Thursday, February 18, 2016

Valentine's Day: Running and Chocolate

Valentine’s Day. When I think of Valentine’s Day I think of the traditions involving pink and chocolate. I like chocolate. Green Events’sCatch me if you Can” run this past weekend had chocolate and offered a new Valentine’s Day tradition for many Northern Coloradoans. 

The final event of the Front Range Freeze series was held at the Anheuser-Busch Biergarten. Before the race started, the large indoor space provided a warm place to pin on race numbers and catch up with friends. 

Green Events offered two distances; there were four mile and 10k run/walk options for us to earn our hot chocolate, pancakes and beer. The four mile run followed the same relatively flat course as the Sweaty Sweater race (back in December) while the 10k option started and finished on the same route but added a “detour” in the middle. I had decided to do the 10k option.

The Stryd running power meter!
After picking up my race number, chatting with a few friends and eyeing the hot chocolate, which I decided to save until after, I got in a quick warm-up. The 12+ inches of snow from last week’s blizzard had melted. The sun was coming out, layers were coming off and runners were excited and smiling.

Women's race start
To add a twist to the race and match the Valentine’s Day theme, Green Events decided all girls would get a three minute head start before the hounds (guys) were released. With everyone milling around the start, the girls took to the line and dashed off. It was almost as if they were eager to get away from us… Three minutes later and after a few instructions, the guys were off. 

Lead bikers from Northern Colorado Grassroots
The first mile took us out of the venue’s parking lot and headed west on a flat stretch towards a beautiful view of the foothills. A few guys must have been very antsy to catch their Valentine quickly because the first mile was ridiculously fast. My lungs hurt from the shock of running nearly all-out to keep the love-struck guys in sight. Soon after the first mile, the 10k route began its “detour”. 

A variety of athletes at Green Events's races...
Without the four-milers, things got lonely for us. Thankfully we had some great bike escorts from Northern Colorado Grass Roots to lead the way. We continued west, towards the mountains and through a neighborhood. The course was well-marked with orange cones and marshals directing us. A slight uphill wasn’t too bad as it was still early on in the race. 

One of the lead bikers took this picture just before Josh decided to dust us
We ran along the boundaries of the neighborhood and turned south. Volunteers stationed at cross streets gave us some cowbell and shouted encouragement. After going through the halfway point, I noticed my lungs had stopped hurting. My feet decided they would fill in for a bit. Mile four seemed to take forever. But soon enough we were headed back east towards the venue. A slight downhill was much appreciated at this point and we could start to see the four mile course rejoining ours. 

As courses merged, inspiration came from other runners and the Biergarten beckoned to us from the distance. The last few miles went by quickly as it was easy to focus on the people running in front of us. The atmosphere was encouraging. Eventually the turn to the parking lot was in sight. Patrick Ray himself standing at the turn, directing us to the finish. After the relief of finishing sank in, a few of us ran back out to the course, cheering on runners while trying to “cool down” our legs. 

Running data from Stryd for the 10k run (link)
We thanked the awesome team of bike escorts and headed inside for the real reason we race, post-race food. The Biergarten had indoor and outdoor seating. Along with a few CSU Triathlon and NoCo Tri members, I enjoyed some beautiful mountain views near the warmth of a fire ring. We ate, drank and told new four-mile and 10k battle stories.

In line for post-race food
The outdoor seating area
Fire ring in the outdoor area
Once again, Green Events stressed the importance of their zero-waste initiative, even going as far as to cover up all normal trash cans. Signs directed us to dispose of used plates and cups in the appropriate recycling and compost bins. 

Zero waste? Yes please.
Eventually, Green Events started announcing awards and raffling away prizes. Once again, fantastic local businesses offered some great rewards, just in case the burning lungs, tired legs and a sweet long-sleeved T-shirt weren’t enough. Gift cards and other services were provided by Raintree Athletic Club, Runners Roost and Altitude Running

A great place to run
Though the Front Range Freeze series has finished, Green Events's next event will be the Spring Equinox on March 20th. There are 5 mile and half-marathon options with your best interests in mind; Colorado views, zero waste and beer.

Until then, thanks for reading and have a great day!

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