Denver Rock N’ Roll 10k – Post Race Review

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Denver Rock n’ Roll 10k race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!


I love checklists; bucket lists and to-do lists. I love being able to cross things off and now, I get to check an item off my running bucket list: Run a Rock n’ Roll event!

See more of my travel and running bucket list items HERE.

I have been coming back to running after having a baby in July and it hasn’t been easy, to say the least, but had picked some races to train for as motivation and that surely has helped to get me out there!

One day, I got a message from the BibRave Pro leaders about doing the Rock N’ Roll Denver race since I lived here. I took a look at my calendar and quickly said yes. I had always wanted to do a Rock n’ Roll race. While I would have loved to do the half marathon, I’m obviously not there yet and signed up for the 10k!

Pre-Race 
I was a little nervous going into this event, as I talk about in my pre-race prep. For one thing, 6.2 miles is quite far three months postpartum. My longest run before that was 4.5 miles. I had no plans of “racing” the Rock n’ Roll race and thought I could treat it as a training run to up my miles for a half marathon I am training for. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me with a run/walk plan and all the information says the 10k has a cap of 1 hour and 30 minutes or you’ll be picked up by the sag wagon, as they call it. I really didn’t want to be picked up by the sag wagon.

I was also nervous about logistics. It had been a LONG time since I’ve done a BIG event and I was anxious about getting parked and to the start.

Goals
I had one goal for this race: to finish. (I guess two goals if you count me not wanting to be picked up by the sag wagon!) I made a mental game plan to walk at every mile marker so that I wouldn’t get so exhausted that I’d have to walk the whole second half of the race.

The Night Before/Morning Of
Being a newbie mom, I still haven’t quite learned my lesson. I SHOULD have lain out all my clothes and gotten my bag ready the night before. But I didn’t. I SHOULD have planned what I was going to do for breakfast. But I didn’t. I SHOULD have prepared a driving/parking plan sooner. But I didn’t. I was so tired the night before after working my own race that I directed, that after the kiddo went to bed, I went to bed. I didn’t even take a #flatrunner picture!

The next morning came way to fast. I woke up, kiddo was still sleeping, so I pumped some fresh milk for his Grandma to feed him. Then I spent 30 minutes running around the house trying to figure out what to wear, what I needed to bring, what to eat for breakfast, and how I’m going to get there. Luckily, the one thing I DID do the night before was reserve a parking spot with Spot Hero. While all the close parking lots were already reserved by that time, I did find a lot for only $2, but it was 3/4 of a mile from the start. What I didn’t know is that my driving route would be altered and rerouted for the actual race course! Ugh. All these years as a runner and I’m still learning.

Race Day
Once I got clothes on my body, food in my belly and found my parking lot, I left the warmth of my car to head to the start line. I didn’t want to mess with bag check because I was short on time and I really didn’t need anything extra other than what I was wearing and my car keys (I was wearing my FlipBelt Capris that has a key ring attachment in them).  It was a chilly race morning. It was hanging in the low 40s, which would have been fine, but the wind was BRUTAL! I had capris, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and my Buff, fleece-lined headband on. I was pretty content except when the wind would blow (which was pretty much constantly)!

Race Start
I got to the expo okay and found the long bathroom lines. At this point, I was very glad I didn’t mess with bag check because I waited in the bathroom lines for 30 minutes. I got out of the port-o-john right at 6:55am (race start is 7:00am) and jogged to find the actual start line and my corral. Boy was it crowded! I was growing more and more nervous that I would miss the start even though I knew it was chipped timed (I just like starting in the big group!). I found where my corral was but I couldn’t get in it! There were barricades up and so many people that a bunch of us were just waiting at the one small break in barricades until the crowd got a little more spread out. Once the race actually started (the wheelchair race first), I was able to slip into the start line and make my way up to my actual corral. Phew!

The Race
I’ll have you know, I stuck to my plan! While this may seem like a “duh” moment, racers (including myself) tend to break all plans when actually running. The adrenaline of being around a big crowd usually makes you run harder/faster than you intend. My plan was to walk at every mile marker for just a few minutes so I wouldn’t get burnt out by the halfway mark. Let me tell you when you pull off to the side to walk at mile one and NO ONE ELSE IS WALKING, it’s really hard not to just pick the pace back up and push through. It’s almost embarrassing, even though I know it shouldn’t feel that way, and all I wanted to do was yell at everyone that looked at me, “I JUST HAD A BABY THREE MONTHS AGO! LEAVE ME ALONE!”

