RACE REPORT: Revel Rockies Half Marathon, Denver CO – June 11, 2017

18 06 2017

On Sunday, June 11, I ran the half marathon portion of this race which features both a 26.2 and 13.1 mile distance. According to the event’s website (www.runrevel.com):
“The REVEL Rockies Half Marathon course offers the best of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, including towering pines, beautiful canyons, mountain lakes, and a gently flowing stream.”  And that is absolutely true.  But let me backtrack to the beginning.

marathon start

I registered back in November of 2016 when cost was lowest at $79 for the half and $99 for the full, which is fairly typical for events of this size that offer parking with buses to/from the Start/Finish, bag drop, generous swag and food with beer in the post-race area.  Prices eventually went up to $109 and $129.

Email communication from the event that showed up sporadically over the following 7 months was informative and not at all spammy.

As time drew closer to Race Day, I booked a room at the Lakewood Hampton, one of the recommended properties, that featured a special event discount and offered a race day bag breakfast as well as a shuttle directly to the Start Area (neither of the latter of which I chose to use).  They have a fridge and microwave all rooms, and both are destination race amenities that I’ve come to rely upon.

Packet pickup was located at Steinhauer Field House on the campus of the School of Mines in Golden on Saturday from 10:00am to 7:00pm.  It was a well run and delightfully small affair that provided bib chip verification, shirt size swapping and the usual assortment of vendors, massagers and back-crackers but also an outfit that offered B12 shots and IV rehydration.

Race Day Parking was located at Bandimere speedway where marathoners could park to board buses from 3:15-4:15 AM to their start 10,000 feet up in the mountains, and half-marathoners could ride from 4:15-5:15 to their venue at 7500 feet above sea level on the same road.  I chose to drive to the parking lot and bus to the Start rather than use the Hampton Shuttle because I wanted to leave the post-race area at a time of my choosing.  The Hampton Shuttle was offered only once at 4:30 am for drop off and then every hour on the hour for return to the hotel.  I could picture myself finishing at one minute after the hour and then waiting for 59 minutes, and didn’t like that option.

IMG_2338The start area, a parking lot for some kind of business plaza, was a cool 58 degrees when I arrived and crowded with Mylar wrapped runners all vying for a spot in line for one of the 30 or so porta potties.  The line moved swiftly and there was plenty of toilet paper the entire time.  There was a table nearby with water and Powerade but nothing in the way of solid refreshment.  The goody bag from the Expo did have a protein bar in it which I noticed some people enjoying (but I was not one of them since I don’t like protein bars).  Music was playing, a small countdown clock was ticking down and the gear truck was waiting to transport our drop bags to the finish line in the post race venue.  Seating was extremely limited and people were clustered on stairs, perched atop decorative boulders and some also just lying on the pavement.  Hopefully they will change this for next year’s runners because I was not a fan.  Of course, that could be due to the early hour as I do tend to be grumpy when rolling out of bed at 3:30 am.

Starting horn having blared, we ran uphill to begin this overall downward-trajectory course.  Unlike the mountain half I did last year in Utah which dropped quite steeply for the first few miles, this was a rolling course with an overall drop of over 1000 feet from start to finish.  At one point as I looked up in dismay to see the road peaking for the third time, I heard someone talking about it who said “oh yes, there are three uphill climbs in the first 2-1/2 miles and then it’s mostly downhill.”  That I was glad to have eavesdropped instead of tuning out because the air still seemed pretty thin on those uphill segments even though I’d been in town a couple of days already and had run a 5k the previous morning.

