To say I’ve been waiting over six months to write this post wouldn’t be true. Yes, I’ve been waiting to add this chapter to my running story since I signed up in May, but that’s a post for a different day.
Everyone knows that a good race always begins the night before with the carbo loading. My college roommate was in town for a little, and I was happy she was there not only to spend time with her – which is rare these days since she lives in Denver – but so she could keep my nerves at bay.
We went to one of our favorite restaurant’s Mary’s Italian Trattoria on Cherry Street, and was able to custom-order exactly what I was looking for: a shrimp pasta with a simple lemon spaghetti. I ended up getting shrimp scampi with plain spaghetti and squirted a bunch of lemon juice on it. So delicious!
In the few days leading up to the race, I had lots of nerves going on. For one, my legs started giving me fits, I think because I wasn’t running very much, and I worried that I’d skipped too many shorter runs in my training. (More on this later.) My friend Melanie, who is a physical therapist, came over and taped me up the night before. So sweet!
I’d planned to wake up early that morning so I’d go to bed early and sleep well. My plan worked for the most part, so when my alarm went off at 5:55, I was up and raring to go. One thing I’d recommend is laying out everything the night before so it’s all ready to go and you don’t have to worry about forgetting your timer chip or race number.
The entire morning leading up to the race, my nerves had turned into pure excitement. I just said a prayer and knew everything would be okay. This was supposed to be about having fun, and having fun is what I was going to do! It was pretty chilly when we got there, especially standing in the enormous port-a-potty lines. I was actually in there when the gun went off, but luckily, I was in Corral C, and didn’t start until after fifteen minutes.
I made the mistake of starting with the 8:00 pace group since it was impossible to push against the crowd at that point, but I kept my own pace and just let them pass me. The beginning of the race was ridiculously hilly. The entire course had its ups and downs (har har), but I remember the beginning was the absolute worst.
The rest of the race, I just tried to pace myself, pay attention to the course, and distract myself with the gorgeous surroundings. We ran through Woodward Park, Cascia Hall, Swan Lake, and of course, along the Arkansas River. And the neighborhoods were gorgeous, too. The first three miles were hard for me, then I was pretty consistent with bursts of momentum at miles 4, 6, and 8.
One of the highlights of the course was running past Andrea and Jason’s house, where I got to high five JT and see the sign they’d made. It was at this point where I gave an older lady a pep talk, telling her she was over halfway there. “You are over halfway there,” she corrected me. She was running the full for her 50th birthday. I was so proud of her and told her I’d be there with her someday.
I found that when I hit a wall, I’d always get a boost of energy by encouraging fellow runners and thanking the volunteers and cops protecting the intersections. It was really helpful! Of course, I also paid close attention to my music when I needed to. At one point, I was mouthing the words to a Nelly rap and a man thought I was talking to him. Oops.
Of course, it was painful, but my legs held up for the most part. My left calf got a pretty big cramp in it for a long time, but nothing I wasn’t able to run through. I walk/jogged intermittently from miles 10-12, but once I saw 12, I knew I was in the home stretch. Then my running playlist somehow switched to the entire playlist, so I ended up running to Hillsong in Spanish for awhile. Luckily I ran into my boss’s wife, and we finished really strong together!
And finally we were finished – sweaty, in pain, and completely relieved! I loaded up on water, Gatorade, and some amazing beef stew and rice in the finishers’ tent, and caught my breath. I still can’t believe it’s over. Even though it was tough at times, all the training was so worth it. And I couldn’t have done it without the love and encouragement from my friends, family, and especially my wonderful husband.
Though I think I would have been faster if I’d done more weekday short runs, the biggest benefit of training I’ve noticed is the ability to recover. Just two days after the run, I was 100%, and today, I laced up my shoes and hammered out a few miles with Sampson.
I can’t end this recap without telling you that one of my fellow half marathon runners passed away during the race after a sudden cardiac arrest. He’d been taken to the hospital by the time I got there, but my boss ran past as they were working on him. Two years older than me, and an avid runner. I was in shock. Even though I’d never met him, I couldn’t help but think that after pouring himself into training, he should be whining about how much his legs hurt and milking sympathy from his family right now, not taken so suddenly. My thoughts and prayers have definitely been with his family since. I still can’t believe it.
Even though I don’t know him from Adam, from what I’ve read in the articles about him, I can tell he was passionate about running and died doing something he loved.
And I think I know now that this whole experience has awakened that passion for running in me. I think it’s here to stay.