|Mile-High Salute to my Broncos, baby!|
I got to Denver City Park at about 4:45 AM to find parking. I'm glad I arrived as early as I did, because the lots were already starting to fill up. But with a starting line with thousands of participants, I suppose you have to expect some parking difficulties, right?
The weather was super agreeable; about 45 degrees at the start with no real wind to speak of. The entire morning never got above 55 degrees, which made for incredibly pleasant running. I had a cheap sweatshirt that I wore to stay warm before the start, but I tossed it before we even began.
I rant the first few miles at a comfortable 8:25/mi. Looking back, it may have been prudent to go a bit slower out of the gate, but that early race adrenaline had me pretty amped. By mile 9, a lingering glute strain began to bother me a little, but it wasn't anything painful, so I was able to work my way through it by the end of the Sloan's Lake leg of the course.
Miles 12-15 climbed about 200 ft, which looking back isn't that much, but it certainly felt like a challenge at the time. I remember thinking, "Dammit, go away hills!" Again, looking back, I probably should have gone up the hills a little bit slower to save some gas in the tank for the last few miles, but I knew that miles 17-20 were nicknamed the "Screaming Downhill" leg, so I figured I'd make up some time there.
But I was wrong. My body just didn't want to scream down the hill by that point. I managed to maintain an average pace of about 8:27/mile on the downhill, but if you adjust that based on the grade %, the numbers tell you what my body was saying: "Fuuuuugh..."
And then mile 21 hit and I experienced the sudden slow-down that I usually suffer at that point in marathons. It's like clockwork. I watched my pace drop off like a rock. 8:27 became 9:00. Then 9:05. Then 9:21. I watched the 3:45 pacer run past me near 23.5 miles and there wasn't much I could do about it. By the time I crossed the finish, I was struggling to run a 10:07/mi pace.
My final time was officially 03:46:14, which breaks down to a pace of 8:37/mi. It was slower than I had been hoping to run, but it was hard to be too disappointed. And my recovery time was quicker than it's ever been, so I'll take that as a huge victory.
Next up: Chicago Marathon in October. A pancake-flat course near sea-level.
Bring it on.