Top things I learned about endurance runners:
1. Pooping before a race is serious business for them, and people even asked me if I accomplished this deed before the race (you should have seen my face…:/).
2. Everyone feels like crap when they finish. That is normal. I saw guys finish the marathon looking like Lance Armstrong heaving after they crossed the finish line. I always thought athletes like that didn’t feel pain.
3. They can actually drink beer right after running that long. I couldn’t even use my voucher- the thought of beer made me want to gag.
At 4:45 my husband woke up also, and we made coffee and smoothies. I drank a giant cup of water, drank down my chocolate/ avocado/ date/ and almond milk smoothie (which is a win, by the way), and slowly sipped my coffee. At 5 am I stopped taking in any more caffeine or food.
We loaded up Lillian and were out the door by 5:15 am. I stopped drinking all fluids by 6 am. We parked in the zoo of a lot, and I attempted to go to the restroom with all my might. By this point I was full of nerves, watching all the runners warming up.
I found my friends, and we made our way to the gates. I remember feeling this mix of excitement/ fear/ happiness rush over me as the crowds were full of cheer. The music and hype got my adrenaline going. As our group started, I put in my headphones and turned to my hubby to wave goodbye! My hope was to see them in less than two and a half hours.
Let me tell you what- running with thousands of people is a hoot. I have never experienced anything like it. It is amazing to run with people of all ages, all ethnicities, and in all conditions. I was so inspired by how many people were challenging themselves.
I want to share a few highlights with you. The first amazing moment was in the beginning of the race. We were running down this avenue that was tree lined and gorgeous. The sun was peeking through the clouds and making the dewy ground shimmer. As I was enjoying the view “Heavenly Day” by Patti Griffin started playing. I almost wanted to cry. It was so lovely.
A little bit later “Welcome to the Jungle” started playing. To my delight, it was at the exact same moment we ran through the arches of the Denver ZOO! The entire time I was running by monkeys and lions, I was giggling inside at the irony.
My last highlight was during the final stretch. I was on my tenth mile or so, when I was getting pretty exhausted. There was a man in front of me, very in shape, running backwards. I don’t know why he was doing that but I thought it was weird and a little annoying. Sure enough, he ran backwards right into a pole. I couldn’t help but laugh a little. Show off. Well, I guess he learned his lesson!
The last three miles were the hardest part. Mentally, I wanted to walk as I started seeing people give in to the exhaustion. My strategy was to wait until mile 8 to drink anything, and only sip a bit of Gatorade while running. I brought one of my daughters fruit smoothie drinks to sip as well for a bit of energy. At mile 8 and 10 I enjoyed the sips of fruit and Gatorade, but never started walking. The last mile I gave it all I had.
As I crossed mile 12 I saw my husband and daughter on the sideline. It made me so happy to see them and to know very soon I would get to embrace them. I gave them a thumb’s up and kept going.
Then I saw it! The Finish Line! It was the best thing I saw all morning (some would argue the half-naked Fire Fighters at mile 11 were, but I don’t think so). I ran as fast as I could to cross it.
I finished faster than the goal I had set, which I was very excited about. My total time was 2 hours 20 minutes, a pace of 10:41/ mile. I was thrilled with my results, as my goal was to finish under 2.5 hours.
Ok, here is when I get honest. Everyone says that once you cross the finish line you will be filled with joy, happiness, and that it is the best part. No way, not for me. Once I stopped running, everything started spinning and I knew if I didn’t find shade I would faint. Then, all at once, my system started freaking out. I needed to go to the bathroom so bad but there was no way I could make it there! Horror flooded my mind as I imagined myself going right there in front of everyone. I limped to grab a banana and some water, and made myself sit down and chill out. Deep breathes. Finally, I felt better. Ten steps at a time I walked to the tent. It took a while to feel better, but it happened.
I did it. I was so happy I accomplished my goal!
The rest of the day was wonderful. Cheeseburgers, chips, fruit, cookies, and salad were on the menu, along with Great Divide beer. MMMM. I got to snuggle with my favorite people in the world.
Oh, and one shout out to my amazing husband who was by far the most incredible trainer/ believer in me along the way. He ran many miles alongside me (even though he could run circles around me), pushed our baby in the jogging stroller, helped me when I was sick, coached me through mental breakdowns, and was there at the finish line to congratulate me after having baby duty all morning. Then the man cooked me a celebratory meal. What a special guy:).