Denver’s Race for the Cure – Post Race Review, 10+ years in the making!

SGK_racelogoYesterday I ran the Denver Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure. This was the…….??? Ya know, I’m not sure how many times we’ve run it!  We, as in my Mom and I, think we started doing this event in 1999, which would put it at 15 years in a row! That may not be entirely accurate, but close enough. I have done it every year and there was only one year that my mom had to miss out due to prior engagements.

If any of you have read my “About Me” you’ll know that it’s because of this race that I really started running.

Correct me if I’m wrong, Mom, but I believe we started running the event back then to support a family friend who had survived breast cancer.  I was in either 7th or 8th grade and we first ran the race when it used to be held at the Denver Civic Center park.

Back then, it was “small” race.  We would challenge ourselves to run to every other street and take walking breaks in between. I remember that not many people were there and the expo area was super small. It was like a traditional neighborhood race where they had boxes of bananas and bagels that people could grab after they finished.

Past Race for the Cures

Past Race for the Cures

 

Now, it’s held at the Pepsi Center and there is thousands of people and I have taken to running the whole thing. I don’t remember what the race was like when we first starting running it, but as it became larger and larger, it has become a run/walk, not timed and just mass amounts of people.

As the years went on, we had more reasons to run the Race for the Cure. One being my Grandma who survived breast cancer a few years ago. Now, not only is it a tradition for my Mom and I, but it’s also a run in celebration of her.

As the race has grown, the race has changed as well. Last year they decided to add a “competitive race” before the joggers/walkers so that people who wanted to could actually run…and run fast! We didn’t know that was an option last year, and were kinda mad when they wouldn’t let us go up to the start line yet.

This year, the same competitive race was still an option but they decided to change the course. And not only that, a lot of other things changed: the sponsors, the expo, as well as the organization.

This Year’s Race:

Because this event is so big in the Denver area, they offer a large-scale RTD and car pool system. My Mom and I always do transportation this way and met at Arvada High at 6:30am to take the bus to the race start in Denver. Knowing the course was different but not sure what to expect, we exited the bus and took a look around. It was actually very confusing. There wasn’t much signage and nothing was in the same spot. Usually there are loud speakers and constant announcements. I didn’t hear any of that. Also, the same parking lots were blocked off, but they just set up everything backwards.

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We finally fingered out where everything was but still had trouble figuring out where the actual start was. There was one “start line” sign near registration, but that is not where the official race was. Maybe that was for the newly added 1-mile fun run/walk, I’m not sure.

We followed the crowd to the street and up the off-ramp from the highway. Now, it was 7:45am, the time the “Competitive Race” was set to start. We looked up ahead and saw people running/walking and realized they started. We registered for the 8am regular run/walk. This is what we have always done and we usually nudge ourselves close to the start line so that I can run and not have to dodge that many people and my mom runs/walks at her pace as well.

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This year, as we got in line, we just kept walking. We thought they would separate and blockade off the noncompetitive people and then have a huge count-down and start our race like they always do. But people just kept walking. It was really strange. It says all over the website and brochures that the run starts at 8am. The line kept moving so we guessed that we would just go ahead and start. Everyone around had the noncompetitive bibs on as well. We passed under the start line and just kept walking! It was so frustrating and felt so unorganized. There was so many people we couldn’t run. Frustrating for me as an avid runner and for my mom as well because likes to run it too! There was just nowhere to go!

Since I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, I decided to stick with my mom this year and run with her for the first time in many years. We dodged people left and right and tried to actually speed up, but it wasn’t working that well. Finally after about a mile the crowded thinned enough so that we could actually continued to run in a straight line. We ran off and on toward the finish line!

SOOOO many people!

SOOOO many people!

When we finally completed the race, we headed towards the expo area. As the race has gown over the years, so has the expo area! It’s quite the spectacle and it gets quite hectic. Every year the same sponsors, more or less, have been there. In the past, Sports Authority was a regular (always giving out bags to collect your goodies), the Shane Company (always has hats or visors), Allstate (always a wheel to spin for awesome prizes like a backpack and pink fuzzy gloves), Ford (giving out collectible scarfs – I have a dozen or so from all the years), Safeway (with DELICIOUS steak and string cheese), Yoplait (with bins to collect the pink lids), and a dozen or so other booths giving out the normal: Snacks, chapsticks, pens, coupons, cowbells, etc, etc.

