Sunday, June 10, 2018

Rocky Marathon (WW #149)


Wendy and I host this linkup for
the sole purpose of supporting active women.
We thank you for linking with us!


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REVEL Rockies Marathon
June 3, 2018

I always say, "You never know what you'll get on race day!". 

Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

We've been on a few trips to Colorado and skied at 12,000 feet of altitude.  I've also run a couple of half marathons and hiked at high elevations.  Although not on all occasions, I have experienced mild altitude sickness and knew I was gambling somewhat by choosing this marathon.  If you want the short story...I felt sick.  I hope you'll stick around and read the details. 

After a long stressful Friday of flight delays due to a lengthy shutdown of the Atlanta airport, Teresa and I arrived at the host hotel in Lakewood at 2 a.m. Saturday morning.  We laughed about going to bed at the same time we would be waking up the next day for the race.  Actually, that thought was sobering.

Ready to do this thing!

After a few hours of sleep and a delicious french toast breakfast at Le Peep, we headed to the expo.  It was the perfect size; not too big to be overwhelming.  We received a tank top (which I wore because I liked the color with my skirt), a nice cap, the usual expo fare, plus a space blanket and throwaway gloves for the cold morning start.

There were so many pretty trails in the area and we were tempted to do some hiking, but we decided to save our legs and rode the train into Denver that afternoon instead.  It was nice to take in the city sights by rail and we ate pizza al fresco while downtown. We hydrated like bosses all day but we both could feel the extra strain from the altitude.  It felt hard to climb stairs or walk up a hill.

... Rocky Mountain High, Colorado! ...

REVEL provided shuttle service directly from our hotel to the top of the mountain.  We boarded at 4:00 a.m. and watched the sky slowly lighten on the long ride.  [It takes a bus a long time to go 26 miles up a steep mountain while trying not to hit the guardrail on sharp curves.  Just saying.].   The sunrise was beautiful at 10,507 feet.

We were dropped off at a wide spot on the side of the road near a ski resort.  After a slow porta potty line and a few pictures, we had little wait time.  A female runner sang an amazing rendition of the national anthem while standing on the back of the bag check truck.  We walked as a group down the road to the official start line.  Then, we were off.


Garmin recorded 43 degrees from the nearest station.

The First Half:

I could definitely feel the thinness of the air, but could also tell by my heart rate that I was running easy enough not to over exert myself.  I settled in at a 9:20-9:30 pace and felt good; my heart rate in the upper 150's. I ran with a throwaway bottle of Tailwind to make sure I hydrated during those early high miles.  The scenery was too beautiful to describe.  The cold mountain air felt fantastic and the winding course losing 3,000 feet just in the first half... relatively easy.

Coming up a small incline early in the race.  Tailwind and gloves still present.


I quickly shed my throwaway after a mile but kept my gloves on until I needed to open my first GU. There were occasional small hills until we reached miles 12-13.  Here, I intentionally slowed and walked on the big hills so I wouldn't tire myself out as we ran through the uphilly town of Evergreen. The sun was out and it felt warm.  I hit the half marathon mark at 2:05 with a 9:34 pace.  I was very pleased as that included those walk breaks.  My body was holding up very well with the downhill grade and I was stoked!  Maybe I could negative split?!?!

Peace!   And what happened to the shady course?


The Second Half:

And then suddenly everything went wrong.  I started feeling nauseous.  My first thought was to drink and eat but that made it worse.  I couldn't shake it.  I knew if I threw up it would be all over for me and I desperately wanted to finish this race.  My goal simply turned into:  Do Whatever It Takes Not To Puke. My watch died at 17.6 miles.  My overall pace at Garmin death had slowed to 10:05   But now, I was running blind.

Smiling for the camera...but struggling.

I tried to run.  I would get nauseated after a few minutes but found it would ease up every time I walked.  I felt so much better when I walked.  Then I'd try to run again.  Same result.  I played this game for 13 miles; the walk breaks becoming longer and longer.  I could not eat my GU or the Honey Stinger gels they offered.  I forced Powerade and water down trying not to gag.  I would have given my right arm for a Coke.  The people at the aid stations looked at me like I had snakes in my hair when I asked.  A small grape popsicle was my only fuel in the last 10 miles.  For the first time ever, I dug out my phone and stopped to take pictures.  The course...still beautiful.


One of my picture stops.


I no longer cared about my finish time.  I felt too crappy to care.  I felt too crappy to run.  My pace for the back half was 12:26; a big difference from the front half.  I was very grateful the nausea subsided when I walked.  It was the one thing that would allow me to finish.  So that's what I did.  Official time: 4:48:37; 11:00 per mile pace.  No cramping, no blisters, no chafing, no aches or pains (...until later...).

