The Platte River Half Marathon by far has one of the best post-race parties in town! The race starts in downtown Littleton, south of Denver, and takes the Platte River trail north to finish in downtown Denver. Before I get to the post-race party, let me recap the race. This is a long one, as it felt like a long 13.1 miles.
Everything about this race is extremely well-organized. When I got to Littleton at 7 am, the main RTD (light rail) parking lot was filled. Just as the website said, volunteers in bright green shirts were directing traffic. I managed to park in the overflow lot and walk over to the start line. There was no porta potty lines, so I hopped right in. I was cold so I took off (wearing all my layers) to do 2 easy warm-up miles. By the time I returned to the start line, it was 7:45.
I had 15 minutes to drop my stuff off and use the porta potty again. I waited for the porta potty, but when it got to be 7:55, I realized I would not make it to the start and I decided to forgo the porta potty. I got in line in the 1:55-2:10 corral and I was off. The first two miles take you on a loop through the streets of Littleton before coming back to the start line and getting on the trail. My goal was to work on starting a race slow, and the first few miles were certainly conducive to this! Miles 1 and 2 were 9:17 and 9:12.
By the time we got on the trail, however, the crowds had not really spread out. We were now squeezed together on a narrow bike path, and immediately came upon an aid station, which further squeezed us in. I did not care too much because everyone had great energy and I knew eventually we would spread out. Even though the course is along a bike path near a river, you are mostly running past industrial plants. I was thinking there would not be much crowd support, but between the aid stations (exactly every 2 miles) and the multiple parks along the way, there was a decent amount of crowd support. Miles 3, 4, and 5 were: 9:07, 8:59, 8:53.
Although I had told myself I would run the first 5-6 miles slow, by the time I hit mile 5, I realized, I did not have much kick left in my legs to pick up the pace. And I was OK with that, given that I seemed to be running a steady race and could probably finish sub-2, which would be a great training run anyway. Miles 6, 7, and 8: 8:57, 8:56, 9:01.
By the 8th mile, I was close to the park of the path I run my long runs on. We were getting closer to the city and I was in my comfort zone. My legs, however, were screaming at me and I started to feel slightly dizzy. Fuel, right. I grabbed some Honey Stinger chews from my pocket and kept going, hoping they would kick in and I would feel better. They never did and I realized I was struggling to maintain 9 min miles, which are usually easy for me to maintain in a half marathon. Miles 9, 10, 11: 9:03, 9:08, 9:19.
At this point the possibility of going over 2 hours crept up on me. I can usually clear a half under 2 with no problem, but I was feeling pretty bad at this point. I then decided I had put up a good fight and that the day just was not my day. I stopped looking at the watch for the last mile on the trail. Then the final mile of the race takes you into town by going up overpasses. The beginning of mile 13 was terrible not only because of the first and only major hill on the course, but also because we were pushed into a small sidewalk. Everyone around me was walking up the hill. As tempting as it was, I could not let myself do that. I did, however, feel my pace slip dramatically. By the time I got to the top and started downhill, I did not even feel like I picked the pace back up. Miles 12 and 13: 9:32 and 9:48.
I crossed that darn bridge/overpass and could see the finish line. Just had to get there. I knew David and the dogs would be there. Crossed the line in 2:00:44, just over 2 hours. At that point all I cared about was that I no longer had to run. I could not figure out why it was such an off day for me, but I knew I pushed it and did the best I could. I then recognized 2 doggies and a boy walking away from the finish line. I think I started to run (2 steps before I caught myself) and then stopped and called after them.
David, having been to many of my races, was convinced he had missed me once the clock hit 2 hours and ventured into the crowd to find me. No, I told him, I was just having an off day. I was able to get in line for a large variety of food (fruit, burgers, mac ‘n cheese, etc.). Then I had to collapse on the ground. My quads were shot and getting down was tough. D made me eat some food and then I realized that I missed the beer line. A beer was not necessarily the first thing I wanted, but they came in cute mugs. I wanted a mug!
What was great about this race was that it started and ended near light rail lines and they gave all participants a voucher to get on the rail back to the start. I did not use mine, however, because David was able to drive me back, on his way to run errands. Nonetheless, I appreciated that they did that! I got to take the dogs home and a hot shower never felt so great. I put on my race shirt and medal and lay on the couch before heading out to get some good Mexican food.
On our way out, the hail started and I was sure glad we had a nice, sunny morning in the 50s. Perfect for a race.