maps

Per the Revel website: “The Half Marathon begins at the intersection of Lewis Ridge Road and Evergreen Parkway in the beautiful community of Evergreen. The first three miles of the course include broad views of the valley and Elk Meadow Park as runners head off into the sunrise. The course leaves Evergreen Parkway at Douglas Park Road, eventually turning into Meadow Drive.”  And that we did.  After following a local street with honking cars and waving passengers happily greeting us, we turned into a neighborhood and eventually out into what seemed like mountain wilderness on a rolling course that turned and wound its way along as the sun rose in the sky and the morning chill succumbed to welcoming warmth.
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As is usual for me, I started at the back of the pack and stayed there alternating my 3:1 walk/run 14:00/mile pace.  I had hoped to go a bit faster with a downhill course but, given the 25% less oxygen for Little Old Flatlander Me, didn’t have the wind for it on the uphill portions however gradual they were.  I was also trying out a gel-free nutrition strategy by eating chunks of white chocolate and Belvita protein cookies which proved to be inadequate, as did my breakfast of cold spaghetti (and not enough of it).  Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable struggle or, as I often say of challenging terrain, a “grueling ecstasy.”

aid sta

taken from event website

Aid stations were frequent and plentiful, although I wish the ones with fruit were located closer to the end when I was hungrier.  The volunteers were all cheerful, friendly and enthusiastic.

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Toward the end I kept seeing another runner (whose name I will never know) as she alternately surged ahead and fell behind me.  At one point I heard her saying “I can do this, I can do this”, so I started encouraging her every time we were apace with one another.  Both of us were tired — and slow and probably about the same age — so every time I lent support to her, I was also giving some to myself.  I don’t like “running with” someone and chattering away the entire time because it limits much of the freedom that I feel when running.  But this felt good and boosted my energy in the last few miles.

Soon we reached the town of Morrison and after rounding a couple of bends, the Finish Line was in sight.

me at finish

Upon crossing the line, we were handed gigantic medals and supposedly cool towels (which I never saw) and then passed through into the Post Race Party Zone where we were each allowed once slice of pizza, one slice of pie and a Lagunitas beer.  It was extremely crowded and there were long lines for everything.  Gear pickup and porta potties were towards the back of this area and navigating the throng was pretty much the theme of the experience.  Again, there was really no place to sit.  A tent featured instant printout of each runner’s stats which is always a nice perk, and there also various other tents and booths for vendors and runner photos.  Down a flight of stairs toward the creek was another area that was too crowded for me to investigate.  I never did see the beer vendor but that was okay.  After eating and picking up my drop bag, the next goal was to get back to the shuttle and my car so I could find a place to relax.  There was no sign or other guidance as to which way to go to find the shuttles, so I learned by asking another runner.  About a half-mile or so later, I was boarding a bus back to Bandimere Speedway to pick up my rental car and head back to the hotel.

denver race blingOverall I think, despite what I felt were underwhelming pre- and post-race venues, REVEL Rockies was a nice race and one that I would do again if I lived in the area.  The course was geographically stunning, the shirt and other swag (including gloves and a Mylar blanket which I ditched as the weather warmed up) as well as free race photos and multiple videos were quite generous, and the amenities were plentiful enough to keep us comfortable every step of the way.  Being a 50-stater, this was a one off so I won’t be back to run it or probably any other long distance race in Colorado but I do recommend it, with a moderate degree of enthusiasm, to others looking for a half (or a full) in that state.

And that’s it from me for now.  See ya next Finish Line!

Race Finish Rear

 





Spring training 2017: like a stroll through an asteroid belt

12 06 2017

I started this post almost two months ago and then didn’t finish it.  At the time I relayed that I was having “a totally mundane March and an unassuming early April.”  Looking back over what is now a 3 month period, I have to say it was about as boring as a walk through the Kuiper Belt.
KUIPER BELT
You know how it goes when traveling through an asteroid belt:
One minute you’re sailing along at a leisurely pace of maybe Warp 2, enjoying the view and thinking everything is just grand.  Then the next minute there’s a giant chunk of frozen methane colliding with your life and covering it with rapidly thawing cow farts. Then it’s back to the nirvana of softly twinkling stars and moonbeams until the next apocalyptic impact, which is pretty much how my spring training season went.

