully, I have runnesia, and it was much better this time around!

Race Day

We were up early to be out the door by 6:30, arriving at the start around 7. The plan was to pick up our packets (A earned another free race entry for all her volunteering, so she was running the 5k) and for me to take the 7:30 early start. (I wasn't planning on taking the early start originally, but since we had tickets to an early afternoon Broncos game, I needed to get an early start).

Packet pick up was a breeze and there was no line at the port-o-potties. We went back to the car and got everything ready and then met up with Brandon at the Hoka tent so I could demo some shoes. Unfortunately, I can't remember which ones I tried. The laces were tighter than I liked and the toe box wasn't as wide as I prefer, but they were fine. With a little more time/prep I'm sure they would be a good shoe - and not nearly as "tall" feeling as my Cliftons.

The 7:30 early start was pushed back about 10 minutes because an aid station wasn't set up yet. Not that we needed the aid station, but the aid station was also a course marking for a turn shortly after the first mile.

Anyway, I was glad that Stacy remembered where the course went, because I sure didn't. Anyway, off we went. First we headed out west on the Coal Creek trail. This is the section I am most familiar with in other races. I had kept my long sleeve shirt on because it was still really cold when we started. I was happy to have it, I pulled the sleeves over my hands - they were freezing!

The first part of the course is fairly flat and not technical. There was a small, maybe half a mile section that was on pavement, but most of it was on a wide, dirt path.

Cow on the loose!

After a half hour or so (maybe about 2.5 miles in), we looped around a small lake/pond and headed back the way we came.
There was a coyote hanging out in the fields nearby, causing havoc with the people walking their dogs. He didn't seem interested in the runners, however. Shortly after the turnaround I shed the extra layer, AND the lead runner was heading towards us (a Roost teammate, of course).
About mile 4 was when we ran by the finish line and continued to head east for the back part of the course. I didn't realize that the back part was where the 5k and 10k runners had to go. I had told A the course was flat, so when I realized the biggest hill was on her course I figured she'd be mad.

However, I saw her when she was 2-2.5 miles in and heading in to the finish. She looked really happy!
I walked up most of the hill, enjoyed the flat on the plateau, and then the small switchback section down the backside, where there was another aid station. This section of the trail was really pretty, and I didn't remember it at all from when I ran it in 2013. About mile 7 I figured I should take some Honey Stinger chews, only to realize I must have left them in the car. OH NO! Luckily, there was an aid station soon after and they had jelly beans. Can't believe I actually forgot my fuel, first time ever!

I ran pretty decent until we turned around, and then I was pretty much done (not good, I still had like 4 miles to go). There was a lot more walking than I would have liked, and my legs were feeling pretty fatigued (I had gone to barre classes every day for a month, so it wasn't really a surprise). Took all my pictures from this section on the way back since I was walking more.


Atop that "giant" hill
I did finish fairly strong and was really pleased to go under 2:30 for the first time in ages.

Garmin Time - 2:29:21
Garmin Distance - 13.10
Garmin Pace - 11:24
Overall Place - 130/152
Gender Place - 87/105
Division Place - 31/40
Elevation Gain - 453'
Mile 1 - 12:33
Mile 2 - 11:34
Mile 3 - 11:47
Mile 4 - 10:57
Mile 5 - 10:26
Mile 6 - 11:08
Mile 7 - 10:17
Mile 8 - 11:14
Mile 9 - 10:59
Mile 10 - 11:57
Mile 11 - 11:39
Mile 12 - 12:35
Mile 13 - 11:07
Mile 13.1 - 11:24

A was at the finish line handing out medals for the kids' race (by the way, they nearly trampled me, lol). I made a quick stop to the bathroom and then went to the finish line party to hang out. There was a special awards ceremony for the season pass holders. I was surprised and super excited to get a custom growler, 6 pack of beer and medal for completing the half marathon distance at all 9 races of the season.
I have no idea what I'm looking at (Photo: Lynette Johnson)
ERS Season pass holders! Can you find me? (Photo: Lynette Johnson)
A got third in her age group, although only overall finishers received awards at this race.

We stuck around for a bit talking with people and ate a quick lunch before we had to head out.

Thoughts:
  • What a difference a season makes! When the course was all brown and dreary I didn't like it nearly as much. Simply gorgeous with the changing leaves!
  • I really liked that the 5k and 10k did not do the first part of our course. This is the biggest event ERS puts on and there was NO congestion as a result.
  • Plenty of aid stations, and thankfully, they had food.
  • Gender specific shirts, royal blue color.
  • (Large) medals for all distances.
  • Awesome post-race party (although no beer allowed at this one).
Other:
  • I will be back again next year as an ambassador for the ERS race series. This year there were 9 races, next year there will be 10, with a new race in Silverthorne. I will have a discount code for the season pass (available for 10k and half marathon) and individual races later this year. What an awesome series this is, I am so happy to represent for them and hope to see some of my readers at a race next year. I have added the dates to my calendar if anyone wants to start planning ahead.

Week in Review (May 16 - May 22)

Tuesday (22,341 steps) - Speed work! We had to drive alllll the way down to Greenwood Village for this one. 1.75 mile w/u 10 x 200m re...