My plan was going very well until mile four…where I missed the mile marker. So I did end up running from mile three to mile five. I kept thinking my self, “It sure feels like it’s been longer than a mile, I’m getting tired,” and sure enough, the mile five marker appeared. “Phew,” I told myself and promptly stopped to walk!

The course wasn’t too difficult, but the wind made it a bit harder. Why did it feel like the wind was always head on no matter which way we turned!?

Other than missing mile four, I felt pretty good! My hip flexors did start hurting halfway through and I could definitely feel my ankles and knees getting tired, but I still had a little bit of oomph to give it a burst of speed into the finish line!

I ended up finishing in 1:11, way faster than I thought I would be! And the sag wagon didn’t have to bring me in.

I’m very glad it was Rock n’ Roll event. There were bands almost every mile and they were all really good and fun! In my 10k race, I probably saw four or five bands! The music was certainly helpful since I forgot my headphones (see the previous paragraph about not preparing the night before).

Race Review:
T-Shirt/Swag – 5/5
I do love the swag of this race. The shirt is cute and fits well and I love the medal! Rock n’ Roll did a great job on the medal. It is very unique and specific for Colorado; it’s the flag with the Denver skyline and a columbine (our state flower).

Aid Stations/Support – 5/5
They get another 5 our 5 on this one! For the 10k, there were three (I believe; there might have been one more…I can’t remember) aid stations with water and Gatorade Endurance. They had plenty of volunteers handing out the drinks.

There was also great support at the end of the race. As soon as I finished I was handed my medal and a heat sheet (the wind was pretty chilly that day and once I stopped running I got very cold). The finish corral was lined with water, Gatorade Endurance, and snacks!

Course Itself/Scenery/Difficulty – 4/5
The course was pretty fun. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite course by any means, but definitely a great way through the city. There were parts of it that wound through random streets of Denver where I thought they could have chosen better streets (although being a race director myself, I’m sure this has everything to do with finding the correct distance with the streets Denver permits would allow the use of and avoiding construction). The 10k course wasn’t too difficult; there were two “big” hills that I think wouldn’t have felt big if I was better trained. If I were from another state, this course would be a great way to see the city, that’s for sure!

Expo Quality – 4/5
Okay, let me start by saying the expo at packet pick up (and on race day) was great. It was fun, plenty to do and see and new products to try. Picking up my packet and swag was quick and easy and holy-moly do they have a ton of extra swag items you could have purchased! The only reason this is not a 5 out 5 if because I had to pay for parking. I’m sorry, but I’m a firm believer that if I’ve already registered for a race (yes, this one was free for me, but I’m reviewing as if I paid for it), that it should include everything. Heck, I’d be fine if the race price increased by $5 if it means I don’t have to pay for parking. It’s the principal of the matter. I’ve already paid for a race and now I have to pay more money just to get my packet? I have always thought that was wrong and have experienced this with a few other events in the past.

Parking/Access – 2/5
I really wish they could find a start/finish area that had more free parking or at least parking closer to the area. You already read how I feel about added costs after registering for a race and this is no different. The race was at Civic Center Park in Downtown Denver and there’s really not any large amount of parking anywhere near there. There are a ton of small lots and garages all around, but they all cost money and they all require walking. The closest lots that were less than a quarter of a mile walk were all reserved a few days before but they cost anywhere from $15 to $20. I found a lot for only $2 (go me!) but it was 0.75 miles away. On the way to the start, it was no big deal, but when I was finished with the race, it felt like a marathon’s distance away and I was freezing walking back to my car. Rock n’ Roll did advertise with Spot Hero, which I used to reserve my spot. This was the first time I’ve used it and it seemed to work out okay – there was a spot available when I got there and my car was still there when I got back! That part did help ease some nerves of race morning logistics so I didn’t have to stress about finding a spot or carrying cash for parking.

