Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Colfax Half Marathon Race Report

aka - when did I figure out how to run so fast?
aaka - PR baby!

So - quick report:  I stuck to the plan (mostly), ran hard, didn't die, and crushed my old 13.1 PR for a time of 2:08:23.  Holy awesome.

Long report:

As part of my Ambassador duties, I had to work the Expo on Saturday from 8:30-2:30.  That was a lot of time on my feet and my legs were TIRED that night.  We had what is becoming a pre-race dinner tradition of sushi and froyo (they're in the same building, you can't have one without the other) and went to bed at 9:30.

Alarm went off at 4:20 and my neighbor was picking me up at 5 AM.  I got dressed - Ambassador short sleeve shirt and my new Coeur tri shorts, plus some layers because it was 5 AM and cold out.  I made some coffee to drink on the ride over and grabbed my stuff and headed out.  My breakfast was a bit different this time.  I made the coconut blueberry chocolate rice cakes from the FeedZone, only I used raspberries and just mixed everything together and put it in a bowl.  Much easier to eat that way.  No idea how many calories I had, probably 300-400.  We got there at 5:45, found easy parking and did the usual pre-race routine.

With 10 min before the start (which was at 6:45) I wandered over to the start line with my tri club and wedged myself in between gaps in the corral fence to get into the proper start line.  Where I stood for a good long while looking for anyone I knew.  I didn't find anyone, which was weird.  In fact, I didn't see a single familiar face for the entire 13.1 miles, which was also a bit weird.

Race Plan

  • Mile 1 & 2: do NOT get excited and run fast.  This will be hard because we're running through the zoo and it will be fun and exciting.  must.not.get.excited.  !!!
  • Miles 3~7: keep heart rate around 160, creeping up to 165 towards the half way point of the race.  This is the uphill portion of the course, which according to the interwebs is a whopping 150 feet of climbing.  Still, I need to keep things controlled and in check.
  • Mile 7-10: heart rate around 165, push where I can but don't burn too many matches.
  • Mile 10, 11, 12: evaluate how I feel and see if I can pick up the pace.  This is downhill and hopefully I can fly
  • Mike 13: run hard.  do not die.  simple!
  • Nutrition is going to be pretty simple.  I'm going to eat ~400 calories of some FeedZone rice cakes on the way to the race. I'm leaving at 5 AM and the race is at 6:45 AM, so that gives me plenty of time.  Then I'll have some SunRype with me and try to get in ~200 calories/hour.  I'll have 1 scoop of Osmo in my handheld and probably just refill with plain water when that runs out.
For once, I actually had a decent time of sticking with my ~155 bpm goal for the first two miles.  It helped that those were sort of "padding miles" where we were running around City Park and nearby roads.  Nothing special there.  Ok, in looking back at my garmin file, my HR was closer to 160 but the pace felt easy.

The weird/not-so-fun part was running with my new Coeur tri shorts.  You know the "never anything new on race day" thing?  Well these shorts were BRAND new.  I had 3 SunRype bars (120 cals) for my race nutrition shoved in the very generous pocket in the back of the shorts.  And almost immediately, the shorts began to fall down.  They fit great and I didn't want a smaller size in the store (to minimize waistband-belly rolls), but maybe I do need a smaller size.  Or a drawstring.  Or something.  It was so bad that I ended up cramming a bar down my sports bra, and cramming a bar up each leg.  Fortunately the shorts have leg grips and the bars stayed put there.  I think I spent the first 1.5 miles fidgeting with my shorts, trying to make them stay put.  They finally settled into a happy spot and I didn't mess with them for the rest of the race.  But I need to tweak these (or get a smaller size) to make them functional for 70.3s or longer.

At ~mile 2 we got to the zoo, which was pretty cool.  I really haven't been there since I was a kid and it was nice.  They had people out with semi-educational signs, telling you which animals were coming up next.  The only one I remember was "the color of a flamingo depends upon what they've eaten" (paraphrased).  I saw monkeys, turkey vultures, a hippo, elephants and flamingos.  It was pretty cool, maybe the highlight of the course.

Once we got out of the zoo and onto Montview Blvd, I knew the work was going to start.  They changed the course from when I did it in 2012, mainly by reversing things.  We went out on Montview and back on Colfax (sorta).  I actually liked this, as Colfax really isn't that scenic.  I knew there was a big, long (not very steep) uphill for several miles.  I just went by HR and tried to keep my form strong and my feet light.  I was checking my watch at every mile and doing the math.  For a 2:10, I'd need a 9:55/mile pace, so at mile 4 I'd need to be around 39:40, mile 5 at 49:35, etc.  Pretty easy race math.  I kept checking my HR and pace on my watch and was amazed to see I was already at my goal pace, going uphill, with a pretty comfortable HR between 160 and 165.  Interesting.  I knew that things were either going to go very well or go very badly with these numbers.  My hope was to just hold on and shoot for very well.

