Well the Denver Half-Marathon went a lot better than expected! The goal was to hopefully use the race as a progression-run workout. In an ideal world, I could have split 5:30 for the first 7 miles, in the 5:20s for the next three, and then averaged sub 5:20 for the final 5k.
However, a Kenyan Japheth Ng’ojoy took the race out fast and we went through an uphill first mile in 5:01. I’m normally pretty good with knowing pace, and I thought it was around what I wanted or a little slow — I was wrong. At that point, I decided that it wasn’t appropriate to slow to 5:30 and let the Kenyan gap me, so we ran side by side and chatted for the next few miles. He talked about his best races, being a 6-time all-american from UTEP, winning Penn Relays steeplechase in 2007, 28:24 10k, 1:03 half-marathon, and a 2:15 marathon where he went out in 1:05. He was very nice, talented, and wanted a hard effort. I’m sure he was not hoping for a 1:03 nor is his fitness in 1:03 shape right now, but he was ready to race. The race turned to gravel/dirt/sand singletrack trails and ran through the Cherry Creek Park in Aurora, Colorado. The course was advertised as flat and fast; however, it was anything but flat and fast! In addition, sharp turns made us nearly come to a stop about a dozen times. I was not looking for a personal best time, but rather a great workout and hopefully a win so I did not let the slow course deter my goals. After he surged at 4-5 miles, he faded and I had a comfortable lead by mile 7. Crossing through ten miles in 52:40, I knew my pace was 5:16 and felt smooth. I decided that I was already running faster than expected so I attempted to keep the same pace for the final 5k. However as I approached the 13 mile mark I knew I was still far from the finish, and my 6:04 mile split was definitely inaccurate. The last “0.1” miles took me 2:50, clearly inaccurate. I came across the finish line in a time of 1:12:26, about two minutes ahead of the second place Kenyan.
Later, the race director/announcer apologized that the course was too long and I talked to two guys who wore Garmin GPS watches that showed 13.42 and 13.49 miles. (I do not like to wear my Garmin in races, just a small wrist-watch that can take mile splits that are marked.) I know from my garmin on singletrack trails it always shows too short, so I’m guessing the distance was between 13.5 and 13.6. Regardless, I averaged between 5:15 and 5:20 at altitude for over an hour an twelve minutes. For the week, I ended up with 87 miles and have now strung together over three weeks of solid training in Colorado. Doing a “back-of-the-envelop” calculation/conversion to 13.1 miles at sea level, that effort was right around 1:07:00. It is hard for me to judge my fitness coming off of some time off at the end of July/early August and moving to altitude. To do a “workout effort” 1:07 flat half-marathon in training really makes me excited for the 13.1 miles I’ll be running in the BAA Half-Marathon Oct 10th. Hopefully some redemption will come for me and the sub 1:05 barrier there! The group at Endurance Events Marketing put on a great event and post-race party. It was a pleasure to meet the local and west regional running reps for Mizuno at the race and really a proud moment to don a Mizuno racing singlet. After finishing a vanilla Honey Milk, the Jay Johnson Myrtle Routine, and some Wharton Rope Stretching (that’s a lot of links!), I called two really good friends Megan Duerring and Jeremy Matula who finished as 2nd female and 3rd male at the VIA half-marathon in my hometown in eastern PA. The support from my friends, sponsors, and family makes such a difference that they believe in me, just as much as I believe in them. Megan and I had a conversation about how supportive the running community is – I couldn’t agree more! I had conversations with numerous runners that were just so pleasant and supportive of each other. I’m amazed at the number of people in Colorado training for Ironmans and Ultra-Marathons. I’m sure that there is some talent required to finish an Ironman or an Ultra-Marathon, but it is really just a lot of hard work, time, and being tough-as-nails. Good luck to everyone competing in those brutal events, you are an inspiration to all runners!! Thanks for reading and hope that everyone’s weekend surpassed their expectations as mine did!
2:51 last 0.1 (incorrect)