4:30 came awfully early on Sunday.
The Denver Marathon started at 7am. Sharp. That's what the email read, that's what the program reminded us. They also requested that runners be there 90 minutes before race time, although I suspect that they were doing this in the same spirit that my dad was when he would tell my mom that their dinner reservation was at 7:30, when in fact it was at 8:00. He couldn't stand being late. She could never seem to get out the door less than 30 minutes late. You see the logic...
So at 4:30 my alarm was going off. This is not an hour I usually see unless we are flying somewhere wonderful (and I can nap on the plane). I showered, ate a banana, had some water, coffee. Out the door shortly after 5 to meet Audge and Cath at their hotel. Weather forecast was for a high of 80 degrees, but not until MUCH later. At this point it was about 35 degrees.
We walked from the hotel to the starting line, roughly 1/2 mile. We were there it plenty of time, so we used the porta pottys. It was so early there wasn't even a line. We stood there shivering and huddling together as we watched the other runners make their way to the park. By the time we entered the chute, my fingers and toes were numb with cold. As the runners numbers increased, I started to have a mini anxiety attack. We are REALLY doing this... Oh my Lord!
We shuffled over the starting line and started to hit our rhythm. The sun started to rise, casting pink and peach brush strokes low in the sky. God it was beautiful. I started to play tour guide as we made our way downtown. Invesco Field, Larimer Square, Union Station, Lodo. 17th ave, City Park. The memories were stirring, there's where I used to work, my brother lives just over the highway from here- see the church on the hill? His house is 2 blocks from there, right by our old townhome. I used to run City Park when we lived down here... there's the zoo... we kept a fairly ongoing dialogue, when our lungs allowed. Runners are a funny bunch. You can really bond over the miles, as I learned on the many runs I've shared with Audge. But something interesting happened during the Half. Other runners were chiming in, turning around, laughing along with us.
Right at Cheesemen Park our banter died down. It was getting warmer, but I think I started off too hard. My handheld hydration was empty. I was making weird noises trying to breathe, prompting Catherine to ask in a very concerned voice if I was alright. Can't blame her- but I was breathing and trying to eat sport beans at the same time! Audge was going on about how I should concentrate on my breathing pattern and using my arms. Somewhere in there, I forgot to keep pushing the water.
I had to switch to a walk. The last mile I picked my run back up, but it was a mere shuffle. I urged my girls ahead and met up with them at the finish line. Thank God for my athlete, exercise physiologist friends, thrusting Gatorade and water into my trembling hands. I considered whether I might ever do this again. Later that morning, at the grocery store, when I had to beeline for the bathroom, I vowed that I wouldn't do it again. More water, stat!
Of course I'm doing it again. See you next year, Denver Marathon!