I knew at mile 4 wasn’t going to be my day. My legs weren’t ridiculously heavy and I wasn’t in any pain – I just didn’t have the get-up-and-go feeling that would propel me faster. I didn’t prepare for the Colfax half-marathon in any special way. Of course, I’ve been running as part of training for Ironman Boulder – which easily gets me through 13.1 miles. But, to get through them at a fast pace requires specificity of training – training that involves covering more miles than I am now at faster speeds. Not swimming, biking and running — Ironman training. I knew this going in, but there’s always this hope – this wish – that a race will be a miracle and I’ll somehow surprise myself. But, we all know – change and improvements happen with hard work, which is why I’m diligently working on Ironman training – not half-marathon training. This is the third half for me this year and the third by which I run only by feel – no Garmin to influence me. I have to say, my races have been far more enjoyable as a result.
At mile 6, a friend of mine passed me. First desire – which I acted on – was to accelerate so I wouldn’t get passed. I was slogging a little – settling into a too-easy pace, but I’m not sure I needed to pick it up as much as I did. As I was starting to fatigue and feel the push, I realized: this is my race, my plan – I didn’t train for a fast race, I didn’t taper – heck, I took one day off before the run. I planned to make this a training run, not a race. She’s running her race – the race for which she trained.
So, I watched her go. She ended up hitting her time goal. Kudos to her hard work in training and effort on race day.
The Colfax half-marathon is a well-run, fun event. The mostly flat course heads through the zoo – which is a twisty, turn-y diversion with little animals to be seen. I glimpsed just one king crane and a seriously threatening loose goose…well, I found his very presence threatening.
Most of the race, as the name implies, goes up and down a main thoroughfare in Denver – called Colfax Avenue. At times the race goes up a little, but a lot of it feels down. Around mile 7.5 or 8, you run through a fire station and are cheered on by the fire fighters – a nice inspiration and boost, but then you hit miles 8-10, the scenery turns a bit seedy and grim. It was during this portion that I heard a “go Andrea” and couldn’t imagine who was on the sidelines that I knew. I paused for a moment, only to realize that my name is PRINTED on my bib. Geez, running can make you stupid.
Mile 8-10 is also a steady climb, mild, but steady. The last three miles are slightly downhill and along the park – pleasant enough.I enjoyed the course, was mostly in control of my run and appreciated the enthusiastic after party. Parking before the race wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d thought it could be. I ended up just about a half-mile away from the start line. Leaving Denver with all the closed roads and the half- and full-marathons still going on – not so easy, but I finally eked my way through some back streets and to the highway.
All-in-all, I’d give the Colfax a thumbs up and would readily do the race again. It gets points for organization and attendance – I like a race where I can run with thousands of friends. The course is pleasant enough – although not particularly scenic. Water stations were plentiful and support was fabulous.
But, now that this race is over, it’s time for the rest of my day’s workout, so I’m off to the pool. After all, it’s just 77 days until my “A” race of the season. Up ‘til then, I must remind myself that everything else is just a fun training exercise. Racing as training can be helpful as you may hit paces faster than you would if left to your own devices. I know I do — but you also have to watch the competitor in you and not waste effort that will make the days of training afterward impossible. It’s a delicate balance, but a fun one if you can manage it.