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.


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.

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.


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


On “boldly going” where someone thinks you may not belong

25 05 2012

I was finishing up a bike ride the other day when I happened across a friend who is somewhat of an acclaimed amateur athlete and currently works as a sports coach.  He inquired about my ride and I mentioned that I have a 100-mile century ride coming up at the end of the summer.  He looked taken aback as he visually scanned my bike, a 21-speed Trek Women’s cruiser well-suited for “Sunday afternoon rides with the grand kids” according to one review I read on Trek’s website while researching my purchase three years ago.  “Oh you’re gonna have a hard time doing a Century on that bike!” he offered, walking over to examine my bicycle’s various shortcomings.  “You’re gonna see people out there with racing bikes, and you’re gonna have to stand up to pedal when you go up hills.”  As I assured him that I don’t give a rat’s ass what others are riding and I already do stand up to pedal uphill, he finished his inspection of my tires, handlebars and seat, recanted a bit and then changed the subject.

I smiled and made an excuse about needing to get to work (which terminated our conversation) but I have continued to seethe about the encounter for the past several days.  I’m sure my friend had the best of intentions but I became annoyed nonetheless because I felt like I was being profiled.  And I have always hated being profiled!

It irks me when people who fit a certain stereotype look askance at me because I don’t. My stomach churned when I showed up in college as a 37-year-old freshman and was actively discouraged against pursuit of a pre-med education by a few skeptical professors. My blood later simmered in med school when some random attending would spot tired old me lined up at rounds with a gaggle of 20-somethings then cock his head to the side like a befuddled dog.  And my teeth grit to this day when I arrive at a race where a young gazelle-like runner will stop mid-stretch to glance dubiously in my direction as I waddle on toward the start line.

These are the days when I literally want to shout “I’m just as good as you and I don’t give a damn what you think!”  But apparently I do care or I wouldn’t even be writing this post.  The fact is I WAS as good as anyone at college, indeed better than most, because I got into medical school despite being older and poorer with less of a support system.  And I DID belong with other med students on rounds because I am now a fairly well-respected family physician with my own private practice.  And I AM a friggin’ runner because my big butt gets out there to do anything from 3 to 13.1 miles and finishes them, then walks away smiling.  And I WILL ride that 100 miles on my bike despite how unlikely IT or I may seem to someone who thinks they know better.

Yet as much as being underestimated drives me crazy, it also drives me forward.  The minute someone seems as if they think I can’t, my first impulse is to show them “oh yes I will”.  Students and doctors and runners come in all shapes, sizes and ages.  And nobody should ever try to convince anyone else that they are incapable just because they don’t conform to a pattern!

OK.  This rant is over.

Here is a recap of my training for the past couple of weeks:
Following the Bloomington Lake run, I had a considerable amount of left Achilles pain due to aggravation of that chronic injury.  Taking it easy on running, I ramped up the biking to keep cardio fitness and leg strength from sliding backward too much.

Sunday May 6 — took the day off
Monday May 7 — back/chest/core, lower body stretch
Tueday May 8 — took the day off
Wednesday May 9 — took the day off
Thursday May 10 — 3 miles walking, the Achilles grumbled
Friday May 11 — 45 minute bike ride, first of the season; my butt didn’t hurt afterward!
Saturday, May 12 — through an act of Divine Providence a lightning storm caused the cancellation of the Lemont 10 miler; I very wisely took the day off

Sunday May 13 — took anther day off
Monday May 14 — 4 miles of run/walk intervals, after which the Achilles screamed
Tuesday May 15 — active rest:  4 hours of gardening
Wednesday May 16 — 30 minute bike ride, slow
Thursday May 17 — 3 mile walk
Friday May 18 — 1 hour bike ride around 12 mph
Saturday May 19 — almost 4 miles of run/walk intervals (mostly walking)

Sunday May 20 — off
Monday May 21 — active rest:  1 hour of light gardening
Tuesday May 22 — 66 minute bike ride around 12 mph, followed by 2 hours of gardening
Wednesday May 23 — almost 5 miles of run/walk intervals (negative splits); I felt really good
Thursday May 24 — 40 minute bike ride, slow (a very windy day)
Friday May 25 — upper body weights, lower body stretch


I acknowledge the glaring absence of abs/corework and I truly have no excuse.  I’ll get back to it with more dedication next  week.  Having the abs of Betty White’s older sister is not my heart’s desire, and I can most certainly do better.

Maybe what I need is for someone to ogle my jiggly midsection with an eyebrow raised like Mr. Spock and dryly comment, “well she will obviously NEVER have abs that ever amount to anything”…

Ya think?