26.2 miles – 3:41:19 (8:27 pace)
The Denver marathon has been my proving ground for years. Back in 2009 this was where I ran my first marathon in a time of 5:19 that I am still upset about. Every year since I have run either the full or the half, this race is my yearly benchmark to compare the years. I plan on continuing to run this race every year and I sign up for it super early to save money. This year I signed up before I set my goals for the year and that is why I ended up running it 3 weeks after my first 50 mile race. Expectations were low, I told everyone that I would take it easy and run somewhere around 4hrs.
First 10 miles 1:24:51 (8:29 pace)
The early miles went perfectly to plan just enjoy the race. I ran what ever felt comfortable, I had my watch but I wasn’t checking times or pace. I have run the half or the full for 5 years in a row now but this was the first time I was soaking in the course, marathon atmosphere and the beautiful fall weather. I read every marathon sign, joked with other runners, jammed to the live music and laughed at all the crazy costumes. I knew I was running about 8:30 pace but I didn’t have a clue what kind of a finish time that would be I only knew that 9:09 was 4hrs, usually I study up on pace times. In the back of my head I only had one concern my feet, which started to hurt around mile 4 or 5. The last few months I have been having foot pain on some of my longer runs and a lot during and after that 50 miler. I am not talking about the bottom of my feet, which were also sore. This is pain feels like is coming from the tops of my feet. I got to see my wife and kids at mile 6 and then again at mile 8. They were eating breakfast in the grass and not ready for me so I went way off course to give them hugs and high fives (not the first time I have gone to them).
11-20, 10 miles 1:25:12 (8:31 pace)
Mile 11 was tough because of a short but steep hill. Normally this hill would have been cake but at 8:30 pace it was the first time I felt out of breath in the race. Luckily my parents, brother and niece were at the top of this hill cheering me on. At mile 12 we split off from the half marathon crowd it seemed like for every 10 HM runners 1 runner went down the full marathon route. The race contained 15,000 runners and only about 3,500 were running the marathon. With so few people I was able to relax even more, the fall colors were just amazing. My feet continued to hurt but they never really got any worse than a mild discomfort. Nearing mile 20 realized how easily I had coasted through first part of this race. I saw my training buddy around this time and he was happy to see how well I was doing so close to that 50 miler. He said “Allen you are doing great, go get em’ and finish strong”. I think this is about when I decided I had enough fun and now it was time to race.
Last 10K, 6.2 miles 51:16 (8:16 pace)
Running through the park I started passing tons of many people. I had only slightly picked up my pace but at the same time people around me started dropping like flies. A few of the people that I passed chased me down and suddenly I was leading my very own pace group. I was the expert on the course and marathoning. I was asking how people felt and letting them know what was around the next corner. Our group continued to run low 8:20’s for the final few miles passing people like crazy. We lost a few people in our group along the way and near the end we were down 3 strong runners. They kept saying “don’t let us hold you back if you need to go then go”. I told them about my day and my crazy year of races, they were both running their first marathon and very impressed that I was even running this race. I asked them if they felt good and that we should start our kick even though a big hill was right in front of us. We ended up running mile 26 in 7:59 even with the big hill. At the top of the hill we took about 2 minutes to recover before I said “it’s all downhill from here lets go now”. I left the group behind and ran the last .42 miles @ 5:57 pace!!! (.42 mi because I ended up with 26.42 mi). At the finish line I waited for my mini pace group to finish. They both said that because of my kick they also pushed themselves to have awesome finishes.
Even with the hard effort over the last 10K I felt great at the finish line and then at home the rest of the day. My foot pain never really got worse or better from about mile 4 mark. Monday at school I didn’t really feel sore except in my back a little.
This wasn’t the first time I collected runners and formed a pace group in fact it seems to be happing more and more often. I set out to have a fun day and I did just that but even better I helped make some others day a little better.