The Denver Trail 1/2 Marathon was Sunday, September 8th and it was at Cherry Creek State Park. Cherry Creek is pretty close to my house, and the race started at 8:00am so I didn’t have to get up extremely early. I still got up at 5:15am to get my gear together and to get Breakfast. When I got up, my calves and shins were sore, almost feeling crampy. NOT the way I wanted to start the day! I figured it would go away after some walking, so I went about getting everything ready, and headed out the door, around 5:45ish. As Summer quickly fades away, and we get into the Fall, the temps drop, and it is Dark in the Morning. I could tell that everything was set up for a great sunrise!
Getting to Cherry Creek State Park was easy. The folks at the Endurance Race Series had secured a parking lot at Cherry Creek High School, just outside the park, so all of the racers could park there. This did mean that we had about a 1/3 of a mile hike to the Start Line/Expo Center. They were taking care of Drop Bags so I grabbed everything I needed and headed to the Expo area. Once I got everything situated, and I got changed, I dropped off my bag and set off to get a quick warm-up in, and to see if there was anyone else that I knew. I am a pretty social person, and I think as a way to combat pre-race nerves, I seek out people to talk to. It is always better to chat up people who I know as well. A couple of minutes before we head to the Starting Line, I run into Al and Allison, who I know from the Boulder Running Company-Tuesday Night Pub Runs! We chat for a bit before the start of the race and I find out that Allison is going to also be at the Bear Chase Race that I will also be racing, on September 30th. She is running her First 50K, and I will be running the 1/2 Marathon.
Race Starts about 5 minutes after 8:00, but that is OK. If you remember back to my 1/2 Marathon in NorCal in July, I set a PR of 2:10:12 and since then, I have put a bunch of training (for me) in since then. I had planned on this being more of a training run, so I could work on my pacing, Which I Really Suck at! The First mile is slightly uphill, and almost entirely on pavement or sidewalk and I settled into my comfortable pace, not letting myself get sucked into passing people who I don’t need to, or running too fast. When I look down at my Garmin 405CX at mile 1 I am about a minute FASTER than I want to be. No problem, I am now on the dirt and should be slowing down. Mile 2 and 3 seem to roll along and there are no major hills to speak of. Mile 3 does get onto some single-track, that was sort of fun, but my pace is still NOT where I want it to be. I am still trying to run my own race, and slow down. Coming up on Mile 4 I pass my second Aid Station. I have my Nathan Quick Draw Handheld, and 2 GU Energy Gels (1 Mandarin Orange, and 1 Island Nectar Roctane) So I am drinking even though I am not stopping, which was my plan. Mile 5 and 6 puts us onto a narrower trail, wider than Double-Track, so easy to pass people, but still in som pretty thick, and SHADY forested area. It was nice, as I was able to cool down and even run without my sunglasses. Most of Mile 6 and 7 and 8 were all on Bike/walking paths, and were rolling hills. I am still monitoring my pace, which is still too fast, but I am feeling good. Also forgot to mention, that at mile 5 I had one of my GU Energy Gels (Mandarin Orange) and the plan was to have the other one around mile 9/10. Being on the Bike Paths meant that there were groups of people out for their morning walks who were oblivious to the fact that there was a race going on, sometimes stretched 3 or 4 wide across the path.
Shortly into Mile 9 and we were back on Trails and off the Bike Paths. In-between miles 9 and 10 is when I had my second Gel (Tropical Nectar tastes like a Pina Colada!) and Did momentarily stop at the Aid Station to refill my Handheld. It was also the time that I dropped in my Nuun Hydration tablet into the water. I might have to do a review in the future about Nuun, but it is AWESOME and going to go into my Arsenal of Nutrition and Hydration products.Miles 9 and 10 also had us running with on and off views of Cherry Creek Lake, and I kept thinking how nice it would be to take a quick dip, but I thought maybe at the end of the race. Miles 11 and 12 took us through some more nice forested areas and much tighter legitimate Single track. It was hard to pass people, but I was still able to pass a few more runners. It also around mile 12 that I really started letting myself think about my finishing time. I had really tried not to think about it, but the pace I was on would easily give me a new PR, and the old one was NOT on Trails, and WAS at Sea-Level! Mile 13 was through parking lots and back on the Bike Paths, but the Finish Line, with its Up-Hill Finish was too close according to my Garmin. I crossed the Finish Line in 2:04:20 BUT my Garmin indicated that I had only run 12.86 miles. WTF!!! After talking to 3 other people they all came up short! There was a lot of talk about how all the trees fouled up GPS and how all the cutting edges of trail shortened my distance. I was inclined to take my pace-9:39 and extrapolate that out for 13.1 miles which gave me a time of 2:06:30. Which is STILL a PR! So, anyway, here are my splits, that are from my Garmin.
Mile 1 9:22 Mile 2 9:20 Mile 3 9:10 Mile 4 9:16 Mile 5 9:24 Mile 6 9:53 Mile 7 9:29 Mile 8 9:25 Mile 9 10:08 Mile 10 9:55
Mile 11 10:13 Mile 12 10:22 Mile 13 (.86) 9:44 Total: 2:04:18
SO, I don’t know if I have a dilemma or not. I do not feel that I ran 13.1 miles, but the Race Director Said I did. He also said that the Course was not USATF (USA Track and Field) Certified. So I guess, for now, I am going with my official time of 2:04:20 as my New PR!!!
So, I have another 1/2 Marathon under my belt, and my Next Race is the Bear Chase 1/2 Marathon on September 30th. Hopefully this race will be closer to 13.1! 🙂