Sunday, September 30, 2012

Race #9 of the Season: Rock 'n' Roll Denver Half-Marathon

Well, it's been just over a week since this race and I'm still feeling the after-effects.

We knew going in it would be interesting. My last run leading up to race day (9.22) was on September 8; a 10-miler that went surprisingly well. After that, a few days off for trip preparation and then 10 glorious days in Europe with no running (despite our best intentions), but a crapton (and I mean crapton; you'll see in the September recap) of walking.

The main downside to the trip happened in London. I don't know if it was the bed or not, but I slept poorly due to back pain. I had some leg soreness (due to walking), but the back? It took an hour or so each morning for it to feel better. It went away in our last couple days ... just in time for an 11.5 hour flight back to the states, a small airport sit and then another three hour flight home.

We got home at around 11pm Thursday night and woke up a lot earlier than expected Friday morning. We got to the race expo about when it opened, picked up our packets and walked around a bit. We said hi to our friends at BRC-DTC and I bought a lighter weight long-sleeve Run CO running shirt. Afterwards, we grabbed lunch, did some unpacking and then our standard breakfast for dinner then bed.

Saturday morning; out of bed dark and early. We were going to park on Broadway like we did last year ... and then realized that last year's race was on a Sunday when meters are free. This year, race was on a Saturday (dang Broncos) and therefore, no free meters. And they'd turn on while we were running and there'd be no way for us to get to the meter and feed it. So, off it was to the suggested parking on the Auraria Campus and the mile walk to the start line ... where I got some nice pictures of the downtown skyline at dawn.



Our attitude was nice and relaxed (typically a good thing) as we got to Civic Center Park, dropped off our gear at gear check and then actually got in our corral well before the start, unlike last year. Surprisingly enough, we actually saw my friend Liz as she made her way to her corral.

Eventually, it was time to start. Our plan was to take the first few miles nice and steady, which we succeeded at. The first few miles were right around 10, 10:15/mile which was the race plan. I felt okay in those miles, but not good. I've been starting to feel good starting in mile twoish on most of my runs ... but not this one. Even hitting the three mile point ... not so good.

5K Split: 30:44

We hit the nasty hill at the start of 17th and decided, unlike last year when we attacked it, to walk up the hill (this is at about mile 3.5). I was personally happy about this because I was having a bit of a time trying to get my lungs underneath me. It was early on in the race, but I could already tell it was probably just not going to be my day.

17th Street was a bit of a struggle. Brandon was upset, but I couldn't keep at the steady running pace that he was holding. He can hold a steady pace and maintain; I can't right now. I run at the pace that my body wants to for as long as I can hold it then walk at a brisk pace to get my lungs back and then go go go again. In shorter races, I pretty much red-line it, but at the longer distances? The run/walk is how I roll. Therefore, we stayed together, but kind of.

At mile 5, we turned left on Park (I think) and I hit the one groove I would hit all race. From the turn off 17th until we turned into City Park, I felt awesome. Too bad that would be the only time.

City Park ... was City Park. Brandon felt like he was frustrating me a bit (not gonna lie, he was a teeny tiny bit) so he hung back, just staying in sight of my back. He was feeling okay, unlike me.

10K Split: 1:04:06

Not long after the 10K split, we made the decision to split up, as that was part of our original race plan: if one of us felt better than the other, we'd separate and run our own race from that point on. Since Brandon was obviously doing better than I was, he went off. Before we split, though, he made me take my gel (earlier than I had wanted, but I think he thought it might help me out).

By this point, my back was starting to act up. A little after mile seven, I was walking way more than running and by the turnaround at 17th and Colorado (so mile eight), my back was making it so I could barely run.

I saw Brandon at the Esplanade out and back and he said he was going to slow down and wait for me. That inspired me to try and pick it up and run some more, but it felt like my back was compressing with each step and I was starting to get some soreness in my left hip. In short, misery.

10 mi Split: 1:50:20

(yes, that shows how much I was dying)

I finally caught up to Brandon around the Gu table at around mile 10.5. I asked Brandon why he waited for me; he said that after spending almost two weeks together in Europe and with all our training together, it didn't feel right to finish the race without each other. That, and he knew he wasn't going to hit 2:10, so y'know.

Like I tried helping him push through last year, he tried doing the same to me this year, pushing me to run whenever I could. This was a bit tricky, especially in Cheesman, as the back felt awful and the hip pain started going into the outside of my left knee. When he told me to push, I ran only until I felt the pain going into my knee; as soon as I felt it there, I'd stop. I am not screwing with my knees.

The last 5K was fairly awful, but like I made Brandon do last year, I was able to run from the turn off 13th, past the Capitol building and down to the finish. I didn't necessarily sprint like usual, but I gutted it out.

Final Stats:
Time: 2:30:04
Pace: 11:27/mi
Overall Rank: 5804/8168
Gender Rank: 3483/5348
Division (F25-29) Rank: 809/1117

Obviously not what I was hoping for. Second time I've attempted this race and the second time it's killed both of us. Last year, granted, was more Brandon but I had my fair share of aches and pains in it and this year ... ugh.

Brandon post-race.


Trying to smile.

The pain is really evident on my face in that last photo.

It's been a week later, and I still haven't run. I've swum, I've thrown around a softball ... and that's about it. I tried jogging in place in the apartment to see how it feels and while I don't feel the compression I did during the race, my back still is not all that happy. I don't know if it's due to a weaker core for not doing any core work for almost three weeks, or walking around in shoes with insufficient support, or what, but I don't want to take any chances. My plan is to try running again October 3 and see how it goes.

Beer (and wings and fries and salad) after the race though? That was probably one of the best things all day.


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