Race Recap: Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

My first Rock ‘n’ Roll experience was amazing and left me wanting more!  It all started Friday, October 13th with a flight from Sacramento, California to Denver, Colorado.

Immediately following work on Friday (I’m a 5th grade teacher), I drove to the airport to catch my flight.  It was an uneventful two hour flight.  I passed time by watching the movie “Tallulah” on Netflix that I had downloaded the night before.  When I arrived in to Denver, my aunt and her friend, Brenda, were waiting for me.  We all headed to my aunt’s house, chatted about running for a bit, and then went to bed.

img_0099

Before heading to bed, however, I laid out my clothes for the 5k the next morning and snapped my #flatrunner pic.

img_0097

The next morning, I was so excited to participate in my first Rock ‘n’ Roll race!  I was glad there was race morning bib pick up since I wasn’t able to attend the expo on Friday.  I was also glad that the 5k started at 9am.  It was chilly, but manageable since the sun was out.

The 5k on Saturday was relatively small.  There were only 961 participants.  I went into the race with no expectations.  I wasn’t sure how my body would respond to running in the mile high city (5,280 ft. elevation).  My hometown’s elevation is 59 feet.

I’m happy to report that I ran the entire time (besides the short walk during the water station at mile 2) and I finished in 30:16.  A far cry from my 24:16 5k PR, but I already knew my 5k time wasn’t going to be fast.  One of the pieces of motivation I had during the race was knowing my aunt was right beside me.  I didn’t want her to see me walk nor give up.  I wanted to prove I was strong.  (Speaking of strong, can I take this moment to give a shout out to my aunt who finished 5th in her division!  Way to go Margie!)

Want to know what it’s really like to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5k in Denver?  Check out my video and SUBSCRIBE!

While Margie and I waited for Brenda to finish the 5k, I headed to the beer garden to enjoy my complimentary beer.  (Brenda was recovering from an injured hamstring, so she had to walk the course.  Normally, she’s a fast runner.  A super fast, Boston Qualifying runner!)

After enjoying the 5k course and finisher zone, we drove to the expo to pick up our half marathon bib and packet.

The expo was held at the National Western Complex and was amazing!  There were over 60 exhibitors represented at the expo!  I could have spent hours upon hours at the expo!  Even though the expo was HUGE, it remained well organized, runner-friendly, fun, and informative!

Denver Expo Map-1

Some of my favorite parts of the expo included checking out the Rock ‘n’ Roll race area (still trying to convince the hubby to let me run RnR Las Vegas… every year it falls on his birthday weekend and he doesn’t want to go to Las Vegas for his birthday), getting a pic of me holding my half marathon bib, and finding the SPIbelt booth. (Use code STEPHANIE2017 for 15% off at SPIbelt.com.)

Finally it was time to head back to the house, shower, and enjoy the rest of our day by visiting the town of Boulder, Colorado.  While in Boulder, we walked along Pearl Street, an outdoor shopping mall.  We spent about an hour in the Boulder Book Store.  It was wonderful to browse the books, relax, and get lost in a few good titles.  One book that I picked up was “What Made Maddy Run” by Kate Fagan, the heartbreaking and vital story of college athlete Madison Holleran, whose death by suicide rocked the University of Pennsylvania campus.

We browsed a few other stores and then made our way to Japango for some sushi and wine.  This is what everyone eats the night before a half marathon, right?! 😉

 

It was a full day for us, so once we returned to my aunt’s house, we chatted for a bit and then headed to bed.  Once again, I had to first lay out my #flatrunner pic.

img_0165Sunday

The moment I had been waiting for finally had arrived!  My first Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon!  I was told that the half marathon would be bigger than the 5k and they weren’t joking.  The 5k had a little under 1,000 participants and the half marathon & 10k combined had a little under 7,000 participants!  The race started at 7am and we arrived to the starting line a little after 6am.  I tried staying in the warm car for as long as possible before I had to meet up with my fellow BibRave Pros.

Andrey, Katherine, and I finally all got together at 6:50am, Katherine & I then ran over to the drop bag area to drop our bags off, and then we quickly ran to our corrals.  img_0265It was 30 degrees at the start of the race and 39 degrees when I finished the race about 2.5 hours later!  Needless to say, it was cold!  I’m so glad that I decided to wear tights and put my long sleeve shirt on under my BibRave shirt!  I couldn’t feel my hands the first 3 miles of the race!  Even though it was cold, I still sweated throughout the run.  I was glad to have my new Boco Gear visor! (As a local Colorado based company, Boco Gear knows how to make comfortable and versatile headwear.  I wore my visor the entire 13.1 miles and was able to easy throw it in the washing machine when I got home.)

