Rock and Roll Denver Half 2014 Race Report

14_RnR_DEN_Logo_FullColorWOW!!!

It feels like a long, long time I’ve been able to write one of these things. A real race report, pouring from a heart full of accomplishment and pride, and legs full of little tiny muscle tears and soreness.

Yesterday I ran the Denver Rock and Roll Half Marathon. When I initially signed up in the Spring, I thought it would be a good fast training run, as the course was nice and flat (this is where I first got my qualification for New York!) Then they changed the course and the elevation chart became a lot more challenging. As it is, I really haven’t done any speedwork this training cycle, so I was content not worrying too much about the course profile, and just making this part of a longer run. My plan was to run from my house to the start, do the race and then run home to get in about 16 miles.

I went to the race expo with KJ on Saturday, which was fun. She’s been doing a lot of my training runs with me and she threw out the idea of our doing the Rock and Roll Arizona marathon in January. I said I could be persuaded, and then of course when we went to the expo for this race, we got even more excited!

I had been a little sick the week before the race and the doc gave me prednisone on Thursday, which (I think) made me super thirsty, so I was pounding water and emergen-c for the few days leading up to the race.

I had coffee, toast with coconut-peanut butter spread and hemp seeds for breakfast. I hadnt considered that I’d be eating and running right away, but it didnt seem to bother me. I left the house at around 6:50 for the 7:15 start at the park. Timing was perfect!

The forecast was for it to be 46 at the start, so I wore a t-shirt over a long-sleeve, my under-armour shorts, injinji socks and Hokas. I wore my flipbelt and brought along a gu, chapstick and my iphone and headphones – I decided to make this a fun one! By the time I got to Civic Center Park I figured the long-sleeved shirt would be too much so I stashed it by the finish line. I headed to the first corral – grabbing a small bottle of water on the way – and soon it was time to go!

My goal was to run 8:35s (my target for NYCM) and just see how it felt. But I was in the first corral so when the gun went off, we were moving! I kept up and shook my head at my pace when I hit the first mile marker, but didnt force myself to put the brakes on. It felt ok and I was in a race! I love these things! So I decided to just go by feel and see what happened.

In the second mile I saw Beth up ahead, so I picked up my pace to catch her. She was doing a training run for an upcoming half-ironman. She said her plan was to run 7:40s. I told her that was too fast for me, I just wanted to say hi and then I was going to drop back.

The run was fun – the course was close to my work so very familiar. It wasn’t an easy course by an means, some decent hills that had me breathing hard within the first few miles.

courseelevation

M1: 7:27
M2: 7:30
M3: 7:51

I passed by the 5K mark in 23:34, obviously well under an 8 minute mile,a nd well under my 8:35 pace. But what the heck. I also knew the beginning of the course was the toughest, so I figured if I pushed hard here I would at least survive the rest.

M4: 7:54
M5: 7:46

These miles felt ok – by this point I’d adjusted my goal to sub-8. I was grinning like someone who’s meant to run. That’s how I felt- it was an exciting sense of familiarity. I know how to do this! I smiled at folks, eagerly scanning the sidelines for new signs. A new one: “WTF – Where’s The Finish” and old classics like “Worst Parade Ever”.

M6: 7:34
M7: 8:15

Before I knew it, we were at the halfway point! Half-marathons are such a nice manageable distance.

Oh! The one thing I did during this race was walk water-stops. I had had that thirst leading up to the event and I didn’t want to mess with things so I stopped at every water stop and drank the entire glass they gave me (usually barely more than a few sips). At mile 7 I also took a half a gu.

M8: 7:21
M9: 7:05

This was a screaming downhill that felt amazing at the time. Then we turned onto something less extreme and my legs were mad at me. And I remembered the importance of coming up with a goal pace and not being to aggressive if you’re not prepared for it.

M10: 7:47
M11: 7:38

The last few miles felt a little slow. All of a sudden I wasn’t quite flying like I had been before. But it was great to know I only had a few miles to go. I would feel like I was just dragging, and then I’d look at my watch and see a 7:16 split second pace and realize I was still doing fine. It was just not as easy as it could have been. But my focus on good form helped, and I felt I was able to run strong even if I didn’t feel as amazing as I had previously. Still, the awareness that I was pulling in these miles at a minute per mile faster than my NYCM goal gave me a TON of confidence!

I started watching my watch – my first ever half marathon I ran 1:42:38 and I thought it would be great to beat that in my first post-surgery half. It definitely seemed like an easy goal at this point, but it gave me something new to try to wrap my head around.

M12: 8:03

Ok, ready to be done. Downtown Denver was shaded and a bit windy and chillier than anywhere else. The marathoners and half-marathoners split directions and I heard a voice calling me. Celeste sprinted over to the side I was at and cheered me on – I’m amazed she saw me!

M13: 7:50

Not my strongest final mile ever, but I did what I had to d.

.1: 6:09 pace. What’s that? A finish line on a downhill? Yes thanks I will.

It was great to come down the finisher’s chute and hear Lonnie Sommers announce me. It’s really rewarding to know the announcer!

Finish: 1:40:35.
20/949 AG
100/5266 O/A W
422/8128 O/A

I was thrilled with my time! After finishing I saw Lydia and Eddie in quick succession. I chatted with them briefly and then excused myself to do my job home. It was a bit tough to get started again but then it was nice to shake out the legs.

By the time I got home, I’d run 16.18 miles total at an average 7:53 pace. Wow! How’s that to slide into my NYCM taper??

When I got home I quickly magnesium-oil sprayed, made myself a protein shake and had an epson salt bath before crawling into some compression socks. I really think the Injinj socks were a good idea, and I think they’re going to become my race socks- no blisters!

Later I met Loren for drinks (she ran the marathon), and overall I felt ok, but hungry. According to MyFitnessPal, I burned 1100 calories during the race, so I guess that makes sense! I want to be sure I’m staying strong and able to recover quickly to be ready for the REAL race!

Later I was talking to my mom about the prednisone – I wonder if I felt good running in part because of it (it’s an anti-inflammatory steroid). Is taking something like that drug-doping? I’m not sure. I kinda think it is cheating, although some people have said that it’s not as though I’m racing to win. I’m not sure yet how I feel about it.

So fast forward to today, and my legs are SORE! That good quad soreness of someone who ran a hard race. It’s such a great feeling – I feel like ME. And I cant wait to see how the upcoming marathon goes. I feel confident, but now I’m left wondering if 8:35 is too conservative a goal for MYCM. According to the McMillan Calc, this race time should mean I could run a 3:32 in the marathon distance. I’m not sure about that, but should I be trying for at least a BQ (3:40) and see what happens? Especially given the altitude benefit? I’m not sure yet – I guess I have 13 days to decide…