I was really inspired by the Rock ‘n Roll Marathoners making their way through my neighborhood last weekend. So much so that I went right home after cheering them on, found the next half marathon in the Denver area and signed up. The race I ended up running was the Kooky Spooky Half Marathon in Golden, Colorado which took place on Saturday.
I wasn’t totally sure that I was prepared for a half. I ran a lot throughout the summer and into this fall but the Hot Chocolate 15k is the longest run I’ve done in months and I was worried that the leap from 9 miles to 13 would be harder than I imagined it to be.
I’ve run a few half marathons over the last 10 years. My last being the Roll ‘n Roll half in Chicago 2 years ago. That race was by far my hardest and slowest half to-date. I honestly don’t think I would have finished if it hadn’t been for my sister who wouldn’t leave my side when I told her to at mile 11.
I went into this race with higher expectation and the silent hope of beating my half marathon PR of 1:49:09 from 2006. I ran that half in the rain and the bitter cold of March in Sacramento. I don’t remember the course or the miles or anything from that race beyond how cold and wet I was. But maybe the cold works for me.
The thing is, I really, really wanted to beat that time. I was certain that I could. I’ve been running longer and faster than I ever did back then. I know more about running and my body and I even feel acclimated to the altitude.
I won’t hold you in suspense. I did not set a new PR.
I made one very rookie mistake, I went out too fast. Way too fast. My first mile was at 7:26, um what? That’s not even my 5k pace. But I felt good, really good, so I decided to keep it up and slow down when I needed to.
The first 9 miles were an out and back loop on a trail through some Golden neighborhoods. It was beautiful and the race was fairly small so we shared the path with the really fast runners who were trotting past mile 7 before I’d hit mile 5.
I was making good time. Slowing down a bit from my mile one pace; I settled in around the 8:15 mark. Let me tell you, the first 6 miles were wonderful. They went by quickly and lightly. Around mile 6 though I started to feel a little heavy but I attributed that to the slight uphill of the path on the way back and figured I could make it up on the later miles.
At the mile 9 marker I saw some familiar faces. Michael was there to root me on with Eli. Right as I looped out of sight I realized that I was headed straight up. For the next few miles I climbed and climbed and climbed. This is where my lovely PR hopes began to dwindle. I just wasn’t prepared for hills like that. I started to get passed (I hate getting passed!) but there was nothing I could do about it. I knew my limits.
At mile 11 we finally reached the top of a large hill with some amazing views of the foothills and the Denver skyline in the distance. I was honestly not feeling all that great at this point. My right hip was sore from the climb and that heavy feeling became a lead feeling. Luckily, the next mile was all downhill and made for a nice reprieve.
We headed back up for the final mile but it was just some slight hills. As I rounded into the last 400 meters I saw Michael and Eli again. Like I said, it was a smaller race and there weren’t many people around so he asked if I wanted them to run the last bit with me. I’m so grateful that they did. I was so tired but it helped to have such encouragement. It made me dig even deeper into what reserve I had left. That’s me in the blue slowly kicking it in.
I crossed the finish line with a final time of 1:50:50. A mere minute and 41 seconds off my PR. There was a part of me that was bummed out, wishing I could have tackled those hills with more power. I began to get down on myself. But then I remember this little gem of a post from my friend Emily who just ran her first marathon. And remembered that I should be very proud of the race I ran and grateful that my body is able to run 13.1 miles. So instead of focusing on what wasn’t accomplished, I decided instead to focus on what was.
Life is too short! Times are just times! I’d rather feel excited and proud than deflated and defeated. I run because it makes me feel good, not because I’m going to win races.
After the race I also got my own little cheering committee. Andy and Cathy rode their bikes over to the finish line from their house.
Here are the official results. The race was really, really small, so small that I could finish 49th overall, haha!
After the race there were celebratory bloody marys, chips, salsa and tacos.
We spent the rest of the weekend putting the finishing touches on our place and buying the last bits of furniture we needed.
Sunday we drove to Loveland to watch the Broncos game and celebrate Michael’s cousin’s birthday. I forgot to take pictures but I did get a few of the amazing sunset we saw on the way home. These pictures don’t do it justice, we all commented that it was the prettiest sunset we’d seen in a long time.
With that, I’m off to NYC to do a little wedding dress shopping for my sister.
Have a great week.
Enjoy and Exhale!