Hoping I was still fit from triathlon season and hoping to better my time from last year and enjoy my annual trip to the big city (just kidding. I venture out of the Boulder Bubble to go to Denver at least quarterly. Mainly to go to the airport. Just kidding. Not really. The people are just not as nice there! Just a few weekends ago, I had to go to Denver for a workshop. In the space of 5 minutes some lady with a severe case of road rage attempted to hit my car while she screamed obscenities at me non-stop for 3 blocks and then a pedestrian, a little old lady whom I motioned to go ahead, motioned at me to go ahead, and then when I insisted she go first, she gave me the stink eye and all but snarled at me. WTF. The very next day, back in Boulder, some stranger lent me his floor pump when I had to stop in front of his house to fix a flat on my bike. And later that day a stranger apologized to me in the grocery line for having too many things in her cart at the Express checkout. Can you blame me for not wanting to leave Boulder?)
Anyway, despite being outside Boulder, the Park to Park is a great course, as it is point to point and it takes you through several of Denver’s beautiful parks (Washington, Cheeseman, Alamo Placita, and City). There is a lot of shade, and you wind through not only parks but also cute residential neighborhoods. There are some gradual climbs, nice descents, and a couple of straight sections that are mostly flat, but mostly it turns and winds a lot. It started at 7:00 a.m. which was super because it was still very cool out at that point and I hate running in the heat. I got in a quick little warm up, then ran into a couple of my friends and lined up by the 8:00 pace area. I hoped to average 8:30’s. I meant to do this last year but fell short by kind of a lot. So I was here to try again and to redeem myself from the ill fated 10k of a couple weeks ago.
I started out at a pace that was quicker than my normal everyday run but still fairly relaxed. At the first mile mark my split was about 8:03 or something. The bad news was at 5:15 in the morning I took Dan’s ghetto watch instead of my Garmin. The good news is, it is true that necessity is the mother of invention. This stupid watch and all its stupid functions had eluded me up till now. Upon realizing it was my only option, I quickly taught myself to find and use the lap split function. I didn’t spend six years in college for nothing. Anyway, it was a blessing in disguise to have forgotten the Garmin. Just looking at my time every mile allowed me to focus more on just running and being instead of constantly looking to check my pace. I try not to do that but I always do it anyway.
The second mile, I still felt pretty relaxed and my watch said 8:11 or thereabouts. I had a mini freak out that maybe this was going to be another of these horrible races where I feel awesome for four miles and then realize I can’t hold anything near that pace to save my life and the rest of the race becomes a death march. And then I told myself that is highly unlikely because a) low 8’s is not that fast, b) those miles may have had a net elevation loss, and c) I am a different runner than I was last year and I know what my body can do. I know how I am supposed to feel at the beginning of a race like this and this is exactly how I should feel, and of course d) I remembered a particularly awesome track workout I did last week and reminded myself I am totally capable of this so just relax. And e) in the car on the way to the race I had already had a talk with myself and told myself the point was to have fun and do the best I could, I had already had a fantastic season so if this went well it would be a bonus and if it did not, who cared.
By the end of the third mile my watch said 8:13 or something and I still felt pretty good. It was getting harder but that is normal, I decided. It was then that I firmed up my race plan (of course yesterday would have been the best time for that but I was busy making jam, canning peaches and putting things in the Give Away pile. Better late than never.) And my race plan was this: Easy-ish miles 1-3, moderately hard miles 3-7, very hard/all out miles 7-10. Voila. And that is what I did. By the 7th mile I was looking around all time time for the 8th mile marker and feeling pretty rough but my splits were staying consistent/ getting faster, with some sub-8’s at this point. Somewhere between miles 8-9, I passed an older guy who was running with a leash to another runner. The back of his t-shirt said “Blind, diabetic insulin dependent runner.” Most of the time I don’t talk to other runners (and much of the reason for that is because so many of them wear headphones) but I had to tell this guy he was awesome, because he was. After I passed him I got a little choked up just thinking about all he has had to overcome to be in this race. It’s truly amazing.
Onward. It was around this time that I passed pink skirt girl. I felt kind of bad for her because I had spent the better part of miles 3-4 running like 2 inches from her and basically breathing down her neck but I wouldn’t stop because she was blocking the wind for me as we ran uphill, and we were about the same pace. Thank you, pink skirt. Anyway, I think she got annoyed (I would have) because she sprinted away from me at one point. I felt a little guilty for annoying her but not enough to not feel vindicated when I passed her later (for good).
Mile 8-9, I tried to pick up the pace, I passed a bunch of people. Mile 9-10, I realized I had started my all out sprint a little early but tried to hang on and focused on each little thing ahead of me instead of the finish. I just told myself “Ok get to the bench.” and then I would pick the next thing that was like 20 feet away, “Just get to that patch of dirt.” “Just get to the manhole.” and that was how I got to the finish line. In a time of 1:20:49. Yeah, you read that right. I ran an 8:05 pace for 10 miles. I didn’t know I could do that!! I knew it was looking good for me when I got to the ninth mile at 1:12 and change and I thought then, oh my god, I am so going to go faster than 1:25 (which was my goal). Yahoo!!!