I ran the Rocky Mountain 5K as part of the Elk Challenge, which was to race both the 5K on Friday night and the half marathon on Saturday morning. This is the recap for the 5K, and I’ll post the half marathon recap soon!
I was in wave 1 for both races and lined up at the front for the 5K with the intention of taking things slow and saving my energy for the half the next morning. The race announcer came on speaker to say that if you wanted to be in contention for an overall award, it will be based on your gun time, not your chip time. I looked around to see who was there and to size up my competition (at this point I had no intention of going for an overall award). The women around me looked no faster than I was, so I got arrogant, took a chance, and went to the very front of the starting line. All intentions of taking things slow were going out the window.
I could see that the first mile began with a giant hill. It looked daunting and hard and I figured that if I took things too fast, I’d be very sorry later.
Well, the race started and I took things too fast. I got to the top of the hill at around the half-mile mark and noticed that I was running a sub-7 mile pace. I backed off (a lot) and just cruised on the flats. At this point I was the first place female, but I was running scared. It is not easy to run in the lead and it was really making me feel a little stressed out. I wasn’t sure how far back the 2nd place girl was, but I was inwardly hoping that she would pass me to take the pressure off.
And then just after the 1-mile mark, the 2nd place woman passed me and I felt like the pressure was off. I pulled back a bit and reminded myself that I had a half marathon the next day, which was a target race for me and a potential PR. I kept the 1st place girl in my sights, but really had no intention of going after her. I was already feeling a little tired and was desperately trying not to push myself too hard. Miles 2 and 3 were mentally tough, but I was doing a good job passing some of the men and kept my women’s overall place.
Just before the finish line, there was a female elk chilling out. I was pretty excited, since how often is it that you see an elk during a road race. Just as I was coming into the finish chute, I heard the announcer say my name, hometown, and place. It was pretty exciting coming in to a rather big crowd and party.
My final time was 23:55, not bad for a hilly course at 7,500 feet!
After I grabbed some food and water, I was shuffled over to where the awards ceremony would be. After about 20 minutes of waiting, they called the winners up to the podium and gave us our medals and National Parks Passes (yes, a won a National Park pass… pretty much the best thing ever). I’d never stood on a podium at a race before, so this was pretty freaking exciting.
Frank and I walked around a bit, trying to shake off some of the lactic acid. I was over the moon with my 2nd place, but I knew I had to get to bed soon to be fresh and ready for the half the next morning.
There is a such thing as race magic, where you go out there and everything is just right. You just know from the moment the race starts that you can conquer the whole world and do exactly what you set out to do. Usually that’s because of a combination of preparation, race conditions, and timing. The Colfax Marathon had that magic, but it was largely because of the people.
The weather was predicted to be a crisp 40 F with a bit of cloud cover and a high of 60 F… perfect marathon conditions. The race started at 6:00 am, so I woke up at 3:15 am to make sure that I got a parking spot and didn’t get lost heading to the start. I was feeling nervous and my stomach was giving me a bit of trouble. I was in and out of the bathroom constantly pretty much until the gun went off. Food was not working out, so instead I opted for water and coffee and hoped for my stomach to calm before I toed the starting line. Around 5:50, I gave Frank my extra clothes, got into my corral and put my game face on. The 4:00:00 pacer was up ahead a bit and I planned to use the first mile to catch up to him. The race began, but I mostly just stood there waiting for the few hundred people ahead of me to go. By 6:05 am I made it over the starting mat and was running my first marathon.
I took about a half mile to find the 4:00:00 pacer and decided to just hang on to him for a while. His name was Corky and he was funny, outgoing, and pretty much everything you could hope for in a pacer. I told him that I would stay with him until mile 16 and he was happy with that plan. He told us that he wanted to start off slow and get faster during some of the downhill sections of the course. We had a group of about 5 people and for the first 8 miles, we were chatting, laughing and getting to know each other. Troy was hoping for a sub-3:50 marathon and wanted to hold on to us through the half way point. Matt was hoping to shave a few minutes off his PR and Dan and I were just hoping to finish our first marathon in one piece (and hopefully with a 3 as the first number).
