Sunday, September 23, 2012

Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon 2012 Race Report


I’m not sure why I was feeling so “off” the night before this race. I was tired, irritable, even nervous. If I were a guy I wouldn’t overanalyze. I’d say, “Hell, I’m tired, ” and go to bed. But, I am girl so I have to obsess and rationalize the possible reasons:

  1. Slept crappy all week
  2. On the verge of that womanly thing that happens every 28 days or so. (For some reason this time of the month makes me tired and achy and stupid – you?)
  3. Realized at the last minute I didn’t train much for this race. I only signed up a month ago and kind of ignored race specific training.
  4. Had no one to go to the race with

I actually think #4 was the main problem. While I knew a ton of people doing this race, I didn’t have a buddy to actually go to the race with at 5:00 a.m. I like the buddy system. I realized that I always have someone to navigate the driving, the parking, the nerves with. But, I was solo yesterday and it bothered me more than I expected. Wah. I’m such a baby.

So, I got stuck in major traffic at 5:30 a..m going into Denver. Then I forgot things like road closures and ended up totally stressing out as I scrambled to find parking, the minutes ticking down until the race start. Good news was I parked right by the Grand Hyatt and was able to use their sparkly and fancy bathrooms for a pre-race dump.

I was smiley and settled down by the time I hopped in my corral at 7:15 a.m. We were off and I forgot all sense about holding back a bit in the beginning and spit out some faster miles.

Mile 1: 7:37
Mile 2: 7:58
Mile 3: 8:07

By mile 3 I was already tired, which is a nasty feeling to have at mile 3 of a half marathon.

My heart rate was going crazy. It was up around 177. I kept telling myself that this was not the heart rate I was supposed to be at for this race. I was supposed to stick around 165-170, but my damn ego knew if I did that I would be way off my PR. It was a total head game and so stupid. I spent most of this race battling between what I should be doing (keeping heart rate lower) and what I wanted to do (push, be uncomfortable and see what I could do). My life story.

Turns out I felt like crap the entire race. My splits show the slow deterioration of SUAR as the miles piled on:

Mile 4: 8:27
Mile 5: 8:38
Mile 6: 8:18
Mile 7: 8:21
Mile 8: 8:25
Mile 9: 8:35
Mile 10: 8:46
Mile 11: 9:02 (This is where that pleasant feeling of I might vomit settled upon me)
Mile 12: 8:37
Mile 13 (.1): 7:58

Final time: 1:50. 24th/417 in age group. <-Better than I thought!

I was bummed to be 3 minutes off my PR, but then Ken said, “Umm..did you even have a goal for this race? I thought you were just running for fun.” Oh yeah. Hate it when he’s right. That’s why I’m walking away from him.


By far the best part of the day was waiting for my best  friend Erika to finish. This was her first half marathon. I had been “coaching” her for a few months now. I knew how nervous she was about the race and how much she was underestimating herself. By the time she crossed the finish line, I was sobbing. I am not kidding you. In fact, I’m crying now jus thinking about it.


I’m an emotional wreck


Don’t be jealous of my hair. Birds love living in there.



Another awesome woman who I coached, Brooke, finished her first half marathon as well!


We headed over to the VIP tent, which was such a nice perk of running with Team Refuel. They were nice enough to give wrist bands to the whole family to get in. Private bathrooms, pre and post race buffet, coffee, chocolate milk (but, of course) and even an open bar so I did a beer bong (just kidding).



Mama loves her babies

Overall, I had a great morning and a reminder that:

  • Starting out too fast is for idiots
  • I don’t have to put so much pressure on myself – it makes me unhappy
  • Not every race is a PR
  • Sharing experiences with the people you love is the whole point of everything
  • Lots of people throw up during races
  • I love the Hyatt

Thanks so much to Team Refuel for the race entry (if you want to apply to be on Team Refuel, go HERE).

Did you race this weekend?

Ever go out too fast in a race and pay for it?

How emotional was your first marathon or half marathon for you? I did a marathon before a half marathon. I had never run more than a 10k race before that. The emotion for me at the end of that race was overwhelming. It made me know I could do anything I set my mind to. It actually changed who I was.



