That sounds like rock and/or roll. ~ Reverend Lovejoy
The Rock -n- Roll Denver marathon was a blast. Going in, I knew I hadn’t fully prepared for a fast marathon so was a bit unsure about how I would perform. Bounced back and forth about what time to target and, in the end, settled on running with the 3:15 group and then playing the finish by ear. Turns out, that was a decent, albeit conservative, plan.
Jammed down to Denver early on Sunday to swing by Caleb and Sierra’s place. Sierra had graciously offered to take Caleb and me to the start so we wouldn’t have to deal with the parking mess which is Downtown Denver. Caleb was teed up for a fast 1/2 marathon and yoinked a 1:32 or so. It was chilly at the start but not too terrible and I warmed up a bit on the grass in front of the capitol building before finally settling into corral #1 minutes before the start. After a poorly rendered version of the National Anthem (seriously, learn the words if you are going to get up in front of thousands of people and sing), we were escorted to the start line and were off.
The 3:15 group was paced by Mike, a 2:20 marathoner from Ohio so cruising us around at a 3:15 pace was not going to cause him any troubles. We started out slowly… just letting the group warm up during the first mile then slowly picked up the pace. By about mile 4, I needed to pee really badly and rolled off the front of the group to give myself enough padding to catch back up once done with my pit stop. I timed it perfectly and was able to rejoin the group around mile 5 as we entered City Park.
At this point, we were back on the 3:15 target pace and I was feeling fine. Pretty much zero effort to this point as we did a couple laps in the park through mile 8 or so. We exited the park, did a convoluted out/back on 17th then headed over to Cheesman for a quick lap around this iconic Denver park.
Upon exiting Cheesman, I was still feeling solid and decided to pick up the pace a bit and see what I could do. I rolled off the front of the 3:15 group around mile 12 and picked up the pace a bit as I crossed the half-way mark in 1:36:20 (or so). I pushed the pace through mile 15 where I started catching runners targeting 3:10. By the time we entered Washington Park and mile 17, I’d caught and settled in with a small group of people running at about a 3:09 finish pace.
This group thinned out considerably to two of us as we exited Wash Park (mile 20). At this point, I was still feeling like I could hold our 7:00 pace and we were staying right on target for a sub 3:10 finish. We headed north up Logan then turned onto 1st at which point I started to struggle to keep the pace. Based on our numbers, we should have had a decent buffer at this point and I lost contact with my fellow runner as we turned onto 5th and my leg speed began to fall off considerably. Miles 23 to the finish were less than awesome as I tried to hold on for a 3:10 finish. By mile 24, I knew that wasn’t going to be an option any longer so I just cruised in. Rach ran along with me for about the last mile, which was thoroughly kickass and I crossed the finish line with a new PR of 3:11:50.
Though I would have loved to uncork a sub 3:10, I was extremely excited about this finish time. It qualified me for Boston (which, unfortunately filled up in 8 hours), beat my previous PR by 12+ minutes, and put me in sniffing distance of running a sub 3-hour race in the future. Given that I didn’t really even train much for this event and quickly made the transition from dirt to road, I am very pleased with my performance and what this bodes for future races. I finished 89th overall (out of 2894 participants) and 8th in my age group. Not. Too. Shabby.