Mile 9 took us to a park with a lake. It was very flat and Corky started to up the pace a bit. I could definitely feel that we were going quicker, but I still felt comfortable. So far, the miles were breezing by. There were tons of people cheering us on. This was the point in the course that I realized that I was running terrible tangents and dodging too much. I was already over .1 of a mile off from the mile markers. There were a lot of slower runners around because of the relay, and I was finding myself dodging them often. In total, there were 4 races going on; a marathon relay, a half marathon, a 10-miler, and a marathon. Run Colfax staggered the start so that all of the races would end at the same time. In total, there were about 20,000 people on the course, but less than 2,000 were running the full marathon.
We reached the half-way point of the race and another pacer, Lauren, joined us. My shoulders were starting to tighten up on me, but everything else felt great. The race went through the Colorado Institute of Design, weaving between statues and sculptures. We had taken a bit of an uphill since the lake and I was starting to feel it in my quads. Lauren reminded me that at 16 we would have a big downhill and I just had to get there. The group hadn’t changed much besides occasional people that would run with us for a few miles and then go ahead or fall behind.
At mile 16ish, we got to the top of the hill and you could see Mile High Stadium out ahead. I was ready to do some cruising, but wasn’t feeling ready to let go of the pace group. Corky reminded me of my race plan, but I told him that I wasn’t feeling mentally strong enough to do 10 miles alone. I stuck with the pace group and just churned a few miles out. By this point, I was starting to feel a little weepy. I had already eaten 3 gels and at mile 17, decided to have another. I was scared of hitting the 20 mile mark, that I would suddenly hit some wall and be unable to move, so I stayed with the pace group. Frank was on his bike and found me around one of the water stations. I quickly hugged him, told him that I was going to do this, and ran off.
We got close to Mile High Stadium, and once again, Corky reminded me of my race plan. He told me that I looked strong, and that I should take off, but to watch out for the hills at mile 23 to the end. From there, I just went. It was past mile 20 and I felt like I could take on the world. I ran into Mile High with a giant smile on my face, because I just knew that I had this, and that today was my day.
The climb out of Mile High was tough and I entered into Downtown Denver. This was no doubt the roughest and least scenic part of the course. It was hilly, I was tired, and there was little to no crowd support. Everyone around me was either running the 10-miler or the relay, so they all looked fresh as daisies and I certainly was feeling the miles. This is where I made a really weird mistake. I had a water bottle in my hand that I needed to ditch and I wanted to be “environmentally friendly” and not litter, so I stepped up to a curb to throw it into a garbage can. Boy, should I have just dropped it. I stepped back down and my hamstring seized up. For a moment, I thought I had torn it. I half ran/half hobbled and looked down at my watch. I still had a 5K left and I was starting to get worried that I had just wrecked my race.
This was when I had to dig deep. Everything else felt fine. I wasn’t bonking, no real issues, just this hamstring cramp. As I was starting to feel sorry for myself, one of the guys, Dan, from the 4:00:00 pacing group came up from behind me. He tapped my shoulder and asked if I wanted to crush our sub-4 goal with him. I, of course, said yes and we were off. Dan kept repeating “we only have a few miles left, we got this” and “let’s go crush Sarah Palin’s time” (I had told the pace group how Sarah Palin had run a sub-4 marathon). We were hurting, but we were still smiling. We had another gel and we kept laughing about how awful we felt, but how good everyone else (all those freaking 10-mile runners) looked. My hamstring calmed down and I was feeling pretty good again.
In the last mile, we could see the finish line and all of the people. The crowd kept telling us we were almost there… although by this point, a mile felt like a freaking marathon. As much as it was hurting, Dan and I were smiling and thrilled. As we were heading into the finishing chute, I thanked him for catching me and pulling me along. He had found me as I was going into a dark place and he made everything better. As we crossed the finish line, we both threw up our arms and had big smiles on our faces. The final time was 3:57:19. We crushed that 4:00:00 goal. Dan and I hugged, congratulated each other and went to meet up with our families. As soon as I got out of the finish chute, I saw Frank and gave him a huge hug. I was happy to be done, but honestly, I was most happy to have had such a great time doing it. Maybe I am crazy, but running that marathon was a thrilling experience, and I seriously can’t wait to run another one.
