Gave it what I had, and that was not much.
I had not run Denver since 2009 in my epic pants-shitting Boston-qualifying effort. So I got the bug this fall to run it again mostly just to get back out there in a road marathon. Its been since 2010 since my last road marathon. That was Boston. I crossed that line sub-3 and figured I had nothing more to ever give that distance.
Now the pressure was off. I just wanted to go run. Sure, it would be swell to prove I still had it. So after Leadville 2 months ago, I jumped right into a training plan. A few days in, I tweaked my foot so bad that I couldn’t run for 3 weeks. That surely screwed up this amazing plan I had. So I tried to get after it for the 3-4 weeks left but learned quickly that my ultra-legs only know how to run ultra-pace these days. Then we had the Boulder (1/2) Marathon fiasco. Eh.
So I got to Denver at about 6 AM and parked in my same old spot from years past. Donned a trash bag and headed out into the dark to find the race start. Kind of like a zombie you just follow the loud noise (music) and you will eventually arrive at the start line for the Rock and Roll Marathon that now owns this race.
The gun went off a few minutes late because of course clearing issues but no big deal. I quickly tried to see what I could pull off as a comfortable pace in those first few miles and about 8:00 was seemingly OK. We headed west out of town and uphill over to Sloan’s Lake. This course was mostly all new to me. I never looked at a map either. Part of the excitement. But it sure left like we ran uphill a lot today. +537 feet on the watch.
Had a moment at around 10 miles in where my lungs started being funky. Could have used an inhaler. But got some water and took some Advil for my tightening hip and moved on. As we got back to Civic Center Park, the crowds increased. Though there were people all over this course so you were never lonely. Part of me wanted to just veer off with the half-marathoners and be done for the day. I hate these combined races. Such a mind trip the whole time — or is that just some ultra thing?
Then we headed out to City Park. Then back. Then out to Wash Park. Then back. Kind of the usual route from yesteryear there. Somewhere around 20 miles my legs decided that was enough for the day. They were barking from the start though but now it was getting too loud to drown out. I had nothing much to prove anyways so I couldn’t find the inertia to turn it around. So I just kept it at a smooth ultra pace and coasted in to a (barely) sub-4 finish.
Given my weekly averages of 20-30 miles recently, its no surprise this finish was what it was. Not really disappointed. It quickly became more about the experience than the performance. What else you gonna do? Actually, it was cool to see so many people on the out-n-backs giving the marathon a go. Being strictly in the ultra world for the past few seasons, you forget that there are folks who are just getting into this and the marathon is the biggest challenge they have faced. I was there just years ago. I found it exciting to watch them struggle to meet their goals. I hope they had a great day out there. The conditions were pretty great. With the size of this event, I feel like road running is alive and well in Denver. And it seems to be in pretty good hands with the Rock and Roll management. They get their share of crap but it feels generally positive overall. It was my first race of theirs and I would do it again.
That’s it for my season. Pretty lackluster year overall. Going to take some time away now as I alluded to post-Leadville. My legs really weren’t there today. And maybe my mind wasn’t either. Maybe they need a bit longer of a rest after doing this since 2005 with hardly a break. Try a bit of cross-training. Some weights. Get wet in the pool? I will not rest, but I might not run as much until 2015. Try to take the off season more seriously. Of course, I will try and stay active on the hills with the dogs. And see what I can cook up for the next phase to come.