The Colfax Half Marathon this past Sunday was actually my first road half marathon. I have done one other half, but it was on Cheyenne Mtn in Colorado Springs which is approx. 8500 ft and god knows how much elevation gain. So yea, a completely different beast!
I won't lie - I had high expectations for this race. Perhaps a little too high. I performed much better than I anticipated at the Cherry Creek Sneak 10 miler a month prior so I think I was a little on my high horse. I figured, if I could run 6:26 pace in a race with some decent hills coming off a 60-mile week on tired legs, I should be able to easily run 6:30 pace if not faster in a half marathon coming off a proper taper. And when I say "6:30 pace if not faster," I really wanted faster. Because I'm a runner, and we tend to aim a little too high sometimes. Taper week went well. I think everyone feels a little strange at the beginning of a taper, but honestly I didn't feel nearly as bad as I've felt in the past. I think I put so much of my heart and soul and effort into this training cycle that the rest actually felt really good. And leading up to the taper, I had had a few good workouts so I felt confident going in. My overall training cycle was definitely the best I've ever had leading up to a large race: I simply prioritized my training. Almost nothing got in the way of getting my runs in. The only times I decided to take time off were when I got bronchitis over the winter and when I came down with a nasty cold the week before the 10 miler after traveling a bunch that weekend & not sleeping much due to my girlfriend's bachelorette festivities. I also decided to take a down week the week of that same friend's wedding because I knew that I had to prioritize her that weekend and I knew that would again mean traveling a lot and not sleeping much and that if I pushed myself to run high mileage that weekend, I would run the risk of getting sick again and I wouldn't have as much time to recover this go-round. Day before race day: I woke up, ate breakfast & went out for a 2 mile shakeout with strides around 11:30. I did NOT feel good on this run. I had some coffee with my breakfast, which I typically do when I'm NOT planning on running soon after because coffee and running and me do not mix, but I guess it just slipped my mind. Many runners drink coffee before runs and races on purpose to give them a boost - I am not one of them. It actually makes me feel slower - idk if it's mental or what. Anyway, my run sucked, but it didn't worry me too much because better to have a crappy run the day before the race than on actual race day, amirite?! I also spent some time outside with my boyfriend practicing my water stops. I decided to go with water rather than Gatorade because Gatorade does NOT agree with me and my sensitive stomach. After my run, I came in to shower and felt extremely dizzy, lightheaded and nauseous. My hands were tingling. I've come to understand this (I think) as a hypoglycemic episode. I've been experiencing this a little bit lately after runs and I definitely want to get it checked out once I have health insurance (come July lol don’t be concerned). Other characteristics I experience are the need to eat everything in sight immediately (which was strange because I had eaten a decent meal only shortly before I ran) and to crave sugar specifically. When I got back in the house I literally shoved gummy bears in my mouth as fast as I could. A feeling of nausea & brain fog stayed with me, to a degree, for the remainder of the day. I went to the expo to grab my packet & check out the booths and then I stopped by REI to grab some arm sleeves. I got home around 5 and pretty much lounged around the rest of the day and night. I had some pretty intense stomach cramps, which isn't altogether uncommon for me, but they did make me a little nervous as I obviously didn't want to still be experiencing them the following day. Race day: I woke up early, as is best to do in order to allow your body as much time as possible to reach its optimal temperature and thus optimal performance. I ate half a banana with peanut butter and 2 whole grain gluten free Kashi waffles (this was my meal before the 10-miler I did well in so I wanted to mimic it). I drank water but tried not to over-do it as to flush out too many necessary electrolytes. My boyfriend dropped me off a few blocks away from the race, as there were expected to be 13,000 people and I knew traffic, and parking, would be insane. After hitting the porta-potty, I found a bush to hide my backpack in and went for a light jog of about 1.5 miles. Upon returning I got in line for the porta-potty again (because who wants to have to stop DURING your race, amirite) but the line was super long by this point and I was afraid I would miss the start. I asked someone in line to hold my spot for me and sprinted to get my backpack so I could change into my racing gear and put on my flats while I was in line. Success! I had about 9 minutes til the gun post-portapotty so I went to drop my bag at the gear drop. Of course I'm a dummy and didn't put my stuff in a clear bag so they had to take what seemed like a very long 2 minutes to look through it. Once my bag was checked, I finished my warm up with a few drills and strides on my way down to the start line. I was in Corral A which was easy to find and fortunately not too crowded. I gave my boyfriend a kiss and hopped up to the start line, next to my teammate Sophie. Annnndddd we're off! I won't bore you with details of every single mile: miles 1 and 2 felt great - I think I ran a 6:22 followed by a 6:27. Yea, definitely went out a little fast, but not to the point where I derailed my later pace. Mile 3 was tough because it wove through the zoo so there were a lot of twists and turns and ups and downs. I think I dropped down to a 6:30 on mile 3. Mile 4 I got it back a bit and started pulling away from my teammate - at this point I think I was 7th woman. Right around mile 4 or 5, the temperature dropped and it started misting. I was actually a little chilly and began wishing the sun would come out. I grabbed my first drink of water at mile 4. Miles 5-9 or 10 were hot and cold. There were times I would look down at my watch and see 6:25 pace and feel good, and there were times I would look down at my watch and see 6:50 pace but FEEL like I was running 6:25 pace lol. At mile 9 (I think?) the girl directly in front of me had to take a pit stop at a porty-potty and I thought SCORE! I'll be able to pick her off! And I did momentarily, but she actually passed me right back soon after. I heard my teammate come up behind me a bit after that - maybe around mile 10 - but then she dropped off again; later I found out that she also had to take a porty-potty break lol. Miles 9-13 were probably the best of the race. I was able to cut down my pace a bit (my last two miles were 6:28 and 6:18 followed by the last .25 at 6:07 pace) and I just felt strong. There was a decent hill at mile 10 but I surged up it at 6:25 pace and felt good. I passed one of the girls in front of me at mile 11 I believe, but was never able to catch the porta-potty girl again. I finished in 6th place, with an official time of 1:26:23 but came through the half at 1:25:31 as the race was about .15 mi long. Afterward, I hung out with my boyfriend and my teammates who had come to watch and got some coffee and a little bit of food and changed clothes/layered up because holy hell it really was quite cold.
My plan moving forward, at least for the summer months, is to concentrate on the half marathon distance because I really do enjoy it and I think I might be able to see some success with it in the future. I've set my sights on a race in mid-June called the All-Out Summer Breeze in Arvada, CO. I would of course like to get down to sea level soon too as the altitude conversion for Colfax puts me at 1:21:47 and I would love to see if that, or something faster, is feasible. Anyway, if you've made it this whole way - thank you! Thank you for reading my entire, lengthy race recap lol and as always, if you have any questions about race prep, execution or nutrition, etc, please don't hesitate to ask. xo