Finished!

Finished!

I have actually collected a fair about of food and goodies from past Race for the Cure events. This year however, Ford, Yoplait, Safeway and Sports Authority were nowhere to be found! It was actually quite shocking and left we wondering what happened. (I speculate at the idea that Susan G. Komen foundation losing sponsors. There has been a lot of controversies with the foundation over the years and I have no idea what has happened with their sponsors). Even with those sponsors gone, there was still a ton of booths to collect goodies from. My favorites this years were the Honey Smoked Fish Co (handing out decent sized portions of their 5 Super Food Salad), the Allstate booth (I spun the wheel and won a sweet pink backpack purse thing and a pair of pink fo-Ray Ban sunglasses), and all the food (Duh, I’m super food driven. Tell me there’s free food and I’ll be there)! But I definitely missed the steak, string cheese and yogurt!

Slacker and Steve are host of a local after-work radio station show! They are hilarious! Yi!

Slacker and Steve are host of a local after-work radio station show! They are hilarious! Yi!

With the race course and whole expo area being set up different, that left all these booths to squeeze in a smaller space than before. Which also meant all of the racers squeezing in the same space! HOLY CROWDED, BATMAN! My mom and I always get the race done relatively fast, which means we get to wandered the expo before most. But just because of that fact doesn’t mean we aren’t waiting in a lot of lines and getting lost in the crowds! The line for the Honey Smoke Fish was like 20 min (Sooooo worth it) and only got longer. By the time we were almost ready to leave, I was thinking about revisiting a shoe-lace donation booth where they would give you new pink shoelaces if you donated yours and for every pair of shoelaces donated, they donated a dollar to the a breast cancer research fund. Unfortunately the booth was in the center, the most crowded area, and I got a few people deep and bailed. MISSION ABORTED!

After that craziness, I was little overwhelmed, and wanted to head home. We caught our bus back to the school and the followed up with a trip to IHOP…..mmmmmm…..pancakes….. I love me some pancakes! OH, and these were pumpkin pancakes!

komen_logoOverall: I love the tradition of running this race with my Mom, especially in celebration of my Grandma. This year, however, was way less organized than it has been for a really long time. I have no idea why! What I don’t like is that it seems to have become a social gathering and not necessarily for the right reasons and it gets so overwhelmingly crowded. I’m a little iffy on the Susan G. Komen foundation (I wont get into it, but there has been some controversial things with where the money comes from and goes to as well as some lawsuits from the foundation regarding the use of the pink ribbon symbol. Do your own research; make your own opinions).

Above all, the race and the foundation have the right idea and their hearts are in the right place, as well as all the racers’, volunteers’ and workers’.

Your Turn: I’m actually curious if other people have done the Race for the Cure, whether in Denver or another City, and what you think of it all! Let me know in the comments! 

Related Links:

 The Race for the Cure Denver Website

Susan G. Komen Denver Website

More info (Wikipedia) on Susan G. Komen Foundation

Places to Run – Sloan’s Lake

Sunset July Sloans LakeAs I have gotten more and more followers I’ve noticed a lot of you are from my area: Colorado! Something that I have always wanted to do is provide ideas and places for people to run around in the Denver area, or at least within a quick drive from Denver. Even if you’re not from here, this might be a good resource if you do decide to visit. But don’t worry, I’ll space them out so that you out-of-state-ers don’t get bored. Or it’ll be torture, like the “Rave Run” section in Runner’s World…makes me jealous every time I see that section!

The idea is to provide a new route you could try to help spice up your running routine. I have suffered in the past from “running route boredom”, and I think it contributed a lot to when I could get burnt out on running. Changing up your scenery can help keep you motivated and switching up your terrain can help prevent injuries as well! Maybe you’ll even meet some new runners and gain some running buddies!

