If you missed it, here’s part one of my recap. Now, let’s get on to the meat of it! Race Day.
We went to bed at 9 the night before in hopes that we’d get a good night’s sleep before the alarm was set to go off at 5:10am (gulp). Yeah, that didn’t happen. I tossed and turned for a good while, too worried I’d wake up my roommates if I got on my phone. I did manage to fall asleep at a decent time by leaving my phone alone, though. No idea how long I lay there. A couple hours? A half hour? It was dark and the room clock didn’t work, but it didn’t feel like I laid there all night long. Of course, I had a dream that my friend’s phone alarm didn’t go off and we didn’t wake up in time to run the race, so that woke me right up around 4:30. A good 45 minutes before alarm time. I couldn’t get back to sleep at that point because I knew I’d be groggy and really grumpy, so I just laid there tossing and turning. And needing to pee!
Finally, the alarm went off and we were up and getting ready to go. I wasn’t feeling too nervous because we were together chattering and busy getting ready. All of us were having nervous stomachs, though, and none of us were able to…go #2. By the time we left the room, I was the only one who still couldn’t go! I was terrified I’d have to stop to poop mid-run! I made sure I tried everywhere. The lobby bathroom, the porta-potties at the race area. Nothing.
Too late to try to poop now, it’s time to get in our corrals! EEK!
This is when the nerves set in. What did we get ourselves into? Look at all the people!! The weather was PERFECT. We couldn’t have asked for a better day! We were supposed to have a high of 74 later, so it was about 50 degrees and clear in the morning. That’s my ideal running weather!
Instead of trying to make our way alllll the way down several streets to find Corral 13 when we were standing next to Corral 2, we decided to stay put and wait until our corral came to us. This made my nerves go crazy, but I held it together on the outside.
It was finally time for our corral, so we jumped in line! My friend tried to take a quick picture, but we were walking so it didn’t turn out so hot.
Ready Corral 13? In 5! 4! 3! 2! 1!
And we’re off! The first mile or two is such a blur. At my house, I’m about 1,600 feet higher in elevation than Denver, and my trail is up to 2,000 feet higher. The lower elevation definitely helped! I felt great. Checked the Garmin right away, and I was going a 10:18 pace. Oops! Too fast, gotta slow it down. First mile split was 12:15. A little faster than I should’ve been, but feeling great so I was ok.
The first few miles were through downtown Denver amid big skyscrapers, and great old brick buildings. Gorgeous and shady, just the way I like it. Running right in front of Coors Field was pretty damn cool.
Just before mile marker 4, my runkeeper app went screwy and must’ve jumped a street because it suddenly said I was at 4.7 miles and running a 10:30 pace. Ha! I think all the people and/or the skyscrapers screwed up the signal. It sucked, though, because my every 5 minute updates from then on out were way off. At least I still had my Garmin with the right info, so I was wasn’t completely lost. I NEED my numbers during runs!
Mile marker 4 was about halfway up one of the bigger hills in the race. Just before turning the corner to go up the big hill, we saw tons of people cheering us on. This was the spot with the most spectators, and it was such a rush to see so many people there for us! I loved the energy from the crowds throughout the race, and this spot was one of my favorites.
Just before mile marker 5, I saw the woman who switched my emotions for the rest of the run. She was standing there all alone with a sign that said, “I don’t even know you, but I’m so PROUD of you!” Up until then, I was just putting one foot in front of the the other, and was happy to be there. When I saw her, every emotion I’ve felt throughout my training and in the days leading up to the race, came rushing up. Look how far I’ve come! What I’ve put my body through these last months! That’s when it became an epic run for me. So much joy and pride and fear and excitement and what a sense of accomplishment!
I live for the runner’s high. That’s what keeps me running when I want to stop. Knowing how wonderful I’ll feel when it’s over. That slightly drunk, “I love everyone!” feeling that hits me as soon as I’m done with my runs. Who needs drugs! I just need a good run. But I’ve never experienced the runner’s high DURING a run until that moment. You’ll see kitschy shirts and signs that say “running is cheaper than therapy,” but only runners know just how true that sentiment is. There is nothing more cleansing and freeing for me than an amazing run, and this was the best one I’ve ever felt.
After seeing that sign, I wanted to hug every spectator I saw and tell them how much I appreciate them being there. Every sign made me tear up with joy. The cheerleaders who practiced their routines for us brought me back to high school and my own cheer days. That was another big rush of emotion for me. Flashbacks galore!
The entire time, I had my goal in mind. I had told myself I’d be happy as long I finished in under 3 hours, but I knew I really wanted to finish in under 2:45. I finished my longest training run, 13.6 miles, in 2:59, so I knew 2:45 was doable. But I’d have to work!
About 9.5 miles in, I hit the 2 hour mark, and I realized it was going to be very close so I was going to have to seriously bust my ass to get under that 2:45.
10-mile split: 11:56. Yes! Keep it up, and I might just make it.
Shit, hills. 11 mile split: 12:30.
Just a couple more miles left. Let’s do this. Time to crank up the speed.
The cop directing traffic lets a fracking BUS go by. Are you kidding me?! Don’t you know how close I am to finishing in my goal time!
Mile 12: 12:09. Ok, that’s a little better, but I have more in me. Gotta empty the tank. ONLY ONE MORE MILE! ish.
Mile 13: 10:46. Hell yes! I got this!
There’s the finish line. Push, push, push!
Official finish time: 2:43:58.
Yes, the race was damn hard. Running for HOURS will always be hard as hell. But damn, if I wasn’t happy to be there! No race I have ever done has compared to this one. This was SO MUCH MORE because I had to work for it. I had to train for it. It’s a race I’ll never forget, and can’t wait to do again.
I can honestly say I gave it my all, and I left it all out there on the streets of Denver for my first half marathon.