Race Management – 5/5
It’s a Rock n’ Roll race, of course it’s managed well! I mean, everything is organized, communication is spot on and the course is well marked and supported. I don’t think a big organization like this can afford to be lazy with any of the management side of things.

Overall 4/5
Overall, I think this race is a great way to experience Denver and I can only assume every city is like that. So many people travel for races and what better way to see a city than by running the streets. At the Denver race, even the 10k course was a great jaunt through the city as you pass iconic places like Coors Field and popular Denver streets. I bet the half marathon course covers even more of Denver’s favorite sights.

I’m quite impressed with the whole Rock n’ Roll theme. I have always heard good things from people and the appeal of the theme has always been there. It’s a very unique thing to have a TON of bands on the course for you to enjoy as you run by. I also love that the rock n’ roll theme, as well as the specific city theme, is followed through everything from the decor, to the music, to the swag designs. I love that there was a live band at the finish and wish I could have stayed longer to enjoy it. The finish line/expo looked really fun! I could totally see this as a great event to enjoy with friends/family and hang out for a fun Sunday morning.

So why a four out of five? Well, obviously the extra costs are one thing. The race is already pretty pricy and there are a ton of extra costs like parking and pictures. When you have to pay to park at the expo and on race day, I think that’s quite ridiculous. And why, oh why, aren’t pictures free!?! Get a sponsor to slap their logo all over the pictures and let racers have them free!

Also, there were not nearly enough port-o-johns. I waited for 30 minutes. That’s a long time and there were TONS of people behind me. Lastly, I think the start corral could have been a little more organized. It was such a cluster to find how to get into the corral for one thing but it just wasn’t big enough to fit all the racers. I got stuck on the outside of the barricades in the crowd and couldn’t get into my corral until the race started and the crowded spread out just a bit. That part made me nervous as I like to start with my actual corral.

Would I recommend this race? Yes, for out of towners. For locals, it’s just another expensive race, with extra costs, around the city with music. If you’re from out of state – yes, come run this race and know that it will be managed well, with great state-specific swag and have a great time!


Post Race
After finishing the race, I was handed my medal and a heat sheet as well as an arms full of drinks and snacks. I sat down to eat a granola bar and drink chocolate milk while I listened to the post-race entertainment band. I didn’t get to stick around for too long since I needed to get back and relieve my babysitter (kiddo’s grandma). I shivered and snuggled in my heat sheet as I walked back to my car. I was feeling pretty tight in my hips and calves but not too bad for running a 10k, my longest distance postpartum. That afternoon, I took an Epsom salt bath and the next day I wasn’t even sore! I’d say that’s a win for my first race post-baby!

OH, and I’m still working on this whole motherhood thing…


See this race on BibRave.com

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Mt. Sanitas

(In 2017, I had a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Denver.” I didn’t make it through all 60 that year (I only got about 18) or even in 2018…and now were into 2019. I still want to get through all the hikes in the book – eventually.  All the specific trail details can be found in the book or online, but I’ll highlight some things about each trail in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail here. The numbers below are associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

I did this hike back in April when I was about six months pregnant (I just never got around to finishing this post).

Trail #3 – Mount Sanitas
Completed: 4/24/19 | Number Completed: 24/60
Mode: Hike with Ben, while pregnant
Location:  Boulder
Distance: 3.3 miles
Difficulty: Hard
Type of trail: Round trip; hard-packed dirt for half and very rocky on the other half.
Exposure: Half shady
Facilities: Pit toilets (pretty gross ones) and picnic tables. No water.

My Experience:
I actually really loved this trail, except for the crowds. This trail is known to have a ton of people and there is barely any parking. Despite that, this trail is actually quite nice! It has just the right amount of difficulty without being a gut buster. Ben and I did this hike when I was about six months pregnant and it took us a really long time. I had to stop and rest often, but we made it the whole way. We did the loop counter-clockwise and after seeing the side we went down on, I’m glad we did it this way. When you go clockwise, the uphill part is slightly shorter but way steeper!

Pros:
-Close to town; this trail is just outside of Boulder.
-Doesn’t feel close to town. Once you get away from the road, you don’t realize you’re that close to town until you get to lookout points and can see the city.
-There are a ton of other trails nearby as well.

