You don’t have to tell me, I already know… I stink at blogging abroad. What can I say? I was caught up in the awesome that is England and Scotland. And can we talk about what an interesting time to be in Scotland? Today is decision day! More on that later.
Rather than reminisce about the adventures the hubs and I experienced while gallivanting (a word not used nearly enough) throughout the British countryside, I wanted to blog about a long overdue race recap. The Thursday before my hubby and I left for the UK, I was invited to participate in the Denver Esprit de She!
This race series is designed specifically for women, and I can say with certainty has been one of my favorite races to date. The incredible support I received from women on the course and off was truly spectacular. My friend Christie used to work for Athleta, one of the major sponsors of the event. Along with sponsorship from Lifetime Fitness, this race took place just north of Denver in Westminster, Colorado, outside the Lifetime gym along I-25. Thankfully the race took place with enough time after work that I was able to fight the traffic to get there with 30 minutes to spare.
Before the race began, there were vendors lining the outdoor pool area, which would be available post-race as well. In front of the starting line was a stage, and fitness instructors were leading the awaiting runners in fantastic choreographed
dances. Given my affinity towards Jazzercise, kickboxing classes, and Zumba, I obviously jumped right in! Christie arrived with about 10 minutes prior to the start of the race (post-work races aren’t always easy to commute to!). She and her friend Karen came together, and thankfully all three of us have similar paces. We made our way up to the starting line. Because the race hosted both a 5K and a 10K, the organizers made sure to let the 10K-ers go first, given the extra distance and later end times. As you might expect, given this was a ladies only race, I had to accessorize. I wore my Race Junkie “This Beauty Runs Like A Beast” shirt with my purple Under Armour leggings and purple Sparkle Skirt! I like to make an impression, even when I run.
We all started the race together, but about 2.5 miles in decided to each go our own pace. I was feeling particularly good during this race, despite the unexpected hills. Unlike with the BolderBoulder, I didn’t want to psych myself out by looking at the elevation chart. I should know by now that if it is in Colorado, there will be hills, and the elevation is high regardless. I might have wanted to prepare for these hills though. The course itself left much to be desired. It was an out-and-back course, and for those doing the 10K, it was out-and-back times two. Much of the course looped around the Lifetime Fitness facility and parking lot, and ran right along the highway. In some ways this was good, because I couldn’t hear my Nike running app telling me my pace, which probably reduced my stress and anxiety over the need to run faster.
Although the course was lackluster, the race volunteers were fantastic. They were full of spirit and great cheers, and of course, I elicited lots of sparkle skirt enthusiasm. These were the folks, again, primarily women, that kept me going. The
best part of the course was that the finish line was at the bottom of a hill, so you could truly speed your way through the finish line. At about mile 4 I began running behind a woman that had my ideal pace, and I followed her through to the end of the race. I crossed the finish line, feeling this had been my best 10K yet, and indeed it was! A new PR for the books: 1:01:53, a 9:58 average pace. In all honesty, my best time ever. With the amazing race support, the women on the course and off cheering me on, and not worrying about my splits, I had a fantastic time.
The fun, thankfully, wasn’t over yet. Great volunteers were there to greet me, as our names were announced over the loudspeaker, with chocolate milk (always a favorite in my book), Aspire natural sports drinks, and bottles of cold water. As the ladies and I made our way back to the pool area, tasty bites were prepared, including peanut chicken and rice, roasted tomato hummus and quinoa, and other yummy nibbles. White wine was provided by Joel Gott wines, with a cute little plastic souvenir wine glass, mini manis were available (although the line was long enough to deter me), and samples of Lifetime’s spa items were available. Of course Athleta had items available for purchase, and freebies were offered by Luna, Aspire and Yoplait. The best part, however, was truly the Aspire photo booth, with an appropriate assortment of props, and the ability to send to your e-mail or post to Facebook or Twitter. Awesome! Christie and I enthusiastically partook. I had an amazing night surrounded by awesome women, and happily got a PR out of it. And thanks to Christie’s connections with Athleta, this race was free!
Registration for the 2015 Denver Esprit de She opens in November… I have a feeling I will happily pay for it this time around.
Have you participated in an Esprit de She or other lady-only races? How did you like the experience? Any recommendations for smaller national races to try? Who cannot wait for the weekend (can you tell that I am stoked?)?