While waiting on Teresa, I hydrated and walked around the finish area.  I was disappointed to see the bakery sponsor had left.  I saw pizza being served, but by the time I felt good enough for a slice they had run out.  Even though the thought of it was awful, there was a vendor making fresh mini donuts and I ate a few cinnamon minis. I needed to put something in my stomach.  They tasted delicious!  My one negative comment about this race would be the lack of food for late arrivals.  It was if the "party" was over.

Thanks Teresa for going on this journey with me!


I was disappointed that I didn't set a PR.  It wasn't my worst finish time and I know there are other opportunities if I so choose.  It does not negate the fact I crossed another marathon finish line.  More importantly, I didn't fracture anything during training or during the race itself [can I get an Amen?].  My training also produced an unexpected shiny new PR at a recent half marathon.  I certainly can't be sad about that.  Besides, I was able to spend a wonderful weekend with a dear friend in a gorgeous location.

I could write another post on this travel nightmare of a weekend.  I joked with Teresa that my post title should be "Shuttle-Cation".  It seemed we were always riding one...or waiting for one.  But, I've gone on long enough already.  Suffice it to say...

I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. 



And that's a wrap!





58 comments:

  1. Sorry you were not feeling well that last half of the race but you still finished in great time. It's a shame that they were putting the good away at that time seeing as though that is NOT a slow finish time for a marathon. Congrats for finishing another 26.2!

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    1. That should be "food" not "good"...stupid auto correct.

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    2. This was a fast field of runners. The cutoff was 5:40. What should have been an average finish time was in the bottom third. They also had a bigger group of half marathoners. Regardless, they shouldn’t run out of food.

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  2. Do you think your nausea was from the altitude? Or just the distance? My last 2 fulls were remarkable for the nausea that set in around mile 14-15. One of those marathons was Chicago, the other one Big Sur. So I can't blame it on altitude. It was weird. Hey, in that instance, finishing is winning!

    I had a similar early morning bus ride to the start line of Big Sur. Slow on those dark, narrow mountain roads! But with a 2 hour time change, it wasn't too early for me!

    Congrats!

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    1. Since I’ve never felt sick in a race, I assumed it was the altitude. The nausea was similar to other times I’ve felt bad at high elevations. But, who knows. I guess I’d have to run another to see what happens. LOL.

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  3. The course looks amazing from your pics, but it was probably even more breath-taking in person. Sorry the back half was so challenging, but at least you made the best of your situation and with your survivor mentality, you did cross another 26.2 finish line. Don't those race days keep us humble? ;-)

    Chin up, Holly,
    you're still a badazz chick
    Congrats on that finish line...
    is there another 26.2 adventure to pick?

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    1. Part of me wishes there was a redemption race I could easily and affordably get to in the near future while I’m still trained and since I didn’t race the whole distance. Oh well.

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  4. The more I run and the more race recaps I read, the more I realise that every race truly is different and often unpredictable. That is what makes every medal we get a true victory. What a brilliant fight you put out there and what an amazing area to run in! I can't get over those spectacular views. Well done on yet another marathon finish. My favourite line of all - "I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat."

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    1. So many factors are at play on any given race day. I think it’s why I find races so addictive. If they were easy, I’m sure I’d lose interest.

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  5. I feel your pain with altitude sickness. I train at about 200 feet of elevation. When I go to visit my son, who lives in Steamboat Springs, CO, I definitely feel the effects of running at almost 7,000 feet. At one time I wanted to do the Steamboat marathon (it's also mostly downhill), but now I think I will pass.

    Congrats on another marathon finish. You did great, especially considering the conditions!

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    1. I've done two half marathons at high elevation and didn't feel sick. Maybe (at least for me) it's the extra distance of the full that brought it on?

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  6. For me altitude sickness comes in suddenly like sea sickness. Once you feel it it’s hard to shake. I’m impressed you were able to finish! I love that you said you would go back in a heartbeat! You all rock! Looks like such a fun time

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    1. You are exactly right! It is sudden and there's not a lot you can do about it. Others times I've experienced it, a coke helped it pass. The race was fun, regardless.

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  7. I hate that the marathon didn't go your way, but you were positive about it and had some great takeaways. You set a new half marathon PR, you got to see a beautiful place, and you finished uninjured. I can't imagine running a marathon at elevation and with such a steep downhill. The elevation here is like, 8 ft. above sea level, so it would be a big change for me.

    I hope you have had a good recovery and enjoyed the rest of your trip!

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    1. I realize it could have been much worse too. I could have been sick the entire 26.2 miles. At least I was able to knock out half of the race.