Cons:
-Very busy! Even during a weekday, midday.
-No facilities. There is no water and the pit toilets are some of the worst I’ve seen.
-Not much parking; the little bit that is there fills up fast!

Tips:
-Bring Water!
-Hiking poles come in use for the steep downhill.
-Bring some cash! If you do manage to get a parking spot, it does cost ($5 I believe)!

Overall:
I would love to go back to this trail now that I’m not pregnant! It was pretty hard while being six months pregnant, but manageable. It’s a short enough hike that you could add this into your week for a training run or hike like the locals do. I do recommend this as a good trail for out-of-towners as well as a great example of a Colorado trail. Plus, the views from the top are worth it. To the east, you overlook Boulder and to the west, you can see mountainous landscapes!


Park Info

Get the book!

1st Third Of 2019 – Updates

Well, my monthly update posts didn’t continue from 2018, but I’d like to keep my blog as updated as possible….

While this blog is supposed to a focus on my lifestyle with racing (running in general) and wandering (travel), this year hasn’t brought much of either of these things. However, 2019 is bringing a lot of different type of adventures, one in particular! This July we are expecting a baby boy to join us in this crazy household – whether we’re ready or not. 😉

If you missed my announcement from my end of the year post, SURPRISE! Yes, I am pregnant! We know it’s a boy and his due date is July 4th! We are busy preparing for this little one while stressing about what life will become and the changes to our jobs, finances and more. It has been quite a stressful start to the year trying to figure things out, get the house ready (yes, it’s still a construction zone around here), all while balancing my many jobs. With all that, I haven’t been writing in my blog, barely have been posting to social media, and haven’t had time to hang out with many of my friends socially.

As for running…
While there are tons of strong women out there that run all through pregnancy, that has NOT been in the cards for me. Frankly, it just feels weird for me and kinda hurts, plus my heart rate goes from 65 to 130 instantly (which isn’t a great thing for pregnancy)! So, as much as I imagined being that super cute, running pregnant lady, alas, I am not. I see lots of happy running women on my Instagram feed and they make it look so easy! But for me, it is just not working.

For the first half of pregnancy, I didn’t have much “morning sickness,” just a lot of nausea,  and was trying to exercise regularly between walking, the elliptical and weight training, but as pregnancy progressed (and my work schedule got 100x more busy with the start of track season) I have not been exercising as much and it has been hard to start back up. Nevermind the fact that I am SO TIRED and UNCOMFORTABLE! In the past few weeks I have been trying to walk more and get some hikes in to stay somewhat healthy and as to not have to start from ground zero after the baby comes (because I do want to get back to running as soon as I can – I miss it).

As for the travel part of this blog…
That has also not been in the cards for us for a while; since last year really. We haven’t been able to take much time off with all our jobs, and with home renovations, pregnancy, and finances, it’s been pretty tough to get in any type of travel, even small local trips. We did get a chance to go to Florida for a wedding (thanks to Ben’s family) and snuck in a trip to Epcot, Disney World.

And for the rest….
Yes, I am still working three jobs (helping Ben with our own business, Golden Mountain Guides, marketing and race directing for 3W Races, and coaching high school track and cross country.). It was a tough end of the year in 2018 and into 2019 for Golden Mountain Guides as we try some new pricing and marketing things, but we’re figuring it out. My other main job has some troubles I won’t get into on this blog and track has been a little more stressful this year than it should be….but we’re making it through! We still have our priorities in sight and our minds on our goals and are working every day to keep positive! No matter how stressful homelife is and finances are, we know that it will get better as long as we keep working on it and wont give up.

The first third of the year was not how we expected 2019 to start, but we’re working through!

January:
-I worked every weekend day this month.
-Between timing and race directing (sometimes both on the same day!), that was 9 separate running events I worked. Woof! That was tiring.
-Pre-Season Track also started this month.
-I also got to attend the CHSCA (Colorado High School Coaches Association) clinic and listen to some cool speakers.

And a lot of those races were FREEZING cold to work!

February:
-The weekend working streak keeps going through February until the last weekend.
-We do get to go to Florida! Ben’s family helped us travel so we could attend his cousin’s wedding!
-While we’re there, we get to sneak a day at Disney World and we went to Epcot! We also visited the beach, Disney Springs, the town of Celebration and play some putt-putt golf. It was a much need break after working so much the previous two months.
-The end of February marks the official start of the Track season!

