Half Marathon #56
For years when I’ve told people I haven’t done Colorado yet, they are shocked. I have been to Colorado before and the amount of races to choose from is incredibly overwhelming. I didn’t want to do a trail race so that made it a bit of an easier decision and after learning more about the National Parks and then the Vacation Races series, this seemed like the perfect race to do.
Rich and I flew into Denver on Wednesday and hung out with my dear friend Emily before heading up to Estes Park on Thursday. We drove straight to Rocky Mountain NP to hike that morning and then walked around downtown Estes Park. Thursday night we did a tour of the Stanley Hotel and looked for spirits (but found none). Friday morning we got up early to hike again and then went to the expo for the race that afternoon. This expo was actually a lot of fun- they have a checklist in their program that allows you to earn a prize (ended up being a sticker) for visiting booths. So, we made a bag out of a shirt, talked to a park ranger, had a video made of us for social media and then made smores. Yep. All at an expo. That night we grabbed dinner and went to bed early for our 4:15am wake up. We did our usual (gluten free bagel and nuun) and headed out. Our hotel was super close to the start- we were originally going to run there but based on how dark it was with no lights we decided to drive. We had to be parked and off of the street by 5:15 so we left early to make sure we could park easily. We had no problem parking at all.
The weather was perfect for running and I actually had to use throw aways!! I used the port-o-potties a couple of times, did my stretches and lined up in corral 1. I had absolutely no expectations with this race considering the elevation was close to 7500 feet and we live at sea level. I stayed towards the back of the corral and in front of the 1:50 pace group.(apparently marijuana smoking is only a concern in CO port-o-potties)
Mile 1 was a quick start with an uphill. Hmm. This is going to be hard. Much, much harder than I even though. I ignored my watch and focused on breathing as we climbed. By mile 2 the pacer had passed with no problems at all going up hill. Yep. This one is just going to be a challenge for all 13.1 miles. We climbed, and climbed and climbed some more. Seriously, it never let up for almost 5 miles.I took my glukos chews and struggled to get them down. I was thankful that the race was a green race, no cups allowed, so I carried my Nuun and was able to sip on that throughout the race. Mile 6 FINALLY had downhill and I enjoyed that and the glorious views for about two miles before climbing again.Miles 9-13.1
We got closer to town and ran near the Stanley Hotel and had more hills. I was dead. I took a few walk breaks to catch my breath and couldn’t wait to be done. This was the longest half marathon of my life. I was thankful that since this part of the race was near town, there were a few more spectators out (otherwise it’s a very quiet course). At mile 10 we climbed again. I stopped at the aid station for vaseline because I could tell I was chaffing pretty bad. We had a little downhill and then another climb as the course made it’s way to the lake area.
I knew the finish was close, it was just looping around the lake. I managed to pick it up a bit and caught up to an RWB runner who was walking with the American Flag. He was looking up and I realized we had a bald eagle soaring over us. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen during a race and so incredibly American that I had to hold back tears. I passed a few people in the last mile and was so thrilled to see that finish line. I managed to come in right under the 1:50 mark.
I was THRILLED to get 3rd in my AG. I didn’t think I was doing that well during the race so I was pleasantly surprised. Apparently this is a big race for those that like to #racecation.Garmin Results
Oh hey, hills. You were hard. The course came up a little short on my garmin and others around me. Getting to almost 8000 feet of elevation was a HUGE challenge for someone who lives at sea level and has asthma.
I grabbed my snack box and refilled my water bottle and chatted with a runner that I had met at the start. I grabbed a pic of Rich finishing and then we went and got our free finisher photo taken. We hung out for an hour or so for the awards ceremony and then went and grabbed breakfast.
I love the medal!! And the AG award is cool because it’s the same but in it’s appropriate color for my place- bronze. The shirt is cool, too. Because the race is a “green” race, there was no bag, papers, and extra stuff you end up just throwing away. Travel Tips
- Stay downtown for ease of walking purposes. We loved our little motel, the Haber motel. It was also only a mile from the start.
- Go to the park and hike- this is a MUST. There are hikes for beginners to the super advanced.
- Plan early- if you book your hotel earlier enough, it shouldn’t be too expensive (we paid around $179 night). This is tourist season, so expect crowds.
- Go to the Stanley and do a night tour.
- There aren’t a ton of great restaurant options- but one of our favorites was a sandwich shop, Scratch.
- The organization. Since they have races across the country- they have this fine tuned nicely.
- The bling
- the expo and post race
Not So Much
- The price
- The course- while it was pretty. It was kinda boring and incredibly hard
I really enjoyed this race. There are a TON of races to do in Colorado but this was a great choice for a non trail, road race. I would recommend this for any one racing the states or looking to visit the National Parks. I don’t know that I would do a ton of this series, mainly because of the cost and that I assume they are all the exact same (and I personally like to do different races and experience different things).