Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kaiser Permanente Colfax Marathon (half marathon)

After a delicious sushi dinner for Laura's birthday last night, I had a good night's sleep with something I've never had before: a racing nightmare. In this nightmare, I had completely missed the race today! I woke with a start, and with darkness surrounding me, I sighed in relief. I had not missed the race after all. I checked the time, and it was 15 minutes before my alarm was to go off.

I packed my breakfast to eat once I arrived at City Park, since I was going to be there pretty early so that I could get parking. It was a simple breakfast of a biscotti, a small banana, and some water.

4am is really dark!
After eating and spending a good hour in the car, I got out and instantly regretted it. It was wet and cold. 36 degrees! In mid-May! But that's Colorado for you. I went to use the bathroom and huddled with other runners in the bag check tent until the race started.

Mile 1: 11:12
Mile 2&3: 22:14 (I missed the mile 2 marker)
Mile 4: 11:20
Mile 5: 10:45
Mile 6: 10:44
Mile 7: 11:05
Mile 8: 10:50
Mile 9: 11:32
Mile 10: 12:12
Mile 11: 11:03
Mile 12: 11:20
Mile 13.1: 12:54

Total Time: 2:27:18
Official Time (includes bathroom break): 2:33:20

When the race started, I realized that I had to use the bathroom again. Having felt like that in previous races, I shrugged it off; surely the feeling would go away in no time. After taking some gatorade at mile 4, I had to duck into the Burger King because I just could not hold it in anymore. I stopped my watch, which is where the discrepancy between my time and the official time lies. The reasons I did this are simple: I don't want to count the time I spent not on the course, and it just makes me feel better, which is the important part.

To recap, my goals for the race:
  • Finish in under 2:30:00. Done! Between my cold and congestion, I'm very happy that I managed this.
  • Run the first mile in 10:00+ Done! And because of it, I ran the best race I've run in nearly two years. I even pulled off a few negative splits!
  • Walk through every water station. I only did this at miles 4, 8, 10, and 12, but that's also because I didn't take water or gatorade at miles 2 and 6. I didn't need to, and it felt great just being able to run on past. Goal not met, but I didn't need to!
  • Eat a couple of gels at miles 5 and 10. My stomach was growling at the start of the race, so I had a gel, and I ate while waiting in line for the bathroom at mile 4.5, again at the halfway point, at the 10 mile mark, and when my stomach growled again at the 12 mile mark. Goal not met, but for the better!
  • Finish strong and with a smile on my face. Done! I felt great as I crossed the finish line and very happy with both my time and myself.
The race itself was really fantastic! The elevation map provided indicated an uphill during the first half and a downhill during the second, but from my perspective the course felt pretty flat. I also really enjoyed running with a whole bunch of people and starting in a corral full of people wanting to finish around the same time as me. It made pacing myself a lot easier.

Running down Colfax introduced me to a part of Denver I'm not used to seeing. You would think, having gone to school in Boulder, I would have ever seen a medical marijuana place--nope! Not until today, anyway. I was also surprised to see not one, but two Ethiopian restaurants along the way. Nice! I love Ethiopian food.

Halfway through, the course turned away from Colfax and into some neighborhoods. At one point, we ran through the fire bay at one of the fire stations! The neighborhood beyond that was really green and filled with trees, which was really nice to run through.

Coming back into the park was definitely fun, too! Marathoners and half marathoners who finished walked alongside the course to cheer on the rest of us, and as we drew closer and closer to the finish line there was a gauntlet of people yelling and screaming. It was a little hard to push through the rest of the race once I got into the park, though, but I switched my iPod to play some drum corps music, which was all the motivation I needed to keep running. What it resulted in was the best finish at a race I've had in a while, even if it wasn't a PR.

Some of the important lessons I learned from this race:
  • There is nothing wrong with taking a bathroom break mid-race! You'll feel a lot better and run a lot better if you do.
  • Racing is more fun when you're not worried about your time.
  • Pacing is your BFF! Starting slower means you'll have a better and more consistent race.
  • You don't have to take water or gatorade at every rest stop. Only if you need to!
  • It really is a lot better to have your own gels with you than to wait until Mile 8 to get some.
  • Bigger races are better for me because you have people faster than you, slower than you, and who run at the same pace as you, and you're constantly surrounded by people and don't have to be self-conscious about being dead last.
At the finish line, one of my good friends from college, Jordan, who had come to see me finish, met up with me. It's always awesome to get support like that! I even ran into Laura's father, another big time runner, who had also just finished the half. It was great seeing the both of them!

I beelined for the water and ate a half of a banana. As Jordan and I patrolled the expo, we stumbled upon the coffee line. Since I had significantly cooled down, it was time to warm up again. They were even giving away some organic cherry tomatoes, which I happily devoured.

Upon returning to my parents' house, I immediately fried up an egg, toasted a slice of Jewish rye bread, and poured myself a glass of Silk chocolate. Fantastic post-race meal!

Now that I've warmed back up and stretched, it's time to make the journey back home. Sunny probably misses me, after all! (And he'll show it by having torn up half my living room. Oh, kitty...)

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