I did it!! I finished the Denver Rock-N-Roll 1/2 Marathon yesterday! One of my main goals for the race was just to have fun and I really did. I don’t have any other races to compare this to but it seemed like the race was very fun spirited and really high in energy; everyone was there to have a good time. People were dressed up in crazy costumes and there were bodies of all shapes, sizes, and abilities on the course. Probably the best thing about the race was getting to see Denver from that perspective. It really is a beautiful city, I wish I could have taken pictures as I ran but I’m not that coordinated!
- 4:45a.m. – wake up call! I don’t really think I slept at all the night before but I still leapt out of bed. Breakfast was toast with peanut butter and banana that I literally had to choke down. It’s hard eating that early. Normally I prefer to only eat watermelon before a run, but because it would be at least 2 hours before I even started running, I knew I needed more fuel. I got dressed and got my gear all into place. We left around 5:30 and picked up my mother-in-law and headed up to Denver.
- After making a pit stop for breakfast, my husband dropped me off around 6:30 and I headed into the “start line village” as they called it. It was jam-packed!! I had to use the restroom but the line for the porta-potties was seriously 40 people deep for each one!! No time for that so I just headed to the starting line to my corral. The announcers said there were 15,000 runners at the race and I believe it!! I was in corral 13 meaning there were at least 12,000 runners in front of me, this is crazy.
- The race officially began at 6:55 with the elite athletes who were all trying to qualify for the Olympics! Each wave went approximately 1.5-2 minutes after each other. Meaning I was standing in 36 degree weather for about 30 minutes before I started! It was cold. Some of the other runners around me were doing crazy jumps and warm up routines and it was hard not to laugh.
- Corral 13 gets the go ahead to start running! I was really excited and there was a lot of positive energy in the air. I had a certain goal time in mind for the race that should have been doable considering my paces for all my other long runs. However, as soon as we started I knew this probably wasn’t gonna happen. The course was so crowded it was hard to break through. When I registered for the race they asked me to estimate my finish time and I honestly had no idea so I said a time that was a lot slower than I actually run. Problem with this was I was surrounded by runners who were all a lot slower as well and I was kind of stuck. At that moment I threw my goal time out the window and decided to just go with the flow.
- Mile 1 – one of the main things I tried to remember was not to start off too fast. Well this wasn’t an issue for me but before I even reached mile 1 I was passing people who had to stop because they started way faster than they should have! For me, the first mile was a chance to warm up my cold, tight legs.
- Mile 2 – around mile marker 2 we passed Union Station in downtown Denver. This is really gross but it smelled like day old fried chicken and sewage. It was nasty. That’s all I remember about that mile! A little after mile 2 I came upon my husband and mother-in-law waiting by Coors Field. I saw them before they saw me and Steve rushed to take a couple of pictures.
- Mile 3 – there was an unexpected hill at mile 3 and I hate hills! But I didn’t let this one defeat me and I ran the whole thing, albeit very slowy. I couldn’t help but laugh because as I was just getting to mile 3, the elite 1/2 marathon runners were finishing! That’s some fast running.
- I don’t really remember much about miles 4 and 5. Just that it went through some areas of Denver I had never seen and that there were a bunch of cute little restaurants and shops
- Mile 6 – the end of mile 5 started to wind through City Park and the Zoo area and it was very pretty. Once I passed mile marker 6 I thought about the full marathoners and the fact that they still had 20 miles left!! Needless to say I was glad I wasn’t one of them.
- Mile 7 – This is where I added time to my run…I had to stop for a bathroom break!! I kept seeing bathroom areas but they all had huge lines so as soon as I saw a lone porta-potty with only a couple of people in line I went for it. I hate that I added to my overall time, but it’s better than the alternative right? This porta-potty was terrifying. I think they set it up on a rock or something because it was rocking from side to side the whole time and I really thought the whole thing could tip over at any minute.
- Mile 8 – once I got done with the bathroom break I tried to speed up a little to make up for lost time. Mile 8 wound out of the park and onto a street where mile 8 was going down one side and mile 9 was coming back up the other. This was really fun because you got to see all of the runners passing you in the opposite direction. There were people dressed up in togas, Halloween gear, as Elvis, and one very happy Mario who made me laugh.
- Mile 9 – my husband and mother-in-law were supposed to meet me at mile 9 but I didn’t see them anywhere. Turns out they couldn’t figure out how to even get there because the roads were all blocked off.
- Mile 10 – fortunately I did see them just past mile 10 and it gave me a little boost of energy.
- After I saw them my tummy starting rumbling and I was getting hungry. I tried to eat some energy bites but it was impossible. They tasted disgusting and I had to chew each one forever so I gave up after 2.
- Mile 11 wound through Cheesman park, which is another area of Denver I had never seen but it was so beautiful. Around mile 11.5 is where the marathoners broke off for the rest of their course; I was not jealous.
- Mile 12 was a glorious mile marker to see. I had 10 minutes of running left and that sounded great to me! Everyone started picking up the pace because we all wanted to be done! I started passing people on the sidewalks who had already finished the race and I wanted to be them, bad.
- Mile 13 – Once I hit the mile 13 marker I really gunned it. It was one of those moments where I felt really fast but after running for so long maybe my “fast” wasn’t that impressive, but my husband and mother-in-law were at the finish line and they said that I really was hauling ass!
Some of my favorite signs from the race:
“Chuck Norris never ran a marathon”
“Where are you guys going?”
“Worst parade ever. :(”
“Lauren Casey will you marry me?” (awww this made me so happy). Then a few miles later on the race I saw “Way to go Lauren Casey, soon-to-be bride” so she must have said yes!!!
In keeping with my race goals, I did run almost the whole way! The bathroom stop was at mile 7.53, but I don’t consider that a break as I ran before and after. I slowed down while trying to eat my energy bites but that was a bust so I quickly picked it back up. My pace may have been slower than normal, but I was still running!
After the race, we headed to Jamba Juice for a gigantic fruit smoothie. Once we got home it was a hot shower (I was so cold by then I was shaking so hard) and some deep stretching. A nap or two followed along with some weekend chores. Last night I made my favorite veggie soup that finally warmed me up (recipe will come Wednesday). A nice hamstring massage from my awesome husband helped ease away any tightness in my legs and I woke up this morning feeling great. I am so happy that the run was such a success. My weeks and weeks of training really paid off and I was able to enjoy myself out on the course and get through it without any pain. A big, fat thank you to my husband and mother-in-law for being a great support team out there!!