Overall, I was pleased with my half marathon performance.  I had run a local half marathon two weeks prior with a time of 2:19:34.  My Denver finishing time was 2:21:27.  (Again, a far cry from my half PR of 1:52:32.) Considering I was running a mile higher than I normally do, I was pleased.

I felt the lack of oxygen in the air more during the 5k than during the half marathon.  This was partly due to the fact that I was so cold during the half marathon, my whole body was numb!  I couldn’t feel anything!  I can’t remember the last time I ran 13.1 miles in a long sleeve shirt and tights!  (Can you tell I’m a California girl or what?!)

Again, want to know what it’s really like to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in Denver?  Check out my video and SUBSCRIBE!

I had about a hour to enjoy the finisher zone before Brenda and Margie would finish the half marathon.  First, I picked up my Remix Challenge medal (a special medal you earn when you participate in both events on Saturday and Sunday), then I headed to pick up my grab bag, and finally, I made my way to the beer garden.  I was especially looking forward to the beer garden because I had not one complimentary beer ticket, but three!  (Brenda and Margie both gave me their beer tickets. :))

After warming up in the sunshine with three beers and a solar blanket, I walked towards our meetup spot and quickly found Brenda and Margie. We snapped a quick jumping pic, and then drove to the house for me to shower, eat lunch, pack my bags, and then go to the airport.

img_0245

It was an amazing whirlwind weekend in Denver!  I am so thankful for my aunt who opened up her home to me, ran with me, and was a generous hostess.  She even made a special, super tasty veggie lasagna since she knew that I am a no meat athlete!  Yes, I am blessed!

It was another uneventful flight back home.  I was thankful for my Oofos because my feet were ready for some much needed rest and recovery!  If given the opportunity to run another Rock ‘n’ Roll race, I would do it in a heartbeat!  So, so, SOOO much fun!

img_0308

Now it’s time to turn my attention to my next big race, the California International Marathon!

Have you ever run a Rock ‘n’ Roll race?  If so, which one?  What was your experience running the race?  If not, is there a Rock ‘n’ Roll race that’s on your bucket list?  Tell me about it.  I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,

img_0060-1

Don’t forget to follow me on all the socials:

Instagram

Twitter

Facebook

Youtube

Advertisements

Race Recap: San Diego Craft Classic 

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Craft Classic San Diego race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

As stated in my Friday Feels blog, this was my first timing running a race in San Diego.  I, therefore, didn’t really now what to expect when I signed up for the Craft Classic half marathon.  Now that I’ve completed the race, I’m ready for more San Diego races and perhaps a relocation down to Southern California! 😉 

Our first stop upon arriving to San Diego was Road Runner Sports, the location of the race expo. Bib pick up was well organized, quick, and easy. My race swag included a pint glass, a racer back tank top, and a customized bib!


One of the things I was looking forward to about the race was the Green Flash Brewery beer at the finish line!


Since I was on a family vacation with the husband and two kids, they all got to join me at the expo. They enjoyed trying all the Nuun flavors and the Honey Stinger waffle and energy chew samples. 

Earlier in the week, while on Twitter, the Fat to Finish Line gang reached out to me and told me to stop by to say hi at the expo. So, that is just what I did! It was so wonderful to talk about weight loss (since I too have gone from fat to finish line) and Ragnar races. I have yet to do a Ragnar, but it is definitely on my bucket list. 


That evening, I prepared myself for my half marathon (as best as I could since I had recently taken a month off of running). One of the things I do in preparation for a race, is I lay out everything for a #flatrunner picture. 


The next morning, I woke up at 3:30am. My goal was to leave the hotel at 4:15am so I could catch a shuttle to the starting line at about 4:45am. (The shuttles ran from 4:30 – 5:30.) I ended up being right on time, got a front row view on the shuttle, and made it to the starting line with a little over an hour to spare!


I had the pleasure of meeting up with my fellow BibRave Pro ambassador, Mai, at the starting line.


I also got to meet up with some fellow ProCompression ambassadors too! 