The highlight of March was doing the Manhattan Irish Fest 5k again with my running club.  This is a favorite of mine because the race actually kicks off the Irish Fest parade, so practically the whole town is lined up drinking and reveling, decked out in their finest Irish greenery, as you run by.  Afterwards they have a big tent party with lots of Guinness and live Irish music which is always a fun time.

Irish Fest 2017 collage

Photo credits: Javier Martinez and Manhattan Irish Fest Facebook page

I didn’t do a whole lot of outdoor running for the rest of the month because, apart from a freakish 80 degree day, it tended to be in the 20s and 30s most of the time which is too cold for me to enjoy.  I did get in an 8-miler about a week after the 5k and then a 9-mile long run two weeks after before catching a bad cold that had me sidelined for about 14 days.  Enter Asteroid #1.

Meanwhile I continued working on my Winter Strength Training Project until April 8, the completion date of that 20-week endeavor,  which was conceived to use the extra calories of the winter season to grow muscle instead of fat.  And it actually worked.  I went for another DexaFit scan that showed I had gone from having 107 lbs of muscle to 108.8 pounds, which they say is pretty good for a female.  I was pleased with that result and plan to do more heavy lifting during the cold months this year too.

ET Abductions DayWhen in mid-April I finally felt well enough to run outdoors without coughing my head off, I tried to get back on track with half-marathon training but it had been almost a month since my 9 mile long run.  I backtracked to a 7 miler as a “catch-up run” one week, did a couple of 4 milers (including a virtual race for the Moon Joggers to celebrate Extraterrestrial Abductions Day) and finally a 10 mile effort the next week.  This proved to be my undoing once again when lack of stretching triggered an attack of the old nemesis ankle/Achilles tendonitis which lasted another couple of weeks.  Hello Asteroid #2!

So back to Square One we went.  Starting on May 1, I did a full week of nothing but yoga encompassing every link in the posterior chain until I felt secure that, from back to toes, flexibility was returning.  Only then did I resume a running training plan, this time with a new (old) mantra: Flexibility First.  When the supremely important goal of 2016 was to run a full marathon uninjured, I did 15 minutes of yoga every morning prior to any other workout.  It was an integral part of training that I somehow forgot to include when I turned my attention from lifting back to running this year.  Well, it’s one I will never overlook again.

By mid-May things were back on track and I was once again starting each morning with a short morning routine from Yoga Journal as well as the standard upper body strength training split divided over 2 days and core work along with running.Untitled

Nevertheless, I was not ready for the half-marathon I had planned for May 13 and didn’t want to risk a new injury so I did a 10 mile race instead: the Lemont Quarryman Challenge which is another circuit race for my running club.

Quarryman 2017 Collage

With the very hilly Quarryman race representing a true test of physical readiness, I pronounced myself 100% recovered when no aches, pains, strains or sprains followed thereafter.

On May 27, it was time for the Soldier Field 10 Miler which is another one of my favorite events (even though I have to brave the bustle and traffic of my former sweet home Chicago).  Running down Lake Shore Drive from Soldier Field almost as far as The Museum of Science and Industry then going back along the lake front trail is such a thrill that I can’t imagine spending Memorial Day weekend any other way.

2017 collage

I tacked on an extra mile or so after that race to bring my long run mileage total up to the 11-plus range and thus blasted my way out the asteroid belt that represented spring half-marathon training in 2017.

