I signed up for this race (my 31st marathon) to redeem myself from my last race – Revel Mt. Charleston about a month ago. Because I have now run that race 3 times, I didn’t recap it in my blog. Mt. Charleston 2019 didn’t go so well mainly due to the heat, so I decided to sign up for Revel Rockies right afterwards to see what I could do.
Since Mt. Charleston was only a month out from Revel Rockies, I wouldn’t really need to train for it. A few longish runs should be ok and I had an 11 mile race on the schedule too, so I wasn’t worried about fitting in a 20 mile long run. Wishful thinking… During my 11 mile race on Saturday, May 11th, I started having glute pain around mile 5 and every step I took hurt. I ran the last 6 miles in pain. Where I usually average around a 7:55 minute mile on the last 2 downhill miles, I couldn’t break 9:00 miles. Something was definitely injured.
I scheduled an Airrosti appointment right away on Monday morning and Dr Kayla diagnosed some tendinopathy where the glute muscle meets the hamstring muscle. She said this could take a long time to heal, but we would be able to start treatments right away. I stopped running for a week and a half and had 3 Airrosti sessions, 2 cold laser therapy sessions, did all of my prescribed PT exercises every night and was up and running the next Wednesday. I swear by Airrosti! It hurts quite a bit during treatment, but they really get you recovered as quickly as possible!! I was going to be able to run this marathon. Yay!
I made my hotel reservation and finalized plans to drive to Colorado. Bill was able to go with me and we took our dog Max too! A family vacation! Just what we needed to start our summer break.
We loaded up the car and left Thursday afternoon. I didn’t want to bother my glute further by sitting in a car for 8 1/2 hours, so we broke up the trip and stayed in Raton, NM then drove on into Denver the next day.
We stayed at the La Quinta in Golden. At about 10 minutes from the expo and 12 minutes from where the bus pickup was on race day, it turned out to be the perfect location. La Quinta is always a favorite because they allow dogs to stay free. After we got into town, it was time to look for a good place to carb load. We found a nice little Italian restaurant , Trattoria Stella, downtown that allowed dogs on the patio. So, Max got to join us for dinner and he did great. Max is a rescue and doesn’t like people very much. He absolutely can’t stand small children either. So, this was a good growth moment for him!
There was a nice little shakeout run in downtown Golden on Friday morning before the expo. It is a quaint little town and there is a nice paved trail along the stream. However, the altitude was very noticeable. My heart rate was through the roof on this little 3 mile run and I was getting a little worried! I am an ambassador for the Revel Race Series, so that means I volunteer a bit at the expos when I run Revel races. So, I worked for a few hours at the packet pick up and met some other ambassadors as well. Packet pickup is so much fun. I love seeing people who are running their first marathon or half marathon. There were quite a few that came through my line.
I picked up my own packet and t-shirt, visited the 15 or so booths, bought some last minute gels, snapped a couple of pics and went to meet my hubby and Max for lunch. We ate at Bob’s Atomic Burger. Bill said it was one of the best burgers he has ever had. I had a veggie burger and it was yummy too. Max shared our sweet potato fries and got to join us again on the patio.
One of my favorite things to do the day before a race is to drive the course. Since I had never run this race, it was probably a good idea. After hearing about the race from others and reading the course description on the Revel blog, I had some concerns about the course. My first worry was the altitude. I had only run races that started at about 7500 feet, not 10,500 feet. I’ve seen the effects of altitude sickness and really didn’t want to experience it on race day! My second worry was my injury. There were some uphill sections on this course and I was afraid it would be aggravated. My last worry was the lack of shade and hills on the back half of this course. I don’t do well in the heat. Add on hills and altitude to that heat and that makes for a slow Debbie!
It took about an hour to reach Echo Mountain Ski Lodge where the race starts. There was actually snow on the ground and it was a beautiful view!
After the drive, we explored a little and stopped at Whole Foods for my breakfast sandwich, water and some dinner. I love Whole Foods! Someday, Lubbock, TX needs to get one!!!
2:30 a.m. was going to come really early, so I soaked in my epsom bath, did my PT exercises, laid out all of my gear for the morning and hit the sack!
When the alarm went off, the excitement of running another marathon got me up and ready to go. I felt bad that Bill had to get up so early to drop me off, but he didn’t mind. I’m so lucky to have a husband who lets me do these things. We drove up to the Bandimere Speedway at 3:45 a.m. and Bill was able to drop me off right by the school buses. An hour later, we pulled up to the starting area at Echo Mountain. There were about 20 portajohns set up and water and gatorade was available too. It was quite chilly up there. I got right in line to the portajohns and then bundled up in my long pants, hoodie, mylar blanket and gloves and found a place to nest on the ground to watch the sunrise and wait for the race to begin. After one more trip to the restroom, I shed the extra clothes, stuffed them into my drop bag, put it on the truck and walked down to the starting area. There were flags with projected times on them and I chose to line up near the 3:55. My goal was to break 4 hours, but if I could get close to that goal time it would be even better. And then, we were off!
Miles 1-6 were effortless. I was sailing down the mountain and hitting paces I never hit at the beginnings of marathons. My heart rate seemed fine, my breathing was fine, the sun was rising and it was gorgeous. Mile 6 began to flatten out and then rise a bit. Instead of looking at my watch to see how much I was slowing down, I decided to run by effort. I didn’t push it and knew there would be more decline soon. Miles 9-11 got a little tougher. We were now out of the trees, on a flatter portion of the road and the sun was higher in the sky. Again, I just tried to stay calm and not check my pace. The halfway point came and I knew that I was close to a PR. When I checked my results after the race, I found that I had! My half time was 1:46:46 (almost 3 minutes faster than the 3M Half in Austin this past January).
