With a 7:15 start time about 2 miles from my house, I did not have to get up super early for this race. My friend Tera was in town from Tulsa and had decided to run it on a whim with a two week training plan consisting of a 5, 7, and 10 mile run at Tulsa elevation (i.e. 700 ft as opposed to 5K ft). So I knew we were not going for any records here. By 6 am, we were gathering our things together and at 6:15, David got up to drive us to the start.
I was all bundled up in a hat, jacket and sweatpants, but it was surprisingly warm out. Once we got to the start, we decided to get our pink coloring out. When I had run a color run earlier this summer, I got some extra pink color at the race finish. I had no idea what to do with it until Tera and I were deciding on costumes. We were not feeling creative, so we decided to go with pink. Easy enough. We were wearing pink shirts and could color our hair/face/body pink.
Easy enough. We then had to look all over Civic Center Park to find the gear check and hurry back to the start line. The race was a little late starting, but we were not cold so it did not matter. And we were off. I had told Tera we should stick to 11 min miles to begin with because I did not want her to crash too early in the race. Our first mile was just under 10, but it was the first mile and we were having fun. Tera actually saw her one other friend who lives in Denver during the first mile. She called out to him and I was so confused: “how does she know someone here?” We laughed about that.
Then the bridges and the hills began. I knew there was a big steep hill around mile 3-4 and had warned her about it. What I had not realized was that the course split this big hill up several times, so we went up, then over, then up and over, etc. I think Tera kept thinking the hill was done and then there it was again. I felt bad for not realizing this. Luckily, we saw porta potties at one point and we both needed to pee. So we wasted a good 5 minutes in line, but it was worth it as we felt much better afterwords.
By mile 4 we were done with the major hills and we were entering my neighborhood. I looked for David and found him right where I expected him to be. I asked how our friends were doing, who I assumed were ahead of us after our long stop at the bathroom. He said everyone was doing great (two friends were running their first marathons) and that he would catch us on the other side of the lake.
We were running along Sloan’s Lake, where I run all the time. But now we were on the road (17th Ave) instead of the bike path. I never realized how slanted the road was. By the time we got to the end of 17th, Tera was struggling. I think the hills had been rough on her and she was complaining about her ankle. We pulled off to the side so she could stretch her ankle; the slanted road bothered it.
By the time we got around the lake we were near the halfway mark. Tera seemed to be doing better. I was feeding us orange Honey Stinger chews and we were feeling OK. Except that I had to pee again. What? I never have to stop in half marathons, but I guess taking it at an easy pace allowed me to drink more and feel my body more. I saw David and his friend Mark around mile 7 and I stopped this time to complain about my bladder. When I saw Mark and Tera introducing themselves and shaking hands, I remembered we had a race to run. We were off again. We ran up a little hill on Federal and went past North High School. We were done with the hills for real this time and came across an aid station with porta potties. Yes!
At this point, we were starting mile 8 which was downhill. We managed to drink a few Gatorades as we were in line. I told Tera we only had 5 miles to go and no more hills. We had a major downhill ahead of us and we could do it! We were so ready to run after our second break of the race. The downhill was nice and soon we were back downtown. We headed into the industrial part of town where there was no one cheering for us and maybe only one band between miles 9 and 12. The only thing of interest we passed was Coors Field:
Mentally, it was a little rough. Tera stopped to stretch her ankle again and I was counting down miles. Only 2 more to go!
By the time we hit mile 12, I was ready to push it, but Tera was struggling. I hung back with her even though she kept telling me to go. With about a half mile to go, I realized she was going to be fine and was not really in the mood to talk. So I ran ahead so I could grab a picture of her finishing. As I was in the finisher’s chute, I saw David again! I told him to check on Tera since I felt bad for leaving her. I finished and got my camera out to get her, but then I got pushed through the line. The photographer was not happy I was standing there and volunteers were leading me out. Boo! I just wanted to see my friend finish! She finally found me a few minutes later in the chute. She was feeling great, despite slowing a lot at the end. We had done it!
The chute at the end went on forever with lots of food/drink options. We grabbed a few handfuls and shoved them in my pack. Then we were off to find the gear check again. David was checking in on his friends at the 19 mile marker and was then biking home. We would take the bus and meet him at home. Unfortunately the bus took forever. We stopped at a stop for a good 5 minutes. Tera got up to stretch and made friends with the entire bus (they were all curious why we would want to run 13 miles for fun).
We got home and showered the pink out of us. That felt good and we waited for our friends to finish the marathon and be ready for food. Before long, we were headed to Hamburger Mary’s for a good burger and fries.
This was only Tera’s second half and the first one she ran on little training and at altitude. She rocked it with a 2:40 finish (I was 2 minutes ahead of her at 2:38). I really thought she was not going to make it at mile 5 and she proved me wrong! We were actually proud of ourselves for listening to our bodies and taking rest and stretch stops. That is the way to take a half marathon easy!