Sunday, May 03, 2009

Colorado Half Marathon

Saturday morning, the day before the Colorado Half, I was a cranky shit.
I whined about my kids sapping so much energy from us over something small like breakfast and told Jayden that "we didn't need that behavior from him" because he's, you know, he's almost a whopping 4 and therefore mature enough to act like a little gentleman 24 hours a day. Kate looked at me after all this and said, "You're cranky."
The real reason, of course, was I felt like crap, the weather was crap and I was wondering if my leg was going to hurt like crap, as it did all last week. And I had a half marathon to run the next day.
What else could go wrong, I thought to myself. 
Now, I realize I posted about a half marathon a couple weeks ago, and it was a great time, but there are races, and there are "A" races, and the Colorado Half was an A race. I ran well in the Horsetooth Half, but I held back a bit just for this race. I had, in a sense, been training for this since November.
So of course I had an injury that forced me to take the whole week off, the weather looked rainy and cold for the sixth weekend in a row (not kidding) and Thursday my nose started to run, thanks to the petri dishes that reside in my abode. 
One thing I've learned to accept after the birth of the twins is that I can't always be in control of my life. It was a tough lesson, but I have accepted it for the most part. Still, I was angry, I admit, that six months of hard training could almost be ruined because of some stupid weather, a stupid cold and a stupid calf strain. I mean, I ran through blizzards occasionally. Doesn't that count for some kind of karma?
Apparently it does.
When I started driving to the race, about 35 minutes away, I was shocked to see broken clouds and then black sky and finally starts. It reminded me of a time I drove eight hours to climb a 14er and wound up sleeping in my car instead of camping the night before because a gnarly thunderstorm that was so fierce it rattled my windows went on for HOURS. By the time I finally fell asleep, at 10:30 p.m., the storm was still pounding away, and I figured the eight-hour drive was a waste of time. I woke up at 3:45 a.m. to pee, and as I got out of the car, the sky was full of a billion stars, and the moon shone silver light across the landscape. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.
So I looked up at the sky Sunday morning, and in a moment of pure giddiness, shouted, "YES!" I could have ran in the rain, sure, but folks, half marathons are hard enough, at least for me, and I don't need to battle the elements just to prove something.
Also, when I woke up, it's almost as if my body and the cold worked out a deal. The body would continue to let it ravage me, but only if it took a couple hours off that morning. I felt much, much better than I should have, in other words.
Finally, the calf injury, which sounds insignificant but was so painful right after the Horsetooth Half Marathon that I could barely walk, was gone, and I felt really great. Not only was the calf fine, but all those aches and pains you gather over a half year of training were gone too. Note to self: Taking a week completely off before a hard race is probably a good idea.
When the race started, down the Poudre Canyon, I started banging it, determined to take advantage of the first six miles downhill, and I was a little stunned to see that I could keep running at a 7:40-per-mile clip mile after mile. In fact, many times I had to slow myself DOWN, knowing that I had 13 to complete.
By the time the race was near its end, I knew I was going to PR, meaning I was going to break my best-ever time set last fall, 1:46:45. That is, if I could just hold my pace.
I have climbed more than 175 peaks, but I don't really know if there's anything harder for me than finishing those last two miles of a half marathon. You're just exhausted, yet you have to keep running hard and, essentially, punishing your body when it's begging you for a rest. I tried to focus on my music - I even put "Rocky" at the very end - but that only does so much. 
But I also knew I was going to set a personal record, that the training was going to pay off and that, despite all the adversity, I was going to be proud of my time not just minutes but days later. 
There are few feelings in the world better than that one.
Edit: Stats from the race. I ran 1:45:33. The pace was 8:02-per-mile. I finished 15th in my age group, 103/391 males and 157/1,276 overall. 


Memphis MOJO said...

Congrats, nice job and nice write-up.

The Wife said...


BadBlood said...

Nice work Dan. Amazing how our mind doesn't want us to stop training even when our body tells us to.

KenP said...

Do those stats say the distaff side had your guy ratio beat by 4:1 and 54 of them finished ahead of you?

Well, you play poker better than a girl...we hope. (The female V.P. that posted ahead of me excepted.)


P.S. Big Congrats and that is the for real part!

pokerpeaker said...

Ken, if I worried about the girls that beat me in that race, I'd be a sad man. Girls beat me all the time in running, including many of my friends. Some, in fact, don't just beat me, they crush me. I don't think it hurts my manhood to accept that. Not too much. :)

Mike G said...

A 1:45 is a very solid time for a a half marathon. You should feel good about that race.

To answer a question you pose, something that is much harder than the last 2 miles of a half marathon would be the last 6 miles of a full marathon. A very tough 6 miles.