March:
-The running job scene starts to slow down this month, and I only work four events this month.
-Track season is well under swing and the meets start to ramp up!
-I get to hang out with some of my family members that involve dinners and maternity clothes shopping!

Sometimes this is want coaching looks like

April:
-We like to call this “angry April” in track because there are a TON of track meets.
-I race direct one event this month.
-And have lots of Golden Mountain Guides meetings.
-We celebrate both my birthday and Ben’s birthday
-And we also get to celebrate Ben’s sister new addition with her baby shower!
-Then, right at the end, Ben and I are both a part of our friend’s wedding celebration. We get to be part of bachelorette and bachelor parties, a bridal hike, rehearsal dinner and a wedding ceremony in the snow!


As we get into May, I’m a little over two months from baby boy being born and growing more and more nervous (as well as literally growing more and more). We are working on finishing up the nursery and getting prepared at work for maternity leave.

As for the blog, for now, you can probably expect random, sporadic posts, info on how pregnancy, work, and our house is going and probably posts that I have started and never finished as I go through my drafts folder of this blog! I hope you all stay along for the ride, even as Racing and Wandering turns into Less Racing and Wandering and adventures with a kiddo!

BibRave Product Review: Stunt Runner Leash by Stunt Puppy!

Disclaimer: I received a Stunt Puppy Stunt Runner Leash to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!


I have always wanted a hands free leash! Always. I just have never taken the plunge and bought one. I love running with my dog when I can (I ran with Tristan a lot more before he got old). I still run with him occasionally on shorter runs (and mostly when I’m not pregnant!).

When the opportunity arose to try the Stunt Runner leash by Stunt Puppy, I was very excited! Then, the leash came in the mail and Colorado got hit by snow storm after snow storm after snow storm and my only days off between jobs were freezing or snowy. Finally, this past week, I got to give this hands-free leash a whirl!

For Running:
Going hands-free with the dog while running was a huge difference! When you have a normal leash, no matter what you do, you can’t run with your normal form when you hold the leash. To get a close to normal arm swing, you need a ton of slack in a normal leash and thus create a tripping hazard for you and your dog. With the Stunt Runner, you can still take your dog for a run with you and run exactly as you do by yourself! It was amazing!

For Walks:
Even taking my dog for a walk with the hands-free leash was a lot more convenient than a normal leash. Especially on cold days, I can still put my hands in my pockets easier with the Stunt Runner plus I am able to access my phone and do other things without having to worry about dropping the leash!

Leash Details:
-Bungee Style Connection (to stretch and allow variations in stride)
-Adjustable Waist Belt (ya know, great for when your belly grows because you’re pregnant!)
-Adjustable Leash Length (To keep your running buddy at just the right length)
-Made with tubular webbing, back tar stitching, Stunt Puppy Alpha™ hardware, and Duraflex® buckles (the same stuff firefighters gear and climbing gear is made out of. i.e. super strong and lightweight.)
-Floating D-Right On the Waist Belt (this moves around as the dog moves around so there’s no tugging on your waist.)
-A static portion (for an emergency grab handle)

Overall
When I first started using it, I had to retrain my dog to watch out for my feet. With a normal leash, I could easily move my hand around to keep him at the exact spot I needed him. With the leash runner, the flexible, bungee part makes it so your dog doesn’t yank you around when your stride changes (this is a positive, but takes some getting used to). The hard part of this is that you have to make sure your dog doesn’t get too close to you. Now that I’m used to the leash and know exactly where to grab for the static portion, I’m getting used to adjusting my dog if he gets too close to me.

The leash was everything I wanted in a hands-free leash and more. Not only did it make my jogs and walks way more convenient, but it also exceeded my standards by being made from very durable material and the adjustability. I highly recommend this leash for people that want to run with their dog!


Get one for yourself:
The Stunt Runner Sells online for $44.00 at StuntPuppy.com


See what the other BibRave Pros think:
Jessica – Fun Sized Athlete | Sam – My Feet In MotionGoOutsideGirl | Preston Ramsey | The Valley Isle Runner | Matthew – Running Through Life | Andrea | Bluegrass BAMR | With Purpose and Kindness |