The nice thing about running along a straight road for miles and miles is you can see when the hill ends.  Thank goodness.  My left foot was not doing me any favors by going completely numb.  It did this during my tempo run earlier in the week and I was *hoping* it wouldn't happen during the race.  But it did.  I walked through the aid station and the numbness went away a bit, but not completely.  I just said screw it and hoped that my leg/foot would release when I got to the top of the hill and started running of flats.  Fortunately, this was the case here and my foot was just fine for the rest of the race.  *phew*

We got to what I thought was the top of the hill around mile 6 and in my head, we should have been turning and headed back down Colfax - DOWNHILL.  This was not the case.  We kinda meandered around for another ~2 miles (seemingly uphill) until we got to the fire station (which was absent of shirtless firemen, big bummer) and THEN we got our downhill.  Sorta.  It turns out that we were on rollers and the big downhill I was hoping for just wasn't there.  

Based on my plan for the race, I was beginning to push faster around mile 6, but in reality, I was just aiming for consistent HR and pacing as we went up and down these rollers.  Faster on the downhill, steady on the uphill.  I had a few key words I would say (aloud or in my head) to my self: "fly" for the downs, "keep the wheels on" for all other times.  Based on my garmin file, my HR was at 170 bpm from mile 8 to the finish. I'm not sure I've ever run for 5 miles with that high of a HR. Normally I want to die at that HR (or slow down) but I knew I was doing great and my effort actually felt really good.  I'd look at my watch and see 9:4x or faster and was just amazed.  So I turned off the part of my brain that normally looks at numbers and freaks out and slows down and just kept my effort steady.  Foot on the gas, as it were.

I think around mile 5 I ate some of my fruit snack bar. Maybe at mile 6, I'm not sure.  But it was about an hour in.  Maybe around mile 8 I got a bit fuzzy, probably from lack of calories, so I tried to eat a nibble of the bar every mile.  Thus the "keep the wheels on".  I was just inside the line of falling apart, from effort and maybe a bit of nutrition.  (I still haven't found a way to really eat much when you're going hard).  

So "wheels on" just became my thing until we made it to the sweet, sweet downhill at mile 11.  That's when I really started passing people.  Fun!  I really don't remember a whole lot about those last few miles, other than "fly" and "wheels" and trying to catch a woman with a Denver RnR 2011 race shirt.  City Park showed up and I knew we had ~1 mile left and I needed to keep pushing as much as I could.  I don't think my pace really increased all that much (TrainingPeaks does have my fastest 5 minutes as the race finish).  I was just trying to go hard and not die.  There's a little uphill at the finish that sucks and they're not very nice and place the finish a good ways behind the start line, so you see a blue arch, think its the finish, and realize its the start arch.  I knew about this and it still got me a bit.  Lame.  But I just ran and ran and ran. And then the finish showed up, I ran though it (I think the RnR shirt woman came across the same time as me), and I got a medal from a friendly fireman.

And then I was a bit asthma-y, with no inhaler, and wandered over to medical, where they had zero inhalers (WTF?)  I thought about finding my friend who was cheering at the finish (she had one) but by that point I just wanted to sit down.  Fortunately the asthma chilled out and I was fine.

Time: 2:08:23 - that's a 9 min PR and WELL under my "scary" goal of 2:10.  Amazing.
Pace: 9:48/mile - that's a 0:42/mile PR pace.  Wow.
Place: 377/1325 AG (F30-39), 1944/5839 OA  
Yes, in a running race, I placed in the top ~1/3 of the finishers.  I can't say that's ever happened before. Sweet!

I spent the post race walking back and forth between my charity tent (Smart-Girl) and my tri club tent, making sure the charity was ok and chatting with my friends.  I brought some shoes to change into and I'm so glad I did.  My Gone for a Run PR Soles (review) are pretty ugly but oh-so-comfy.  I wandered over and cheered on my club's relay team (my husband did leg 3 - his longest race distance ever with 6 miles).  And then we got crappy beers (again, Mich Ultra for a CO race, really?!?) and some nice looking but eh tasting BBW.  And then it was a long walk to my husband's car. 

Altitude Multisport -we had a lot of runners!

Both of us were finishers!

I think this is the first time we've both received medals at the same race!
Walking the next morning wasn't fun, but it was tolerable.  Probably due to all the post-race walking.

What's next
Boise 70.3!  I told Coach Michelle that I wanted to "race-race" this one a few days prior to Colfax.  Now, after setting this HUGE run PR, I'm really excited to see what I'm able to do at Boise.  It should be fun.  And painful.  But a good kind of painful :)  


erin said...

Wooo! That is a smokin' PR! Congrats! Hope you get the shorts figured out… let me know if you have any questions :) I haven't ran in mine yet, but they are game changers on the bike!

Erin said...

I think I may need a smaller size - going to see if I can swap them out at my LBS tomorrow.

I did wear them on a 3.5 hr ride / 15 min brick and I was VERY happy.