In no time at all, it was time to line up at the starting line. There were two waves of runners: the under two hour group and the over two hour group. Maria and I waved goodbye as Mai and the other Pro ambassadors started in wave one. A little less than 1.5 years ago, I earned my half marathon PR of 1:52:32. I will get back there someday, but today was not the day. 

 

Maria and I ran together for the first couple of miles and then I began my walk/run intervals for the remainder of the course. Taking a month off of running really takes a toll on one’s ability to run. 😂 

The aid station at mile 3 was probably one of my favorites since they had popsicles! Yes, popsicles at 7am when you’re hot and sweaty are the BEST!


From that point on, the race was fairly uneventful. I had the 2:30 pacer come up behind me at about mile 6 and two thoughts came through my mind, “Ugh! Am I really that slow?! Hmmm… can I keep up with him?” Sadly, yes, I really was running that slowly and no, I was not able to keep up with him. Don’t be fooled by the smile on my face… yes, I was having fun, but my body was revolting against me! Side note: way to go 2:30 pacers! 


The next notable event happened sometime between miles 9 – 10. This is where we approached a monstrous hill. It was steep and long. This hill even has its own split on the race results! It’s the King of the Mountain split. The hill may not look that scary in the picture, but it was a beast! 


Slowly, but surely I finally made it to the finish line! I stocked up on some Honey Stinger waffles, filled up my water bottle, and made my way to the Green Flash beer garden. 


I walked around and took a few more pictures before heading back to the hotel. 


Interested in seeing more of the Craft Classic San Diego course? Be sure to check out my Craft Classic San Diego 2017 video! While you’re at it, please also subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking SUBSCRIBE. 

Overall, I’d highly recommend the Craft Classic San Diego race! You can read my full race review at BibRave.com and while you’re at it, read other reviews and/or write your own race reviews! 


Until next time,

A Different Kind of Race Recap

Why is this a different kind of race recap?  It’s because I wasn’t a runner during last night’s Davis Moonlight run.  Instead, I was a volunteer.  The best part about it all was that I had a BLAST!

2017moonlightlogo-272x300

The evening started with Kelly picking me up at my house. The race was about an hour away.  We made it to the starting location with about an hour to spare.  Kelly needed to pick up her bib and I needed to check in to the volunteer tent.  She dawned her race bib and I, my bright neon vest.

img_5352

A race organizer quickly gathered myself and two other volunteers as he told us, “Follow me,” and made his way quickly down the bike path.  He told me my station was to tell the 10k runners to go right and the 10 mile / half marathoners to go straight. First, however, I was to stand about 100 yards from the finish line to help direct the kids to the finish line of the kids race.  It was so much fun to get to cheer all of the kids on as they bravely made their way to the finish!

Soon, it was back to my other post where I’d be for the next 2.5 hours!

img_5353

I was really surprised by the number of people who stopped to ask me race course questions.  Even though I ran this race last year, I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t really remember the course that much.  Not to mention, I am not familiar with the area.  People were asking me questions such as, “Do the runners run all the way down to Target?  Which direction is 5th street?  Where else can I cheer on the half marathoners?”  I did not have a course map on me and proved to not be very helpful with bystanders’ questions.

For the runners, however, I think I did a pretty good job of directing the blue colored bibs (10k runners) to the right and the red colored bibs (10 milers) / green colored bibs (half marathon runners) straight.  All of the aforementioned runners actually ran past me twice.  First, they ran south of me and then they ran north.  The first run by, Kelly captured this picture of me (be sure to pay close attention to the size of the 10k turn-off sign)…

img_5381

I captured these pictures of Kelly and Rachel as they ran past the first time.  I was very proud of them for braving the 100 degree heat!

While waiting for the runners to pass me for a second time, I enjoyed talking to some bystanders around me.  One gentleman walked up holding a delicious-looking piece of pizza.  My volunteer shift was from 6:30 – 9:30pm and I had not eaten dinner.  (Yes, not very smart on my part.)  With a salivating mouth I asked, “Where did you get that pizza?”  He pointed to a tent that was set up at the finish line about 150 yards away.  There were two teenage girls standing nearby.  I pulled out some cash and asked the girls if they’d be willing to go buy me a piece of pizza.  Fortunately, they obliged.  (I pulled off the pepperoni and enjoyed every last, delicious bite!)

img_5362

Not too long after enjoying my $5 piece of pizza, the first place 10k finisher came whizzing past as he made his way to the finish line.

