Ready? Lace up your shoes, stretch, grab your water, and Run with me…
…it’s going to be a LONG one…
Wake up! We were in the car by 5:30 a.m. (oatmeal breakfast in tupperware, yum), parking around 6:30. Port-a-potty lines were massive and unorganized, but I finally got my pit-stop in with less than 5 minutes to spare.
I merged into the masses, heading towards Corral 6 but slipping in a little early as the Race had already begun!
I crossed the Starting Line, and began my run…
The Plan: Using the course Map, D & I had meet ups arranged for miles 5, 9.5, 12, 15, 17, 20 & 22. We also had back-ups, incase our designated spots were too crowded. He was on the bike, as usual, packed with extra water, the camera & snacks. In other words, he was my lifeline, photographer, support, and motivation! I was equipped with my Camelbak, housing slightly diluted Accelerade that I sipped around every mile.
Start Slow: Taking it easy and taking it all in, I reminded myself to be conservative. I had plenty of miles to speed it up, if I could. Now was the time to relax, enjoy the totally random bands that lined the course (we saw Indie & Country within the first 5 miles), and save my energy for the end.
Miles 1-5: 9:35, 9:11, 8:58, 8:51, 8:50 (whoa, negatives… Hold it)
We ran along 17th street, where I mentally took notes of restaurants, shops & bars that looked fun and unique. A runner knows that the best way to explore your new city is while running. It was a great distraction, and mile 5 (Hi D!) snuck up on me in the best way…
Fuel UP: The course took us in and around City Park, a gorgeous 3 miles surrounded by a load of spectators, more bands & the first relay stop. My pace-bracelet-check assured me I was slightly ahead of the 4:00 finish schedule, and my pace itself was comfortable & easy.
I took in 1/2 of my Lemon Lime Shot Bloks package at mile 7, and noticed the rest of them fit conveniently into my arm-sleeve “Cuffin”. Thank you, lululemon, for making distance-runner-friendly apparel!
The lululemon cheer section was stationed at mile 9; I barely caught them, but couldn’t have been happier to see more familiar faces & hear some LOUD cheering!
Not too far down the road, D was stationed and ready again. It was just another quick “hey!”, high-five, smile & “see you soon!”.
Miles 6-10:8:46, 8:50, 8:46, 8:53, 9:02
Take in the Scenery: We entered Cheesman park (which will soon be my stomping grounds!!) for our last section with the 1/2-runners. The sun was finally out in full force & the marathon-morning was perfect. I saw D again at mile 12 for a quick chip-grab, right after we split to start the second half. He also happened to stuff tissues into my bag o’ Baked Lays, because he knows my nose. Much needed, as I could barely eat and breathe with my mouth closed.
Miles 11-15: 9:01, 8:46, 8:52, 8:52, 9:06
We headed south through the neighborhoods to Washington Park (aka Wash Park), one of my favorite Denver areas! Passing the 13.1 mark had no dramatic effect – I was feeling just as good as I did at Mile 1; ready for the next half! Seeing D again at mile 15 came so quickly; this time I grabbed my handheld water bottle, and carried it until our next meet up.
And this reminded me why I switched to the Camelbak! That handheld is lucky it made it those two miles, ugh.
At mile 17, I happily ditched the bottle, smiled for another photo, and finished off the rest of my LL Shot Bloks. Hello, Wash Park! So Happy to see you….
…but you’re trails are such a tease. For the first time, I started feeling those marathon-aches. This was elevated by the fact that all of my LRs were done on a mostly-gravel trail. Pounding the pavement for 18 miles? My back had something to say about that. I had every urge to slip off the pavement and onto the inner-track trail. But, technically that wasn’t the course. And I should probably stay within the lines…
We looped around, and I took my first short walk break at mile 18’s water stop. The best part about this section, was that coming out of the park brought us to mile 20 (Hello, again, D!). Nothing but a 10K to go from there…
Can you tell I was having a good time? 20 miles meant I still had the hardest part left, but I had put a lot behind me. It also presented the choice between another bag of chips, or Margarita Shot Bloks. I went with the latter, for eating-simplicity. I may or may not have had a moment of nausea while thinking of the real thing (i.e. Tequila. Gross.), but the salty taste & needed-sugar did their tricks.
Miles 16-20: 9:03, 9:01, 9:02, 9:08, 8:56 (Still right on Target, let’s do this!)
Keep it Going: I took in another quick walk break around mile ~20.5 to pause, drink & dump some ice on my head. D caught up with me on the bike en route to his next stop, and we found ourselves in the normal LR-routine. As the runners had thinned a little more by now, he stayed beside me for a few miles and offered the encouragement & motivation that’s needed by that point. I took in some water & his words, but spent no energy spitting out my own words. Tired, yes? Ready to stop? Not yet.
Passing mile marker 23 brought us to the only real “hill” of the day; a girl next to me actually said something along the lines of “Seriously?! LOOK at that Hill!”. Not quite the upbeat banter you hope for….
We went up, turned around, and went back down.
D rode up with me until the turnaround, where I said “Okay, see ya at the finish line!”. I needed to zone out, and I needed to know that when I saw him next….I’d be at the end!
Fellow runner/reader, Amy – thanks for the random, unexpected shout out at 23.5!
It was needed there.
He snuck around the corner and snapped this at mile 24…
…two miles to go? No problem!
Miles 21-24: 8:46, 9:01, 9:08, 9:23
Finish STRONG: Not once was I ready to call it quits. I definitely felt the fatigue during the last three miles, and had a few aches & pains that I could’ve done without. But, not once did I question my sanity, doubt my fitness, or wish for anything other than that day. When my energy waned, I reminded myself of training, moving, readjusting, every Strong run, every early morning & every moment of dedication. Your Training won’t fail you when you trust it.
Garmin was a little off by this point, so I recalibrated at mile marker 25 to be on with the course. When it beeped 26, I wanted to know I really only had 0.2 left.
Miles 25-26.2: 9:09 (1 mile), 9:03 (0.31), 8:50 (1 mile), 8:22 (!!) (0.2)
I knew the sub-4 was in the bag. So, I brought it home on that 26.2-PR high!
As I crossed the Finish Line, I was completely elated.
3:58:24*, avg 8:59 min/mile
Age Group (18-24): 21 / 112
Women: 217 / 1357
Overall: 787 / 2894
I cannot THANK YOU all enough.
Your encouragement, support &
motivation is seemingly unending.
Comments, e-mail exchanges,
well-wishes, etc all crossed my mind
and kept me going.
It means more than you know.