Thursday, October 23, 2014

Time for an Altitude Adjustment - Rock n Roll Denver 2014

There isn't much of a thread holding this weekend together, so Susan suggested going with the alphabet (or as far as "D").

A is for Altitude.
For the second time in 2014 we were racing a mile above sea level. With Susan hitting an altitude sickness wall at mile 8 in Casper and four more weeks of travel for four races, so including the wave start, this was likely going to be another three hour tour (a threeeee hour tooooooour....).  Perhaps the altitude and light-headedness explains why I registered for the full marathon instead of the half. I only realized this when I went to pick up my bib at the expo and found myself in Corral 1. A 2:25 finish time (for the full) apparently gets you a pretty cushy corral assignment.

I wasn't the only one who made the mistake. Our friend Tamie did the same thing AND she also registered for the 5K, thinking it was another Remix event with the 5K on Saturday and the Half on Sunday. We blame the thin air (even though I'm sure we were at sea level when we signed up).

B is for Blue Bears, Boom Boxes and Bikes.
The Expo was held in the Colorado Convention center across the street from our hotel with the iconic Blue Bear. It was put in place as part of the Denver's Public Art Program in 1988, an Executive Order that 1% of any capital improvement project over $1 million would be set aside for some sort of art and design for the site.

If you're at a Rock n Roll race, it's hard to miss our crazy friends from the SA2LV group. Rounding the park near mile 5, we heard disco music. Only it was actually catching up to us. Kelvin (Boom Box in hand), Chris and Jessica had run the 5K, swapped shoe tags and hustled their way to the half marathon start. Kelvin actually ran the full. Quick selfie and they moved ahead to the strains of "I Will Survive".

Denver is one of the many cities we've visited for races that has a bike share program. Here it's called B-Cycle. For $8 you can buy a one-day access pass and rent the bike free for 30 minutes. Charges start adding up after that, but it's great to have if you want to skip the cab ride or have sore feet before or after your race. The rental period is not quite enough time to make a quick trip to a nearby restaurant (You know, for carboloading), but it does make for a good pictoblog.

Tawni, Tamie, Michelle, Susan and Al biked from the REI mega-store back to the hotels. We had to get creative with Al's check out time rapidly approaching.
In general, you can even get along without the bikes. RNR Denver is a really cozy race. Staying downtown at the Embassy Suites put us right across the street from the Expo, 4 blocks from the Start and Finish and within walking distance of the heart of downtown. 

C is for Crisp, Chilly (but not quite Cold).
Starting in the low 40's, Rock n Roll Denver was the coldest race we've done since Antarctica (there's a phrase I never thought I'd use!). Now that we're getting into the fall race season, our suitcases are getting heavier with the addition of gloves, long compression pants, and more disposable sweatshirts in case the space blankets aren't enough. It turns out we didn't really need the gear since the wind was light, but we'd rather have it just in case.

Come to think of it, this wasn't even as cold as Fremont last December. Why do we worry about these things?

C is also for Cheyenne (Wyoming)
My friend Michelle drove a couple hours to meet us in Denver. She and I go back to the old MySpace days. It dates me, I know. The last time we met was in San Francisco about 6 years ago when she was touring with her husband and boys. Years later, we subjected her to the second segment of our duathlon.  

Fortunately, she was rewarded for her adventurous nature with...

D is for Donuts
Those of you from the Portland, Oregon area may be fans of the VooDoo Donuts experience. The Denver location had a short line compared to the 45 minute wait we had in 2013 in Portland. That may have had something to do with some football game going on in town where records were broken (yay, Peyton!).  Again, the bikes came in handy. The baskets were just big enough to fit a box of donuts each.

E is for eating.  After lunch at Katie Mullens, our dinner consisted of the free happy hour food at the Embassy Suites and splitting a dozen Voodoo dounts.
Our race schedule is full for the next five weekends and Denver was one of the most relaxed and fun-filled trips we've had in a while. Going into a chilly fall race season, it was good to get that warm fuzzy feeling of laughing and connecting with good friends on this bizarre path we've put ourselves on.

Oh yeah. F is for Friends.  What would this journey be without them?


Rock n Roll Denver was first held under the Rock n Roll brand in 2010. It was previously the Denver Marathon (established in 2006) and has grown from just under 3000 participants in the 2006 to nearly 12,000 in 2014.  This year there were 8,129 finishers in the Half Marathon (median finish time 2:14), 1,711 finishers in the Full (Median finish 4:27), 1439 finishers in the 10K (median finish 1:07) and 599 finishers in the 5K (median finish time 37:30).

The course starts and finishes in downtown Denver with a few miles on the edge of Sloan's Lake Park where there are some really nice views of the mountains on a clear day. The course is not very hilly with a total elevation change of 381 ft according to my Garmin. About the most annoying thing is that the Half/Full split is at mile 12.5 and the first thing the full marathoners see at the turn is a good sized hill.  Weather this year started in the mid 40's and warmed to a pleasant low 60's with sun. It was pretty much perfect race weather.

Rock n Roll Denver was our 11th RNR event for 2014, leaving us 4 away from CGI's newly created Hall of Fame for 15 North American races.  This was Susan's 20th and Ron's 19th race at the Half Marathon or longer distances this year and Susan's 74th lifetime half. We've done well with the 5K and 10K's, but for some reason, I still don't think enough of them to count them in our race totals.

We haven't signed up for Denver 2015, but it's high on our list as we go after our fifth Rock Idol medals. 


  1. A great blog of your Denver 2014 exploits and proud to be included. Love and hugs to you both. Hurry back.

    1. Denver is high on our list for future years. We'll let you know for sure when we head out again :)