UntitledNext up —
June races including:
Cheyenne Greenway Foundation 5k, Cheyenne WY and
Revel Rockies Half Marathon, Denver CO





February 2017: a winterfest in The Winter That Wasn’t and a side trip to summer

8 03 2017

February, like the month before it, was warmer than usual here in Northern Illinois.  Temperatures  were above average probably 90% of the time and, even though it was windy and/or rainy quite often, it was much better running weather than is usual for this time of year.  Now I must disclose there exists a version of Murphy’s law that says: “on Lianne’s days off it will be cold/snowy/windy /otherwise-ugly while on days she works the sun will shine and the breeze will practically kiss your cheeks.”  And that held true last month, as always, but I was still able to get outside a fair amount and got my Long Run distance up to 7.5 miles.

weather feb 2017

February started off with my running club’s first circuit race of 2017 which was put on by another club in Kankakee, Illinois.  The Winterfest 5k is held on streets surrounding a local park and consists of two loops around it followed by a massive pizza buffet in the park’s field house. I ended up slower than I wanted to be (41 minutes for the 3.1 miles), but I hadn’t actually focused on speed training very much yet so that was quite understandable.  January entailed mostly getting back in the rhythm of a training plan and trying not to lament that most of it was on the treadmill.  So it was still a nice outing for the time of year — sunny, snow-free and 42 degrees — and well worth the effort, regardless of my paltry pace or unimpressive age-group standing.  And I ate a ton of delicious pizza afterwards.

Winterfest Collage

I made decent progress in February with my strength training  as well, getting weights up to 8-12 repetitions at 80% of my One Rep Max by the end of the month.  For me that meant doing squats with a 90 lb. barbell, deadlifts with 73 lbs. and leg press with 64 lbs. on Leg Day along with bench pressing 50 lbs., barbell rowing 61 lbs, and bicep/tricep /shoulder work with anywhere between 10 and 15 lb. dumb bells on Upper Body days.  Even though I’m still a chunky monkey, I have gotten a lot stronger since I started the winter strength project back in November.  The quest to shed fat and reveal this newly acquired musculature has not gone as stellarly however.  The truth is that:  yes, I can work like a field hand but unfortunately I am also inclined to eat like one too. <sigh>  February’s training calendar is shown below (work days are shaded in grey – mostly 12 hour shifts):

Feb workout calendar

I closed out the month with a trip to Jamaica for an educational seminar related to my job.  It was sunny and beautiful with temperatures topping out in the upper 80s at the lovely ocean front resort where the conference was held.  It was a pleasant break from the norm in a place I’d never been and I thoroughly enjoyed the food and the ambience.  But by the third full day (and eve of my return home), I was claustrophobic from being enclosed on the resort and having nothing to do but eat, drink and enjoy the sunshine.  I know this says something terrible about my psyche but it’s true.  I felt like I was on a lockdown ward at the Rehab Clinic for Type A Personalities.  I wanted to escape and go do something, anything, besides lay around and absorb life’s carnal pleasures when I wasn’t spending that meager 4 hours a day in class.  Isn’t that twisted?!  I guess I really am a lot weirder than I thought I was.  But alas, ’tis too late to change that now. LOL

Jamaica

And that’s pretty much all I have to report for February 2017.  With March being upon us now, transitioning into spring is the next bright light on the horizon and that will bring more outdoor running, the start of my vegetable garden, the waning days of my strength training project and whatever else is waiting out there.

Until next time…
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January 2017: annual plan, a Trekkie race, and back to training.

4 02 2017

It’s hard to believe January is over already.  It seems like just yesterday I was cheering the departure of Christmas TV commercials, congratulating myself for not getting drunk on New Year’s Eve, and wondering how the hell I was going to make it to spring without going as crazy as Reginald Barclay.

barclay

photo: Syfy Channel, caption: me

You remember Barclay, right?  The socially awkward Starfleet officer (affectionately known as “Broccoli” by his shipmates) who was afraid of the transporter, could barely get through a sentence and was a raging hypochondriac as well?  Sometimes I’m just one extra blizzard away from being quite as odd but in different ways.  And each January begs the question: will this be the year?

But none of that has happened yet.  We had a relatively dry month, annoying Christmas commercials are still gone and I haven’t found myself drunk or bonkers yet.  So far, so good.