IMAG0976My first post in this series is close to home – literally. But this is, er was, my regular running route for a really long time. I didn’t used to like going out of my comfort zone very much in the past, in running and other aspects of life, so I would tend to run the same path all the time. I knew the exact distance and I stuck to it! Now, I only run this route about once a week, or once every other week, basically when I’m at my family’s house and need a run, I run here.

But that’s not to say this route is boring. This could be just want you need as a runner from a different neighborhood.

Sloan’s Lake – Denver, CO

  • Located at Sheridan, between 17th and 26th in Denver, CO
  • Type: Concrete and grass/dirt
  • Elevation Change: none
  • Coverage: Lot’s of tree coverage throughout the park

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Located about a mile from the big stadium where the Broncos play football, Sloans lake is a pretty park great for an everyday run, believe me, I used to run it everyday. It offers great views of Downtown Denver as well as the Mountains from the other side. It’s one of my favorite places to catch the sunset (or sunrise, if you’re up early enough).

There’s a park with a playground, boaters are allowed in the lake, a sidewalk for walking, running, biking, skateboarding, or just about anything else you want to do, and a dirt/grass path around the whole perimeter. There’s plenty of parking as well!

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Sloan’s During the winter

Pros:

  • Open all year-long, and during the winter, it doesn’t take long for them to clear the snow.
  • Flat, easy terrain, even the dirt/grass path.
  • Good mileage – easy to get in whatever length of run you need. The outer loop is 3 miles and is a worn grass/dirt path. The inner loop is 2.5, sidewalk/concrete.

Cons:

  • Can get crowded, but only when it’s 100% perfect weather and everyone comes out of their houses. That means if it’s slight too hot, too cold, too windy, too rainy, too snowy…. it’s not crowded.
  • Geese! Oh god, so many geese! Watch your shoes for goose poop!
  • The water is disgusting. I wont even let my dog swim it. I don’t know why people fish there. Pretty sure the fish probably look like the radio-active, three-eyed fish from the Simpsons.

fark_5p3YGUW50Yc5fBY3pu5ugCNNGAMTips:

  • Located not too far from Colfax (a non-safe part of town), don’t go after the sun goes down, especially the ladies.
  • Don’t trust all the dogs: For some reason I’ve run into a lot of dogs on those stupid expandable leashes that have tried to bite me.
  • On the western side of the lake are some excellent places to eat. My favorite is The Edge for brunch and there’s a pretty decent sushi place called Shiso Sushi
  • There is a huge playground for the kids! (Or adults, I swing on the swings all the time!)
  • Some pretty fun events are held here: Chinese Boat Festival, Art Festivals, and plenty of races!

More in formation:

8243252P.S.: One of those fun events is TOMORROW! The Patriot Day 10k and 5k will be there Saturday. Race starts at 8:30am! I’ll be there volunteering all morning! Come run! It’ll be fun! Rhyme intended. More information? Click HERE!. Use code WHITNEYV15 for 15% off! 

The Colfax Marathon – Relay – Post Race Recap

downloadWhat a weekend! I’m still exhausted! I’m even exhausted just thinking about it!

What a great event. I am extremely pleased with the whole experience. To the Colfax Marathon Coordinators: You guys put on a great event!

I nervously anticipated the start of the Colfax Marathon Relay – the Government Cup (say that five times fast) for days before Sunday. I really wanted to start my team off well and I really wanted to make a comeback into the running world. I’ve been battling injury and motivation issues for quite a while now; going back and forth between loving and hating just not loving the sport. The night before, I nervously talked my boyfriend’s ears off about running, made sure to eat well and took time to form roll. I was determined to do EVERYTHING right before the race.

I work up that morning at (GASP!) 4am. Brutal. Although, I can’t complain too much, as I wake up at that time for one of my clients twice a week. Ick.

I tried to get my mind and body moving. I poured my coffee, made my breakfast (that I only ended up eating half of due to the butterflies in my stomach), and took both items to go in my car (open coffee mug to boot). I didn’t want to be late and I needed to find a parking spot. This is a HUGE event in Denver, and I knew parking would be rough. I lucked out and found a spot on a near by residential street.

