On Sunday, I ran the Rock ‘n Roll Denver Marathon. It’s one of my favorite races, and it’s where I set my PR in 2011, so I had high hopes for this race. Like most races, I went in with “A, B, and C” goals.
My “A” goal for any race is the goal that’s possible if all the stars align — the weather is ideal, I don’t have to stop to pee, and my body works just right. The “B” goal is a step down from that, and my “C” goal has nothing to do with times at all — something to fall back on if all the stars fall completely out of alignment. For this race, my “A” goal was 3:10, my “B” goal was to PR (anything under 3:13:17), and my “C” goal was, simply, to run the best race I could on that day. I missed my “A” goal, but met both B and C. Here’s how it went down:
Saturday afternoon, we headed to Denver and hit up the expo, where we got a bunch of sweet freebies (my favorite part of any expo).
We didn’t spend too much time at the expo, as I didn’t want to spend much time on my feet. After we left, we hit up Barnes and Noble and H&M (which were right by our hotel). This weekend, Denver was also holding its annual “Zombie Crawl,” so we got zombied out pretty fast and took refuge in the hotel. (I’m not sure what the purpose of the Zombie Crawl is, aside from giving thousands of people a chance to dress up and act weird).
Later, we had dinner with my BFF Hallie and her husband, then came back to relax and hit the hay early. And not sleep, of course.
My alarm went off at 4:30 on Sunday morning. I rolled out of bed, ate my bagel and PB and drank a bunch of water, and went back to bed for another hour. When the alarm went off again, I got up, got dressed, and annoyed Jordan with my nervous energy while he showered and got ready. We left the hotel at 6:15 and walked the couple of blocks from the Sheraton over to Civic Center park, where the start is. We found a secret cove of porta-potties with NO LINE and soon enough got in my corral.
This was the first year (of the five I’ve run this race) that I wasn’t pushing and shoving in a panic to get in the corral right at the start. So of course, this year, the start was delayed by 10 minutes. Ha. But eventually, the National Anthem played, the gun fired, and we were off!
I’m always amazed by bloggers who can do a mile-by-mile recap of a race. My brain does not store miles like that. I do know that, as always, I hit the first few miles too fast before I settled into my groove. And I had to pee at the first set of porta-johns. I blame the delayed start. And also my tiny bladder.
The first half was uneventful; once I settled in, I was pretty close to right on pace. I hit the first half in 1:34 and change — perfect. Shortly after the half-marathon split is a beautiful downhill into Wash Park; I cruised it a little too quickly, but I was glad I did because at mile 16ish, my silly bladder decided that we needed to stop again. Not cool, bladder. And then at 18ish, I stopped to fix my shoe, which had been pinching for several miles and had gotten beyond bearable.
At that point, I was just a smidge behind my 3:10 goal, but I wasn’t too worried; I figured I could easily make it up over the next hour.
I saw Jordan’s cousin and her husband at mile 19. I was really happy to see them, as evidenced by my smile here. And I didn’t even know she took pictures, which shows how with it I am at mile 19.
Anyway, things were going fine until mile 21 or so, at which point the wind picked up. The last few miles are back in downtown Denver, and the buildings created a bit of a windtunnel. It was a headwind for a long time, and my already-beat legs just didn’t have the pep left in them to hold a 7:15 pace against the wind for the last 5 miles. I slowed significantly.
My least favorite part of this course is at mile 25.5-ish. There’s a short but steep hill there, and it. is. brutal. If it hadn’t been for one spectator in particular, I might not have made it up. (Dear lady in the pink sweater: If you read this, you are my hero. Thanks for the cheers.)
The reward for that brutal little uphill is a steep downhill to the finish. The highlight of my race was hearing the announcer say my name and that I was the #10 woman to cross the finish line. (Now the website says #9, so I’m not sure what happened there.)
I crossed in 3:13:01 — not the 3:10 I was hoping for, but definitely the best race I had in me that day — especially with that wind at the end. It wasn’t a perfect race (is there such a thing?) but it was a great one.
And I got my favorite post-race rewards: A burger, beer, and sweet potato fries at the Yard House (another perk of staying at the Sheraton downtown. Also, don’t you love J’s shirt?!)
The next few days are all about recovery, and then…well, I don’t know yet.
Do you make multiple goals for a race?
What’s your favorite race story?