Monday, May 21, 2012

Colfax Half Marathon - Race Report

Back in October (at the RnR Marathon Expo) I got a coupon code for a $50 entry for this race.  This race is 3 weeks prior to Boise and I figured, hey, its relatively cheap and it would be a good test for Boise.  What I did not realize, however, is that the race start is 6 AM.  I realized this a week prior to the race and then spent the entire time leading up to the race whining.

Saturday night, at 8:30 I started setting up my race nutrition.  I was going to test out the First Endurance "Hand Grenade" (I did not come up with this term) which is comprised of 400 cals of FE Liquid Shot and a half scoop of the Pre-Race.  The idea was that I wanted to use this during Boise but I wasn't sure my stomach could tolerate a hit of caffeine every mile for 13 miles.  Colfax was going to be a test of pacing and nutrition.  The only slight hitch in this plan is that the Pre-Race powder tastes nasty.  I didn't want to mix up a full 400 calories and then pitch it because of the Pre-Race taste, so I mixed up a half batch and took a swig for a taste test.

That meant I just got a boost of calories AND caffeine right before I needed to go to bed.  FAIL.  I got my bag packed and everything put together and headed upstairs at 9 PM to sleep lay in bed with my heart pounding.  Sleep was very fragmented and weird.  I wasn't nervous about this race at all, but I guess my 4 AM alarm and 4:30 AM departure time was in the forefront of my mind.  I kept waking up and checking on the time.  I also had a very funny/vivid dream about the run course in Boise.  In reality, the run is flat flat flat.  In my dream, it was a steep hill and it was marked by a long orange rope that was lying on the ground.  Apparently some women thought the hill was really steep, as they picked up the rope and used it to help them climb up the hill.  Funny!

The alarm finally went off.  I wrestled my calf-sleeves on, which is always hard when you're barely awake.  I normally don't wear them to run, but with my crazy leg bruising, I though I needed some compression.  I wandered downstairs to grab my nutrition from the fridge and put it in my bag.  I grabbed my phone off the charger and went to the office to check on some IMTX results from the previous night.
somehow my foot got EVEN more purple!
I heard a car pull up and realized my ride (Jose - we bribed him with beer) had arrived.  I grabbed a handfull of home-made dried ginger pineapple snacks and headed outside, only to realize my phone was missing.  Crap.  I went back inside and looked everywhere (even the fridge) and still, no phone.  Somehow between the charger and the office the gremlins ran off with it.  I couldn't waste any more time looking for it, so I left without it.

We went and picked up Kelly and drove to the race.  On the way there, I drank my (really awful tasting) mixture of 100 cals FE Liquid Shot + 1/2 scoop of Pre Race.  One of the facebook groups I'm on had some helpful hints about parking, which were spot-on perfect.  We parked 1 block south of City Park and was super close to the race start/finish.  By the time we got the race, the caffeine was on board and a pit-stop was needed.  I found one by the finish line that only had 3 people in line - way better than the mass of people near the start.  We then made our way to the start line.  I was wearing my Team SunRype kit and my bright orange Newtons, which made me hard to miss.  I found one of my SunRype teammates (Alex) who was doing the full marathon as a training run (he's doing the Leadville 100 this summer - amazing!).  I also ran into a high school friend (J'net) who was doing the relay.  And there were a bunch of my Altitude Multisport friends to hang out with.  Its so nice to have friends at races!
yep, there's no missing us in these kits!
Much time was spent debating my clothing choices.  It was ~45 degrees out.  Do I keep my long-sleeve shirt on?  Do I remove the shirt and put on my arm warmers?  Group consensus was that I'd be hot and I should just wear my tank top.  Alrighty!  I took the long sleeve shirt off and ran over to bag-check.  By the time I came back, they were lining people up into corrals and I lost my AMC people. :(  In fact, I couldn't even figure out how to get into the corral (it was barricaded) but there were a ton of other people with our corral letter standing just left of the fence.  So I stood there, hoping I'd hear some of my friends in the crowd and find them.

The gun went off and we left and I was running by myself.  Lame.  Really it was ok, but still lame.  I've run the past 2 half marathons with my friend Stephanie and we have a great time, chatting away the miles until one of us randomly gets some energy and cruises onward leaving the other in their dust.

You start the run by going through City Park, which is pretty fun with the zoo noises.  I did notice that we were running slightly downhill and made a mental note that what is downhill at the start will be uphill at the finish.  Once we left City Park we hung a left onto Colfax heading east.  At 6 AM into the sun and slightly uphill.  I realized that (for good reason) I'd never been east on Colfax.  I also realized that running on Colfax was not nearly as cool or unique as the race propaganda made it out to be.  It was all concrete and storefronts, and well, just UGLY.  The first several miles were just blah.  I don't know if I was (intentionally) running on tired legs, if I was still asleep, or if it was the lack of scenery, but it took me a good 4 miles before I remembered to run.  (it seems my 30 minute rule can also extend to a 45 minute rule when I'm really tired).

Aid stations were every 2 miles.  At each mile beep on my Garmin, I'd take a swig of my hand grenade mixture.  At each aid station, I'd walk through, grab a cup of water, have a few sips and start running again.  That was the strategy and it worked pretty well.

Somewhere before the 2nd aid station I found my friend Kelly and we ran together for a bit.  This was actually good because a) I was really bored and needed a distraction and b) she needed a boost as this was the uphill section and I helped to push her up the hill.  Kelly was doing the run/walk thing and I was running, so we parted ways at a walk interval.  And from there, I just kept chugging along.

