Friday, July 3, 2015

Colfax Marathon recap

Back in May I ran my first marathon since before Kelsy and Asher were born, the Colfax Marathon in Denver.  It had been five years and I was definitely nervous about the whole thing, but very excited.

The expo was held at the Wings over the Rockies museum so on Friday, I headed over to pick up my bib and goodies.  

The race was held on Sunday and had a super early 6 am start, so after getting up at 4:00 to eat, I caught my cab at 4:45 and headed to the start.

The race started just as the sun was coming up.  The start was very well organized with the race announcer counting down the start for each individual corral.  My corral was definitely crowded, but not horribly so.  Once we crossed the start like (yay!) it thinned out rather quickly.  The race starts in City Park and the first mile winds around the path within the park before heading out toward downtown.  

My favorite part of the race was right at the beginning after passing through the fire station (which I was a little disappointed with - I was promised firemen cheering the runners on but there were about two firemen calmly waving instead). We headed down to the path that runs along Cherry Creek.  I loved this part of the run - the energy was great as other runners whooped and hollered to make their voices echo off the retaining walls, and of course the river is pretty.  

Next up was running past Elitch Gardens toward the stadium.  We got to run around the dirt perimeter of Sports Authority Field which was a really fun experience.  There is a short hill coming out of the stadium
which leads you to the first relay exchange point.  This was very well marked and the race organizers did a great job of keeping the relay zone to a spot where it wouldn't interfere with those not stopping.

We headed into Colfax for a bit which was a slight uphill, but not so much that I really felt it. We headed around Sloan's lake when the sun really came out and it started getting a bit hot.  

After we went around the lake, we headed up Colfax a little further and then through some neighborhoods in Lakewood.  The Lakewood area was a pretty part of the course and there were a lot of residents who came out to support the runners.  

After that, we headed back on Colfax for the four mile trek back to the stadium.  I thought this part would bore the heck out of me, but remember that uphill on Colfax that I didn't really feel?  Well, I definitely felt the downhill in the way back and it was magnificent!  We went back through the stadium, along Cherry Creek, and into downtown.  

I had race reviews that had mentioned the big hill at mile 23.  I knew to expect a hill after turning a left corner so I was mentally prepared.  I thought.  I turned up the corner, saw the hill, decided to kick its ass, and headed up it.  It really wasn't that bad at all.  It was a decent hill, but I suppose after 23 miles, any hill feels pretty significant.  I was feeling pretty good about myself when I turned another corner and saw it.  Ohhhhhh...thaaaat hill.  Crap.  That's the one they meant.  Ya, that's a big, steep hill.  It probably wasn't really that bad, but after I thought I had conquered the hill, and considering I was at mile 23, it felt like the hill of death.  It got a bit tougher after the hill, and that was my slowest mile at 8:51, but I got past it, picked my pace back a little, and still finished strong with my cute little family watching.

I finished in 3:41:04 (an 8:26 pace) which put me one minute and four seconds away from qualifying for Boston.  I wasn't even the slightest bit disappointed, though, because my goal was to finish in under four hours.  

The finish area was PACKED!  The half marathon, marathon, relay, and ten miler all finished together so it got crowded.  I got my medal, a banana which I was too tired to chew, and hobbled to find my family.  

Overall it was a great race.  They offered gu at miles 6 and 20 which seemed like strange intervals to me, so I carried my own which I took at miles 5, 13, and 18.  The aid atations were every two miles (and these went smoothly, contrary to some reviews I had read) so I alternated water and Gatorade Endurance.  I had trained with regular Gatorade (yuk!) but the Endurance turned out to be just fine.  There were plenty of portapotties at the start and even free coffee so I started the race happy.  I hear there was free beer after by I'm not one of those people who thinks beer sounds good immediately after running that far.  

The only thing I found to be a little odd was the variety of runners in the race.  There would be relay runners flying by me and then ten milers who started at our mile 16 and then ran the way in to the finish with us.  They didn't start much after we did, so I was flying by the ten mile runners who were still on the course.  It made it a bit difficult to maintain my pace because I felt discombobulated by all the different speeds around me.  It kept it interesting though!

As a little bonus for this year being the tenth anniversary of the race, we were told we would get one of our race photos for free.  After the race though, were surprised by being given all of our photos for free.  Way to go, Colfax Marathon.  That was an awesome surprise.  It was a great race, a great experience, and best of all, it was fabulous having my family there to support me.

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