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  8. I experienced nausea in teh only altitude race I've done too, so maybe it was that? But I always feel the same way after a race, I'd do it again! Nice job!

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    1. It almost makes me want to prove I can do it without getting sick! The altitude threw down the gauntlet, so to speak. LOL.

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  9. Congrats on your race! That sounds like such a challenging course but you pushed through! I'm sorry that is was a struggle but what counts is that you finished. Looks like a beautiful place to run.

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    1. It is such a scenic race and the very reason I returned to run the full (having done the half in 2014).

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  10. It's so true that you absolutely never know what race day will hand you. I'm so sorry you had such a struggle with this marathon, but you were a trooper sticking it out. It always amazes me what volunteers don't know, but then again, they're volunteering! In the moment, though, it's hard to remember that.

    My half is at elevation (lower, though, a bit over 6000 ft) & comes down 3000 ft. Just because I did well in UT doesn't me I expect the same in ID -- not that I'm planning to do poorly, of course. Luckily for me the race IS our vacation (seriously, our first real one since UT), so we'll be out there ahead of time & I hope that it works as well as it did in UT.

    Well, you certainly lived to run another day. :) Not breaking or hurting anything is a real plus!

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    1. I think what got me was the 10,000+ start and already staying in a city that was a mile high. Plus, the full distance of 26.2. Had it been a half, I would not have had any issues whatsoever! I'd like another shot at one where I can stay and start much lower.

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  11. Congratulations on another marathon finish! You stuck with it even though it sounds really rough- that's commendable. At least the first half was fun! Gorgeous course too. I did the Cottonwood marathon that is run by Revel and they did a great job. I don't remember them running out of food, but there were some challenges getting back to our hotel, but I don't think it was Revel's fault...

    Congrats again!

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    1. We had major issues getting back to our hotel too. But, that was the hotel's fault and not REVEL's. It's one of the cases where a half marathon is ALSO being held and the food is gone early. That wouldn't happen if it was just the marathon distance.

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  12. Oh, I'm so sorry you got sick but way to fight through it! Congrats on adding another 26.2 notch to your belt!!

    And yeah, late arrivers do tend to miss out on all the good stuff. That's totally a bummer, too, because it's not like you didn't work hard or deserve it.

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    1. There was a much larger half marathon group that came in before us, which compounded the food problem. I thought there should have been a band too, but apparently it had packed up and left as well.

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  13. Oh, no! Sorry you felt nauseous. That sounds awful. It’s amazing that you could finish. Boo on the party being d the travel woes! But you did it together!!

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    1. I would have had no issues if I had run the half marathon (like I did in 2014). The extra elevation at the start and the extra racing time took its toll.

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  14. Congrats on your race! It sounds like the altitude was definitely a factor. Good job on pushing through and enjoying the beautiful course.

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    1. It was still worth it. It is so pretty out there. And, as long as I didn't run...I felt fine. So, no lingering effects.

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  15. The trick with altitude sickness is not going up in altitude too fast, take it easy the first couple of days, and totally hydrate. Did you get your Starbucks mug?

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    1. We went up 5,000 feet on the shuttle bus in one hour's time so there's no getting around that. I knew what I was getting into. I blame no one/nothing but me. LOL. I did get the mug!!!

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  16. Congratulations on a great marathon finish! I am so sorry the second half did not line up with the first half but you got through it! That is some very high altitude...it is very hard to be sure how you will react when you live so low. I feel that when I go Montana to see my Mom, not the sickness, but the general fact I seem to breathe heavier. I do love that tank top on you and your race pictures look fabulous :) Glad you had a nice weekend. One day the stars will line up for that marathon PR race just like the half.

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    1. It truly felt like two different races. I loved the first half! Like I said, I gambled and took the risk. It didn't pay off. Luckily, the nausea didn't linger. I felt fine within a few minutes of crossing the finish line.

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  17. Yikes, I'm sorry you didn't feel well, but congrats for sticking it out for another 26.2! Your photos are gorgeous, and I can only imagine the course was breathtaking in person. I hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip!

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    1. They certainly pick beautiful locations for their races. At least I had something to look at during that last half!

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  18. Well, it looks like such a beautiful course.

    So sorry you felt ill. But you are such a trooper for sticking it out. But I expect no less form you.

    I went to Jackson Hole WY and got altitude sickness. It was the pits.

    Glad you have no ill effects and are still running. I am in awe of anyone who can complete 26.2 miles.

    I still find 13 a challenge.

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  19. Oh no, I'm so sorry the altitude got to you. We were both worried about that... I'm happy that you and Teresa had a nice time!

    Thanks for the linkup!