  1. I completed my first HM this year. I was totally overwhelmed! At the end, I collapsed into my hubby's arms and bawled like a baby. Then, I went over to the beer tent and drank a beer (well, shared it with the hubs, he deserved it).

    On your list, I think that reason #1 and #2 have been my problem all week. (the terrible sleep and the PMS, not the potty. The PMS makes me go potty, which is why I can't sleep or run too far!) I have a 10K race next weekend, so hopefully dear Aunt Flo will be out of town by then!

  2. Hey SUAR, nice race report. Sounds like a fun time. So nice to see people like you enjoying running with your family and friends, great mob in the race, and respects to the hotel custodians.

  3. I ran Nashville this weekend, my race sounds exactly like yours. Felt tired at the start, foot ached and went numb and missed my PR by a min. Made me feel better reading your post. Especially when you said "not every race is a PR". I had 3 first timers with me, they rocked it and met the goals they were going for. Sure made me feel good cheering them in!!! Love your blog!!!

  4. "Train with pain, Race with grace." Training runs are when I push myself and analyze and get in my own head. You can't control how you feel on any given race day so just enjoy the event. PRs will happen when the body and mind are in the right place for them to happen. You are right #4 was a problem, I always attend races with friends. It puts me in the right mind set: that this is an event to be enjoyed with friends.

  5. Love your blog & sense of humor. I have no idea why I haven't been following you...
    Anyway great job pushing through a tough race. I've been there and it sucks but it's over now.
    Every time I've ever finished a half marathon, I get so emotional and I'm normally not. My husband doesn't know what to do with me ha! It's such a great feeling of accomplishment.
    P.S I can't deal with yakers either.

  6. Hi! So, I ran yesterday...first Marathon! Such an amazing experience. I thankfully paced myself and did finish strong (even though the pain is close to child birth). It's hard for me to not think about points in the race I could have pushed harder...when I know I kicked ass anyway. 5:06! Sooo emotional- my three kiddos, hubby, and a couple of my best friends. I lost it at the end. Then I felt like I was going to puke. Oh, and that monthly gift you mention, harassed me the whole 26.2 total bs!
    LOVE your blog!

    1. Congrats!! What a huge accomplishment.

    2. I cried a weekend ago when I finished my first 10K. I so understand that emotion. For me, the 10K ended in the Denver Broncos stadium. When I entered the stadium and saw my husband and my good friend in the stands, I waved and started to hyperventilate because I was fighting just bursting out in tears as I still had about 50 yards to run.

      That marathon is such an accomplishment! You should be so proud and have every right to be emotional about it! GREAT JOB!

    3. Lynn and SUAR, thanks!!
      Lynn, keep going, I am proof ANYTHING is possible! *hugs*

  7. I cried after my first marathon and stll cry hell I cry watching complete strangers run a marathon especially if it's that time. I am training for a 50k we did a 17 mile trail run yesterday and then today we had a marathon relay. My leg was a 10k and I thought I would take it very slow but ended up running it in 50 minutes. It was damn hot. So ready for fall! Your blog motivates me and most importantly makes me laugh on a regular basis. Thank you and great job in Denver!

  8. I cried after my first half and my first full. My husband thought I was crying due to extreme pain and torture. Nope, cried due to the overwhelming sense of accomplishment. I ran a half last weekend and the entire way to the race (with two of my running buds) I kept saying that I just wasn't in race mode. I'm not sure why but just wasn't feeling it that day. Sometimes it is nice just to run and not really have a specific goal.

  9. yep---PRed a 5K by 10 seconds this weekend. And I have an IUD, so no cycles...haven't had one in 8 years and my gyno said I can keep using it until I am way beyond menopause to keep hot flashes at bay. What's not to love about birth control I have to think about once every 5 years and one totally covered by insurance!

  10. Yay for Erika! And yay for all those awesome realizations you had :)

    I remember crying in the first mile of my first marathon because I was actually DOING it! I was crying at the end for a different reason... that whole "going out too fast is for idiots" thing :P

  11. Hi Beth! And congrats!
    I didn't race but I did get out there this am and did 9,5kms... nothing compared to you but at least I got out! I've run 3 half marathons and have felt like I own the world just by finishing. I have no clue how to pace myself so every km is different... bad... I know! Emotional? Well... I used to cry at the beginning of each race. Haven't done that lately but I do get butterflies in my tummy :D Can't wait for my first marathon: March 17th in Barcelona!