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I finished my coffee, walked over to the race start in the brisk morning air. I still had about 45 minutes until start time. I took the time to warm up efficiently (a jog, high knees, butt kickers, and a few other dynamic stretches). Not wanting to leave the warmth of my sweats behind, I reluctantly walked to bag drop to get ready to line up. With 10 minutes to go, my stomach nervously twisted in my stomach!

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“What is with me!?” I thought, “I’m a veteran runner, here. I shouldn’t be this nervous!” But I really wanted to do well. The national anthem was sung, and we were off! I trudged on, focusing on my pace, my breathing and the music in my ears. I put one foot in front of the other and sure enough by mile 1, I was running at a comfortable 8min/mile pace! I felt great! I was confident I could stick to that pace!

Each mile maker I passed increased my confidence; not feeling like I had gone the distance listed. With Mile High Stadium in sight, I pushed it into high gear! I was feeling great! No aches or pain! My lungs were strong! It was wonderful!

The crowd split between the full marathoners and the relayers. They went left, I went right. A course marshal called out my bib number as I enter the hand off zone. I had never met my hand-off person, and I ran right by her. I had to back track a few feet once I found the bright yellow shirt. Then, she was off!

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I checked my watch….. Remember what my goal was? 60 minutes, right? I made it 6.4 miles in 53:35!!!!!!!!!! Although, I stopped my watched a little after the handoff, so I thought it was 54:14…and was still ecstatic. Then to find out when I got home I was even faster!? Thrilled!

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I grabbed some snacks, hopped on the RTD Bus back to the start, and waited around. And waited…and waited… I had about 2 hours to kill until the rest of my group would join me at the finish line. The downside was the waiting time. The bright side was that I got to see all the booths sans the crowd!

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I walked around to each booth, got some free swag, learned a lot about local non-profits and charities, petted some adoptable pound puppies, and watched runners as they finished.

imagesOVERALL: 5/5!

I loved every minute of this event! It was put on very well. The course route was excellent (at least what I saw and what I heard from others). The people were great. The expo was great. The after party was great. Just great great great great great! I think next year, given I still work for the city, I would definitely still be down to run the relay again. I don’t see myself quitting this job, but you never know. IF for whatever reason I’m not able to do the relay, I would totally do the half. I would say the full, but honestly, I think when I do my marathons, I want to do them in other states, or with a more scenic, unique routes. The Colfax marathon is right down all the streets that I drive everyday. I don’t think I want to run that full marathon. But a half, or part of the full, I’m totally down for! To boot, the half goes through the Denver Zoo!

Race organization: 5/5

I’ve already said it a million times, this event is very well-organized from the start to the finish. From the expo to the after party.

Cost: ??

I’m not sure. I honestly don’t know how much the race costed. I fortunately got to run for free thanks to the City of Golden. For how well the event was put on and the swag we got, I’d wager to bet it’s worth the cost. With the entry fee, we got a t-shift (which is super cute might I add), the medal of course (which came with a charm to put on a necklace, the chain we got in our packet pick up), a Colfax Marathon Relay sticker, coupons to various things and restaurants around Denver, a free beer for after, BBQ lunch after in addition to the normal water, bagels, and snacks at the finish line, and since the event was sponsor by Kaiser Permanente (a health care system out here), there was a whole Kaiser section at the after party which had a contest for sweet water bottles (which I didn’t win), free exercise bands, smoothies, AND a whole bunch of fresh produce, as in fruits and veggies, for runners to go “shopping” through and take. Pretty awesome!

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Post Run: 5/5

There was all those booths set up as I’ve mentions, food, beer, music, big grassy area to hang out in. It was all excellent.

To top it all off, I had more company at this event than any race I’ve done. Obviously I got to hang out with my relay team and we celebrated with victory beers, but there was another City of Golden Relay team from Public Works, two marathoners and one half marathoner, all sponsored by the city. There was also a handful of 3W Ambassadors there (one running her FIRST marathon that day), and a handful of my friends were volunteering at the local charity booths! I meandered around for a long while after the race, even after my team finished and finally left around 1pm to go home and crash on my bed.

