It's been a long time since I've posted. I've been battling plantar fasciitis for months and I feel like every time I start posting consistently, something happens and I'm back on the injured reserve list. I've focused on building mileage slowly and not stressing much when I miss runs. This year I've run one race and felt it was worthy of a better-late-than-never race report. My husband and I planned a trip to Denver for the first weekend of March; it was a good excuse to get away, see my brother, and celebrate my hubby's birthday. I looked online and saw that a half marathon, That Dam Run, was taking place on Sunday morning less than 10 miles from my brother's house; the week was designed as a cutback mileage week and I could not resist doing a race that had a 10am start. :)
I was curious how the altitude would affect me; last time I was in Denver, I did not run much due to PF and I only noticed the altitude when I was running uphill. The race was a small race and no elevation profile was available online; after I signed up, I found a race report and saw the elevation graph showing that the second half (out-back course) was uphill. Yikes! We arrived on Friday and, while my husband felt the altitude, I only noticed it when climbing up steps. I woke up Saturday morning and went out for a run; I had packed an old pair of running shoes and, due to snow being on the dirt trail, I had to stick to the concrete path. I threw in a couple of climbs and that's the only times I felt the altitude. It was actually easier for me to breathe at a mile high...I'm guessing that is because the air in Orange County is so polluted that my respiratory system is overworked on my normal runs.
That evening I noticed that I had shin splints...uh oh. The next morning my shins were hurting more and I wished that a store was open early enough for me to buy new running shoes before the race but that was not the case. I arrived at the race and loved being able to walk about 2 minutes to pick up my bib and goodie bag. I was impressed with the shirt and goodie bag considering the race was only $50. I hungout in the car with my brother and hubby until about 30 minutes before the race; it was then I walked over to hit the porta potties. Oh my..that was a nightmare! The race organizers had about 8 porta potties for over a thousand people (half marathon and shorter distance). I was in line about 25 minutes and then ran over to get near the middle of the group lined up for the race start.
The course was an out-back with about 2 miles on Dam Road and then we turned and went down into the Cherry Creek park; as we ran along the road, I wished we were running on the trails that we down below in the Cherry Creek park. The course became scenic as we crossed over the creek and I probably made people laugh as I gasped at the beauty. I absolutely loved the scenery, though the concrete bike path beat up my legs. What concerned me was seeing the signs indicating "steep grade" since I knew I would be running up that steep grade in the latter miles; there were numerous little rolling hills and I know those take their toll. I realized I had to save some oxygen and energy for the second half, so I tucked in with a couple of people and let them be my unofficial pacers; we talked and they were impressed that I was running so well at altitude. I was happy that I did not feel the altitude much but I knew the second half would be tough. After the turnaround, my "pacers" slowed up and I stayed behind them for a couple of minutes and then decided to go for it.
I started feeling a little tired around mile 9 (mile markers were for miles 7-9 so I was happy I wore my Garmin) after having tackled part several rolling hills and the initial part of the long 300 foot climb. I decided to keep pushing since my shins were hating the concrete and I was hungry I started passing people on the next couple miles of uphill climbing and really felt the effects of altitude as I pushed uphill. When I ran up onto Dam Road at mile 11, it was like torture as it was a two mile straight shot to the finish. I tried to focus on the scenery and the beauty of the mountains on the horizon and park below but that was not enough; my left knee (one with cyst) began acting up and I was forced to slow down. I began playing the game of breaking up the course into markers (the next sign, the next sign, etc) and realized I hated being able to see the finish line so far out!
I crossed the finish line with nothing left- finishing time of 1:51 (154th place out of 587 overall) was better than I expected considering the altitude and uphill second half. I saw Alan and Tim and told them to just walk with me to the car since I was so out of breath. It was a fun, low-key race and one of the most scenic road half marathons imaginable. I highly recommend it, though the porta potty issue at the start needs to be resolved by the race organizers. I love Denver and hope to do more runs there in the future!