A few days ago, I signed up for a 10K, Fans on the Field. This 10K snakes around Denver in and out of the three professional stadiums. I wasn't convinced it was a good idea as I have not successfully run a full 5K event. I can run on my own and have run up to about 7 miles on my training program for the half marathon; however, events always throw me off. It is for a good cause, National Sports Center for the Disabled, and I am always happy to help out organizations like this.
My friend Kristin was running it (her fourth time doing it) and said that she really liked the event PLUS if things were too bad, I could switch to the 5K if I needed to do so. So, I decided to challenge myself and signed up and the race was today. AND Tim said that he wanted to come to cheer me on. He has never mentioned coming to one of the events in the past and this meant so much to me.
Last night was an awful night of sleep. I kept waking up with various nightmares. The most frequent of the dreams was that they were shutting down the course before I reached the various checkpoints or that I wouldn't finish and disappoint Tim. I was up for hours throughout the night. With me being so restless, the whole family was as well (dogs and husband). It was not a good night. I woke up tired for the first time in a long time but I got up at 6:00 to get ready. I needed to leave by 6:30ish to meet Kristin to get to the run.
Tim also got up and got ready. He really was going to come and sit around for however long it took me to cheer for me at the end. This really meant a lot to me.
We met Kristin, got coffee and headed to Mile High (Broncos -- football), where the start line was. Getting out of the car, I dropped my coffee. Fortunately, I had drank a bit of it on the drive so I had enough to keep me going. Kristin and I walked over towards the event, leaving Tim behind as he was going to run some errands and then come back to see the end.
There were a LOT of people there. I hate crowds and, as we started to line up in the corals, I freaked out a bit. Thankfully Kristin was there and that calmed me down a bit. We also struck up a conversation with someone else from Wisconsin (I was wearing a "Somo Lake, Tomahawk, WI" tshirt). Before I knew it, we were off and headed around the stadium.
I did pretty good maintaining a pace that I felt I could manage as going out too quickly has always been an issue with me in a 5K. The first loop took us around the outside of Mile High. It was on an incline but not too bad. We then started down the streets towards the Pepsi Center (Nuggets -- basketball). Plenty of people passed me during this portion but I passed a few people too.
I had my Garmin with me and I kept thinking, if I could make it 3.1 miles, I will have run a 5K. I just kept running. We went into the Pepsi Center, high fiving the Rocky the Nuggets mascot on the way in. There were a couple of basketball players there, encouraging us as we ran through. At least, I think they were basketball players as they towered over the crowd. My Garmin went crazy as I lost satellite reception in there but whatever. It was okay as it really is only a crutch and I had a timing tag for the event.
At this point, I am still running and it has been over 2 miles. We get past the break off point for the 5K and if I want to do a 5K, I must turn left; turning right will continue the 10K. I turn right.
My pace is slow but I know I can sustain it so I keep going. Now we head towards Coors Field (Rockies -- baseball). It is over two miles through the streets of Denver before we get to the field. I am not sure if I am going to make it or not. I pace myself with some people that are doing a run/walk strategy. When they run, they pass me. When they walk, I pass them. It is working well.
At several of the streets, there are police directing traffic. I keep hoping that they will have traffic stopped for me so I can keep running. I am not sure if I will be able to start again if they stop me. Fortunately, I never get stopped for traffic. I loved how smoothly this all worked. Finally, I see Coors Field. We run into the stadium and turn around a cone at the home plate. There was a baseball player there as well as someone I assume was a coach. Dinger the Rockies mascot was there for photo ops. The coach (?) high fived me as I turned the corner and I kept running. I wasn't there for photo ops.
Out of Coors and four miles were done! Now it was just making my way back to Mile High. Again, back on the streets of Denver and heading towards a bike path for the final mile plus of the run. I have run on the bike path previously and I was anxious to get to it as it was a known path for me and I thought it might help. It also helped that I saw a lot of people still running into the baseball stadium as I was on my way out. I wasn't going to be last and course was NOT going to be shut down on me.
Right before the bike path was a hill. There were a couple of other hills and inclines on the course. I had managed them quite well. This one had me worried as I watched it come closer and closer...but I was still running. I started up the hill and passed a couple of people that were walking the 5K course. I kept running until the final few steps when I slowed my pace for a few steps. I then told myself to get going. I really wasn't sure if I was going to be able to get running again but I did. I made it up the hill and knew that there was only one more small incline right before the finish when we were making our way into Mile High.
Finally, on the bike path, one of my first 5K's was on this path so I knew what to expect. My Garmin chirped and I was done to 1.2 miles to go. I started to think that five miles would be respectable but then I thought about this:
I think my pace may have slowed a bit so that I could continue to run and it was okay. I ran past the Children's museum and Elitch's amusement park. I kept thinking about how proud I would be when I could say that I ran every step of the 10K. I kept thinking about how great it would be to tell those people that have supported me in my fitness quest that I had made it.
Since we ran by the six mile mark on our way around the football stadium, I knew where it was. I knew that I had to make to the six mile marker. I just kept running. I wasn't fast (in fact, I probably could have walked faster) but my feet were moving. I was still pacing with the same run/walk team. Finally, I made it over the bridge to Mile High and the six mile marker loomed ahead.
My brain started to tell me that there was no shame in running six miles and I could walk the remaining length into Mile High. WTF???? There was no way I was going to do that. I told my brain to shut up and let my legs just keep moving. As we entered the stadium, we were put on the jumbo tron. I saw myself up there, all sweaty and such (although most of the wetness was from the fact that I would pour water over my head after taking drink at each water stop). I looked up and saw Tim in the stadium with Kristin. I waved and they waved back.
This is where I got emotional and started to hyperventilate a bit. I knew I had to finish and it was only 50 yards or so to the finish line so wipe the tears and sweat from my eyes and ran. I forgot to turn off my Garmin when I finished and walked so I don't know how long that final split was but I felt like it was faster than most of my previous splits.
I walked through the stadium, picking up the race swag and meeting Tim and Kristin outside. It felt good. I cried when I saw Kristin and was able to say that I ran the whole
thing. I cried when I saw Tim and was able to say that I ran the whole
thing. I cried when I was able to text faraway friends that I had done it. I cried when I post to FaceBook that I ran every bit of the 10K.
I was so happy Tim was there. I hope he knows how much I appreciate the constant support he provides. He is truly my soul mate.
Getting home, my Garmin was a bit screwed up with the time in the stadium and such. Discounting those splits, my 1/4 splits ranged from a low of 3 minutes to a high of just over 4 minutes. Again, I knew I wouldn't be fast but I ran each step of this run (other than the three or four steps on the hill just before mile 5).
I guess I am becoming a runner!