So, have you been wondering what happened at the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon? I will tell you, but first let me share a bit more about the race, including the map of where we ran, the elevation and my splits (ugh!).
First off, though, it feels so good to be back home in Alexandria. Yes, vacations are great, but there is something about being home that is pretty wonderful, as well. We arrived home late Wednesday (October 22) afternoon. Both of us were extremely tired. And, we both had to get up early to go to work on Thursday morning – me at 4 a.m. (yep, you read that right, FOUR O’CLOCK in the morning!) and my hubby was up around 5:30 a.m. or so. We were back at it in the real world very early!
Okay, now back to the race. Hmmmmm, where to begin. First, here is the map of our route. It was a great route with some fantastic views of the city, as well as the mountains.
If you notice on the lefthand side of the map, kind of in the middle, is Sloan’s Lake Park. It seriously is SO gorgeous. Loved it. If you check out my Facebook page, you will see tons of pics from our Denver trip, including several at Sloan’s Lake Park. It was one of the highlights of the trip for me.
Next up is the elevation. At first when I looked at the elevation map, it didn’t look as hilly as I thought it was, but after a second look, I guess it looks hilly enough. And, keep in mind that the elevation is slightly higher than what I am used to. To put it into perspective, when I run in Alexandria, my starting elevation is about 1,350 feet above sea level; when I am in Fargo, the elevation is about 875 feet above sea level; and when I run in Minneapolis, the elevation is about 840 feet above sea level.
For the Denver half-marathon, the elevation started at about 5,175 feet above sea level. Yep, just a little bit higher. Which is why, we were worried about altitude sickness. The maximum elevation gain of the race was about 380 some feet, according to the statistics from Garmin Connect, the website I use to upload the information from my Garmin Forerunner 220, my GPS sportswatch. Here’s the elevation map:
Yes, there were some nice downhills, but it seemed to me like there were more uphills or at least steady inclines.
To put it into perspective, here’s a look at an elevation map of a recent run in Alexandria on a “typical” route for me.
Yep, the Denver course was just a little bit hillier than what I am used to. Although, I wonder what it would look like compared to our races in Fergus Falls! Have you ever ran in Fergus? OH, MY! There are some hills there!
Anyway, enough about that. Here is a look at my splits:
Not very consistent and definitely much worse toward the end. I was really trying to stay under a 12-minute per mile pace, but the hills and apparently, the altitude, got to me. I will say that around mile 10, as you can see by my splits, I really slowed down. I was really struggling at that point and even questioned whether or not I would finish. I really, really, really wanted to quit. Somehow, I mustered up something up inside of me and kept at it. I had a little chat with myself. A “come to Jesus” talk if you will. Apparently it worked. My pace at mile 11 got a little better, but then again at mile 12, it really slowed down. At this point, I could have just as well been walking for that is what I felt like I was doing. My feet were so heavy. My legs felt like lead. It was not only a physical struggle at that point, but it was a mental one, as well. I wanted to be done. So. Bad. When talking with Al about the race later, he commented that this was the most “mentally challenging” race he has ran. Neither one of us really knows why, but it was definitely one of the most challenging races I’ve ran. For sure. When I reach the last mile, I mustered up something again – not sure what it was – and picked up the pace just a bit. I could feel the energy from the finish line. I could taste the ending. The oh-so-bittersweet ending.
Close to the finish line, I sent Al a text message – yes, while I was running! And all it said was “half mile left.” He sent a reply back, although I didn’t read it until after I crossed the finish line. It said, “Way to go! I’m on the left right before the water.” Luckily he sent it to me because I had to backtrack to where he was. With so many runners, he missed seeing me cross the finish line. But luckily, I knew where to find him.
Before I found him, right after I received my finisher’s medal, a photographer asked to take my picture. I let him. (NOTE: We will be purchasing our race photos and I will share them when I receive them, but for now, YES, I took a screenshot of one of the proofs!)
I was so happy to be done! I have to admit, I look much better than I felt. Trust me! Right after this shot, I found Al. It’s amazing how emotional finishing a half-marathon is. I can’t even imagine finishing a full marathon, a triathlon or holy smokes, an Ironman! Emotions would be at an all-time high I bet. I am such an emotional person as it is. Again, trust me on this one. When I saw Al, all I could do was fall into his arms, grab ahold of him and give him the biggest hug ever with him doing the exact same thing. Me, with tears streaming down my face. (There may have been a tear or two from Al as well!) I think I was pretty much sobbing because if I remember right, my whole body was trembling. We embraced each other for what felt like forever. I think I can remember hearing Al say, “We did it!” – “You did it!” – “We finished!” He probably said much more, but to be honest, I was in a complete daze. It was kind of surreal. Al said he felt the same way when he crossed the finish line. This race was definitely different for the both of us. And we are not exactly sure why. This was our fourth half-marathon, but there was just something different about it.