As you are coming upon the halfway point, you see a very large hill approaching at mile 14. Wow, it was a biggie. As I was jogging my way up it, the 3:40 pacer and his group caught up with me. Someone was complaining about the pace and how fast it was. Pace groups are not for me. I learned this way back in marathon #10 at Oklahoma City. Don’t get me wrong, I love BEING a pacer, but I don’t always trust other pacers. So, I try to stay away from the pace groups and let them pass me.
The sun was now high in the sky and we were running along Evergreen Parkway (not the most beautiful part of the race). The next several miles were quite tough. More rolling hills, more sun, more flat sections made for slower miles. If I could just get to mile 20, I knew there was some shade coming and some more downhill. Finally, I was in the last 10k. Miles 20-22 were still not as downhill and shady as I would have liked, but they were pretty.
One thing I absolutely love about Revel races is the Mile 22 aid station. There are Otter Pops!! Just what I needed to give me a little relief! Miles 23-26 were back to downhill with another Otter Pop stop at Mile 25! At Mile 26, a man came up behind me and said, “let’s finish this thing” and that was just what I needed to get up the last little hill at 26.1. I crossed that finish line with a Boston Qualifying time! I wasn’t exactly sure of what it was, but it was a BQ. The tears were flowing as I ran into another ambassador who gave me a big hug and congratulated me. I saw my husband at the sideline and rushed over to him while still bawling. He thought I was crying because it was such a tough race, I told him I BQ’d and he gave me a big hug and kiss. Max was happy to see me too.
There was pizza, pie and beer at the finish and all I wanted was beer, so I walked DOWN a small set of STEPS (this was just mean!) and headed towards the beer tent. There were lots of places to snap pictures, so I took advantage of some of them. My friends were texting me nonstop and finally I was able to sit down with my cold beer and text them back. I got my finish time card and my BQ luggage tag as well. My final time was 3:50:50 (A BQ with a 4:10 cushion). I don’t know if it will be enough to get me in, but I do know that I left it all out there on the course that day and there was absolutely nothing left to give.
Afterwards, I got my pizza at MOD Pizza and then went to La Patisserie Francaise for an Amaretto Almond Eclair. Deliciousness!
We took off for Lubbock the next day, but not before stopping at the Denver Biscuit Company. I had an absolutely delicious strawberry shortcake biscuit.
So, that was marathon #31. I was pleasantly surprised that I could tackle such a tough course and come out with an unexpected BQ. Sometimes, when you take the pressure off of yourself, you are surprised at the result. It’s a good lesson to remember. What’s next? I’m not sure. I want to do a total of six marathons in 2019 and this was number 4. So, I will be browsing around the marathon guides looking for two more, preferably one in a new state. In the meantime, I’m getting ready to compete in the Camp Gladiator Games at the end of July. Yes, a brand new adventure at age 50!
Here is my breakdown of Revel Rockies Marathon:
The t-shirts are very nice looking, but sizes ran very small for the women’s shirts. I had no problem exchanging mine for a different size.
Revel always puts a little surprise gift in the swag bag. One year it was hats, one year it was socks, this year it was a pair of Goodr sunglasses! Love them!!! Also, there is a much-needed mylar blanket and a pair of throwaway gloves in the packet.
Medals are great and have a spinner in the middle. If you BQ, you get a luggage tag.
Race results are immediate and they print them on pretty cards for you to keep.
Merchandise is available for purchase at the finish area as well as the expo. I picked up a BQ shirt right after I finished.
Race Day Buses/Parking
Buses were leaving between 3:30 – 4:15 a.m. from Bandimere Speedway. There were plenty of people directing traffic and helping with parking.
The school buses were clean and the ride took about an hour to the top.
The starting area of Echo Mountain was just a pull off place without any buildings.
There was water and Powerade available and about 20 porta johns. There should have been about 15 more. The first time I got in line, it was quick. By the time I got in line again after all the buses had dropped off, the line was huge and I hardly had time to put my drop bag on the truck.
(For a great breakdown of the course along with strategies, check out Coach Paul’s blog entry on the Revel Rockies website)
The race started promptly at 6:00 am. There were flags with projected times where you could line up. It wasn’t too crowded at the start. I only had to do a little weaving to find an opening.
Miles 1-6 are a fast downhill.
At mile 6, the course flattens out a bit, then downhill again at 7-9.
Around miles 9-11, you are out of the mountain and the course flattens a lot. There is no shade. It’s a good idea to bank a bit of time in the first part of the course in order to get through this next part of the course.
Miles 14-16 are the largest hills on the course. If we weren’t at 7,000 ft. these hills wouldn’t have felt so bad, but the altitude and lack of shade really played a part in slowing down my pace.
Miles 17-22 are also a bit tough with flat parts and more rolling hills and no shade. But, the otter pops at mile 22 were a wonderful relief!
Miles 23-26 were back downhill (more otter pops at mile 25!). Be forewarned, there is a hill in the last .10 of the race and at that point, it feels like a mountain!
There was chocolate milk, some protein bars and fruit at the finish.
On your bib are tickets for Pizza, Pie and Beer. You need to have an ID with you or preferably get a wristband at the Expo. If you purchase a glass, you get two beers! (Yes, I did.)
There are plenty of backdrops and large letters/numbers to take pictures in front of.
My husband and dog were able to meet up with me right away.
There is a shuttle going back and forth to the parking area, but it is a long walk to them from the finish. We didn’t have to wait very long for the bus.
Tip: soak your feet in the nice stream beside the finish area. I should have done this!!
Revel puts on outstanding races. Every detail is taken care of and everything runs quite smoothly. They also offer FREE Race photos! Don’t be fooled by this being labeled a downhill course. There is a lot of uphill as well. It is a gorgeous and challenging race and I recommend it wholeheartedly.
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