That DAM Half Marathon Race Report…

The Dash likes. ~ Dash Parr

1:26:50, 8th Overall, 3rd in Age Group PR*

*Full disclosure, this was my first half marathon, so a PR was inevitable.

I had high hopes for this past week’s race (That DAM Half Marathon) and I really wanted to throw down a good time and solid effort. Fortunately, my bod cooperated and turned a tough course into a fantastic time (both clock and experience).

The day started with an early alarm to get to the Colorado House Rabbit Society for our monthly volunteer session. Rach was extra-special awesome and got up VERY early in order to facilitate an early exit by yours truly in order to get down to the race in a timely fashion. We cleaned bunny runs quickly and I changed into my race kit and scurried out the door at 8:30. This provided plenty of time to get down to the race, get in a short warm up and get ready to run my first official half marathon.

Cool temps, overcast skies and steady-but-mild winds greeted us on race day. The field wasn’t particularly deep but there appeared to be some decent talent on the starting line on Cherry Creek Reservoir Dam Road when they started us right at 10:00. The first 2.5 miles ran across the dam itself and featured flat terrain and a bit of a cross wind. Like most races, things started to split early with two runners breaking away very quickly (eventual winner and SUPER speedy Japeth Ng’ojoy 1:13:46 and runner-up Trent Joseph 1:18:04). Needless to say, I wasn’t keeping up with these fellas and settled in about 10 meters off the back of the main group. This proved to be a mixed group of runners and I had a feeling that the group would eventually break apart as those with more experience and fitness dropped those who had gone out a bit too fast.

I eventually grouped up with several other runners who were pacing about the same as my target and we took turns leading for a bit until the first major turn of the race. At this point the course dropped significantly and we broke up again. I ran with one of Colorado’s top Masters racers, Jay Survil for a bit until I dropped a glove and had to spin back briefly. After this foible, I ran just off the back of Jay and and Chris Smiley (I believe) until the turn at mile 6.55.

After the turn, I picked it up a bit and quickly fell into a good rhythm despite the uphill return into the wind. I was passed by Mark Bockmann at about mile 8 and fell in behind him for a bit until I feared blowing up and retreated to a more comfortable pace. Miles 9 and 10 were a bit of a trial through the steepest portion of the course but I managed to stick with low 7s pacing and hang in there to the return to the dam road. At this point, I knew I only had 2.5 miles to go, still felt relatively fresh and was still running with good form so I set out to chase down a couple of people still within reach.

I caught Michael Nothem with about 2 miles to go and after a brief battle of wills (he did NOT want me to go past), I managed to surge and drop him in the final minutes of the race. I finished strongly into the wind with a final mile of 6:28 and yoinked a sub 1:27 for the day. A solid effort all around.

This tees me up pretty well for Boston and was a definite confidence booster going into the final 6 weeks of training. I really need to get a couple more long runs under my belt before the big event and am guessing Mark has those on the schedule for the following few weeks. This also qualifies me for the New York Marathon and I am considering that as my fall race instead of doing Denver. Need to pull the trigger on that fairly quickly if I am going to do so. Guessing I’ll have another shot at it, however, if that seems like too many big events in a single year.

Good stuff.


I think I may have met Yo…

Keep your god damned hands off my wife. ~ H.I. McDunnough

Recently, I started visiting a running coach, Janet Runyan, in an effort to see if changing my form could help with my abdominal problems and make me a more efficient (and subsequently less injured) runner. I found out about Janet several weeks ago when she hosted a seminar about “running with injuries”. I liked what I heard and signed up to have her take a stab at improving my steeze.

Janet won a bunch of prestigious ultradistance races including Leadville in 2001, and is the current record-holder for Masters Women in that event with a finishing time of 21:47:44. Pretty amazing. So far, she is really helping me a lot and today’s short run was a huge improvement in the pain department over anything I have experienced since some time in early October. Not pain-free by any means but a marked improvement over the past week’s runs for sure.

She has also helped me run “lighter” and so it feels at least like I am able to go the same speed at a decreased effort. That isn’t to say I am looking like a gazelle out there but I am starting to feel a lot more efficient. Good times.

Today, I took a little time to goof around on the ‘net and looked up Janet’s bio just to see what she had accomplished. Along with her race prowess, she is a music teacher with a performance degree in piano. She also was (or still is) a member of Divine Madness.

For those of you unfamiliar with Boulder running, there is a group of distance runners here called “Divine Madness” that has made quite an impression on the Ultradistance community. Their influence has dimmed a bit of late but in their heyday they were frequent podium finishers in many of the sport’s toughest races. Five-time Leadville champ Steve Peterson comes from the DM camp. They have been likened to a cult by some circles and if one believes the stories, practiced some definitely untraditional methods to achieve their running successes.

Their leader, Marc “Yo” Tizer, is an interesting character (or worse) and has been accused of some pretty heinous behavior. There is quite a bit of information out there that details the DM lifestyle and allegations but this article by Michael Finkel is probably the most thorough. I actually read this several years ago when researching ultradistance running and wondering about Divine Madness and their influence on the sport. Funny how things come full circle.

So anyway, I was meeting with Janet last night and her housemates were cooking dinner. One of them looked suspiciously like Yo. He was wearing a towel. Given what I have read, that sounds just about right.