Yesterday was the big race. It was such a huge experience physically and mentally. I’m not even really sure how to start this post…….let’s just go through the whole day.
One of my greatest concerns about the race was the time. The race began at 6:45 AM! I am a night runner and I was greatly concerned about running at a different time. Also, I had to get up super early to get breakfast. During my practice run, I had ‘runners stomach’ from my breakfast. I’d gone out on a limb and tried something new for breakfast. There was a point where I HAD to walk a mile to get to a bathroom. So I had been getting all kinds of advice on what to eat. In the end though, I ate my usual breakfast because I knew what to expect. I didn’t know if a bagel and cream cheese would carry me the whole race, but it did. I didn’t want to change anything the morning of. I got up at 5:15am and walked to our local Starbucks. I got the usual coffee and a bagel. When we got home, I put on my race clothes, and we headed to the race. It all seemed like it happened REALLY quickly. I was lucky enough that the start and finish were in City Park, across the street from my house. I arrived at the race around 6:30 AM to find my “corral”. When you sign up for the race, you have to say how fast you think you’ll run. I did NOT end up in the right corral. More on that later. My friend, Thomas Elio, who was running as well was way ahead of my wave, so we didn’t get to run together.
Can everyone see how nervous I am, or is it just me?
The Just Before
I was feeling really emotional all morning. I was anxious and nervous. I wanted to be excited but I had a hard time. My stomach was in knots and I was kind of dreading the whole thing. I wasn’t experiencing self doubt. I kind of didn’t want it to be over? I knew I could do it. I just didn’t feel at my best and it made me even more nervous. Vicious cycle. When we finally got to the race and found my place in line, I asked my hubby to leave. Even though it would be 15-20 minutes before I started, I just wanted to be alone. In that time I thought about where I have come from and everything I’ve accomplished already. Even though I was worried about being happy with my run, I knew I had accomplished something amazing before I’d even begun. As I approached the start line, my eyes filled with tears thinking about what I was about to do. I know it seems so corny but it still happens. I was once again going to accomplish something I NEVER thought I could do. Then I had to suck up my emotions so I could actually run. So I blasted my Eminem and got to business.
The First Miles
Someone had already warned me that the first three miles would fly by and they really did. You spend so much time trying not to kick the people around you and weave in and out that you don’t even realize how much has passed. I ran through my first two rests because I simply didn’t need them. The pack was traveling so slowly that I hadn’t even broken a sweat yet. After the first few miles everyone starts to drift apart and you can find your stride. Mile 2 was my fastest mile of the whole race. One thing I was also worried about was being able to find my zone. Usually in races I’m so distracted that I have trouble following my timer and can’t find the zone. This didn’t happen. Because the race was so long, nearly everyone was a serious runner and was there to run the best they could.
The middle miles are always where I lose track of where I am. I know it seems silly to say, but there are points where I actually forget which mile I’m in. I regularly run 4-5 miles. I’m very comfortable with this distance and know how it feels without thinking about it. My body falls into rhythm pretty easily. By the time I got to mile 6, I knew I was running strong. My intervals were good. My body felt good and mentally I felt even better. By the time 6.5 miles hits, which is halfway, I knew I could do it. I completely forgot miles 6-10. I know this seems crazy, especially to those that don’t run. But I just lost track. I don’t remember hearing my time for mile 7 or 8. At this point, I’m just running. The intervals feel shorter (even though they aren’t) and my body is relaxed. I also get to eat during this part of the race, which distracts me from thinking about how much farther I need to go. I ate during mile 7-8 this time which is my usual. I knew I had to eat before I got to the next water station. So I did, just in time to drink again. They had water stations every two miles, which of course I had pre-trained myself for. The water was cold and glorious every time!
The Death Miles
Most runners have a mileage they hate. For me it’s mile 9 to 10. At this point I’ve eaten so i should feel better right? Usually my body feels fine at this point but I’m starting to get bored. Every time I’ve run more than 10 miles, I hate mile 9.. I’m thinking, “Seriously, how much farther?” It didn’t’ happen in the race.
When I got to mile 9, it was the first time I could think about the end. At this point we had turned around in the race and were headed back West down Colfax. This is totally awesome for two reasons. 1) Westward in Colorado always means you’re facing the mountains, which were beautiful that morning. 2) I’m running towards home. There are two high rise condo buildings near my awesome historical 1920s building in City Park. It’s awesome because I can always orientate myself home. Since the race started and ended near my house, it felt like running home. So I ignored the street signs (because of course I know the order to home) and just put my head down and ran. Run. Water. Run. Here’s what my mind goes through those last three miles.
“You run three miles all the time. This isn’t the worst you’ve ever felt. You can do that! At the next mile marker, you only have two miles to go! Two miles left? Sure thing……………..Mile 11! Only two more miles to go! You can run two miles with your eyes closed! So what that you already ran 11. EMINEM…..You’re good. The next mile marker you see means you only have one mile left! One mile? Phissshhhh. That’s nothing. Mile 12. Holy crap. You’re almost done. Only one mile. Less than now. Even less now. LAST MILE!”
Crossing the Finish Line
The last few minutes of the race SUCKED. The finish line feels so close, but it’s still pretty far away. In your head your thinking, “Really? 13.1? It couldn’t be 13….or 12.8? Who decides this anyway?” But then it’s about to happen. I ran the last 200 yards pretty quickly so that it would be over! I remember looking for my husband, who had already preplanned where he would be. And then I crossed the line. And the truth is…..nothing happened. I didn’t change forever. I didn’t find a new inner peace. I didn’t become someone new. I simply finished the race I’d been training to run because the truth is (and I have to admit I stole this from my trainer 😉 ) the real work was in the training; the race is the reward. It was in the training that I became a runner. It was during the training that I could feel my life changing. That’s when I was becoming someone new, not in the single moment when I crossed the line.
After the Race Chaos
Wow. I had no idea. The first thing I did when I crossed was find my husband and hug him. I teared up a little because of what I’d just done. He kissed me and said how proud he was. Then you get your medal. They just had them to you like no big deal. I thought I’d have to bow or scan my badge or be knighted by the queen but…..they just hand them to you. I’ll let this slide because it was a firefighter. Then the free stuff comes. The next thing you know you’re getting three bottles of water and a tote bag. You apparently put the bottles in said tote. Then you get stickers and soda and granola bars and Gatorade and jelly beans and coupons and braclets and frizbees and pretzels and banans and whoa. CAN A GIRL JUST SIT DOWN? You know what the only post-race need they don’t meet IMMEDIATELY after crossing the finish line? A CHAIR. The swag after a race like this is incredible. Too bad I have “runner’s brain’ and can’t process half of what’s going on except that I’m being shuffled down this aisle of free stuff and I’m separated from my hubby who’s the only person I DO want to see? Luckily I made it to the end of the ‘tunnel of swag’ and found not only my hubby but THREE of my other favorite people there to support me. It was an incredible feeling to have everyone there together!
Overall I was ecstatic about how I ran the race. I had lose times that I wanted to get and I hit them all! My official time though my tracker was 2:20:18 which I will take ALL. DAY. LONG! I only rested during my timed rests and never once took an extra one. I ran strong mentally and physically! I couldn’t have been happier!
After a race, don’t forget to thank those around you. Everyone in my life was affected by my running schedule or at minimum my incessant need to talk about running. I hope everyone around me knows how much I appreciate their love and support. I know everyone always thinks I’m the one that’s strong, but it’s only because I have such support that I’m able to succeed at anything.