I worked so hard to get to that finish line. Between injuring myself before Chicago and training for this race, this journey has been a long one. As I was running through mile high, all I could think about was how thankful I was for being able to do this and for finally not being injured. I ran a solid and smart race, definitely a negative split and my two fastest miles were in the last 6. I did not bonk, I never found my wall, and I had a ton of fun. I am so glad that I got to run with Corky, Dan, Matt, Lauren, and Troy. They really made the day perfect.
After the race, Frank and I chilled out for a bit and waited for my leg cramps to subside. Our friend, Mary, joined us at the finish line and helped me message out my hamstrings (she’s a message therapist). After a little food, Frank and I loaded up in the car, and drove home to Kansas. I gotta say, driving 7 hours after running a marathon is not advised.
I am still over the moon about this race, and to be completely honest, I can’t wait to run another marathon. Everything about Sunday was perfect and I couldn’t have asked for a better race.
Thanks, everyone, for your support! I loved receiving the texts messages from my friends after the race and knowing that all of you were tracking me and cared about my race really meant a lot.
Alright!! So here it is, I am leaving today for Denver!! Frank and I will be staying with our good friend, Scott, in Boulder, which is about 40 minutes away from the starting line. I am definitely excited to go… although I don’t think Elly shares that excitement.
I did my last few runs, including my last time seeing the Linear Trail before the race. Seriously, I couldn’t stop smiling the entire run.
I am all packed up and ready. Oh… and this is my raceday outfit:
I’ll be wearing my Roga Shorts and a Flyte Tank from Oiselle. I’ll have a lot of Gu packs on me, so luckily my Roga Shorts have enough pockets to accommodate that.
I still don’t know my bib number, but you can still check athlete tracking using my name. The race starts at 6:00 am MT… pretty early unless you are an east coaster.
Thanks for all of the advice and support you all gave me and for signing up for runner tracking. I might be the most tracked runner at that race. Haha! I am so excited to get on the road and get this thing done!!!
Only 3 days until the race! See ya’ll when I get back!!!
The Colfax Marathon is this Sunday. I do not know what wave I am in, but the marathon is not too big and the race starts at 6:00 am, so I should be on the course pretty early. The weather is supposed to be ideal for a marathon. Hopefully it stays that way.
The race is split into 5 sections. The first and last sections are largely the same and include a run through the Denver Broncos stadium where you get to see your picture on the jumbotron (not sure how much I’ll care about that in the first go through, but I’m sure at mile 20, it’ll certainly be helpful). From miles 1-16, it is a very mild uphill gaining about 500 feet of elevation. I figure I won’t really notice it too much, since 500 feet over 16 miles isn’t all that much. However, from miles 16-20 is a section called the “Screaming Downhill”. Running downhill has always been my strength and I will be looking forward to that section.
My plan for the race is to run at 4:00:00 pace with the pacer until the Screaming Downhill. If the pacer goes out too fast, I’ll keep it chill and find them later. I trained for a 9:00/mi race, so 9:06 should feel rather comfortable. I want every mile before 16 to have a “9” in the front… not an “8”. I know it will be a problem if I start punching out 8:50’s and stuff. If I am feeling good at the top of the hill, I will let the pace go down a little and ride the downhill. The bottom of the hill is right into the Broncos Stadium for the second time at mile 20, I’ll probably be excited and once I exit out, I’ll be seeing Frank and our friends at mile 22. My goal from that point is to finish with the 4:00:00 pacer behind me.
So… that brings us to my goals. My main goal is to just have fun, so if any of the other goals (except the C goal) are in the way of that, I will abandon it.
B: Under 4:10:00
C: Finish the damn race!
Since this is my first marathon, anything that gets me to that finish line is okay. If I end up walking, I’m sure that will be accompanied with tears, but Frank and my friends will put it in perspective that I will have finished a marathon. Any time is a PR for me and I will have another opportunity to crush it in Chicago come October. I do feel attached to going under the big 4:00:00 barrier, but it really is okay even if I don’t.