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My Race: 5/5

I set a goal to run my 6.4 miles in 60 minutes, which actually meant I needed to run under 10 minute miles. Now, I haven’t raced in a long time, and I wasn’t quite sure what kind of pace I could pull out. But I figured that goal would keep my motivated. I ended up running it in 53:35! Which, if you do the math, is about a 8:30 pace! I’m pretty proud of my time considering I’ve been battling injuries and motivation issues! But, I think with a race like this, I’m back in the game. Mentally and physically. Actually, I didn’t have any pains during the race! And post race, my calves were cramping a bit but that’s about it! The day after, I was a bit sore, but that’s normal!

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So, the relay teams are in a couple of categories. There’s the open, for pretty much anybody that wants to run in a relay. There’s the government cup relay, for teams through city/state jobs. And there’s a corporate cup relay, for basically the same thing, just not a state job. For both the government and corporate cups, the top three teams in the women’s, mens and coed teams get money to donate to a charity. Unfortunately our team didn’t win any prize money for our charity, which was the Golden School District. We placed 7th out of 26 female teams, I believe, with a total time of 4 hours and 6 minutes. I guess last year the same team (minus me, of course) placed 3rd. This year, the team ran faster, but apparently there was a lot more fast-ER people who enter the government cup. Too bad!

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Above all, we had fun! We were running in name of charity at a great event! I don’t think I have a single bad thing to say about this whole event, except maybe the unfortunate witness to the aftermath of someone having lost their bowels on the race course. No joke. Poor runner!

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Read this heart warming story about the “average Joe” that won the marathon! LOVE IT!

 

Colfax Marathon Relay – Pre Race Review

downloadWhen a lady that regularly attends my bootcamp classes at the City of Golden Rec Center asked me if I wanted to join the Colfax Marathon Relay team, I said yes before she could even finish her sentence!

A couple weeks ago, I was asked to join the corporate relay team because one of the team members had to drop out. This “bootcamp regular” is an employe of the City of Golden and the relay team is paid for by the City, so it’s a must that it be an employee that runs it.

CCM12_UUT_transparent_smallWell, wouldn’t you know, I AM a city employee! I was really excited. It’s the corporate cup relay of the Colfax Marathon, a very popular race here in Denver. It’s a whole weekend of events. If we are to place, the winnings will be donated to charity. Last year, the City of Golden team took third – no pressure or anything!

Tomorrow morning, at 6am, I’ll be lining up for the first leg of the corporate cup. We’re called the Golden Foxes and will be sporting yellow shirts! Yesterday, I went to the expo and picked up my packet which was at Mile High Stadium (Sports Authority field – where the broncos play). The expo was nice, organized and not as crowded as I was expecting from the last time I was at a running expo. (When I did my first marathon, I was in an unfamiliar place, with no friends or family with me and the expo was chaotic and crowded. I nearly had a panic attack and had to sit down in a empty lobby for a moment. It was not fun). This expo was neatly laid out, and plenty of fun booths to visit and lots of workers to direct you to where you needed to be.

Let alone was the swag bag for the race pretty awesome, but the booths had some fun things for sale and to give away. I won a sweet water bottle from a yoga booth!

While meandering around, I ran into a few fellow 3W Ambassadors and we had some fun before we all had to go our separate ways.

3W Ambassadors!

3W Ambassadors!

I’m really excited for this race. Like, REALLY excited! I haven’t been this excited for a race in a really long time. Which is a GREAT feeling! I was beginning to wonder where my love of running disappeared to!

I want to try my best and push hard for the team. I’m feeling pretty confident and ready! I am the first leg of the relay, starting it off with a 6.4 mile run from City Park to Mile High Stadium. I let my team know I should be there in an hour, which is my goal: 60 minutes or under.

I’m really looking forward to the thrill of a big race, pushing hard, and of course the festivities after (free beer, duh). I have a lot of friends that will be running, working/volunteering at a booth, or helping a disabled runner. Expect lots of pictures, instagrams, tweets and Facebook posts, friends!

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By, the way, this is my first blog post from my phone. Please excuse an potential formatting or english mistakes. I write this as I wait for the next event at the Colorado State Track Competition!  I’ve been assistant coaching high school track and field (mostly long jump and triple jump) for Green Mountain High School and we have a bunch of athletes in multiple events competing!

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