Race Recap & Review: Denver Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon

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#14 / 13 of the 2013 Half Marathons

Denver, a city known for its cowboy past, high altitude, and good beer. My 2013 Rock n’ Roll Tourpass took me to the Rockies this past weekend, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This was also a chance to see my performance at high altitudes. Since I’ve only ran near sea level (the highest elevation where I’ve ran is in Las Vegas at 2,200 feet), I wanted to see how my time was affected, and how I felt after running 13.1 miles.

Race Weekend
Saturday morning I flew out of sunny California and into Denver, where it was hovering around 40 degrees. Apparently snow had fallen the day before, which was something I had never considered when planning my trip (where I live, we’d be lucky to get rain all day).

Lodging
I decided to try something different this time, and find a place to stay using Airbnb. I found a spot in Capitol Hill that was one mile from the start line, and mile 12.5 of the course. It was also $10 more than a hostel (that was also further away), and half the price of a shady hotel!

My host, Martin Indiatsi, was a great host and being Kenyan, knew of the marathon the next day and graciously prepared everything that was needed. When we finally met, we talked about running, photography, and introduced each other. I let him know about the Las Vegas Rock n’ Roll in November, and we’re going to meet each other there. Great!

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Martin and I after I finished

The Expo
I headed to the Rock n’ Roll Expo held at the Colorado Convention Center.

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With the recent proposition passed in Denver, cannabis booths were prevalent in the expo.

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As always in Rock n’ Roll expos, there was a lot of pamphlets, brochures, and random food.
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Culinary and Tourist Adventures
Naturally, as I hadn’t been to Denver since I was a kid, I explored the city a bit. Pictures tell the story better, so here’s a brief picture tour:

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The first Chipotle

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University of Denver

Buffalo Bill's Grave

Buffalo Bill’s Grave

Denver Zombie Crawl

Denver Zombie Crawl

The meal before was once again featured on Man vs. Food at Cherry Cricket. It’s quite possibly one of the best beef burgers I ever had.

This should be enough carbs.

This should be enough carbs.

Race Morning
The race started at 7:15am (Mountain Time), so I got up at 6:20 and walked over to the start. There were some very good morning shots here too:

Mile 12.6

Mile 12.6

Start of the Bike Tour

Start of the Bike Tour

Start line

Start line

It was also hovering around the mid 30s, so I dressed in my full winter gear.

The race started about 10 minutes late, and in Corral 3 (of 18, I believe) I was off about a minute later!

The Course

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Mile 1: 7:37 / mile
I started off thinking that I’d be able to maintain my pace and potentially hit a PR, so I flew out of the start line.

Mile 2: 7:50 / mile
By the second mile, as we veered around the Pepsi Center, this slowly turned out not to be the case. I was burning out a lot quicker than usual. Perhaps I didn’t fully acclimate, or my legs were still sore from the half marathon a week before. Either way, I had to slow down in order to maintain my pace.

Mile 3: 8:14 / mile
At the 5K mark, the course goes around Downtown and the Federal Buildings, and I was starting to get a headache. This was definitely the altitude that was severely impacting my performance, so I took it easy. There was also a steep hill at this point (17th and Lincoln I believe), and it felt brutal.

Mile 4: 8:01 / mile
Mile 5: 8:25 / mile
This part was a straightaway on 17th Ave, and at some point you can see the 10th mile marker, knowing that a majority of the course would be looped around somewhere in between. I didn’t think about when I’d make it there, and just kept pushing.

Mile 6: 8:25 / mile
Mile 7: 8:29 / mile
The sixth mile takes you into the Denver City Park, where it has a great view of the Denver skyline and around the City Park Lake. It was a great sight, and there were statues all around for our viewing pleasure.

Mile 8: 8:28 / mile
Mile 9: 8:26 / mile
Mile 10: 8:34 / mile
These two miles were simply an out and back on 17th Ave. Nothing too special, since it’s a part that I saw earlier in the race.

Mile 11: 8:44 / mile
The course then veers off and into Washington Park, a very beautiful park with a large open space, historical buildings, and a huge downhill portion. At the south end of the park the marathoners and half marathoners split, and I was struggling to maintain my pace. My headache was gone at this point, but I was just tired.

Mile 12: 8:17 / mile
Mile 13: 8:00 / mile
The 12th mile marker is exactly when you leave the park onto 13th Ave. This is an overall downhill road that pretty much went  by really quickly. I soon past the street I was staying at, and sprinted as much as I could towards the finish.

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I finished at 01:48:55, or 8:19 / mile. Not bad, considering  it was possibly the coldest place I’ve ran and the highest place I’ve ran. It’s amazing how a little over six months ago this would’ve been my PR. Not every race can be a PR!

Luckily, I didn’t feel any soreness, injuries, or even shortness of breath. It was overall a great race and I performed to the best of my abilities.

Afterwards, I rested up and had my post race feast at Jack-n-Grill, also featured on Man vs. Food. I didn’t eat their 7 lb breakfast burrito, but I had a smaller version of it that was certainly very filling and left me stuffed.

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I took off of Denver right when it was drizzling and snow was about to fall.

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Denver is a great town. I feel like if I stayed in Denver longer I’d prepare a camping or backpacking trip. It seems like there’s a never ending amount of things and events to do there, and I hope to return someday.

Once again, it was a great race by Rock n’ Roll. If I were to do this again, I’d fly over a couple days earlier to acclimate, and probably do my last run before the race there just so I can make sure I can perform optimally there.

A thank you to Competitor Group, Martin, Airbnb, and everyone involved in hosting this event!

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Photo Credit: Martin Indiatsi

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