Yesterday I finished the Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon!
In April, I turned 26 years old and I vowed that I wanted to run 26 miles for 26 years. AND I DID IT! I am still in disbelief that the marathon is over and done with. Overall, the experience was amazing and something that I will never forget.
Now, let’s talk about all the race details!
Saturday afternoon, Brian and I headed to the expo so that I could pick up my number and T-shirt and check out all of the vendors.
The venue was a little different than what I was used to because when we entered the expo it appeared that there were no vendors. This was definitely not the case, the venue was just very windy and you couldn’t really see what was coming up around each corner. We kept assuming we had reached the end of the expo and then we would run into more booths!
Overall, the expo was good with a lot of vendors. I always think it’s fun to check out the gear, snacks, and other things they have available to the runners. I ended up purchasing a Soybu tank top (that I wore during the marathon!), a Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon tank top, and the Stick.
After that, we went out to an early dinner with friends and I then home to RELAX!
And of course I made sure all my gear was laid out, my playlist was made, my watch was charged, and everything was ready to go for the morning before heading to bed.
I woke up early, around 5am so that I had plenty of time to get dressed, make breakfast, tidy the house and do other stress-relieving things for myself.
My pre-race breakfast was oats with banana, cinnamon and peanut butter with some cold brew coffee and water.
I also reminded myself of a few race day mantras that were in my Marathon book. (SO helpful!)
After that, we loaded up the car and headed to to the start of the race at Adams County Fairgrounds.
We arrived at the race very early (it’s a bit annoying to have to wait around so long…we waited about an hour…but I would much rather be early than late!). In the hour that we waited, we were able to see an absolutely stunning sunrise and I used the bathroom twice! HA!
The temperature at the start of the race was about 50 degrees, which was SO perfect. I took off my jacket because I knew that once I started running I would not need it.
Despite me being at the race an hour early, I did feel a little stressed and rushed at the start because there were not enough porta-potties! The first time I went to the bathroom (about an hour before the start) there was absolutely NO line. The second time I went (about a half hour before the start) I waited in line for 20 minutes and there were still people behind me that probably waited an additional 20 minutes and started the race after the planned time.
That being said, the chip time didn’t start until each participant crossed the starting line so I guess it really didn’t matter.
Getting ready to line up!
Going into the race, I decided that I wanted to finish between 4 hours to 4 hours and 30 minutes but I also didn’t want to stress out about it. I purposely did not follow a pace group, which is something that I typically do when running races. I knew that if I was pacing with a group I may feel pressure to run faster than my body wanted me to, and because this was my first ever full marathon I didn’t want to push myself to a dangerous or uncomfortable level.
The night before the race, Brian and I mapped out the points where he would watch me. I knew that it would be a challenge for him to make it to all of our planned spots so I wasn’t going to be disappointed if he wasn’t at a planned location, but I knew where to look for him.
We planned for him to be at miles 4, 8, 13.1, 19.7, and the finish line, and he was able to make it to every single spot with Bernie trailing along!
This is me at mile 4 saying hi to Bernie!
It was so amazing and motivating to see Brian at these markers and it really helped push me along when I was tired and needed a little boost.
Other things that helped me along were listening to awesome music and reciting the mantra “Relax, Power, Glide” (from the Marathon book). All three of those things really pushed me to the finish line.
At the beginning of the race, I was running at the pace of 9:48 and maintained that pace until about mile 18. Honestly, I felt SO good during the majority of the race. I remember thinking to myself at mile 8 “If I feel this good at mile 20, I’m just going to run the last 6 miles without walking at all!”
Mile 8 and feeling good!
At mile 18 I definitely started to feel the affects of the long distance. At that point I felt like my body needed fluid and fuel. I did not bring my own hydration because I was relying for the course on that but I did bring my own baby food fuel (I trained with it!) Honestly, I do not think this course had enough hydration stops. There were many stretches that went on where I felt parched and the cups of water they gave us were not even halfway full. After the first few water stops, I found myself grabbing two and three cups at each stop because I knew the one cup was not enough.
After taking in my final baby food fuel at mile 18, I new that I was going to see Brian at mile 19.7, so I kept trucking along. At this point, I also made the decision to slow down my pace.
I saw Brian at mile 19.7 and he asked how I was doing, all I could say was “I’m getting tired!!!”
I then mentally broke the final 6 miles up into two chunks. I tackled the first 3 miles with the run walk method (4 minutes running 1 minute walking) I had been doing throughout the entire race. When I made it to mile 23, I thought to myself “one more mile of run/walk and then I will run the final two miles to the finish!”
I did just that, but I’ll be honest. The final .2 of a mile (right after I saw the 26 mile marker) was probably the LONGEST leg of the race! I thought I would NEVER see the finish line, but when I did it was AMAZING.
I immediately started crying, as I do when I cross the finish line of most races, and ran straight to Brian and Bernie. It felt SO good to be done.
Brian gave me water and a banana (they didn’t really have much food at the finish line. just burritos-no thanks, fruit cups-also no thanks, and chocolate milk-no thanks again). I was so thankful I brought my own snacks for the end of the race!
We then walked around for a bit and I picked up my finisher jacket.
While we were waiting in line for the jacket, I saw a tent offering free massages…YES!
There wasn’t even a line, so I immediately hobbled over to get my tired muscles massaged.
It was so painful, but in the absolute best way possible.
After the massage, and walking around for a bit to loosen my legs we went home. I made myself a smoothie, hopped in the bath, stretched, foam rolled, and RELAXED the rest of the night.
My official finish time was 4:30:57, right at my goal! (That was 49/158 in my division and 679/1591 total participants!)
I can’t thank you all enough for all of the support and encouragement throughout the training process. It means more to me than you will ever know!
If you have specific questions about the marathon or my training, please feel free to let me know in the comments or shoot me an e-mail. I am happy to answer!
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Yay Tara!! High fives girl! It’s been really fun following your training for the big event. What an awesome accomplishment! I love your photo where you are saying hi to Bernie. Brian did a wonderful job with the photos! So happy for you! 😀
You are so sweet! Thanks, Julie!
Congrats Tara! Way to rock it 🙂
Thank you, Sara! 🙂
Amazing!!!! You rocked it dear! Congrats!
Thanks, Rebecca!! 🙂 It was an experience of a lifetime!
What an experience! Great race, Tara.
Thanks, Paula!! 🙂
You’re such an inspiration! That’s an amazing accomplishment, good job girl!
Thanks, Somer 🙂
Congratulations on a great race! That’s something to be really proud of. I ran my first marathon when I graduated college, and it always means a lot when you attach it to a significant event in your life. You did awesome! Also, who though BURRITOS would be a good idea after a race?! Someone who is not a runner definitely organized the food!
Thanks Gretchen!! 🙂 I think you are right…a runner did not plan the food!!!
Thanks Sara!!! 🙂
Congratulations! What an accomplishment!