Sunday, October 20, 2013

Rockin' 'n' Rollin' in Denver

     Well, quite a bit has happened since my last post, and since I completed another marathon today it seemed like a good time to update this blog. I'm sitting in my hotel room in downtown Denver and just finished watching the Chiefs win and improve to, 7-0!! The reason I'm in the Mile High City, however, is the 2013 Rock 'n' Roll Denver Marathon. I love Colorado and a marathon was the perfect excuse to get back out here.
     I put in the strongest and toughest training block I've ever done leading up to this mornings race. The biggest changes I made in my training this time around is higher mileage and speed work. The heaviest part of my training was six consecutive weeks of 100+ miles per week, maxing out with 121-miles for one of those weeks. Going to the track and doing speed workouts is something I had never done before, but definitely helped me reach a new level in my running.
     This would be a good time to write that in early June I started a new (dream) job at First Gear Running Company in Wichita. The people I work with are amazing and have truly become a second family to me. Working with such great and experienced runners has given me the ability to pick their brains and get great advice. The track workouts I started doing is also because of my employment at FGRC. I've also met a lot of great people working there, not to mention a lot about the running industry and how to properly fit someone for shoes. Great, great place to be... but I digress.
     Running in Colorado and  at altitude is something I had done before, but I couldn't say the same about racing at altitude. I figured I just needed to try and be as fit as possible and hope for the best in regards to the elevation gain.
     This morning (and the entire race, really) was beautiful, perfect running weather. The start and finished was in downtown Denver, right by the capitol building. My initial goal for this marathon was to try and PR and run sub-2:55. However, as my training progressed I starting thinking about a possible sub-2:50. The idea of running 6:30 min/mile pace was something that made me nervous, though. With that said, I toed the staring line with a plan of holding 6:30 pace as long as I could. I was feeling really good through 10k and kept feeling good past the halfway point. Checking the splits on my watch I knew I was below 6:30 pace, but it felt comfortable. I ran with a guy from Boulder through 16-17 miles and then he dropped back a bit, so I was solo for awhile. It's much better running with a group or someone than alone. A little before 10k to go, I hooked up with another runner and we tried to work with each other to get through. The last 10k was pretty brutal. I was starting to think I might be paying for going out too fast (I went through the half at 1:23:? with a plan of going through at 1:25:00). It's all mental at this point. I heard the marathon described as a 20-mile warmup and then the toughest 10k you can imagine once, and that was true for me today. I don't know if the race director wanted to make the ending "challenging" or if they wanted to give a slap in the face to the runners, but at mile 25 there is an uphill that is STEEP. Yes, a large part of it is because it's mile 25 and you're running on fumes, but it was just about debilitating. The finish, the final .2, is the exact opposite. It is straight downhill. Too downhill. Like, out of control I'm about to face plant and somersault to the finish! Anyway, enough complaining. It was gorgeous and fun to run in a big city (there were 15,000 runners).
     I crossed the finish line in 2:48:25 (6:26 min/mile). 10th overall and first in my age group. Blew away my expectations and gives me a lot of confidence going into April.
     Speaking of which... I got into Boston!!! That's the purpose of this blog so I should probably mention that! Tomorrow I'll go for an easy (and sore) shake out run and then take two weeks off of running. I want to make sure I fully recover, give my body a break, and go into my training for Boston feeling fresh and healthy.
     I'm celebrating today's PR, though, with a pig out session at my favorite place to eat ANYWHERE... Woody's Wood-Fired Pizza & Watering Hole in Golden. There's usually a wait and the Broncos are playing Sunday Night Football, so I better get going... (I'll be decked out in Chiefs gear, so hopefully I make it out alive...)
     Thanks for checking out my running ramblings and until next time... RESPECT THE DISTANCE!!!