October 19, 2010

Denver Rock-n-Roll Marathon Race Report

The short version:  I finished!  Isn't this medal awesome?  I love how it says, "Inaugural" on it and "26.2" on the guitar.  The mountains are actually sparkly too to look like snow!

* Warning: This post is pretty long!  :)
We woke up, had a pre-race breakfast of a bagel with almond butter, got dressed, and headed to the race.  My husband was nice enough to wake up early and drive us so we didn't have to deal with trying to park with thousands of other racers.  As we got closer to the freeway exit, the traffic was basically at a stand still.  Luckily, my sister had her phone with her that has GPS, so we were able to figure out some side streets to go down to get close to the site.  We were so glad that we didn't have to deal with parking because there were literally hundreds and hundreds of cars coming from different directions trying to find parking downtown.  We finally just decided to hop out of the car and walk to the start.

We ended up having to walk about 1-2 miles, which was kind of good because it was cold out and that brisk walk warmed up our legs.  Once we reached the start area, we basically had 15 minutes to gear check our bag and visit the port-a-potty.  Gear check was CRAZY!  Again, there were hundreds of racers trying to check their bags all at the same time.  Once that was done, we got in line to use the bathroom and the first coral of racers started.  We knew we wouldn't make the official start, and would probably miss our coral, but we weren't going to stress about it because there was nothing we could do about it.  Finally, we got done, ran towards the start, and joined in the masses of people.  We crossed the start with coral #7, said our good lucks to each other and took off!

The Good: Miles 1-19
The start of the race was amazing!  There were so many people cheering and yelling, and the energy was pretty intense!  It was so loud that I don't think I actually heard the music on my Shuffle until several miles into the race.  I had so much adrenaline running through  my body, that I had to work really hard not to run too fast.
The course wound through downtown for about 5 miles before heading to City Park.  I was surprised by how fast the miles were clicking by.  One thing that was kind of frustrating though was that my Garmin was ahead on mileage by about .4 of a mile.  So, when my Garmin said I reached the 5M mark, it was actually .4M ahead of me on the course.  This doesn't sound like a huge deal, but it would come into play later in the race.
The course continued for about another 5 miles around City Park.  I love that park, so it was nice being able to run through it.  I was holding my pace and I felt really good, and was just excited about being there doing my first marathon!  I kept reminding myself that my goal was to finish happy, so I embraced the Rock-n-Roll aspect of the course.  I high-fived all of the cheerleaders throughout the course, and said, "Woohoo" to all the bands!  I was just having a good time.

After leaving City Park, we got a taste of a pretty good sized hill.  I swear it was a mile long!  My legs were definitely feeling it, but I just kept going.  We ran towards another park, Cheeseman Park, before the course split into the 1/2 marathoners and full marathoners.  I saw a row of about 5 port-a-potties with hardly anyone waiting and decided to take advantage of it.  I did my business and started off again.  It was a little hard to get going again, but it was worth the stop.  

From mile 12-15 we were graced with some other hills.  They weren't exactly steep, but long.  My husband and boys were planning on meeting me around the 15M mark so I could exchange my Nathan bottles and ditch my long sleeve shirt.  The thought of seeing them really helped me mentally keep going.  I was still feeling good at this point, but my legs were definitely feeling the effects of the hills.

This is a picture my husband got of me running towards them.  I look like a complete dork, but I was SOOO excited to see them!
I pulled off to the side, kissed my husband, took off my long sleeved shirt, exchanged my bottles, gave my boys hugs and kisses, and headed off again.  I know I wasted several minutes doing all of this, but it was completely worth it to me.

And, I'm off to do the remaining 11.2 miles!

The next 5 miles were all ran around and within Wash Park.  I was actually looking forward to this part of the race because it is one of my favorite places to run.  However, around the 18 mile mark, I started burping A LOT!  I wasn't really worried about it, but after awhile, it started getting annoying.  I came around a bend and saw my husband and boys again!  This was such a great surprise because I didn't think I would see them until the finish!

Between the 19 and 20M mark I started feeling a little nauseous.  I knew that I needed to eat a gel because I hadn't had one since a little before mile 15, but it just did not sound appealing to me in the least bit.  However, I knew that if I didn't get it down I could potentially pay an even bigger price later in the run.  I tried to eat the gel while running, but it just wasn't happening.  I slowed to a walk in order to get it down, but it was not easy.  Once it was down, I started running again.

