Folks, I have not run a non-pregnant half marathon in almost 3 years! (I did one at 31 and 38 weeks with Lily, but I didn’t push the pace with those). As part of my Boston training cycle I signed up for That Dam Run in Greenwood Village and then watched our temperatures dip and the snow fall. Colorado has some crazy weather, but for the most part the snow melts off and the roads clear. I love this! But I did not love the fact that it was supposed to be cold the weekend of the race and 50 degrees next weekend. Not fair!
Worst case scenario we were looking at snow, more snow, ice, and 5 degrees at the start. What we ended up with was sunshine and temps in the teens. I actually felt quite overdressed by the time I was a mile in, but then couldn’t stop shivering once I finished. Since the race was two hours away I brought normal shoes, my shoes with screws in them, and my yaktraks because I didn’t know what I would need! Along with two pairs of gloves, three different hats, and a scarf. What I really ended up wishing I had was a pair of decent sun glasses and sun screen. Winter running is an odd beast.
The course runs out and back over the dam and then down onto the Cherry Creek trail. Then you turn around and go back. Even though the elevation chart was online:
I kept thinking that the hills would be okay. What’s a couple hundred feet? Upbeat self talk is always good, right? The race was about 2000 feet higher in elevation which left me feeling breathless at the start and with a headache by the end. I always get a headache when I go to Denver, whether I run or not, which I think is strange.
The race started on time. A friend and I drove down together (leaving at 5:50 am) to do the half and a friend of mine from college came out to do the 5K. There was a decent turn out, but it wasn’t a huge event, which was nice. I re-re-re-re-discovered that I don’t like running with people in a race. I just want space. Obviously Boston, with its field of 30,000 runners, and I will be good friends.
So we were off at 9 am sharp and my goal that I thought (if the hills weren’t terrible) was attainable was 1:35. Just hold a 7-7:15 pace. Running over the dam offered some really lovely views with the blue sky and the water iced over. I held my pace fine until mile 5. At that point we were hitting the ups and downs of the trails with parts that were iced or snowed over and I felt like I spent most of miles 4.5 through 9 looking at my feet.
I completely lost focus by mile 6 and 7-9 passed by in a blur of feet watching, ice dodging, and gaining momentum only to hit a hill or another ice patch. I was pretty frustrated. At mile 9 I remember looking at my Garmin and seeing 1:05 and thinking that if I could just crank out four 7’s I could still hit my goal. But that’s when I hit the hill from hell that lasted past mile 10. At that point the course was back on the dam with no ice but I had nothing. I kept trying to pull it together and I couldn’t push past a 7:40. Finish time was 1:38.06. My slowest non-pregnant half since the one I ran 6 months after Isaac was born. 4th in my age group, 11th woman, and 38th finisher overall. The first woman (37 years old) won in 1:27.45.
My friend, who now has 3 half marathons under her belt, all run in the past 6 months, beat her last time by 5 minutes! I am starting to wonder, since the last three half marathons I have run in the last three years have involved the person with me running a personal best, if I should stop running and starting billing myself as a magic talisman. Just rub my running shoes for good luck and you will PR while I stand on the sidelines eating donuts.
Not really, but I would love some tangible proof that my running is actually improving and I would like that proof in the form of a race that gives me a better time than I’ve run before (marathon doesn’t count because it had been so long since my first). In the meantime, I will enjoy the trail of green glitter that my medal leaves and try to keep my children from walking off with it. :-)