Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Race Recap: Denver Rock N Roll 1/2 Marathon

Yes, this is coming super late.  I've been bad blogging this year for some reason...

Running a 1/2 marathon two days after returning from Europe?  Might not be the best plan.  I got in one long run before we left for London, and that went well, so after honeymooning in Europe which involved a ridiculous amount of walking, we took an 11.5 hour flight back from London to L.A., followed by a 2.5 hour flight to Denver.  So that's 14 hours of not moving 2 days before the marathon.  :-/

On Friday, we went to the race expo.  This year it was a lot better organized.  We browsed all the booths, stopped by our good friends at Boulder Running Company, and won some tuna packets.  Yes, you read that right.  After that, we headed home and relaxed.  The idea was to take it easy the day before so that we could continue to rest our legs.

Saturday morning, we woke up and headed for downtown.  Like T mentioned, we had to park farther away due to the parking meters being active.  No big deal.  It was a beautiful morning and we were in good spirits.  Very important.  I know when I'm not in good spirits, or nervous, that it generally reflects on the race.   We made it to our corral, saw her friend Liz, and then the race started.  Here we go!

The First 5K
Ok, last year, we definitely took the first couple miles way too easily and it certainly bit us.  This year, we wanted to go out fast, but pacing ourselves.  The ultimate goal was 2:10:00, breaking 10 per mile and earning a PR.  Our next goal was a PR in the 13.1 mile distance.  Finally, failing that, it was to PR in the Denver 1/2.  So those first couple miles were important.

We hit the first mile about 9:50, which was where I wanted to be.  T looked ok, and I was feeling great.  I knew it was a long race, but hey.  Started off on the right foot.

In mile 2, we actually sped up, so I told T we needed to dial it back a bit.  We avoided the first water stop.

In mile 3, T had to take her first walking break.  I didn't mind, because we had made some great time.  I did make it clear that we wouldn't be able to sustain those all race.  

When we hit the 5K point, we were at 30:44, so still under a 10 per mile.  My optimism was still high.

Getting to the 10K
The hill of doom up 17th was a formidable foe last year, and while we killed it, it may have killed our race.  This year, we decided to walk up it.  I didn't mind, and knew if we could tear ass along 17th and make it to City Park, we had a good shot at our PR.  However, along 17th, T started to walk a bit more than she should have been.  At one point, I got a bit testy and she got upset.  I decided to not voice my frustrations anymore, but knew that if I didn't do a bit of pushing, our time would vanish.  Our margin of error was very thin.

When we turned into City Park, I was still feeling great.  I knew I could push it, make up a bit of time, and would be ok.  I didn't know about T though.  By this point, she had expressed some back pain, and I knew she was not doing well.  Earlier, we had agreed that if either felt better, we would let them go.  I started to think it was going to be me this year. 

T ran ahead of me, and I let her go.  I figured it would be a double-edged sword; I would give her a chance to cool off from our previous race argument and she'd feel confident knowing she could push it without me by her side.

2nd half of the race

By the 10K point, she was walking again, and we were at 1:04:00.  Our chance of 2:10 had slipped away and our 13.1 PR was in jeopardy.  However, I was determined to give it my all, so around mile 7, she told me to go.  I was still feeling good, although a bit taxed by now.  I was determined to go though.

I bounced out of City Park and made the turn.  This is another real grind.  You're essentially doing a mile and a half out and back.  You see people running past you, at fast paces, and it's easy to get demoralized.  I kept pressing on, not walking.  However, I was lonely.  I've run every race this year with T, and we had just spent a week and a half in Europe together.  Suddenly, I was without her, and it didn't feel right.  Knowing that a PR was most likely out of reach at this point, I made a decision.  I would walk/run until she caught up with me.  It was not a hard decision to make or rationalize.

She eventually caught up to me near mile 10, and I then learned how in pain her back really was.  I was amazed she was able to keep going, and it inspired me.  I also was going to be the pusher on this day, which I'm not always able to do.  I told my dad awhile back I'd be a better coach then a player, and I still think that's true.

I told T that she would have to push a bit, and she did the best she could, although we definitely did more walking than running.  I didn't mind.  

Rounding Cheeseman park, we came within a mile of the finish line.  T ran as best she could, and I told her cracking 2:30:00 was a possibility, and regardless, we could beat last years time.  She was skeptical, but I made her push the negative thoughts out of her mind and forced her to run hard to the end.  It was fun and crossing the finish line was wonderful.  I crossed at 2:29:59, just beating the 2:30:00 mark.  I shattered the time from last year by nearly 10 minutes.

Immediately post-race, we both noticed issues.  T's back was in massive pain, and as for me, my left calf was very sore.  I have had some nagging issues with this calf all year.  We collected our stuff and headed for the car, limping along very slowly.

Overall, this race has made us 0/2 in the 1/2 marathon.  Certainly our running training was not as good as it could have been (isn't that always the case?) but furthermore, another life event caused havoc on our running just before this race.  I don't regret it, because let's face it, life comes first for us.  We're happy, married, still fit and healthy.  A bad race does not reflect on that, I think.

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