I ran the Denver marathon this morning. My first marathon in 30 years. I’ve slowed down from when I was 18, but I’m still kickin’. Ran it in 3:36, about an 8.5 minute pace. Have yet to get my formal time, but I’ll update this link once it’s posted. I’ll admit I wasn’t too excited about this run. I signed up for it after the IPR to continue pushing myself after that run in September. I certainly wasn’t nervous like I was for the IPR. I knew after completing that run that a marathon was doable. So no butterflies at the starting line. But a really nice sense of accomplishment at the finish line.
The weather was incredible. It started out cool enough that I wore warm-ups before the start. It felt like around 50o, but there wasn’t any wind. I wore a pair of Nike dri-fit running shorts that had pockets the perfect size to hold my iPhone without it bouncing around. And I went with the hi-tech, long-sleeve race jersey I bought as part of the race gear. Hi-tech race jerseys are made of a fabric that keeps the sweat off your skin. It was much lighter than what a cotton shirt would have been. I was looking to wear something that was a single layer so that I wouldn’t have to discard anything. I rolled up my sleeves at the 5K mark and was comfortable throughout the run. I also wore my Nike running hat but didn’t need it for warmth. I wear it to keep the sun off my head. But this course winded through tree-lined streets in stunning Denver parks and neighborhoods. I wasn’t exposed to direct sunlight until the last 3 miles. And I doubt it warmed up beyond 70o. Fairly ideal running temperatures.
The course was flat enough. There’s a small hill after 3 miles when you cross Broadway going up 17th St. After that are what I would describe as slopes, but nothing to noticeably affect my pace. Well, until after 15 miles when slight slopes suddenly felt steep. I did begin to slow down on uphill segments at that point – a clear sign of fatigue. I signed up for a service that text me and my friends with pace and times at certain splits; 5K, 10K, 11 miles, 13 miles, 20 miles and the finish. The records indicate I ran well under an 8 minute pace for the first 10K, then slowed down to an 8.5 mile pace (my overall average) up until somewhere between 12 and 15 miles. By the 20 mile mark I had slowed down to a 9.5 mile pace and ran a 10.5 mile pace for the final 6 miles. Although I can tell you that it was the last 3 miles where I began to really wind down. I noticed my stride shorten a bit at 20 miles but extremely at mile 24 and even more during the final mile. My hamstrings were tightening and I fully expected my right hamstring to cramp up during the final half mile. I’m surprised it didn’t but slowing down must have kept it in check.
I felt quite comfortable the entire race until the final few miles where I began to chafe from the salt buildup and, while I never hit the wall from energy depletion, my legs became weighed down from exhaustion. I was never in danger of walking and with only a couple of miles remaining it was easy to stay positive. I did experience a stitch around 17 miles that worried me for a spell. Forgive the graphic description, but a knot started in my right nut and shot up under my rib cage. It only lasted a quarter mile or so. I suspect it stemmed from a combination of drinking at an aid station and running up a hill. Never had a stitch in my balls before. Speaking of that, my groin became pretty sore near the end as my legs grew heavy and my hamstrings threatened to cramp. I’m happy all the pain was so close to the end of the run. Would have been work otherwise.
I think I’m done with road races for the season. Work is getting so busy I can’t find time for long runs during the week and can only do 8 and 10 milers on the weekend. My New Year’s resolution was to start up road racing again, after foregoing them for two decades. I ran four; the Bolder Boulder 10K, the Garden of the Gods 10 Miler, the 17 mile Imogene Pass Run and now the Denver Marathon. Mission accomplished.