The Bad: Miles 20-26.2
I have read numerous times that the race in a marathon really starts at mile 20.  I guess I didn't really understand this, but I have to say that I completely agree with that statement.  After the 20M mark, I was entering the unknown.  Every step past that mile was further than I had ever run before, and it was hard!  As I mentioned earlier, my Garmin reached the mile markers before I did in the race and it was just mentally hard to see that.  I stopped looking at my Garmin from mile 21 to the finish.  It just wasn't worth it any more.  My stomach starting revolting and I got really nauseous.  * Warning: gross parts coming up.  When it got to the point that I thought I was going to throw-up, I would pull over to the side and proceed to dry heave over and over again.  I HATE dry heaving. Every time it happened, my back and abs would just tighten up and hurt like crazy.  I really wish I could have just thrown up, but it didn't happen.  I would start walking, start feeling a little better, start running again, then the nausea would take over again and I would repeat the same process.  I did that 3 TIMES in 3 miles!  It was horrible and disgusting and I didn't know how to stop it.

I felt like crap and I just wanted to be done.  The miles felt like they took forever!  The worst part was that between miles 23 and 24, we had to go up a hill, down the backside, turn around, then go up and down it again.  This was torture!!  I couldn't believe that they would put that hill in the last few miles of a marathon!!!  It took every thing that I had to keep going and just put one foot in front of the other.  

Around mile 25, I saw my sister!  She had run the 1/2 marathon, and had come out on the course to help me finish the last mile.  It was soooo awesome to see her and she gave me the motivation to keep going!  She told me that my husband and boys were by the finish shoot waiting for me.  She kept telling me that all I needed to do was run to Bannock street, then turn left into the finishing shoot.  I could see the runners ahead of me turning left towards the shoot, but they looked so far away.  She ran with me all the way to Bannock street into the shoot, then stopped and told me to, "Run to the balloons!"  The finish was lined with balloons and her saying that made me laugh enough to push through the nausea.

I saw my husband and heard my boys cheering for me and it was awesome!  I didn't feel any more nausea and was just overcome with joy at what I was about to accomplish.  I was finishing my first marathon!!! :)

Here is a picture my husband took of my coming into the finish.

I crossed the finish line and was so happy to be done!  There were two women with signs that read, "Free hugs" and I went up to them and got a hug!  It was great!

The Ugly:
I got my medal, then proceeded to be handed water, apple slices, and fruit snacks.  I just grabbed the stuff for my boys and kept walking.  It was at this point that my stomach started revolting again.  My sister called my name and I saw her on the other side of the shoot.  I told her I was going to throw-up and she just kept saying, "Keep going and we'll take care of you."  I was so nauseous, but I didn't want to throw-up in the shoot where all the volunteers were handing out food and drinks.  That would have been horrible!
I finally made it out to the grass, found some trash cans, and proceeded to throw-up over and over again.  It was horrible!  There were runners and their families all around me and I was so embarrassed.  I finally stopped and actually felt a little better!  My sister and I walked to an open grassy area, sat down, and waited for my husband and boys to join us.  

This is a picture of me and my sister after the race.  She rocked the 1/2 mary with a time of 2:08!
Can you see how white I am?  My lips have no color in them!

My biggest supporters...my husband and boys!

Final Thoughts:
26.2 Miles !!   (My Garmin read 26.6 miles...ugh) 
Overall Time:  4:01:43 (9:14pace/M)
Division Place:  55/270
Sex Place: 252/1357
Before I share my thoughts, I just want to take a moment to thank all of you.  I carried all of your good luck wishes and encouragement with me throughout the entire race!  :)

I don't really know how to feel about this race.  Because this was my first marathon, my main goal was just to finish.  I had a time goal in mind, but honestly, I didn't put much emphasis on it because I just didn't know how my body would perform.  I have no idea why my stomach revolted the way it did.  I have never experienced that in a race before.  I used gels, water, and NUUN like I did in all of my training runs, so I didn't do anything differently.  Any ideas???
I am so happy that I finished, but I wish it would have been under less pukey circumstances!  :)  One thing is for sure though, I now have something to work towards for the Arizona Rock-n-Roll Marathon in January!

As far as whether or not I think a marathon is harder than a Half Ironman, I have to say that I don't think it is.  How I felt at the end (besides being pukey) was really similar to how I felt after my last 70.3.  I think mentally it's harder because you're doing the same thing over and over again, whereas with the HIM, you mix it up with swimming, biking, and running.  I don't know, it's interesting to think about.  What do all of you think?  