    1. Oh my Lord. Why the hell didn't I think to run my first marathon in Barcelona? Damn.

    2. Will there be bulls running behind you? I hope not!

  12. I cried after I crossed the finish line of my first half, the Door County Half Marathon (in Northern Wisconsin). It was the hilliest race I have every run, and I'm not sure if I cried because I was happy it was over with or because of the accomplishment! :P Last year when I ran Chicago, my one and only full, I cried at mile 18 because I had such bad leg cramps I had to start walking. Because I felt so bad, the enormity of crossing the finish line (when I finally got there) didn't hit until the next day. That's when I cried!

  13. My last half, which was my fastest race, I did it all by myself. I drove the 2 hours to a hotel, picked up my race packet, slept and got up to the start at 5am all by myself. I'm pretty independent but by then I was feeling really lonely and kinda sad. After the race I hobbled to the car all by myself. It was terrible. Although I am very proud of my independence. I was also practically hemorrhaging (thank you aunt flo). I called my best friend and we talked about our races (she was running somewhere else with her hubby) and it was all better.
    Last weekend I ran the Napa Ragnar relay. I ran a total of 23 miles. Last night I removed 4 of my toenails.
    You are very lucky to have your kids and hubby support you. What a great example!

    1. This is how I run nearly every race and it's only difficult for me because I see everyone else "buddying up" and having fun and at the end they are greeted by family and friends with big signs that tell them how awesome they are.

  14. Great points to remember Beth, thanks for sharing them! I am the queen of going out too fast. It has taught me how to run through some good pain though.
    My first half and my first marathon were both very emotional experiences as was my first Ironman. I remember crying down the finishing chute of my Ironman.
    I raced a half marathon today as a matter of fact. The course was long by about 500m so I think I would have PB'd if it was correct. No matter though, I ended up snagging the Overall Masters Female win. I quite like racing in the "old broad" category.

  15. Did the Rome marathon a few years ago, and the coolish start and awesome of Colliseum next to start made me go out too fast. By mile 12, it was in high 70s and I started cramping in quads. Then the cobblestones made it worse. Cramps kept me company until mile 19. That's when I laid down on the side of the road and cried. Then I yelled at myself for being a baby, and got up and finished. Learned that lesson.

  16. I must admit this post made me feel a lot better, b/c I thought experienced runners were all perfect, knew the heck what they're doing and never made what I like to call newbie running mistakes. I call them newbie b/c up until this race I MADE THEM ALL.

    This weekend I ran the 10k Melissa's Road Race in Banff, Canada. 1st out of town race and 1st race that was so many pple. 4500! There was also a mtn in the way of me and the finish line. But I managed to PR despite the mtn at 1:07:08 (oh yes, I am still slow).

    I have started out way too fast in almost every race I've ever done. I realized at my previous race (Energizer Night Race 5k) and finally learned to slow down at the beginning, but still not enough. I'm a work in progress.

  17. Using the Hyatt toilets before the race must have made you feel like a princess. Way better than those dirty old porta-loos.

  18. Just finished my first half-marathon this morning... I didn't get emotional after the race, but I did during it... and I definitely got so excited during the 12th mile that my heart rate spiked lol had to give myself the counting-chickens-before-hatching talk...

    Also, I can't say enough how much your blog has helped my through the experience... I managed to not have an embarrassing incident (locked the port-a potty door every time), but it took a lot of the stress out of the race to know that no runner is perfect all the time! Thanks for giving us readers such a great perspective on running, and just generally, on life... you are an entertaining and inspiring writer.

  19. Congrats on an awesome race! Love that you didn't even have a goal but still only finished 3 minutes off your PR.

    I hate those races that seem hard from the very beginning, though... That feeling where your pace isn't even too fast but your heart rate is. Ugh.

    I have only gone out too fast in one marathon (out of six) and definitely paid for it at the end. I didn't even mean to go too fast but didn't see the first few mile markers and by the time I did, it was too late to do anything about it!