Also somewhere around there, both feet started hurting.  I jammed my left ankle the week prior and it was now whispering to me.  And my awesome faux-sprained ankle was starting to act like it was really sprained.  Awesome!  I just told mysef that I was an Ironman and I needed to suck it up.  And I did.  And the pain went away.  Magic!

There was one cool part to the long, dreary Colfax slog..... as you crossed from Denver to Aurora where they had 2 fire trucks, with ladders extended over the road and a HUGE Americal Flag hanging from it.  At ~6 miles, we made a turn north and headed into a neighborhood and did a weird zig-zag around, including a pass THROUGH a fire station.  By that point, my legs were saying GO and we went.  I kept seeing 9:XX/mile on my watch, which is pretty fast for me on a long run.  After running though the fire station, where a bunch of handsome fire fighters were in a line, giving you high fives, it was hard not to be pumped up and I saw 8:30/mile on my watch.  Whoa, better slow the heck down!

Somewhere after the fire station I found Steph.  Or rather, she found me.  I just heard "HEY, FRUIT SNACK!!" and there she was.  Like I said, I'm hard to miss.  We ran for a bit, discussing how our day was going.  Then she told me "don't be offended, but I'm taking this day seriously, so I'm not going to talk anymore" and then she put in her earbud and took off!  Funny!  She zoomed off but I eventually caught up to her and then I zoomed off.  All in friendly compettition.

By mile 10, I realized I could PR.  Easily PR.  And I was on a part of the course that I'd ran 3 weeks before during the Cherry Creek Sneak.  I knew it was all dowhill and all I had to do was cruise to a PR.  I don't even think my HR went into Zone 3 until the very last mile.  For once, it was a race with a well-planned downhill.

A "fun" part of being at this point in the race is passing people.  I like to negative split my runs, meaning the 2nd half is faster than the 1st half.  Usually I'll have all sorts of people pass me early on.  And then I pretend they have targets on their back and I slowly reel them in one by one as the race progresses.  Its entertaining and it gives me something to focus on.  I'm not fast, but I do a pretty darn good job pacing.

Finally we reached the park and I knew we had about a mile to go.  And I was within minutes of beating my PR.  I kicked up the speed a notch and just kept moving.  My ankles were talking to me again (damn it) but I just kept going.  I remembered the uphill to the finish and was mentally prepared for that.  Then I saw a blue arch and kicked it in..... only to realize it was a dirty trick and the arch was for the START, not the finish and I still had a bit more to go.  By that point, I didn't have any kick left and I just maintained my pace, finishing strong. 

Time: 2:18:52 - a PR by 1:50 :)

The cool part is that I really wasn't even pushing.  Overall, it was a perfect morning (cool, not windy) and the course was relatively flat.  Most of my friends PR'd.  Also: I was not beaten by the fastest marathon runner.  I think this is the first time I've beat the marathoner.  lol

This is where not having my cell phone was a very bad thing.  There were 10,000 people at this race.  And I didn't drive.  So I had to find my people without a cell phone. Awesome!  I found one guy, who said he was going to hang out at the meet-up area and wait for the others.  My gut was acting up by that point (caffeine?) and I ran to the port-o-can and then stood in line for at least 30 minutes in the bag-check line.  The bag-check line was really a crazy mess.  I guess they didn't set the bags in any sort of distinct order and it was taking a long time to find YOUR specific black bag amongst all of the OTHER black bags in the tent.  (note to self: no more black bags for bag check).  I had spotted my ride in bag check (yay!) and he disappeared on me while he went to change out of his race clothes.  I waited and waited and finally decided to look for him and the others in the beer tent.  That turned out to be a good move, as my group (including my ride) was there.
Michelob Ultra... really?  Because its that difficult to get good beer in a Denver race?

I handed out my SunRype snacks to the group and to random race participants.  I'm sure I came off slightly crazy, with my wrinkled Walgreens plastic bag full of snacks and my random sales pitch.
these people actually turnd down free snacks!  the horror!
I swear, this was not posed.  I'm just happy to give away fruit snacks!
We dinked around the beer garden for a while and then finally decided to head home.  I think it was maybe 10 AM.  I was home by 11:30 (maybe even earlier).  Then we had a 1 PM post-race celebration at Lone Tree Brewing Company with the AMC group.  I was starving and I think I ate half a pizza.  And two beers. And then I was worthless for the rest of the day.
If anyone knows what this is supposed to be, please let me know.  We couldn't figure it out.
Overall, I felt pretty solid about my nutrition.  I had good energy going in and felt good through the race.  My stomach started getting a bit twitchy towards the end of the race, as my effort increased.  I just took smaller sips and that seemed to fix the problem.  When I finished, I still had a bit under HALF of my drink mix.  I had good energy so I think/hope I got enough calories in.  Maybe my work on metabolic efficiency is kicking in and I don't need as many calories?  Also, I was smart this time and packed my recovery drink in my bag.

Moving Forward
My feet hurt, which sucks.  I'm hoping that a regimen of 2 aleve every 12 hours for a few days will fix things, along with RICE.  This is fixable.

Fitness-wise, I feel rock star awesome.  I PR'd but took it relatively easy.  How awesome is that?!?  This race definitely gave me a confidence boost for Boise.  I feel ready.

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