Like I mentioned in my first post about the race, we found a spot in the grass to rest a bit. After that, we walked over to where the bands were playing, grabbed our free beer and sat in the sun while listening to the music for a little bit – about three or four songs if my memory serves me right. By that time, I had at least one bottle of water downed, plus what was left in my hand-held water bottle, along with some food. I drank half of my beer and let the rest just sit. The first couple of sips were great because they were nice and cold, but after that, it didn’t really taste that good so I didn’t finish it.
This is where it gets interesting.
So, as we were sitting there, basking in the sun, listening to some great music from The Wild Feathers, I told Al I wasn’t feeling the best. I couldn’t really describe how I felt other than I felt “off” or something weird. I told him I was going to go to the bathroom. I didn’t really feel like I had to go, but I felt like it would help for some reason. I got up and started walking to where the port-a-potties were. I felt fine…for the first couple of seconds. Then, everything started to go dark and I started to lose focus. I felt hot. Very hot. I quickly walked over to the where the stairs were, where there was a banister of sorts and a ledge that linked the staircases together. I lurched toward the ledge, grabbed ahold and kind of leaned forward on it and just stood there, holding on for dear life. I was trying my hardest to regain focus. I felt strange. I am guessing if that “ledge” or whatever it was wouldn’t have been there, I would have fell to the ground. My thought after it all happened is that I was “this close” to passing out. I have never passed out like that before, but I am pretty sure I was on the verge. It was the WEIRDEST feeling EVER! I stood there for what seemed like an eternity, which was probably less than a minute. Then, I started walking again toward the bathrooms. I made it down the stairs, all of five or six, I think. And then immediately turned to my left and found a spot in the shade to sit down because if I wouldn’t have, again, I am guessing I would have fell down.
The sweat came pouring out of me. Somehow, I managed, although I am now not entirely sure how or where I got it, but I downed another bottle of water. Thinking back, I seriously don’t know where that bottle of water came from. Hmmmmm, strange. Anyway, I sat next to two lovely ladies, I am guessing my age or younger, who were happily and energetically talking about the race. I don’t really remember anything they said, even though I know I was listening.
After again what seemed like an eternity, I turned to them and asked if they could do me a big favor….go and find my husband and tell him I needed him. The one closest to me jumped up right away and listened intently as I told her where he was sitting, what he was wearing and what his name was. Within mere seconds, he was there. The one who was left sitting by me asked if there was anything she could get me or if I wanted to drink her water. I said no to both. She talked a little bit more and I answered, but I honestly can’t tell you what was said.
As soon as Al got to me, the two ladies – my angels – left and went about their merry way. I was so grateful they had been sitting in that exact spot!
Al and I sat there for a little while and then I started feeling much better. I stopped sweating and regained focus. I could see clearly and didn’t have that fuzzy feeling anymore. I have to say I have never – NEVER EVER – experienced anything like that. It was beyond strange or weird.
We eventually made it back to hotel – via free downtown bus and free hotel shuttle! We both collapsed on the bed and just laid there – me, in and out of sleep – for probably a good hour or more. I. Was. Shot. We ate some of the food we had in the room – sandwiches, chips, fruit and I had a Quest bar, too. After some more time went by, I decided it was time to shower and for us to get on with our day. We were supposed to go to this really cool winery for a tour at 3:30 p.m., but there was NO WAY I was able to get ready in time. Besides feeling so off, I also had this pit in the middle of my stomach. It hurt so bad. Truly, this was the worst I had felt after a race or run for that matter ever. I am not sure if it was altitude sickness or what. All I know is that I didn’t like it. One. Bit!
After we were finally finished getting ready, we headed out the door. I was super hungry at that point and we decided to eat first before we did anything else. All I wanted to eat, which is going to sound really crazy, was pizza. So, Al, as he always does, got on the internet and started researching the top pizza joints in Denver. He loves using TripAdvisor and reading through reviews and such. I give him grief about it sometimes, but let me tell you, I am always pleased with the places he picks!
Pizzeria Locale. Yep, that was the one he chose. And yep, I was a happy camper. First off, they had Ginger Ale in their self-serve pop selections, how cool is that? Ginger Ale was just what I needed. And the pizza? OH. MY. GOODNESS! It was SOOOOOOOO good! We had two of them – they were small! And yes, we ate it all. There were NO leftovers! And yes, Al ate more than I did. As he should have!
Yep, we made it to the winery after all. But not for a tour, just a tasting! And ummm, YUM! The wines were very delicious. Al and I shared one flight of wine, which consisted of four different samples of their wines. It amount to about a total of two glasses of wine, maybe one and a half. It was perfect! We chose all reds, of course. We ended up buying the cabernet franc.
Isn’t this the cutest wine bottle, ever?!?!
After we got done at the winery, we headed back to the hotel and called it a day. I feel asleep around 8 p.m. and I don’t think I stirred once all night. Well, maybe once, to go to the bathroom, but that was it. I didn’t wake up until 8 a.m. the next morning. I felt GREAT when I woke up. MUCH better than the previous afternoon, that’s for sure.
So, the race maybe didn’t go quite as planned. Or at least the after part didn’t go quite as planned. Regardless, it was still an awesome experience and I am sure happy to have shared it with my husband.
And the best part? We have already started thinking about where and when our next half-marathon will be!