Well another half marathon bites the dust, and I have [truly] begun my 2015 running year with a bang! Last time I posted I had to admit, I was feeling a little lack-luster in the running-love department. Sunday, however, I had to commit since I had signed up for the Run Denver series and the final race, That Dam Race, to be exact, took place on Sunday, March 1st. What a way to start the new month! I have to admit, I was getting especially nervous for this race mostly because I just wasn’t feeling it, and also because of the almost constant snow from Friday, February 20th through Friday, February 27th. Other than Tuesday last week, Denver was getting completely dumped on by the constant snow cloud cover. I honestly had no idea what to expect for the road conditions, and thankfully the Saturday – Sunday snow didn’t appear or else I think I might have given up hope.
I suppose the weather gods were somewhat on our sides this year. The snow stopped Friday and didn’t reappear all weekend. Although the temperatures never really rose above mid-20’s all weekend, the sun did come out, and in Colorado that can mean a lot. So Sunday morning I rose in all of my nervousness (I haven’t been this nervous for a race in quite some time), made my way the 10 minute drive to Cherry Creek High School, and prepared myself for the 13.1 miles ahead of me.
Apparently when folks set off on this race last year, it was a balmy 8 degrees, so I was pretty content with my moderate sunshine and 20 degrees. The wind was minimal, and the starting line was stunning. It’s almost unreal how serene the roadway is that skirts the edge of the Cherry Creek Reservoir. It’s lifted above the top of the water by several stories, and on a clear day you can see the mountains stretch out in both directions to the west. The Dam Road, befittingly named, is a perfect start and finish line for this race, and overlooking the frozen reservoir, it was quite a stunner. Sadly I didn’t take many photos as my fingers were pretty frozen…
The course started along the Dam Road then took a sharp left turn onto the Cherry Creek trail. This trail winds its way through the outskirts of Denver all the way into downtown. Thankfully we
didn’t have to run quite so far, but after winding our way down from the top of the reservoir wall, we made our way under I-225 and took the trail heading northwest. It was beautiful – everything covered in a blanket of snow, the trail meandering through wooded sections, open fields, and in between cozy neighborhood communities. You’d almost never know we started so close to a busy highway. The trail had just some minor little hills and bumps, but was otherwise flat. The sun managed to stay out for nearly the entire run, until I climbed the steep hill to make my way back to the Dam Road for the final 2.5 miles. At this point, thankfully I wasn’t running against the wind, but I did notice my lips were starting to freeze. Just in time for my triumphant, well sort of, finish! While running the last 2 miles, I noticed my friend Kristin running in the opposite direction, away from the finish. I thought this odd, but as she put it, “I had to cool down, and I had to keep running to stay warm!” She ended up winning second in our age division for the entire race series. She is bad ass (obviously in a really good way).
She met me at the finish, I got my snazzy medal and water bottle, and we worked our way back to the vendor stands. I was hoping for some hot Coda coffee or hot chocolate, but by the time we made it to the van they had already packed up. This was disappointing, especially considering the many folks finishing after me. I did get a Clif bar and walked with Kristin to her car. She dropped me off at mine, and as my own personal reward, I went next door to Starbuck’s. Grande nonfat with whip hot chocolate. Yum.
On the plus side, I finished the Run Denver race series in its entirety – all four 5ks and the final half marathon. I must say, the bling for the series was pretty worth it. I do run for the bling afterall, and I am totally not ashamed of that. I would have been one of those kids in soccer that wanted the participation trophy. I still have all my awards from high school afterall… sitting right next to my husband’s. We are part of the Millenial generation, after all.
As I mentioned last week, my new favorite thing is listening to “This American Life” while I run. Best decision ever for a half marathon on your own. Thankfully the first podcast I pulled up was this past summer’s “The Radio Drama Episode,” which included journalistic stories told in artistic ways, from opera to comedy, and a musical to a play. It was AMAZING. I also realized, it’s not wise to listen to an incredibly funny comedian while trying to run, especially while trying to run uphill. Breathing and laughing aren’t good friends. My Bose running earbuds performed sensationally and I was thoroughly entertained.
Do you listen to anything when you run – if so, podcasts or music? What were the worst conditions you’ve ever had for a race? Anyone else not a huge fan of running in 20 degree temps?