I have my outfit picked out (I’ll post it later), and my food and gels are ready. I have some laundry and a little packing to do, but I am basically done. The preparation was as good as it was going to get and I am ready to do this.
I’ll be getting my bib number on Thursday and will give you all that information then. You can search me on athlete tracking by my name (Kerry Regan). They have a funny system where you get email updates (my parents are already signed up, so if you take one of the other email slots, that is fine). My Twitter account will post splits, so you should see those on the sidebar on my blog or you can just go on twitter and search @thisyogiruns. They may have a system come race day in the results, but Run Colfax has not indicated how that will work. Either way, if you want to track me and see splits, I’m sure it can be done and it will definitely be here on the sidebar of my blog and on Twitter.
I really need to say thanks to all of you for your advice, encouragement, and overall kind words throughout the marathon training process. It seriously takes a village to get me to a starting line feeling confident and all of you have played a huge part in that. During those last 6 miles, when it is tough and I want to quit, I will think of all of the things you all have said throughout my training. It has really been a journey getting to this start line and I will not forget how much that journey meant.
I’ll be heading out to Denver on Thursday (It is a 7-hour ride, so that will be fun…). I will post again before I leave with the bib number, race outfit pics, and a little surprise about a race in the UK. 🙂
What is your favorite race playlist song? I am putting together my marathon day music and I need some good ones!
Woohoo! Another week in the books for marathon training and it was another great one. Surprisingly, higher mileage is feeling really good on my legs. I’m rarely sore (only after speed workouts or hard tempo runs). I’m starting to get better at varying my pace AND I am getting faster. Like a lot faster. It’s amazing what more running does for your speed.
Although I still feel like running a marathon is like a ridiculous joke, it’s starting to feel more possible. My goal has been to go for a sub-4:00 time, but to be totally cool with abandoning that goal on race day if I am just not feeling it. I think that if things keep going the way they have been… a sub-4:00 is well within my reach. Of course, I will reassess as we get closer, but lately I am feeling strong and fast, which are two good things.
This is what Elly was up to this week:
Monday: 6 miles easy pace + yoga
I took it easy and just went out for a little loop around town. It was a nice day out, I got to wear shorts AND I was breaking in my new shoes. I love the first few runs in a new pair of running shoes. Everything always feels so wonderful and bouncy.
Tuesday: 7 miles – Tempo Run at “goal MP”
I’ve been trying to get a better feel for my paces so I really wanted to practice without look at my watch this week. This was the first run that I really commited to it. I wanted to stick to a pace where I felt I could hold it for a super long time, but was still faster than my long run pace (usually between 9:30-9:40/mi). I looked down at my watch only when I finished a mile and I was shocked! The miles were ticking by in the mid-8:00’s and faster. I just kept moving, not pushing hard. My last mile was a sub-8 (7:31)… which has never been an easy pace for me. I figured this was a fluke and figured that the higher mileage is making me more comfortable with my tempo runs.
Wednesday: 5 mile Recovery Run + Yoga
Very chill recovery. I hovered around a 10:00/mi pace. I felt good, but certainly tired, so it was nice to have a slow day.
Thursday: Yoga, no running
Friday: 18 miles LSD
18 miles is a hard distance for me. I feel like it’s unfathomably far and honestly, farther than I generally like to drive, no less run. I tried to compartmentalize it in my head as a 10 mile run and a separate 8 mile run. I did a long loop around town and made it to my house at mile 13 for a fast drink of water before setting out for the last 5 miles. Normally, I would just drink at the water fountains around town, but they are still off (I decided to harass Manhattan Parks and Rec on twitter to get the fountains turned back on. It worked!!). I kept the last 4 miles at race pace without too much effort, which gave me a ton of confidence!
Saturday: No Running, just yoga!
