Sunday, October 9, 2011

2011 Denver Rock n Roll Half Marathon

1:30:31 New PR!

The Course:
This race starts and finishes only a few miles away from where I live but home field advantage hasn’t been the case. 2 yrs ago I ran my first marathon on this course, I hit the wall hard at 18 and walk 50% of the last 8 miles to finish in 5:19. I was happy I finished my first marathon but not happy with my time so I marked the calendar for my redemption the next year. Last year I had even a worse marathon on this course and got my first DNF ever, so again I marked my calendar again for redemption the next year. But this time was different I made a vow to myself to lose some weight and get healthy and few days later I joined loseit. This year a marathon didn’t fit into the plan (because of business travel) but I figured a successful half marathon would be just as good. Emotionally I had a lot riding on this race, I owe all my weight loss to my failures on this course.

A few weeks ago I had a failed track workout and I realized that I was just completely burned out, since then I have stopped all my regular speed workouts. I did have a few hard runs, a 10K at 90% effort 2 weekends ago and a 20 mile progression run last weekend but other than that I have just been maintain my mileage the last few weeks. And it worked, going into this race I was feeling so good that I almost switched to the marathon at the Expo, instead I registered for next year’s Denver RnR Marathon.

Read Set Go:
The logistics of the race are a nightmare 15,000 runner in either in the half or the full marathon plus spectators. After checking my bag I only had time for a 0.25 warm up before it was time to line up. Conditions were perfect the rain from the day before had cleared it was a nice 40F on the starting line.
Mile 1 – 7:05 I was in the first wave to start but it was still wall to wall people, I didn’t have a choice on speed here.
Mile 2 – 6:52 Once the traffic cleared up I picked up the pace. This mile was a scenic stretch threw the heart of downtown Denver.
Mile 3 – 7:09 I realized that have run the last mile too fast for my comfort, so I slowed the pace on purpose here.
Mile 4 – 7:09 Near the end of this mile there is a big hill, not really long (2 city blocks) but steep.
Mile 5 – 7:10 I spent the majority of this mile trying to get back into a comfortable pace, I was still in the red zone from that hill and my breathing was out of control.
Mile 6 – 6:48 The race entered City park while the sun was rising over the building in the distance (beautiful) and for the first time I felt like I hit my stride. I was running comfortable and fast.
Mile 7 – 7:00 Stopped for a bit to eat a cliff shot and drink some water.
Mile 8 – 6:52 Slightly downhill for part of this mile
Mile 9 – 7:01 Now leaving City Park and back to the streets of Denver. This part was an out and back section I remember last year being on the other side watching the fast runners go by and thinking next year I want to be up there with those guys.
Mile 10 – 6:53 I know that the next mile has 2 big hills so I take advantage here of the flat. At this point I am 99% confident that I can hold this effort all the way to the finish.
Mile 11 – 7:08 This is the mile I was a bit worried about with its two big hills, I gave both of these hill all I had. I was flying past people going up both of these hills it felt great. I knew that once over the top of the second hill was going to be a nice 2.5 miles downhill to the finish (home course advantage).
Mile 12 – 6:36 Once on the downhill it didn’t take long to recover from the up hill effort. There were some flat spots but I held my downhill pace through them. Like the uphill section I was passing people left and right, my confidence was sky high.
Mile 13 – 6:16 Another mile of mostly downhill running, the start and finish was at the same place so the earlier miles must have had a lot more up than down. I felt so good (runners high) that I just kept picking up the pace. I passed so many people in this last mile.
Last 0.1 – 0:32 (5:20 pace) I sprinted in the last 0.1 which was also downhill. They had barriers along the road holding the huge crowd back. The volume from this finish line crowd was just awesome. The last 2 years this course had made me feel like a loser but not today, I starting a new home course tradition. Overall I was 148th out of 8,900.

A 20+ min PR but not my first:
Here is my Half marathon progression (These are all the Half’s I have ever run)
Jun 2009 – 2:15 (220 lbs) This was my first half ever and I was pretty happy with my time (had 2200’ of downhill, 0’ up)
Sep 2010 – 1:53 (209 lbs) I can’t tell you how happy I was to run under 2hrs, I didn’t even care about the 22 min PR.
Oct 2010 – 2:25 (209 lbs) This was last year’s Denver Marathon, they counted me as a half marathon finisher.
Oct 2011 – 1:30 (180 lbs) coming into this race my goal was 1:35 but I felt really good and finished with a 23 min PR.

At the 5K mark, still crowded and the sun isn’t quite up.

Here I am crossing the finish line, this is first finish line picture where I am not looking at my watch.

Finished! Time for some beer and pizza (yes that’s my post race recovery meal)

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