I actually did run one race this past month — the annual virtual race for the Moon Joggers — this one being the U.S.S. Enterprise 5k, 10k, 13.1, 26.2.  I signed up for the 10k and ran that around my neighborhood on January 31 for this awesomely cool medal, and a chance to help their chosen charity with my $17.00 entry fee.

enterprise-10k-january-2017

I sketched out a plan for the year as far as distance racing goes as well.  Thus far I have signed up for the following 10-plus milers:
May – Starved Rock Country 1/2 Marathon here in Illinois
June – Revel Rockies 1/2 Marathon in Denver
July – Waterfall Glen Extreme 10 Mile (a local heat and hills hell-fest)
August – Fort to Base 10 Nautical Miles (from an army base to a naval station in Illinois)
September – Rock-n-Roll Philadelphia 1/2 Marathon (and a 5k in NJ the same weekend)
October – Run Crazy Horse 1/2 Marathon in South Dakota.

Those six will keep my distance addiction satisfied and tally four more states on my quest for a race in all 50.  Since I only ran four states last year and need five annually to stay on the original timetable of all 50 by my birthday in December 2020, I am hoping to get six destination races run this year.  If I can squeeze in one more weekend trip with back-to-back Saturday/Sunday races in neighboring states (or do a pair with the Mainly Marathons bunch), I’ll stay on target.  We’ll see how it goes, money and time-wise.  This 50-state racing is not a cheap hobby.  But I don’t really spend much on anything else.  I drive a 2009 Hyundai, wear scrubs to work and dress like a gym rat the rest of the time, so what else is there?  I’m too old to spend it on booze, drugs and nightclubbing so I might as well do this.

Since my first half-marathon is in mid-May, I started a 16-week training program for that race a couple of weeks ago. After the full marathon last October, I really did get a bit sedentary by comparison.  I don’t think I ran more than 4 miles at once, and didn’t run at all after the snowfalls began and temperatures went sub-freezing.  This year, I’ve gone back to an old favorite called “Run Less Run Faster” by the Furman Institute.  I like the fact that it only has you running 3 days a week, and that you really do get faster.  Of course, I adapt it (translation: scale back some of the gruelingness) to suit my advanced age, slower speed and heavier body but it still gives me good results. Due to my tendency for overuse injuries, I follow my own schedule for an every-other-week long run which I started with a 5 miler and am advancing by 10-12% per outing until I get to a total of 12 miles a couple weeks before the half.

Cross-training-wise, I am slightly more than halfway through a 20-week muscle building program I started in November.  I didn’t do any heavy lifting during marathon training last year so I wanted to get back some of the strength I probably lost.  I’m enjoying it quite a bit, and if I wasn’t so chunky I know I’d have some nice muscle definition visible.  Along with the lifting and running, I also do a short HiiT or Tabata DVD a couple times a week too.  If I could win a big Lotto prize, I would quit my job and have enough time for yoga and stretching as well.  But that hasn’t happened yet, so I continue to neglect those more than I should.  Honestly if you did all the stuff they tell you in Runner’s World and on fitness websites, you’d need a household staff and a trust fund.  Because us ordinary schmoes with regular jobs and housework just don’t have the time to cover all the supposedly necessary bases.

So that’s about it for now.  My running club has its first circuit race tomorrow at 1:00 pm, The Winterfest 5k.  It’s supposed to be 40 degrees out and I hope that is true because I will not otherwise be feeling very festive.  But I’ll be there regardless.

‘Til next time…..Live Long and Prosper.





“All good things…” Closing out 2016.

23 01 2017

all-good-thingsThe final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation was called “All Good Things…” and involved a temporal anomaly (gosh, how I love those things!) which caused Captain Picard to jump back and forth through time from past to present to future, while simultaneously saving humanity (because that’s all in a day’s work on Star Trek).  It was a fitting finale for a wonderful series, and came to mind immediately when I thought about a blog entry closing out what was a wonderful running year for me.