Congrats of all of you that raced this past weekend too!  I'm a little behind on blogs because my family was in town, but I can't wait to read about all of your racing experiences too! :)  



I like mixing it up.... but hey when you mix it up in an IM, there is still the marathon, no getting around it. The way you mix that up is typically the course is multi loop so you think of the loops as different races. The other option is, you just wait until you are old, like me, and Alzheimers sets in and you can't remember what you did in the morning. :0)

Krista said...

Congrats on a an awesome first marathon! You did awesome and had a great time for your first full!

Don't feel bad about throwing up. My sister-in-law came to watch me and hubby do a half marathon last year and she said she saw TONS of people throwing up after the finish and that was just a half (I spectated the same race this year and also saw quite a few people). So, I can only imagine how many people are barfing after a full marathon :)

misszippy said...

First off--a big congrats on your first marathon! Second, way to stick it out--that takes guts. Give yourself some nice rewards to celebrate!


Congrats on an awesome marathon (aside from the dry heaving)! You are amazing!

Runners Fuel said...

Love the medal!

Kelly said...

Congrats on your first!! I have heard lots of similar stories with the upset stomach and dry (or not) heaving. Certainly something to explore for next time!!

Kovas Palubinskas said...

Pukie Award!

Jen (Triathlete Within) said...

Congrats on your first marathon!! And a pretty good time for not feeling so hot!

Tons of people have related a similar story during both marathons and half ironman....it's one of the things holding me back - I don't handle digestive issues very well!

Hopefully you're feeling much better now?!

Christi said...

Congrats on a great race but I am really sorry you had to get sick. That is no fun!

Enjoy your down time!

ShutUpandRun said...

holy crap I am so impressed you run the last six miles feeling that way. and the puking at the end!! you poor thing. i have to say I was really wondering as i read your post which you thought was tougher; half IM or marathon. Sounds like the felt similar in terms of mental and physical challenge. congrats on your first and can't wait to see what you do in phoenix. i think you will be amazed how different #2 can be. I shaved 17 minutes.

Amy said...

Congratulations on the marathon! Great race report. I think the thing about the stomach issues is that you never really know how things will go in the race until you're racing. I had a friend who had even worse issues during the marathon. But, you made it to the finish with an awesome time! Congrats again!

Heather said...

Way to go! Congratulations on such an amazing accomplishment!

AM-GoalsfortheWeek said...

Hey there!
congrats on your first marathon! that's gotta be a cool feeling!

and sooo sorry you felt ucky at the end and post race. ugh, but yeah i felt that way after Vineman a bit and def my other two tri's.

and you're gonna love the arizona marathon. fun energy and a great time of year to go there. i did my first half ever there, so it has a special place in my heart;-)

way to go again Aimee!!;-)

Patrick Mahoney said...

I say this every time to everyone I know who finishes a marathon, but running that distance is just incredible to me. Well done and congrats...

Julie said...

Tearing all up I'm so happy for you and your sister is the best! I don't know what your time goal was but really 4 hours?!!?! And feeling the way you did? Girl amazing that's the word that describes you!

You know it's funny I had the opposite problem with my Garmin, it showed that my first mile took 14 some minutes and that I only ran a total of around 12 1/2 ...it really throws you for a loop when it doesn't work right. I'm sure it must have been all the tall buildings and I was wondering if anyone else had problems.

Proud of you!

Jason said...

1- Congrats on finishing your first marathon and with a great time.
2- Way to stick it out and get through the race....endurance athletes are called that for a reason and it's b/c they can endure anything.
3- Love the medal.....very cool looking.

P said...

Wow, Aimee you are a ROCK STAR!!! I had a similar (pukey) marathon but finished two hours after you - LOL!
My theory about the nausea is that race nerves really mess with your hydration. Even though I wasn't feeling very nervous, I was dangerously dehydrated by the time I crossed the finish line. For my next race, I plan to increase my hydration significantly.

Colleen said...

Congrats Aimee!!! :) So sorry to hear how bad the last few miles and after the finish were, but you did amazing!

The medal is amazing! :)

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats, your such a rockstar!!!

And you earn your Pukie Award!!!

And what is also impressive, not only did you complete your first marathon, you were just 16 mins off from qualifying for Boston, that is freaking impressive.

Jill said...

Twas a beautiful day for a marathon, so sorry your stomach didn't necessarily agree. Something said about you tough perseverance - way to go, Aimee, CONGRATULATIONS marathoner!!!!

KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) said...

A huge congrats to you for getting that first marathon under your belt. You did it!!! I love the medal A LOT and you certainly earned it and then some. Way to stay focused even with the crazy Garmin and your tummy. When is the next one?

Stephanie Anne said...

congrats on your finish!!

Barbie said...

Congratulations. What an amazing accomplishment. We are all so proud of you.

Barb said...

Congratulations on your first marathon!!! Amazing job. You never know how your body is going to take on 4 hard hours of work. I usually feel nauseous in the last hour. 4 hours is a great time, especially for your first! My first was 4:19.

Garmins always read higher than 26.2 when done, going around turns and heading here and there at the water stops adds a little here and there and it all adds up. My husband's read 26.55 this weekend at the end of his marathon. At the end of my half it read 13.34. Very frustrating when you are oh so close to some goal or a BQ and you realize you hit your mile splits, but ran that extra bit and didn't make it.


Jeff - DangleTheCarrot said...

Congrats Aimee! You are a tough one! Way to suck up the bad and finish!

Running and living said...

Awesome job out there. I ran an extra .35, too, everyone does in marathons, but noone tells you ahead of time. You did awesome though. next one will be easier. About your nausea....do you think you might have drank/age too much? I try to get the least amount of fluid possible, particularly toward the end of the race (I eat and drink more during the first 13.1) because you run harder at the end, and the stomach is not functioning as well (all the blood goes to the big muscles). Just a thought!

abbi said...

Congratulations on your marathon...great job! Sounds like those last few miles (and the time just after finishing) were pretty rough. No ideas on what it was since you did everything the same, maybe because you pushed a little more? Congrats though!

Alisa said...

Oh geez, I'm so sorry you got sick! That is horrible! You did everything right, you used all the stuff you had used in training. Sometimes, it's just not our day. That was me in July. HOWEVER, you still finished in an amazing time! Seriously over an hour faster than I've ever finished a marathon =).

I know you already are but you should be soooooo proud of your accomplishment---marathoning is hard! (of course so is tri'ing)

Well done! On to the next one!

Tricia said...


Jon said...

Congrats Aimee! You did so well!!! Good to know about the race starting at mile 20. Will keep that in mind!

Kristin said...

YOu did great!!! It all depends on how you take nutrition in on how you feel at the end, But you know this alrady!! Sorry About the nauseated feeling. Rest up!! :)

Julie said...

Yay!!!! Congrats on a wonderful first marathon Aimee! I knew that you would kick it:) That is an awesome time!

I totally understand how tough the last six miles are...I felt the same way. Now we know and we can move on and try to better our times. You are going to do so well in Arizona!

Kathleen said...

First off, congratulations!
I totally feel for you. While I did half the distance you did, I had the same problems that you did. Mine didn't hit until after the race but the dry heaving on the street in downtown Denver was not the highlight of my day :)
This whole nutrition thing is a mystery.
You did great and you will love Arizona!

tri like mary said...

Congratulations on finishing your first marathon in such an awesome time! You look great in your pictures despite how you were feeling. Good luck in your training for your January race.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the props sis, and thanks for an awesome week! I can't wait until January - finally training weather! And I'm kinda psyched to do my first full in my hometown afterall. But beware - those footsteps behind you and Erik are gonna be me chasing you to the finish! :) XOXOXO You are the best! I love you more than words. Oh! And anyone reading this, she IS awesome, just for s*&^ and giggles, I tried to keep up with her after the start, yeah.... that lasted about 2 miles and I was toast... that's why she continues to inspire me and I am so proud!

Jill Costantino said...

Way to finish your FIRST marathon! Woot woot! Sorry to hear that you were so sick. You had a fantastic time - especially being sick and all. I love how your family was there in full force supporting you!
Congrats again:)

Kirk (MyBestTri) said...

Good Job. I haven't done a 70.3 yet, but I'm hoping to in 2011. I felt similar in my marathon back in May. I refer to miles 20-26.2 as the dark side. People rarely train for those miles and when you get there you never know what will happen. I didn't puke, but I wish I would have.

Helen said...

Hats off to you from Ireland! Been following your build-up and of course all the other bits. You've done great. You're a dedicated athlete and you did great for your 1st marathon. As you say it's all about learning - next time you'll know how to handle the stomach. So Arizona here she comes!Interesting about the halfironman not being as hard. I might even schedule one in 2012! Working on the Oly for 2011.

Chris and Amy said...

