Kooky Spooky Half Fanatic Qualifier

I am doing my happy dance today, for many reasons.  First, because it is Halloween.  Now, I didn’t always love Halloween

I am part of Team Zissou, obviously.
I am part of Team Zissou, obviously.

but enjoy it significantly more now that I am older.  I don’t like it for the candy, and not necessarily the costumes, although I am digging our office’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou theme today (let’s be honest, I love nautical so it totally works).  I now love Halloween because I love decorating, baking everything pumpkin, and the fact that it’s the gateway to the true holiday season!  Also, the hubs and I like to pass out giant bars of candy and make creative Halloween-inspired cocktails, so it’s great that it’s the start of the weekend.  The second reason for my outburst of enthusiasm is simply that it’s Friday.  And finally, my third reason for exuberance is that the hubs and I are officially Half Fanatics!

What is a Half Fanatic, you might ask.  Well it’s a cult-like community (a nice cult that is) of ridiculously rambunctious runners who tend to be a little overzealous in their running of numerous races.  In my previous post I reviewed the Denver Rock ‘N’ Roll half marathon, but this past weekend, the hubs and I ran yet another half marathon, this time in Golden, Colorado (really it was northwest Arvada, but close enough).  This race featured a half marathon, 10K, 5K, and kids’ fun run.  Given that the hubs and I wanted to stay in running shape for the upcoming Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon (NEXT WEEKEND!!!), we figured why not do one more?  So Sunday morning we drove out toward Golden for the Kooky Spooky Half Marathon!

Wouldn't be race day without this shot!
Wouldn’t be race day without this shot!

This race was a bit kooky and spooky, for both good and bad reasons.  What I was not expecting was the nearly 500 foot elevation difference from about mile 8 to mile 11.  That was rough, and near the end of a race, it makes for a less than triumphant finish.  All the runners met at the North Area Athletic Complex (NAAC) in northwest Arvada, which thankfully had real bathrooms (a big pre-race bonus), and a staggered start time for each race distance.  The half marathoners left first, which was beneficial given the race started at 9:00am.  We arrived at the complex 15 minutes prior, having already picked up our bibs and race packets on Friday evening, and knowing it was a small race.  We weren’t terribly concerned with time, but more just maintaining mileage.

Promptly at 9:00am, the race started, after a few instructions and

Can you find us? Points if you can!
Can you find us? Points if you can!

reminders from one of the race officials.  We made our way out of the NAAC parking lot and down towards a sidewalk path, which unfortunately forced many runners onto the road, heading to the Ralston Creek Trail.  The paved trail takes you first through a scenic and quiet neighborhood, with lovely houses and wildlife refuge areas all around.  Then you snake past a golf course, which on our way out was still fairly unused, and then into a lush open space with trees on one side and stunning mountain vistas on the other.  This first portion of the course was delightfully downhill, and I was loving it.  We made our way about five and half miles before we crossed a road and quickly turned to run in the other direction.  At this point there had already been three water stations and a smattering of helpful volunteers and cheering on-lookers.

Why don't races have difficulty ratings?
Why don’t races have difficulty ratings?

As we made our way to mile 7 I was feeling fine pace-wise (we kept a 10:07 pace through this time), but I was getting hungry.  I grabbed my Vanilla GU and slurped it down quickly.  It took a little while before its intended effect kicked-in.  Come mile 8, however, I was slowing.  The day was warming to an unseasonal 75 degrees, and because the race was later, we were going to be running during much of the heat of the day (this is me complaining, *whine, whine, whine*).  Once we made it back out of the Ralston Creek Trail, we made a right at Virgil Way onto the Blunn Reservoir loop, taking us away from the stadium toward an incredibly daunting continuous incline.  This is where I panicked.  The final portion of the race was completely open to the elements, and forced us up into the undulating hills preceding the foothills of Jefferson County.  I let the hubs go on ahead because I could tell I was losing steam and didn’t want to disrupt his rhythm.  I managed to run-walk my way through the next three miles until I reached the summit of the entire course at 5,967 feet. Yup, that’s practically 6,000 feet.  Not what you’d expect in the second half of half marathon.

Once we crested the “hill,” I gained a lot of speed snaking my way back downhill, descending about 200 feet in elevation.  I could see my hubby chugging along a few minutes ahead of me, and was happy I hadn’t lost too much time.  During this section of the race I met a fun girl dressed as bat girl (including batman printed tutu and socks), who was running her first half marathon that day.  She drove out Friday from Grand Junction, Colorado, which is remarkably flat, so she and I commiserated about this unexpected last portion of the race.  Once we made it to the bottom of this hill, the path snaked through a ravine and worked its way upward back to the stadium.  That “one mile left” sign is really what kept me going, that and the race photographer.  Just before reaching the parking lot to run through the finish line, I was so tempted to give up, but another runner, whom I had been pacing for the last 2 miles cheered me up tremendously, saying, “Just a quarter mile left – we gotta make sure they see us running!  Let’s do it!”  That was the jolt of energy I needed.

The hubs was a superstar and kept on chugging along!
The hubs was a superstar and kept on chugging along!
You have to admit, the background is amazing.
You have to admit, the background is amazing.

I finally crossed the finish line with a 2:27:06, just a few minutes after the hubs with a 2:25:12 finish.  He had just gotten his medal and water before looping back to the finish line to cheer me on.  I was so happy to see him there smiling me through my final steps.  It was definitely an achievement, but I was so ready for a shower and a day with nothing to do.

Now that to me looks like a sigh of relief!
Now that to me looks like a sigh of relief!
This finish line couldn't come soon enough!
This finish line couldn’t come soon enough!

So here we are, Half Fanatics boasting two half marathons a week apart, and soon to be three in four weeks!  It’s a great start to race season, and I can’t wait to feel that rush next weekend in Disney World (with Ms. BakeNBurn and her hubby too!).

Half Fanatic bound!  Victorious!
Half Fanatic bound! Victorious!

Are you also a half fanatic – or have you thought about becoming one?  Am I crazy?  Any other fun Halloween themed races out there?  Anyone else running Wine and Dine?

3 thoughts on “Kooky Spooky Half Fanatic Qualifier

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