  20. I'm a loser and never go to races with anyone so the alone thing doesn't bother much so when I DO get the pleasure of going with someone, it's a nice treat. You should have told me you were running....we could have met up after the race. Tara came down to cheer and said she saw you cross....would have been fun to all meet up. Let me know next time :). Anyway, I've ruined a race of 50 by starting out too fast, it sucks and I always think I've learned but that never happens and I repeat the classic mistake. I think it's hard to know if "this race I'll be able to maintain it" or not. I think you did fantastic for not training specifically!! A huge congrats to you and to your friend and her first half - that is soooo cool!

  21. I saw your post before running a 10K this morning, which was a great reminder to pace myself. My target goal was a 9:05 pace and I went out at around 8:30. I told myself to slow down, which saved my race. I ended up with a 9:03 pace and PR'd by almost 2 minutes. So, thanks for the timely reminder!

    I've never cried at the 3 half marathons I've run, though once I wanted to cry out of sheer frustration. (It was a tough trail half.) I have a feeling I'll be crying after my first marathon this December though. I've never trained this hard for anything before...

  22. I thought I would cry at the end of my first half marathon but I didn't, I never felt that overwhelmed, omg I finished emotional moment and honestly it kinda bummed me out. True, I was crazy excited but I pictured myself being a crying wreck. Oh well, guess I need to do a full marathon now, right?

  23. I thought my first half would be so awesome, thinking if I completed it at all, let alone in the time I set out for, I would have this excellent bad ass wonderful experience. I beat my goal by ten minutes and felt "so what". I was stunned at how I really didn't feel as awesome as I thought I would...just took a nap (the race was early) and cooked dinner. It was really like crappy sex, all excited and left meh....

  24. parking in Denver was not helped by the fact that the parking lot they sent the volunteers to was not opened on time! I was in line for the lot for about 10 was crazy.

    I will tell you as a volunteer at the race, it was inspiration seeing all of you cross the finish line. i was so happy to be there when some people just needed to hug someone when they finished! Lots of emotions and it brought tears to my eyes!

    I was a medical sweeper at the finish line but I missed your finish. Sorry I didn't get to give you a shout out.

    1. Lynn - thanks so much for being out there. You volunteers were the best. So helpful and encouraging!

  25. I enjoyed reading your race report. You continue to amaze me with your speed even when you don't PR.

    I just posted a recap of my first half marathon from last May. The main emotion I felt at the time I finished the race was relief -- I'd done it and I'd met my goal of a sub-2 half!

  26. I raced the Equinox half marathon today in Fort Collins. Beautiful race and course. I too had not trained for this-even a little bit. Overall I was happy with my time, but not as sore as I should be-I probably could have gone harder. Jeesh, we are so hard on ourselves.

  27. I didn't race today but I did run 22 miles. Now I'm in taper mode for the Nike Women's Marathon. So excited, but also feeling like if I don't hit my goal with this race,I'm going to be super bummed. I also ran a marathon before a half. I felt the nothing but relief...ok and pain after I finished the marathon.

  28. I think you did great as you didn't train for it specifically, and it must have been a buzz seeing your two friends cross the line!
    I ran a local 5k, my first race in several years! I'm not unhappy with my effort, but look forward to doing it in better time next year!

  29. I have gone out 'too fast' on every race I've done so far, I blame everyone else, ha ha! Seriously, almost everyone guns out at the start and it is so hard to make your brain ignore it and check your own pace. I did better, though, at my Air Force Half last weekend and got my brain focused better after the start. PR'd on that race too! :) However, I remember passing a few of the early speed racers around mile 7 and chuckling. Hoping they would note that for future races, not to bust out so fast. :)

    1. P.S. Meant to add, congrats on finishing the Denver Half, and still under 2 hours is always awesome! :)

  30. Congrats on finishing even though you (wanted to?) puke(d?). I'd love to do a R&R race but they don't come up to Canada so much. I raced yesterday but I started out with a pacer just to make sure that I didn't go out to fast and ended up with a new PB (1:54) on a course that was 400m long! Yay!

  31. I ran Zooma half Cape Cod on Saturday. No PR, but a fun girls weekend!

  32. Congrats to you and your friend!

  33. I cried seeing you cry - now who's a wreck! I'm so emotional about silly things ... well, about everything. I ran a 5k this weekend and PRd, about a minute faster than my last PR! I've never run a half - maybe you could come and coach me! I love your blog, thanks for writing it.... Deb.

