Thursday, November 7, 2013

Race #7 of the Season: Rock 'n' Roll Denver Half-Marathon

This is obviously a few weeks late and we treated this race more as a training run than anything, so forgive the quality of this.

We signed up for this race back in May for a few reasons:
1.) It was good timing regarding IMAZ.
2.) We wanted redemption on the course.

Okay, so it was mostly reason number two. We knew we could do a lot better than our previous times had been, especially because the two previous years we'd done this race, we hadn't properly prepared, let's not kid ourselves. 2011 was in the midst of post-IM Boulder 70.3 malaise as well as about two weeks post-wedding and 2012 was right after our delayed honeymoon/first anniversary trip. Running? What was that?

This year, however, we were running. We were running a lot. Sure, it wasn't half-marathon specific, but we'd been putting up some decent speeds in training. We were training to go longer, but we still had some hopes. No matter what, we wanted to break our 2010 half-marathon PRs (mine: 2:15:41) and ideally wanted to hit 2:10. We thought it might be a possibility.

Saturday's pre-race workout was a scheduled 50-mile ride with a 10 minute run off the bike. With the chilly morning and needing to hit the expo, we ended up not doing it. We ended up just going for about a two hour walk - Brandon tried out his new compression socks that he was going to wear race day and we both had new shoes to wear. It was low key and wonderful.

Race morning we woke up with plenty of time to eat breakfast and find a meter downtown. Thankfully they moved the race back to Sunday (Sunday first year we did it; Saturday last year) so we could park free on the street. We parked about four or five blocks away from Civic Center Park and then headed on over. We hit up the pre-race porta-potties (me having to do a race first: use the flashlight app on my phone to be able to see inside said porta-potty), took some pictures,



and dump our stuff in the gear check bag and check it in (slightly more efficient than the previous year). Then it was off to the corrals where we ran into several Mile High Track Club people (official running club of our running store, Run Colorado) and hung out with them until the start.

(A quick word about the outfit: it was about 40 degrees for the race. May have gotten to about 50 by the finish, but it was probably still mid-40s. I'm typically more of a "hot" runner than a cool one but sweat obviously cools you down too. So, I went with a Brooks mesh base layer that seriously looks like a hooker shirt I used to go clubbing in way back in the day with a Run CO singlet over it. Skirt Sports on the bottom (my legs don't get that cold) and then my new 2xU compression socks which are AWESOME as well as my brand new cherry red Mizuno Wave Riders (we're in the same shoe). I got a little toasty at times - pushed up the sleeves at one point - but overall, it was a perfect race day choice.)

After waiting around a bit, it was time for our corral (or whatever corral we ended up getting in - they're not that strict ...) to go off.

Beforehand, we decided that I'd try to pace us through as my running has been a bit stronger this year and especially as of late. So, we'd try to stay relatively consistent and take it a bit easier to start and hopefully pick it up.

Yeeeeahhh ... according to the Garmins, the first few miles were well sub-10. Not as much according to the race clocks - distance was way off for us - but we just ignored that and kept running.

The first time we walked was the hill up 17th a little after the three mile point. We continued steady up 17th and into City Park. We walked a bit here and there, but nothing substantial. Post-City Park is where the race starts sucking ... and they changed the course slightly this year - instead of crossing Colfax at ... Josephine? and then continuing down 13th for a while before Cheesman, they routed us BACK down 17th until ... Park? and then cut over Colfax to 13th and backtracked a bit into the park.

In the park - so about mile 11ish - quite a few of the MHTCers who weren't racing were there to cheer us all on (a few more were in Wash Park for the marathoners). Hearing them cheering for us and screaming our names as we passed was the best pick-me-up ever, especially at that point in the race.

I should mention that my knee started giving me shit about ... mile 8, I think? ... but I refused to really think about it, and it didn't give me any issues ... until the days after.

After we left the park, we had a little over a mile to go - all downhill - and hoped to just run it in. We had run the race together up to this point, but as much as I tried to slow it down, I couldn't stay with Brandon. I slowed to a walk at one point for him to catch up, but then I started pulling away again. He just said to go, so I did ... and picked it up RIDICULOUSLY. My Garmin has me running sub-8 for the final bit of the race and sub-7 crossing the finish line. I flew down the hill.

Final Stats:
Time: 2:11:59
Pace: 10:05/mi
Overall Rank: 3808/8316
Gender Rank: 2028/5722
Division Rank: 419/1157 (F30-34)



The supremely frustrating thing was that my Garmin said I ran 13.33 mi in 2:12 and hit the 13.1 mile mark in 2:09:44 (so 9:54/mi pace). Either way it's a massive PR, but ARGH. Annoying.

For the curious, here are the Garmin splits:
Mile 1: 9:44.8

Mile 2: 9:25.4
Mile 3: 9:25.4 (holy consistency Batman)
Mile 4: 9:38.5
Mile 5: 9:59.6
Mile 6: 10:05.9
Mile 7: 9:48.2
Mile 8: 10:25.8 (stupid knee)
Mile 9: 9:39.7
Mile 10: 10:39.9
Mile 11: 10:42.3
Mile 12: 10:42.8 (Cheesman, you suck)
Mile 13: 9:15.6
(Split) 14: 2:26.6 (7:22 pace)

While I'm supremely annoyed that I can't call this a sub-2:10, I *can* still call this a huge PR.

And, after all, it was just a training run when it came down to it. Can't complain too badly about that, can I?

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