I was very blessed to have been placed in a location with shade.  I brought two water bottles, sunscreen, bug spray, a hat, a fan, and a spray bottle in preparation for the worst.  Fortunately, I didn’t need the fan at all since I was both in the shade and there was a breeze all evening long.  As the runners came past me for the second time, I decided to mist them.  Most runners were quite ecstatic and profusely thanked me.

Overall, I had a fantastic experience volunteering at the Davis Moonlight run.  There was one runner though who totally left an unpleasant taste in my mouth.  Remember when I told you to pay attention to the size of the 10k sign I was standing near?  Well, there was a 10k runner who somehow missed the turn-off, ran past me, and then came back my direction to make the correct turn.  As she did so, she proceeded to point to me while yelling, “Bad job!  I missed the turn!  Bad job!”

I was so taken aback by this woman for many reasons.  1) As a fellow runner, if I miss a huge, obvious turn off sign, I will laugh it off and place the blame on myself, not someone else.  2) She thought it was okay to point a finger at me and tell me I was doing a bad job. 3) How could she miss the turn off sign AND me pointing while telling all of the runners, “10k to the right”?  4) She was not vying for first place.  She was a middle-of-the-pack runner.

Sure, she was probably embarrassed, but that’s never an okay reason to place the blame on someone else for your own error.  What I learned from this woman was that words hurt.  Lift others up and never berate a race volunteer.

As I look back on this experience, I will choose to remember the positive.  I will remember my hands hurting from clapping so much as I cheered all the runners on.  I will remember the many runners who thanked me for volunteering, for my smiles, and for my misting.  I will remember the high fives and all of the inspiring runners I saw out on the course.

What are the phrases you enjoy volunteers shouting out to you during a run?  Have you ever volunteered at a race?  If so, what was your experience?  

Until next time,

img_3760

Race Recap: Utah Valley Marathon

This was my first time running in Utah and therefore was my first time running the Utah Valley Marathon. “Why did you pick this out-of-state race?” you may be asking. Well, I entered Michelle’s giveaway on her blog runningwithattitude.com and I won! After finding a $170 roundtrip flight to Utah, I was in!

I knew that it would be tight squeeze to catch my flight on Friday since this day also happened to be the last day of school.  Fortunately, students were dismissed at noon which gave me the time I needed to make my 1:50pm flight.  I, in fact, had enough time at the airport to enjoy a mushroom pizza and finish my final assignment for an online class I was taking through UC San Diego extension. (Does anyone else take a picture of where they have parked their car so they won’t forget?)

My flight to Utah was short, sweet, and uneventful.  Since it was such a short trip, I had just a carry on and my purse.  This allowed for quick exit once I arrived to Salt Lake City.  I picked up my rental car and made my way to the Utah Valley Marathon expo.  Sadly, my rental car smelled so strongly of cigarette smoke, that I had to stop and purchase an air freshener to help mask the stench.

Due to traffic, it took me a little over an hour to get to the Utah Valley Marathon expo in downtown Provo.  Once I arrived to the Utah Valley Convention Center, it was easy to locate the expo and pick up my bib & race packet.  This was the Utah Valley Marathon’s 10th anniversary and because of that each participant received a race jacket instead of a Tshirt. I still wanted a Tshirt to go along with my jacket, so I bought one at the expo. Speaking of the expo, it was organized, well stocked with great vendors, and had a great line up of speakers!

After leaving the expo, I enjoyed the views surrounding Provo, found a local vegan Mexican restaurant, and checked into my hotel.  My hotel wasn’t anything to rave about, but what do I expect when I book one of the cheapest hotels I can find?  The room looked as though it hadn’t been cleaned (there was still a towel hanging up in the bathroom) and the room felt as though it was 90 degrees!  I ran the window air conditioning unit all night, but it seemed to have little effect on the overall temperature of the room.

I could not get over how majestic the surrounding mountains looked!  I too live fairly close to the mountains in the Sacramento Valley, but not quite as close as Provo’s mountains. As I looked at the mountains I had the revelation, “I’m going to be running those mountains!”

