September is a great month to run a race and I was out there to run the Denver Half Marathon that is part of the Endurance Race Series which concentrates on trail races. I had not really planned on running the half marathon and so I did not really train for it actually, but since I do a lot of bootcamp style workouts and shorter runs between 6 miles and 10 miles in length I figured I would be fine for this half marathon. Well, I was and I wasn’t, but more about that later. Anyway – a great race today and here is my re-cap of today’s event.
The race was originally to be held at the (local) Cherry Creek reservoir in Denver, but then the race moved a bit further south to Lone Tree – which is just about 10-15 minutes from where I live. The race was held completely on trail and so this turned out to be my very first trail race. I was quite excited about it and was really looking forward for this race once I was registered. The reason I had not planned to run the half marathon was that I wanted to run the 10K portion of this race event with my 9 year old son, but he did not pull through on his portion of the deal and missed too many training sessions and so he was not ready for the race. I was able to use our both registrations and get the race organizer to move me up to the Half Marathon on a short notice. So, I entered the race without a time goal. I really just wanted to finish the race and enjoy myself.
The race morning started out to be very beautiful. Clear skies and the forecast for the day showed temperatures would move up into the lower 80s. I was hoping that the temperatures would not be a race factor, but at least towards the end it got a bit hot. Anyway, I enjoyed being out there and not having too worry about it being too cold.
The race started about 10 minutes later than planned and instead of having two separate starts – one for the half marathon and one for the 10K – they combined the start for the two races. Initially I was a bit concerned about having more runners going in heavy on the narrow trail, but it turned out to be a non-issue. The race started and off we were. The course started with an immediate ascent of several hundred feet over ¾ of a mile and then became more flat once we reached the top of the mesa. From there it stayed flat for about a mile before the 10K and half marathon courses separated. We had to run a loop course three times before turning back to the start finish line. There were some mean hills on this loop course and I admit I was not fully prepared for that many steep hills, but from reading quite some stuff about trail running I knew that it would be better to simply walk up the really step parts of those hills to conserve energy and that’s what I did. I did not have a time goal anyway and so there was no point in going all out. I wanted to have fun and enjoy this race.
The loop course had two aid stations with water, Gatorade, and PowerBar Performance Wafers to refuel. I also carried my hydration belt with two bottles of Gatorade for in between. Overall the aid stations were well positioned and I used them every time I came around the loop. The volunteers were great and I really appreciate the effort these people put in to help us runners. Thank you!!
I definitely felt the effort as the race progressed and it was a great reminder how important it is to train properly for these longer distances. As mentioned I had not expected to run the half marathon, but I do not want to use that as an excuse. It was interesting to see how other people were holding up. I was really impressed by some older runners – they seemed to be in great shape and while the course was not easy they did awesome. Very impressive what we humans can do even as we get older – but I am sure these runners put a lot effort in being properly trained for this type of race. Very impressive!!
As mentioned, the course was beautiful. Douglas County (South of Denver) has a lot of Open Space areas with lots of trails and so the race organizers picked a great location for this race. The race was held on parts of the East-West Trail system just south of Lone Tree, Co. The course came out being short about 0.05 miles – at least based on my Nike+ GPS Watch. I know this is a non-issue really, but I wish race organizers would rather make the course of a race a tiny bit longer to accommodate all the different GPS systems that runners have. But as said – this is a non-issue when looking at the big picture. It was a great race – very well executed. I had fun and that is what matters in the end.
Below are my official race results.