Yes, I know I am nuts for running two marathons within two weeks, but I’ve got 50 states to cover and the Colfax Marathon in Denver, Colorado was a great opportunity that just couldn’t be passed up. My dad approached me some time last year about running for his ex-seminarian charity group called Team Joy & Hope. It’s a group of his brothers (or ex-brothers I should say) who were once in the seminary together when they lived in Vietnam and now they raise money to help the poor and sick in local communities, as well as in Vietnam. Of course I would run for this great cause! Team Joy & Hope consisted of me from Georgia, my aunt from Tennessee, and a Denver local who ran the marathon, as well as a married couple and their brother from Kentucky who ran the half. We spent a weekend getting to know one another and spent most of the time feeding our faces with ALL THE VIETNAMESE FOOD, which I don’t get much of anymore ever since my mom passed, so I was relishing in all of its yumminess.
Since I ran the Eugene Marathon two weeks before, my intention going into this race was to have fun and enjoy this 26.2-mile jaunt around the city. No pressure, no nervous pre-race jitters, right? Who am I kidding? I felt the pressure and had all kinds of pre-race jitters which weren’t caused by time or pace. It was the thinness of the air and running in these unknown conditions. Also - Where was I going to park in the morning? Why didn’t I pack enough for different race temps? Was I going to conk out way early? The games your mind plays. Sheesh!
We went to the race expo on Saturday at the Sports Authority at Mile High Stadium - home of the Super Bowl champs, the Denver Broncos. The expo was great with lots of samples and awesome sales! I snagged a pretty groovy tee from Denver’s local running store, Runner’s Roost, as well as some arm warmers and gloves (I never learn my lesson of packing for all weather conditions). I checked the weather (which happened to change daily) and now the start of the race was going to be in the low 40s (but would feel like the high 30s) and it was going to be cloudy in the high 50s when the race was done. My long-sleeve throwaway that I thankfully packed was going to be part of my running gear for a couple of miles. Since I’m one of the Ambassadors representing the Southeast, I made sure to stop by the Skirt Sports booth to say hello to the volunteers and made sure we took a group pic! I was bummed that I wasn’t staying longer since Monday would be the grand opening of their first retail store in Boulder. While at the expo, I caught a glimpse of some of the marathon course since I knew we’d be running through the stadium. Painted on the stadium wall is a saying that goes, “As the air gets thinner, Denver’s hearts get thicker” or something like that. It was just another reminder that I CAN’T BREATHE! Hahaha! This was going to be an interesting marathon for sure!
This was the first race where I was accompanied by my dad. He’s a proud one. He loves to boast about all his children’s accomplishments and then some. I know he’s proud of me running all these marathons. Seeing me raise money and run on behalf of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and just recently the Ronald McDonald House Charities, it was his idea to lead the charge for the Team Joy & Hope initiative. I overheard someone say that my dad raised $7,000. Way to go dad! This was going to be the first time I’d have family cheering me on at the finish line - besides my husband. And this would be the first time my dad would experience me running through the finish line (which he jumped into the corral at the last couple of meters to help me run in strong). It was quite an experience!
On race morning, my aunt and I scored a sweet parking spot close to the Start/Finish line. It was freezing! The marathon and half marathon start were at different times. As we got into our corrals, I started my Garmin 235 and the freaking low battery alert popped up. Really?! I assumed it was fully charged so didn’t bother to put it on the charger the night before (lesson learned). Oh well, I wasn’t planning on racing this marathon so this wasn’t going to be an issue. However, I hated every bit of it. I kept thinking I was a mile ahead every time and at mile 24, when you think you’re about to hit mile 25, it BLOWS!! Hahaha! Even with that said, it felt great not worrying about time and pace. I was just cruising along and enjoying the sights. I will say I didn’t particularly care for the 10-milers and marathon relay runners running full speed past me at certain parts of the race. “How are these people flying past me so fast? Oh wait, they’re not running a marathon. Calm down!” Once again, head games. I also managed to get some air jumping for one of the photographers inside the stadium at around mile 20. I regretted it afterwards because I spent so much energy doing it and should’ve conserved it for the last stretch of the race - especially at mile 23 where there’s a brutal hill/incline!
Colfax Marathon is on the list of best marathons to run according to Runner’s World. It really is an awesome course - although I’d like to say it’s not a fast and flat course as advertised. I know this - I live in Savannah, where it’s truly flat! It’s a gorgeous course especially running down Colfax Boulevard with all the beautiful art and graffiti on the walls. We also ran past an amusement park, alongside a river and stream, really quaint neighborhoods that reminded me of Savannah’s Ardsley Park area, and of course through the Broncos stadium (except the jumbotron was not working)! As I finally made my way to the finish chute, I heard my fellow teammates cheering me on and saw my dad jump into the corral to run me in. That was the best feeling ever! I made it! I ran the mile high city in 4:09:21 and survived!
Next up is marathon #10 in my 50 marathons in 50 states quest - Chicago Marathon !