I laid out my race gear, a pre-race routine, and tried to get some sleep since I knew my alarm was set for 2:30am. Yikes!

img_3667-1

The Utah Valley Marathon is a point to point course. Participants load up on buses that take them to the starting line. The bus service begins at 3am and the last bus leaves at 4:15am. I ended up getting on a bus at about 3:30am. I packed up all of my stuff and checked out of the hotel at about 3:15am.  As I took the following picture, my thought was, “Wow!  It’s early!”

img_3677-1

It took about 45 minutes to arrive to the starting line. Once at the starting line, I was delighted to see fire pits in an open field to huddle around to stay warm. There were probably a total of 20 fire pits scattered around an open field and there were volunteers who walked around to make sure everyone’s fires were still lit.


If you’re thinking about doing the Utah Valley Marathon, I recommend taking something warm to wear and/or wrap yourself in at the starting line to help you stay warm. I took a blanket with me to the starting line and was glad I did. At about 15 minutes until the race started, I shoved my blanket in my drop bag and handed it over to a race volunteer. (Yes, it was 48 degrees when I arrived to the starting line at 4:16am and it dropped to 39 degrees at 5:36am when the sun starting rising!)


Before I knew it, it was time for the race to start.  I lined up near the 5:30 fellow Beast Pacer because I knew that with the elevation lack of training, I’d be running pretty slow.  I, however, had no idea how slow I’d actually be going.  Right from the start my stomach didn’t feel right and I was having difficult catching my breath.  I checked my heart-rate on my Garmin Forerunner 235 and it wasn’t too terribly high.  I just couldn’t catch my breath.  At mile 4, I stopped to use the restroom, and again at mile 7, and again at mile 13.  I didn’t mind, however, because I was there to enjoy the views and have fun!

As for the course, it was probably one of the most scenic races I’ve ever ran! Bodies of water (including a waterfall), greenery, mountains, rock faces, etc. With such a wide variety of views, there’s bound to be an elevation change! The race started about about 6,200 ft. and ended at about 4,200 ft. My home is located at 60 ft. above sea level. To say that I was not trained to be running at elevation would be an understatement. Next time, I will train more and get some training in at a higher elevation.


Throughout the course, there were plenty of porta-potties, Cliff gels, water, Powerade, and enthusiastic volunteers. There were even frozen Otter Pops at about mile 24. That was the best tasting Otter Pop EVER!

One of many highlights of the course was meeting fellow Pro Compression ambassadors Stephanie and Holly at one of the final aid stations.  All three of us were wearing the June sock of the month.

img_3744

The Utah Valley Marathon’s finish line was one of the best I’ve seen. It was in the middle of University Ave., there were many people cheering, and there were Jamba Juice smoothies waiting for us once we crossed the finish line!  Fortunately, I had some cash in my Nathan hydration bottle because there were cinnamon rolls for sale at the finish line. #irunforcinnamonrolls


Overall, I’d highly recommend the Utah Valley Marathon. Hmm… I may even have to go back and run the race again sometime.  This race was extra special to me, as I mentioned on my Instagram post because it is the end of my running for a while. I’ll still be moving my body and exercising, but I’ve been ordered to not participate in any high impact workouts until further notice. The #utahvalleymarathon was my third full marathon for 2017 and my 15th lifetime marathon. It was an amazing, sole-filling, whirlwind of a weekend, but so worth it!

Do you have any upcoming races that you’re excited about?  If you’re looking for a race to sign up for, be sure to check out my discount page for codes to use for Rock ‘n’ Roll races, wine country half marathons, Rock ‘n’ Roll races, and more!

Check out my Utah Valley Marathon race review and others at BibRave.com

Find me on the socials: InstagramTwitter / Facebook / YouTube 

Be sure to “subscribe” to my YouTube channel so that you don’t miss out!

Until next time,

img_3760

Race Recap: Women’s Fitness Festival 

This was my third time running the Women’s Fitness Festival, but probably my favorite one yet! My first time was in 2013.


At this time, there was a half marathon option. I, and my friend Melissa, met up and ran the half marathon together. I remember the race being hot. Although we enjoyed each other’s company, we both did not have a fantastic race that day. My second time running the Women’s Fitness Festival was last year and I did the 10k. It was fun and I loved getting to meet Deena Kastor, but it was a little lonely doing the race on my own.

This year, I did the 10k and was certainly not alone. Somehow, I managed to have 7 of my girlfriends there to participate in the event with me. And I loved every moment of it!


Continue reading