survival of the fittest (or not so fit, in my case)

I made it - all 3.1 miles. I left the house on Sunday morning just a little later I normally get going for work.  Early Sunday mornings are not meant to be out in, and apparently everyone else knows this but me.  I went almost a mile on a five-lane interstate without seeing another car.

It was a nice morning anyway, and I picked up Tyler to head downtown.  We didn’t really do any specific training, and for some reason, we both decided Chinese food with fried rice and orange chicken would make a good day before the race meal.

For two people who successfully managed to graduate from college, we really aren’t too smart.

We found a parking spot on the street (hooray for free parking on Sundays) and walked a few blocks to the check-in location.  Around 3500 people were milling around by the time the whole thing kicked off, so it was pretty hard to miss.

When lining up, they just asked people to place themselves in the appropriate order based on minute-per-mile pace.  There were 5 to 7 minute, 7 to 9 minute, and 9 to 11 minute sections marked by signs.  Tyler and I located ourselves somewhere in the middle of the 7 to 9 minute area and watched everything in front of us slowly fill in with everything from people wearing racing singlets to families of 4 with children under 10 and both parents wearing backpacks.  The pacing was really more of a recommendation at that point.

Someone counted down to the start over the loudspeakers system and the whole crowd took a step forward as one giant mass.  And then we all stopped and waited for everyone in front of us to start moving.  The first half mile was spent picking through and around the previously mentioned families and people who thought short bursts of sprinting followed by suddenly slowing to a walk was the best strategy for moving through a crowd.

Around ¾ of a mile in, I finally was able to settle into a consistent pace without dealing with too many people around me, which also happened to be the time that my stomach realized 1)We are running at a decent speed really early in the morning and 2)Hey, didn’t you eat Chinese yesterday?  What do you think you’re doing?

Carbs are supposed to be good to eat the day before physical activity.  Rice fried in oil doesn’t count.

I finished the race, and other than being a little on the tired side, both from the time of day and the fact that I haven’t been running enough to make that distance easy, I didn’t feel awful.  I finished in a little over 26 minutes.  That was slower than I would have liked, but I still finished in top quarter of everyone who wore a timing chip.

I have mentally blocked out the fact that many of those people wearing timing chips were under the age of 13 or running with children who were that young.

Since the race was put on to benefit local schools, there were a lot of parents running with their kids.  The ones that were around the same pace as me and ended up running around me for a good portion of the race were decent runners.  I could tell that many of the parents were into running themselves.  I could also tell that competition brings out different sides of everyone.

I listened to one mother explain to her daughter around the 2 and a quarter mile point that to finish, they were going to pick out someone who looked like they were struggling, slowly try to catch them, and then beat them in a sprint over the last hundred yards.  I was relatively sure she was talking about me until I saw someone running around 50 yards in front of us that also looked like he was dealing with too much fried rice from the night before.

I also had the pleasure of hearing a man berate his son who had stopped to walk.  As I ran past them, I heard the dad say “We’ve been training for this – what’s wrong?!”  His son replied that this was faster than they had run in their training.  In a tone that bordered disappointment and anger, the dad said “That’s what adrenaline is supposed to be for.”  I hope that I am never this type of person.

Some parents handle the stress of racing with their kids quite well.  I saw one small boy near tears as he threw up on the side of the road.  (Maybe he had fried rice as well.)  His dad consoled him, told him everything was going to be ok, and asked if his son wanted him to run back to the last refreshment station about an eighth mile behind us to get him something to drink and wash his mouth out with.

The top place finisher was over 10 minutes in front of me.  I was beat by over 8 minutes by a 14 year old girl.

The Denver Marathon/Half Marathon is about 5 months away.  I just might be crazy enough to think about it.  I wouldn’t recommend Chinese as the pre-race meal.