Sunday: 9 miles – Tempo Run
No idea what happened here… I went out at a very chill warm up pace and then just kicked it up a few notches at a nice comfortable pace. I figured I was hitting close to goal MP pace (so… 9/mi), but the miles kept getting faster. By mile 5 I was hitting sub-8:00/mi and felt like I could hold this pace forever. I briefly considered running a half marathon to PR, but decided to stick to my original plan and save the PR for a race. Including the warm up, this was at 8:12/mi. I guess it’s runs like these that give you the confidence and mental strength to finish a marathon.
Total: 45 Miles
I ended the week on a huge high point. However, I am very much looking forward to this week’s recovery. I will be hitting between 32-36 miles, which is going to feel amazing after two tough weeks. This weekend I am participating in an adventure race called Questival in Dallas, TX. I think it’s a scavenger hunt or something like that, but all I do know is that it is 24 hours and it’s supposed to be crazy fun. I’ll write a recap after.
Well, there it is. I had a great week. Here’s to hoping this momentum keeps up!!
I recently got a twitter account. Follow me @thisyogiruns or just check out the tweets on the side bar!
I saw Sage Canaday on my long run this week. Let me repeat that… I actually SAW and RAN BY Sage Canaday while on a run in Boulder. I’m pretty sure that my running life is complete. He ran by at a crazy fast pace decked out in some Hoka gear and some sweet sunglasses. After we passed each other, it took me a moment to realize that it was really him. Then, I went on my Strava app and confirmed. Yes, in fact, it was a Sage Canaday sighting. Yes, I’m a complete running nerd.
Besides my epic sighting while on my long run, I’d have to say that my training this week was okay. I had a lot of trouble pacing myself and was putting a little too much effort in my easy miles. This culminated in a missed run on Thursday. Frank and I got to Colorado on Friday morning, so I did both my marathon paced tempo run and my long run on the multi-use trails in Boulder. We made it home Sunday night and Elly, as always, was pretty glad to see that we made it home.
Monday: Rest Day… Yeah! + some gentle yoga
Tuesday: 6.3 miles – Hill Repeats with 700 ft of elevation gain + yoga
I wrote about this run in a previous blog post. It went pretty well. Zeb, my new running partner, came with me for some of it. We took things slow, but overall it was a good workout.
Wednesday: 3 miles – easy run + yoga
Not much to say about this run. I was still a little sore from my hill repeats, so I did some yoga in the AM and went for a quick run in the afternoon. I kept it slow, although the easy pace felt strangely more difficult than it should have. The yoga class that I took kinda kicked my butt and made my legs kinda feel like jello while I was on my run. I’m sure that didn’t help keep things feeling easy.
Thursday: Unintentional Rest Day + yoga
I took a yoga class in the morning in hopes to make me feel a little less stiff. Unfortunately, it was a rather tough class and really only made the soreness worse. By the time I was out, my legs felt tired and I knew that I wasn’t going to go for a run. I decided to take it easy and just do my tempo run on Friday.
Friday: 6.1 miles – Marathon Pace
I warmed up for one mile and then bumped up to marathon pace. I’ve arbitrarily decided that 9:00/mi is marathon pace, since that would sneak me just under 4 hours. I tried to hold the pace without being glued to my watch, but unfortunately, my legs wanted to go faster. Instead, I held close to 8:45/mi, which felt good, but I didn’t want to put that much effort into the run. Luckily, I still have a few months to hone my pace down a bit.
Saturday: Snow shoeing with hurricane force winds
We met up with some friends in Boulder and drove out to Nederland to go snow shoeing. There was absolutely no snow for most of the way, but once we got up into the mountains, it seemed like a pretty substantial storm had come through. The car was being blown around a lot and we considered turning back for a lower elevation. However, once we made it up it was pretty fantastic, and the trees kept the winds at bay.
Sunday: 12 miles – Best long run ever!
The run itself was nothing particularly special. It was pretty cold out and I was a little underdressed, especially for the second half of the run when the sun was in the clouds. I felt good and strong for most of it, but at the end had some trouble getting to marathon pace. I, again, wanted to go a little too fast, which made my legs feel like they were working too hard. However, in the last mile, I saw a guy fly by me decked out in Hoka gear with a little hydration pack on. I had to do a double take, but it was definitely Sage Canaday (confirmed by flyby on Strava). I was pretty much the most excited groupie ever.
