I didn't have this race on my list, but my team (Team SunRype) offered 6 free entries. I had a 2 hour run on my schedule and thought this would be a good way to get it done. So thanks, Team SunRype!
I really didn't treat this like a race. There was no taper or even rest prior to the race. Just more training. For some stupid reason, my coach (aka ME) had me scheduled for 5 hours worth of running from Friday afternoon to Sunday. That's nearly a marathon. W. T. F. Its like I never even looked at the schedule as I was writing it to make sure it wasn't incredibly stupid.
What I had was:
Friday - 1 hr recovery run
Saturday - brick (2 hr bike + 1 hr run) and then my favorite hang out for a few hours and THEN run ANOTHER 1 hr
Sunday - 2:15 hr run, with fartlek speed intervals.
What I actually did was:
Friday - 45 min recovery run
Saturday - brick (2 hrs + 45 min run) and then 30 min run in the PM
Sunday - 1:50 run or a 10+ mile race.
I felt like I honored the plan but I wasn't completely stupid about it. Still, this totalled 22.5 miles in 3 days. Wow. My point of all of this is... I really wasn't sure how I would do in this race. My legs had seen a lot of use and I really didn't know what to expect.
My race started at 7:45 AM. I left the house at 6:45 and drove to Cherry Creek. I'm so happy I studied the map the night prior as I got a SWEET parking space. 2 blocks away from the finish line (which was also basically the start line). And there were a TON of spaces. Awesome. At 7:15 (while I was parking) I had my 100 calorie Liquid Shot + 1/2 scoop of Pre-Race. And holy crap, will I ever get used to that horrible taste? I also sipped a partial bottle of EFS which was left over from my brick the day prior.
After parking, I wandered over and easily located my other Team SunRype people. I mean, we have a giant orange/yellow sun on our bellies. We are not hard to locate.
Like I said, I wasn't racing this. This was more like a training run with a few thousand people and a beer tent at the end. I did a 30 minute warm-up followed by 20 x [3 min Zone 3 HR intervals and 1 min recovery]. Sure, Zone 3 and you think, no biggie. But its the last 5 that really hurt. Zone 3 seems easy early on but it can hurt at the end.
My "warm-up" was on a 10:48 pace. Kinda fast for a warm-up. I guess my legs might be ok. Somewhere around mile 2 I heard a "HEY ERIN" from way across the street. I wore my fluorescent orange Newtons. There is no anonymity while wearing those things. And apparently, I'm the only person out there with them... or at least the only one wearing a brightly colored racing kit.
I didn't preview the course, so I had no idea what to expect. I just wanted to give a consistent effort. Not a consistent speed, just effort. Somehow, every stinking uphill was during my Z3 effort. And every downhill was during my recovery. LAME. I was good, though, and I used my intervals to power up those hills. Most of my recovery intervals were an easy jog. I did walk 3 of them, mostly toward the end. My stomach was starting to talk to me, and the walking helped. My last intervals were slower but I could still go. Finally at the finish line, I had about 1/4 mile left and I just decided to go-go-go. I tried to get other people to go with me, but they just looked at me like I was crazy. Like, who wants to push MORE at the end of a 10 mile run? Somehow, I had enough go-juice in me to go FAST. Pretty cool, given everything my legs had done this weekend.
One irritation about the race, somewhere around mile 2.5, you run up a hill and turn around at the end of the cones. I was running down the hill and I heard a volunteer say "10 milers straight, 5k turn at the cone". Wait? What?!?! Damn, I turned and did not go straight. I said some not so nice things to the guy about poor communication of the volunteers (who said NOTHNG my first time through). I turned around and started up the hill. Only when I passed the "turn" I discovered that there were actually TWO different turns. The FIRST was for the 5k'ers. Then you go about 100 meters straight and and the 10 miler's turn at the SECOND cone. Communication is everything, even in races. That probably added ~0.15 to my overall distance. And it gave me something to be irritated over for a few miles.
The hills weren't awful, Cheesman Park had some, but they were quick. The really icky one started at 6.5 and went on for about 3/4 of a mile. It wasn't steep, it was just LONG and was mentally a bit rough. But I kept telling myself "fast feet" on the hills and I did ok. I can proudly say I ran up each and every hill yesterday.
The aid stations were ~1.5 miles apart, which was a good enough spacing. I like to drink every mile, but I had my hand-held bottle with more Liquid Shot + water. The aid stations were just a little gulp or two of extra hydration.
The weather was fantastic. Probably 40's and sunny in the morning. I wore my tri shorts, sleeveless running top + my favorite light weight long-sleeved shirt, and calf sleeves. Seemed to work fine, as I wasn't ever too hot or too cold. And the course was really pretty. Overall, it was a good race and I'd do it again.
Post-race, we pre-arranged to meet at the finish line at 10 AM. This gave me enough time to finish, walk back to my truck and get my samples, and return to the finish. There were 7 of us from the team, and everyone was super cool.
Nutrition seemed to be ok. I loaded up my hand-held with 400 calories of Vanilla Liquid Shot + water. And my LS+Pre-Race combo about 30 min before the gun went off. I had good energy, but I wasn't laughing like a maniac like I was 2 weeks ago at the Platte. Still, good energy given what I did to my legs is a pretty solid result. I think I like this First Endurance stuff.
And finally, what race report would be complete without a photo of a red tortoise? We were leaving the Beer Garden and I saw a TORTOISE and flipped out. My friends, not knowing my affinity for these guys, probably thought I was crazy. The Denver Zoo had him out so he could pimp their 5k run. Not sure how a tortoise is effective marketing for say, a running race, but it caught my attention.
Total distance: 10.29 miles
I'll take it!