I certainly didn’t save mankind but I did finally conquer the 26.2 mile beast that was eluding me for years, saved myself from another disappointment and prevented it from frustrating my efforts past, present and future.  Running that full marathon, in 86 degree sun and heat no less, on October 29, 2016 in the high altitude of Las Cruces, New Mexico, allowed me to prove to myself that I did have it in me all along. And even better, it is an endurance milestone I will never worry about again.

I also remember 2016 as the year I won some age-group awards for the first time, three of them in fact, and achieved my fastest 5k time yet.  That was a complete shocker.  The marathon I’d struggled and grieved and sweated over.  Getting old and entering the 60-64 age group happened without any effort on my behalf.  Everybody tries to get a little faster because you’re always competing with your own last best time, and I will do so again this year, but I never thought of slow chubby Me as an age-group winner.  What a nice surprise!

I think this past year may also be one in which I ran the most races ever, since becoming a runner in 2008.  It is certainly the one in which I finally was able to run enough with a club I joined to actually meet people and earn a circuit award.  I even volunteered at a race for the first time.  And as much as I wanted that 26.2 with every fiber of my being and wished some day to be able to run faster, the best part of 2016 was feeling like I had finally joined a community of runners.

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So, like Picard jumping through time, I was able to look back and smile on those early days of uncertainty and struggling at the back of the pack and wondering if I could run a 10k or a 10 miler or a half-marathon some day and whisper to that person “oh yes, you will.”  And the next time I’m running long and feeling tired or weak or uninspired, I will be able to repeat to myself “oh yes, you can.”  And when I’m 80 or 90 years old and looking back over a life spent striving for goals and always seeking to get just a little bit better at everything, I will be able to remember “oh yes, you did.”

2016-bibs-and-medals

Next up: 2017 plans and training





Not tempting the Hengrauggi

8 12 2016

In 2258, Captain James T. Kirk was marooned on the ice planet, Delta Vega, in the Vulcan system, when he was chased and almost swallowed by a hengrauggi.  This is not my idea of fun.

hen

Running in the winter, regardless of whether or not you are being chased by one of these giant ugly bastards, is not my idea of fun either.  And winter is now quite undoubtedly here.

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The weather forecast for the next 15 days predicts BELOW FREEZING temps 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and I’m sure it only gets worse after that between now and March.  So I guess I’m hanging up my Hokas and calling it a year when it comes to road racing.  I had signed up for a Jingle Bell 5k this coming Sunday but we’re expecting multiple inches of snow this weekend.  Only a marauding hengrauggi could inspire me to run through a snowstorm, but I shall stay home and avoid tempting one.

My winter workout agenda contains a lot of strength training, some flexibility and the occasional treadmill or elliptical speed session.  I will do primarily HIIT, step and tabata DVDs for cardio to give my running muscles a few months of rest from the repetitive pounding of this past year’s races.  Having made it through an entire year uninjured, I would like to keep the streak alive (and avoid weight gain) so that makes the most sense.

I am looking forward to 2017 and have registered for a couple half-marathons already (Revel Rockies and Run Crazy Horse) as well as a virtual race with the Moon Joggers (U.S.S. Enterprise 10k) in January, the Shamrock Shuffle 8k in April, and the Soldier Field 10 Miler in May, so I will definitely be back out there soon.  But until the snow melts, I will happily live vicariously through my fellow bloggers while getting ready for next year’s outdoor seasons to get underway.

So keep running, my friends, and don’t let the snow monsters eat ya!





Unlike Klingon Turkeys…

24 11 2016

2010-11-25_turkeys

I say “it is a good day to run” as I embark on our local 4 mile turkey trot before I go stuff my face and drink too much today.  However, I must state first I am thankful for the health and stamina that keeps me going as well as the blogger friends and real life running buddies who keep me engaged in this sport I dearly love.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!