Total Mileage: 27.5
Overall, it was a good week, but not a great week. This was a cut back in mileage from last week, but for some reason, it never felt like that. My legs were often tired or feeling sore. In order to fix that, this week my goal is to run my easy mileage a little slower, even if the effort seems like too little. I am entering the 4th week of training and I want my legs to stay strong so I don’t have burn out in the weeks to come.
M: 4 miles easy T: 6 miles MP W: Rest T: 6 miles Hill Repeats F: 4 miles easy S: Rest S: 14 miles LSD
Total: 34 Miles
Have you ever seen an elite on a run? How has your training been going?
Week two of my Colfax Marathon training cycle is over, and I only have 110 days to get myself ready! I know that sounds like a long time… but it’s not. However, it will be more than enough time if every week goes as well as this week did. Basically, mostly everything went right. I had a few weather snafus that stopped me from hitting my paces, but the effort was there, even if the clock didn’t say so.
Monday: 8 miles LSD – Long run pushed off from week before due to weather
I wrote about this run here. It was a pretty good long run, but was pushed off to this week due to arctic temperatures in Kansas.
Tuesday: 3 miles easy pace on treadmill + Yoga
It was still bitterly cold out on Tuesday, and I had kinda lost feeling in my legs by the end of my 8-mile long run, so I decided to take this one inside. I hate the treadmill, and even though it was an easy paced run, mentally, this run was pretty tough. I have such a hard time keeping my mind occupied while running indoors.
Wednesday: 3 miles in snowstorm + Yoga
I went out for a run during a rather nasty snowstorm. I figured that since the temps weren’t too bad, that I could take the snow. I was hoping to hit close to marathon pace, but couldn’t stop my feet from slipping on the snow, so I just did put a medium amount of effort into the run. I was pretty glad to get home and dry off a bit.
Thursday: 3 miles easy pace on treadmill + Yoga
Kansas doesn’t believe in plows and salt… so I ended up taking my run inside… again. By the end of it, I was ready to swear off the treadmill forever. I did some yoga after, and that made me feel better about being cooped up indoors.
Friday: 5 miles Marathon Pace… but not really + Yoga
I intended for this run to be at marathon pace. Frank and two of our friends came out for the run (although Frank only did 3 miles). It was icy and cold, which slowed us down a lot. Dodging the ice and snow made for an interesting run that almost felt like trail running. We kept it about 30 seconds per mile slower than MP, although the effort seemed pretty tough.
Saturday: Rest Day – Went to see the largest ball of twine in the world… and yes, that is in Kansas!
Sunday: 10 miles LSD + Yoga
I went to a yoga class in the AM and ran in the afternoon. One of Frank’s co-workers expressed interest in training for a half marathon, so I took him along for 7 miles of the run… and he did great! This was the first long run that has actually felt like a long run in a while. It was a real milestone to hit double digits. I actually don’t think I have done that since my Chicago Marathon training back in October. It was a great run, and I even got to explore a new route. Frank joined me for the last three miles and really pushed the pace. I ran a negative split with the last mile well below marathon pace (Thanks Frank). I had intended to keep this run pretty slow, but with the ice gone and fresh legs, I felt too good to slow down.
Total Mileage: 32.4
Overall, this was a great week. I needed it too! With the A1A Half Marathon coming up, I think I needed a few confident long runs under my belt into order to go for a PR in Fort Lauderdale. Also, the higher mileage felt good on my legs, so I’m pretty glad to be back! This week, Frank and I will be heading to Boulder on Thursday night, so I’ll be doing a few runs at altitude!
T: 3 miles easy
W: 6 miles MP
Th: 3 miles easy
F: 6 miles
S: Hiking in Colorado!
S: 12 miles LSD through Boulder
How was your week? Anyone hit by bad weather? Also, I know Kristina and Ali are doing the A1A Marathon/Half Marathon. Is anyone else gonna be there?