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  20. AMEN to no injuries!!!! I'm sorry you got sick. That sucks so much! But way to push through and finish no matter what.

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  21. That is a LONG way to run while feeling nauseous! Sorry you didn't get the result you hoped for, but huge congrats on sticking it out.

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  22. We were fighting battles from the moment we arrived at the airports on Friday... but we are Steel Magnolias and we fought back! It was a tough course and not the results either of had hoped for ..but we finished, uninjured and we had a 'fabulous' time together! It's all good! Thanks for 'persuading' me! Lol xoxo

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  23. I'm sorry that you had such a bad second half of the race :( I give you so much credit for gritting it out and finishing even if you had to walk more than you wanted to.

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  24. I'm so sorry to hear that the second half of your race was as difficult as it was. But like you said, you crossed the finish line, and that itself is an accomplishment. Way to push through and still get to the end.

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  25. Oh, Holly, that's so hard! I mean, you finished another marathon, and that's such a huge accomplishment! But I'm sure it was awful to be so sick and miserable during what was supposed to be an amazing race. From your photos, it truly did look beautiful.

    I have a West Coast race coming up in October, and I literally have no idea how I'm going to do. It's only a 10K, but I am so used to sea level, flat, thick air and loads of humidity. Short of a mask (which just isn't feasible cost-wise for a one-off), I have literally no way to simulate conditions. It's going to be interesting to see what happens.

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  26. Looks like a beautiful course. Sorry that you felt sick but so great that you were able to finish (and smile for a picture). How were your quads afterwards? I'm doing the Revel Big Bear marathon in Oct and have never done 26.2 miles of downhill. :-/

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  27. Well shoot, I'm sorry the altitude got to you - I know that feeling, getting winded walking up a flight of stairs; when we went to Santa Fe, we were all breathless just walking around. I love your attitude about the entire experience - you are one happy runner!

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  28. That's an awesome time considering how sick you were feeling! and those photos are beautiful!

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  29. I'm sorry to hear you had a tough race, but glad that you finished and still found something to enjoy about the course! It looks beautiful up there!

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  30. Your training for this race has been nothing short of brilliant. I so wanted you to have the brilliant race you were trained to run. We both know marathons don't always work out that way. I'm bummed the altitude took a toll on you. It sucks when you can't get fuel down when you need it most. Geez 4:48 and they're already running out of food? I know CO is full of speedsters but come on! You're right though, what a gorgeous course and a super fun weekend with a dear friend. The pros definitely outweigh the cons. Congratulations!

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  31. Whew, what a race! Your training certainly wasn’t all for not - like you said, you had a half marathon PR and quality time with a great friend! I’m so glad you didn’t jump on the puke wagon... once you go, it’s really hard to stop, right?! Tough race but you finished. Be proud of that!

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  32. Any day you finish a marathon is a great day! I love your medal by the way. I'm sorry you had a rough second half. On the bright side, they don't all go that way.

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  33. Those views are amazing! With a course like that, the elevation gods were slowing you down to take it all in ;) As a longer distance runner, I have been told that if you feel nauseous, just let it go! While I have not needed to implement this in my running, I am prepared to...sort of. I have also needed to reframe and never take a finish line for granted - while it is tough, those finishes are what we fight for. Great work fighting!

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  34. Wow! Way to go. So glad you were able to push through and did not puke! The course looks beautiful too! Congrats on another marathon in the books!!

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  35. Beautiful scenery! Congrats on another marathon finish. That is crazy that they ran out of food so quickly...

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  36. Congrats on a marathon finish! The scenery looks beautiful. High altitude races make me nervous because of altitude sickness and I'm glad to hear you were able to finish without puking, but sorry to hear about the nausea. I hope you are enjoying your recovery!

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  37. So sorry to hear about your nausea during the race!! I know that must've been miserable. But you pushed through and you're stronger because of it!

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  38. Sorry to hear you got sick! I haven't experienced altitude sickness. But congrats on another marathon! They have a new Revel race near me now that I would love to do.

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  39. Popped over because I follow Wendy and I'm going to try doing a weekly running wrap on my (mainly books but a fair few running books and marathon reports) blog, so I thought I should check yours out. "More importantly, I didn't fracture anything during training or during the race itself" leads me to want to explore your blog further - is that something you've done before? Yikes! I have got altitude sick in New Mexico, just "being" not running, so really admire you for pushing through a marathon with it.

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  40. wow Holly, what a race! I'm so sorry you got sick on the 2nd half! I can only imagine just how beautiful it was and why you would do it again! Being from New Mexico originally, I miss that beauty! BUT I'm totally not used to the altitude anymore. Well done on finishing no matter what! (and if it's any consolation it's still better than MY best marathon haha!)

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