Congratulations! I don't have any advice because that is how my body handles marathons too. My worst time was in Edinburgh. I started puking about mile 18 and didn't stop. When I got to the chute I had to pull over about 20 yards from the finish and puke in front of all of the spectators. Then I sprinted out the last bit and had to catch my vomit in my hands as soon as I crossed the finish so I wouldn't get it on other runners. I was so mad that the race photographer didn't catch it on film! :) like you I didn't try anything new on race day so I'm not sure why it happens to me. Hopefully I'll figure it out before marathon number 6 in December.

DRog said...

Way to go Aimee!!
HUGE Congrats to you.
You battled through those hard parts really well I think! I was watching online they had a really cool feed and I could see your splits
Nioe Work!


Zaneta said...

WOW!! Congrats on such a great race! I'm sorry you felt so nauseous towards the end! :( Glad you had such great support to help you out along the way! :D

Heidi Austin said...

congrats girl on the marathon! arhhgg i hate that pukey feeling. that is one of the worst sensations in the world. at least miles 1-20 were good!

heather said...

Congrats on your first marathon. Sorry you got so sick. I think you're awesome, yakking and all.

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

you finished in a great time for having so much trouble at the end. I'm so sorry it went that way!!! Hopefully you can focus on the amazing first portion of the race...granted having had my own bad races I know it will take some time to get there.

but look at what an amazing lesson you taught your boys and how much your proved to yourself about how strong you are

so glad your sis was there at the end!

Emz said...

Aimee - that rock star shirt you bought......you are why they made them. You are a total rock star.
Completely awesome.
I cannot wait until January -- I get to meet you & you get to rock another marathon.
Awesome job!!

Regina said...

Congrats on your marathon finish!! Man, I sympathize. I felt that way after my first HIM, I thought for sure I would hurl. I managed to keep it down, but I would probably hurl after a marathon. You are one gutsy lady for sticking it out. I'm super impressed with your time too for feeling so bad. Hell, on my best day I couldn't touch that time! Well done, congrats!!

Mark said...

Wow.. I am walking away from this post inspired. Way to tough it out!
Congratulations on your first marathon. Awesome looking medal, eh? You can understand how this stuff gets addictive, right? ;-)

Molly said...

Congrats on your race, so sorry about the dry heaving at the end, been there, know exactly how it feels!

You had a great finish though, Congrats!!!!!

Amber Shea said...

Woo woo!! GOOOO AIMEE! I was waiting to hear how you did. The "real" part of the marathon is that last 10k or so, I agree. I've never "hit the wall," but I have felt HUGE amounts of pain, usually between miles 19 and 25. I remember that feeling in my first marathon of passing the 20M marker and thinking that with every step, it was the farthest I'd ever run :) Great feeling, isn't it? Well, when you're able to ENJOY it and not feel sick! I'm SO sorry to hear about your nausea. That must have been beyond terrible...ugh! I wish I could help, but I've never experienced that.
The important thing is that YOU FINISHED - YOU DID IT! Those awful last couple of hours are over, and now you get to beam over your accomplishment for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. In the end, it's a small price to pay, right? :) CONGRATS!

Middle Name Marie said...

That medal is super awesome! Congrats!!!

I don't know about the stomach issues. I had the same thing happen to me a few weeks ago at Chicago (no puke though). I think I had a bug or something.

Congrats on the finish. Great time for your first go 'round--BE PROUD, GIRL!

Anne-Marie said...

Congrats! You did awesome! 4:01 is a GREAT marathon time, but that's especially impressive for your first marathon, and even more so when you consider the stomach issues you had. I'm sure having your family there to support you was a really big boost, as well.

Love the medal too by the way! Hope you're enjoying your recovery time :)

Caratunk Girl said...

HUGE congrats Aimee!! That is awesome! 4:01 is an awesome time, I would love to have that!!

GREAT medal.

Congrats on your pukie award BTW! SUCKS that it happened, but doesn't the pukie make it all worth it?? :)

Niki said...

Congrats girl! Way to rock your first marathon!!

Docrunner @Tri2Thrive said...

don't know.. I'm new at this and just finished half-marathons (2 so far). I've heard that to puke at the end like that, you know you left it ALL out there on the course. The Marine Corp says "Pain is weakness leaving your body".. probably same could be said for every bit of puke is a bit of weakness fleeing your body! Congrats!!

Docrunner @Tri2Thrive said...

oh.. and thanks for stopping by my lil' blog. =)