Monday, June 8, 2015

Colfax Half Marathon

A year ago I had planned for Colfax to be my first full marathon, but health problems over the winter made training next to impossible. I pulled back to the half marathon and was glad I did as I was able to train to the point of being confident going into the race rather than just trying to survive it. With Colfax being the same weekend as my birthday I wanted the race to be fun, not a death march.

Riannon, Jocelyn and I before the start,
Going into the weekend my goal was to run under 2:00 and I planned on using one of the race provided pace groups to accomplish that. I was feeling great and after a few months of running with the CRC ladies I was confident that sub 2:00 was feasible. To make matters even better I would be on the start line with my friend Riannon, a huge confidence boost for my first big race.

However, when we got to the start corrals Sunday I realized there was a flaw in my plan. There would be no pace group in the wave I was supposed to start with, I would be on my own for pacing myself as I knew Riannon would likely run faster than me. There wasn't anything to be done about this so as the gun went off we headed out with out wave for the loop through the park. Colfax is unique in that the first three miles run through Denver’s City Park and the Denver Zoo. The joke had been that the mile through the zoo would take me an hour.

I was able to keep up with Riannon for the first two miles but as we reached the Zoo I knew I needed to fall back just slightly. As much as I wanted to run the entire race with her, I knew that I needed to be a bit more conservative. The zoo provided a chance to settle my mind and also focus on something other than running. How many other races do you get to see cheetahs, monkeys and mountain goats?

After we left the zoo we hit the straight portion of the race, basically three miles out, turn around and four miles back. I had begun to look for Norman as he had planned on seeing me along that section for the out and back. I also tried to find people running roughly the same pace as me to try and make my own de facto pace group. No one really stuck and I quickly realized I would be on my own for the entire 13.1 miles. Seeing Norman at around mile five though was a huge energy boost, and I would see him again at about mile ten.

Riannon and I after the race, medals and all!
Those miles kind of dragged by. There wasn’t a lot to see and it was pretty much an endless run down a straight street. Although there were a fair number of spectators, the run along Colfax had no shade and no aide stations, nothing really to break up the monotony. When we finally returned to neighborhood streets and got closer to City Park it was a relief. Turning into City Park was a huge tease, because there was almost another mile left before we would see the finish line.

As I did finally turn towards the finish line I had a burst of energy. Except it wasn’t the finish line. Rather than finishing where we started Colfax has everyone run another 1/10 of a mile to the finish truss. Deceptive little jerks. That was a bit torturous but I still crossed the line with a time of 1:58, well within my goal time and without a pace group to boot.

In the grand scheme of things it was a relatively uneventful race, and if anything that was what made it so memorable. I wasn’t in pain, I knew what I was a capable of and I stuck to my plan. After having run ADT I had more confidence going into the race, and having friends there made a huge difference. It was great to have someone at the start line and even better to see everyone at the finish. I have been lucky to find a community of active women in Colorado. Colfax made for the perfect end to a wonderful birthday weekend and next year the race is on my actual birthday so, assuming Collegiate Road Nationals isn’t the same weekend, I would love to race it again!

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