A Blue (and Orange) Ribbon Day

I ran a 15K (I know...an odd distance) last year as the first race after the April 2013 Boston Marathon.  I made the fatal error of not completely researching what race I'd signed up for.  That race was in my home neighborhood and at the halfway point, made a descent up to the top of the Lone Tree bluffs.  When my run coach prescribes hills, it's the baddest of the bunch.  Great to build strength and character, but never what I'd call "fun."  Not having raced since November, I was itching to sign up for something with January about gone and selected the Prairie Dog Half Marathon in Louisville, Colorado.  This also happened to be Championship Sunday in the NFL, so I figured why not run a half and enjoy some afternoon beer and nachos watching my Denver Broncos.

Back to the concept of not knowing the course, as I signed up, I looked at the elevation and saw some climb starting around mile 3-7, but what typically goes up, must come down (I figured.)  At the time, it didn't seem like much.  A bit of a novel concept was the fact that they "hubbed" the start and finish in front of a gym which allowed for warm temps hanging out inside prior to the race.  I opted to take care of my last minute "business" at the nearby grocery store.  The half marathon sold out (they also had a 10K,) and I was looking for my age group competition prior to the race.  I didn't spot anyone I knew my age, and I tried to decipher if there were any grey beards congregating around the start of the race. Younger runners seemed to be up front (as usual) and I forgot about it and started to get in my "zone."  I was feeling pretty good with the start of my (2014 Boston) marathon training so despite my coaches advice to use this as a training run, I went after it like a race.  My current PR in a half is 1:29 and I went out (probably) a bit too fast with a sub seven minute per mile pace as I was thinking in my head of running a 1:30 or better.
My first actual podium

Overall, I liked the course early on as it started out in a residential area with a bit of a downhill pace before heading into downtown Louisville which you could miss if you blinked, or were running at a 6:46 pace.   The hills that looked so tiny in the elevation chart "took the wind out of my sails" and slowed me down quite a bit.  The energy I had in the early miles were not there,  somewhere around here, I spotted a guy who was likely in my age group.  He passed me on the hills, but I caught up to him afterwards.  As we headed back down, my pace picked up, but not to the pace I'd set earlier.  Just like a date in high school, I "peaked" too early.  At this point, I wanted a respectable finish and kept pushing myself.  As we got off the hills and concrete path trails and back into suburbia, we started to converge with the 10K racers which started a half hour later.  I passed a number of them, but confusion set in a bit as the previously well-marked course got a bit confusing.  I almost went straight when I should have turned and saw the volunteers send a woman (half marathoner) back as she'd missed a turn...I'd be pissed if I was her as she was one of the leaders.
Dad and Daughter Celebrating the Broncos Win!

My last mile was pretty weak, but I finished the last half mile with a "kick."  The best parts of the post-race was the burp which one woman thought came from her (female) friend.  "No, that was me."  She was impressed.  Even better was running (no pun intended) into an old (no pun intended) fraternity brother who I had not seen since college.  Steve Krebs became a bit of a legend locally almost winning the Colfax marathon twice if I recall correctly.  He coaches cross country at Green Mountain High School and was great to catch up and snap a picture for Facebook.  In order of "best parts" the best part of the post-race festivities was finding out that I'd placed second in my age group with a 1:32:06.  Better yet, was the wooden podium for the winner photos.  Yes...this was my first "podium" on a podium.

Okay, I lied...the best part was that I did enjoy those nachos and a few beers with my wife, daughter, and friends later that afternoon.  Even better was the fact the Broncos beat the Patriots to advance to the Super Bowl.  A day that was full of "bests" that kept getting better.  A blue ribbon day in the family for sure.


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