Back in November, in the high of completing my fifth half marathon of the year, and third within a month, I thought it’d be a great idea to look ahead and plan for my 2015 race schedule! Once you get bit by the run bug, there’s no turning back. I started looking at small, local races, knowing the appeal of easy-to-manage race day events and the fun runner and volunteer atmosphere. These smaller races and series truly showcase the running community with which you surround yourself. I checked Active.com, and first looked up That Dam Half. After running my first half marathon in February 2014, I was immediately addicted and wanted to find another one I could do right away. That Dam Half was only a week out from the Disney Princess Half, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to sign up for it with enough confidence that I’d finish easily, or at least well. So instead I decided I would save this race.
Now you may be thinking, “Why is this race called ‘That Dam Half’?” It’s true, Colorado is not exactly known for its large bodies of water, but just 15 minutes down the road from me is the Cherry Creek Reservoir. Cherry Creek cuts its way through Denver, much of which is followed by Speer Boulevard. It’s derivation point, however, is out east towards the reservoir. Conserving water is something we Coloradans must get used to, so reservoirs were established throughout the state. Not all are in the same use at this point, and truth be told, the Cherry Creek Reservoir is now more for recreational use than anything else. The reservoir is part of the Cherry Creek State Park, which boasts good biking and running trails all over and great views of the mountains out west. Thus, That Dam Half quite literally winds its way around the reservoir and dam! That is my long, drawn-out explanation for the obviousness of the name…
After checking out the half registration, I noticed there was a series built around this race, the Run Denver Race Series. You provide me with a package of races, I cannot resist! Especially when they have cute themes, are all close-by, and each is small and local. So in December, I began my five race series, which includes 4 5ks, of which I am not normally a huge fan, and That Dam Half. We kicked off the series with the Rudolph Ramble 5k, which took place the day following the ColderBolder 5k. Obviously I ran both, because why not! These races would guarantee me at least 14 races in 2014.
The Rudolph Ramble took place on December 7th, and it was so much fun – folks donned jingle bells, reindeer antlers, santa hats and other holiday-themed paraphernalia. Given the size of these races, many folks brought their kids and dogs to participate. This race took place in City Park, just north of the Cherry Creek area of Denver. I have now run a number of races in City Park, some more treacherous than others, but this day was perfect. Not too warm (it was unusually warm this weekend, unlike the year before when the high was 6 degrees), sunny, and no breeze. We took a wide loop around the park and finished by the pavilion, where volunteers were lined up with goody bags (I mean nice drawstring goody bags!), water, Evol burritos, Aspire sports drinks, bagels and bananas, along with other goodies and freebies. I am all about the freebies, so I just cannot resist. What I liked most, however, were the awesome long-sleeve BornFit race shirts. The shirts were a periwinkle blue with the Rudolph Ramble logo. Part of the series perks included a BornFit grey half-zip, with which I am now obsessed. Good swag for a small series.
Two weekends ago I participated in the second race of the series, the Polar Bear 5k: Thrill of the Chill. Thankfully, like the previous race, it was the opposite of
chilly. I am fairly certain it was about 60 degrees that day. This time the race took place in Washington Park, or Wash Park as known by the locals. My friend, Tessa, came to cheer me and her roomie on during the race. They live in walking distance from the park, so it made for a great morning for all of us. This race wound its way around the park, and took one additional loop through the middle to meet the 3.1 miles. The volunteers for these races are notoriously fantastic, and there are folks interspersed throughout the course cheering on the runners. The course is just the right ammout of small inclines and flat, so you can really work on speed for this race. Like the race before, many participants had dogs and kids join in the fun. Kristin, my friend’s roommate, took 1st in our age group, so we got to celebrate her during the award ceremony. Personally, I felt great throughout the race and ran a 30:50 5k – I am determined to bring my 10k time solidly under 10 minutes per mile, so I think I am on track.
This Sunday I will be participating in the third installment of the race series, the Super Bowl 5k also in Wash Park. Finally something I would rather be doing on Super Bowl Sunday (especially since the Broncos didn’t make it this time… we won’t go into last year, but I definitely do NOT want the Seahawks to win…). The following Sunday will be the Valentine’s Day 5k, and I will finish the series on March 1st with That Dam Race Half Marathon. I couldn’t imagine kicking off 2015 any better way – time to pile on the miles!
Do you have a favorite race series? Do you prefer big races or small, local events? Any fun themed races coming up?