Monday, December 9, 2013

Fa La La Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Westminster, CO
Saturday, December 7
Half Marathon #97
Colorado Half #35

The Fa La La half marathon is the first half I have ever seen for Colorado in the metro area in December. And probably for a good reason! Last Wednesday we had a fairly decent snowfall. Now snow, obviously, is not the biggest deal here. It snows all the time. HOWEVER, in early December, it does NOT normally snow and then stay hovering around 0 for days and days. As the days ticked closer to the race, I was REALLY dreading it. I was sure they weren't going to cancel because of cold, but wow, I do NOT run outside in this freezing weather! L had picked up our packets in advance, so we planned on showing up only early enough to use the bathroom.

Running in the #coldpocalypse

We dropped off the kids with my parents at 8:15 and drove to the start, only about 15 minutes away. DID I MENTION IT WAS THE COLDEST COLD EVER? To have some perspective, L, who is part robot, actually wore long sleeves AND a jacket AND kept her gloves on the entire race. My dream of a miracle 15+ degrees at the start did NOT come true:

We used the bathroom inside at the rec center, where I got L to get this awesome shot of my last moments of being warm.

We headed to the start line and honestly, once I had my headphones and ear warmers on I could not hear a thing, but the race director was blabbing on and on.... LET'S GET GOING ALREADY.

I have run outside in Denver before in the winter. OK, maybe only a handful of times. But every time I have run outside, it has been on PAVED city trails. Did you know, that the city did NOT shovel/plow the path/trail??? I probably would have made a different shoe choice had I known.

L and I started in the very back, but I lost her in a matter of seconds. It was a bit congested in the beginning, which was fine. My calves were tight, I was cold, my legs were cold, IT was cold. The beginning section was one of the icier sections of the course:

I was wearing an INKnBURN tech tube over my  mouth, which was great. Well, until about 15 minutes in when I pulled it down to get water and then I tried to pull it back up and it was FROZEN in a slouchy mess around my neck. (FYI, messing with a frozen article of clothing will keep your mind occupied FOREVER) - I took an awkward selfie of how it looked frozen around my neck:
I could go on and on and on about the cold. I have never in real life seen snot icicles. Everyone had frozen facial hair and eyelashes. It was pretty terrifying!

I think I was running a decent pace, but I really didn't care. I caught up to Ross around mile 6 (the 76 year old man that beats me EVERY RACE). Spoiler: I actually ran faster than him for once!

Um. My GU was pretty much frozen solid (I took two during the course of the race) and the water at the aid stations was like a slushie.

It is REALLY REALLY REALLY difficult to run in snow/ice. The Big Dry Creek Trail is fairly flat, but it felt like I was running in quicksand. Everything felt like it was uphill and I was working really hard to not be making that much progress.

Time passed, I managed not to freeze and I was pretty surprised to see L at the finish area. I thought for SURE she would do the smart thing and go sit in the car! However, she got this shot of me that I LOVE heading into the last .2 or so:

Bib #839
Official Time - 2:26:44
Overall Place #212/288
Gender Place #129/185
Division Place #54/73
Garmin Time - 2:26:44
Mile 1 - 10:57
Mile 2 - 11:47
Mile 3 - 10:39
Mile 4 - 10:35
Mile 5 - 11:09
Mile 6 - 11:23
Mile 7 - 11:35
Mile 8 - 11:04
Mile 9 - 11:36
Mile 10 - 11:35
Mile 11 - 11:25
Mile 12 - 11:24
Mile 13 - 11:03
Mile 13.1 - 9:52

We stuck around long enough to get a picture together and to talk to Ross for a minute, then we went to the car. It had warmed up substantially while we were running:

For an idea of what the back of people's heads looked like while running - look how frosty L's head is!!!

  • I mean, it was cold, obviously. However, I was prepared for it. I wore a base layer (a Champion long sleeve shirt - the same one I wore for NYD last year) with my INKnBURN Lust jacket over it. I wore INKnBURN pirate capris and compression socks. I used hand warmers with gloves (best purchase EVER EVER EVER). I wore ear warmers and had my tech tube. Yeah, I was concerned about losing my nose or a toe to frostbite or hypothermia, but it was fiiiiiiiiiiine.
  • The WORST part about the race was running on the ice. That made the downhill areas EXTRA scary since it WAS slick. I really wish the race director had sent out an email the night before advising of trail conditions. I probably would have worn different shoes.
  • 2/3 of the runners were women, and yet the shirt is still a men's shirt. WHY WHY WHY????? I am so tired of all these race shirts that I cannot wear. At least give me the option to skip the shirt and save a few bucks if you are not going to give me one I can wear again.
  • An annoyance with the registration of this race... they DO have a mail in option. I was thinking, YAY, I can save the almost $6 processing fee (10%) if I send in a check. NOPE. They still charge it. WHY NOT JUST INCLUDE THAT AS THE TOTAL RACE REGISTRATION FEE. I hate hate hate the sneaky fees. Annoying.
  • They DO, however, have race day registration (obviously it costs more), but if you want to wait to see the forecast, this is a good option for a winter race.
  • We got ear warmers in our swag bag. I wore mine, they kept me nice and warm and toasty.
  • The course is good, but again, had it been plowed, probably would have been faster/easier.
  • AND YET, this was still my 3rd fastest half of the year! Woot!
  • I am SHOCKED that there was such a big turnout for this event. 288 for the half, 137 for the 10k and 120 for the 5k. SO OVER 500 PEOPLE BRAVED ARCTIC WEATHER JUST TO RUN. We are a crazy bunch, aren't we?
  • All in all, I would recommend this event. Plenty of aid stations, gels at the mile 6 (and I guess it would have been mile 11ish on the away back) aid stations. Medal for all distances.
  • AND.... I just have to say THANK YOU to all the volunteers who were out there for HOURS. That is even more nuts than those of us running. AND there were actually spectators!! One guy was offering people "warm water" lol!! Never seen that at a race.


  1. Oh my goodness. You guys are crazy. Just plain crazy. I'm drawing the line at ice (as the snow hit us last week...) I'm so glad you took it nice and easy and didn't fall down. I would have fallen, I just know it.

  2. I cannot comprehend running in that weather. You have to give me candy to get me out when weather's in the 30's.

  3. holy shit. That is ICE ON HER HEAD.

  4. i'm not even sure where to start- first, I can say with 100% confidence I would have skipped this race if i were in your shoes. I guess it shows that having your all halfs ran in CO as a goal is a big motivator. Second your time is crazy impressive with those conditions. 3rd.. next year they really need to up the medal to be more festive and a better reward for all those people who made it out that day.


  5. hell to the NO. i would've stayed in bed!! but MAJOR props to yall for running in that shit.

  6. OMG, just reading this makes me feel cold! You are a rock start for going out there and run a half in those temps!


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