  34. I had to miss the R&R half in Phila last weekend - torn ligagment and tendon in ankle. I miss running, I have nothing fun to do other than PT, which is like spitting in the wind for me, compared with kettlebells and running and zumba!
    I don't go to races with anyone, other than a local 5k my family does in November here in Phila. This is my one and only emotional race, start to finish. We lost our sister to a brain tumor in 2007 and have done this one every year since. Last year, everyone was previously committed, so I took my 7 year old son with me. It was a PW (personal worst) since he's so little, it took us 45 minutes to get through it, but he completed it and loved having a race bib!
    I would have loved to have had my family at the two ten-milers I have completed, but no one wants to be part of the 100,000 + people who show up (40k are participants, it's just a sea of bobbing heads through the entire race). I think someone there with me would be great at the finish line, but I don't know about having someone there with me at the start. I think I would either feel obligated to hold back or keep up, depending on how they run.

  35. First of all, CONGRATS on finishing another half! This was great to read... I felt so similar during my half this weekend! It was hard! I had a gunky head cold and felt like puking at about the same mile as you and I questioned whether I'd even be able to finish. But then at mile 11 who runs up beside me but DEAN KARNAZES!!! He's super awesome (which you know because you've run a race with him) and ran the to the finish with me and my friend and helped pull me through to a PR! Made all the suffering so worth it :)

    1. I read your blog post. Awesome story - as if all the forces of the universe were conspiring to help you PR :)

  36. Great race report; VIP/private bathrooms are wonderful things at big races like Rock'n'Roll. I think I get more emotional for other people's first HM experiences than I did for my own; I was hurting too much after mine (hip pain after mile 9 in that one). No race for me this weekend, but I did go out for a 9 mile run yesterday after walking about 5 miles at the fair and an open house at hubby's work.

  37. You still dominated! WOW! I feel like I was in a similar position for my half yesterday-did not train properly for it but still pulled something out of my arse. Love the pic of you and your best friend. So touching!

  38. I never cried after a half...maybe my first marathon and certainly my fist Ironman.

    Don't use your cycle as an excuse to not run well. It's totally false. I have had some of my best runs/races while on my period.

    1. I can use whatever "excuse" I want, especially if it's true for me. You are always so critical of me and this blog so don't torture yourself by coming back.

  39. I did Denver for my 30th ever half and represented the Marathon Bar team. It went horribly bad and I ended up so far off of my goal that I wanted to cry. I did another half 2 weeks ago that went well, but last week I did a tri and a 5k. probably a bad idea. I was sick all week and was just not feeling it. I would have taken you with me and one of the other Flatiron Foxes. I have the good parking since I work for the city and access to the jail a block away for the clean bathrooms in the locker room there. My own VIP potty!

  40. I did my first 10K race on Sunday, which was also my first "proper" race and I didn't cry but I definitely felt like a rockstar. The spectators and volunteers were so awesome, it was such a great experience. I had never done a 10K distance before (my training for this race fell apart due to crazy life changes) so I stuck to my plan to interval run/walk and kept pace the whole way with a woman who ran the whole time - in fact I ended up beating her. So I guess my plan worked and I was just happy to have finished it!

  41. I get a little emotional too at races. I hate it!

  42. Yay for Erika! I met you both at the Expo and remember telling her that just finishing gives you the best feeling in the world. I'm hoping she experienced that emotion. I'm sure it wasn't hard when she saw you crying at the finish line! Congrats to you goal is a sub 2 hour half some day. So, you rock!

    I ran with my girlfriend and helped her to a sub 3 hour half. She wanted to puke at mile 11 too! But we did it, and we crossed the finish line together for the first time ever...a very emotional moment for us.

    Thank you for being so nice to me when I said "shut up and run" to you at the sunglass booth! I knew one day my stalking would finally pay off!


  43. I was sobbing at the end of my first 5k because I had never been a runner and couldn't believe I did it.

    I also cried as I finished my first half marathon. Running the lap around the track at the College of William and Mary, I was trying so hard to not cry because it was keeping me from breathing. Then, the announcer said my name and I couldn't hold it back.

    Then, I cried after my second half marathon because I was so disappointed in myself and my poor performance.

    Apparently running makes me really emotional...