It was a GORGEOUS day in Denver and no better way to pay tribute than to run my favorite "fun" race of the year: The Runnin' of the Green Lucky 7K. I love this race for the sheer fun-ness and GREEN-ness of it. I love everything Irish.
At the starting area was a melee of green attire clad costumed folks, no one was doing the usual nervous warm-up hop, scrambling for a place to pee, or checking a sports watch obsessively. People were laughing, comparing costumes, and seeing who was more green. It felt less like a race and more like a family reunion--with all the crazy relatives present. In what turned out to most likely my fault, we got to the race very late today and ended up parking about 3/4 of a mile from the start. I knew the mammoth entrants of this race was high (it had to be well over 7000) and that parking can be a major issue but I didn't have any idea we'd be so short on time by leaving an hour and 15 minutes beforehand. I still had to register Ryan and Brendan, who were uncommitted to running this race until last night, and I needed to use the mile-long port-a-potty. I regrettably did not bring all the stuff I needed for the race with me with me when we left the car to registered the boys so with 15 minutes until start, I gave the boys stick instructions on where to meet me after (this was giving me such anxiety, I can't even tell you. What if I missed one? How would they EVER find me in this crowd? Would they know to ask someone for a cell phone to call their dad?), and off I ran back to the car to unload and pick up. I really had to pick up the pace on the way back to the start, there were literally no runners on the streets around me, and as I got closer to the start, I heard the announcer call the 1-minute to start warning. I thought I was late for the St. George marathon with about 4 minutes to the gun....by the time I crawled under the yellow tape to hold out runners from spectators, I had about 15 second. THAT is cutting it close. And I was exhausted! I managed to position myself up near the front of the pack but it didn't matter, there were hoards of people filtering in from everywhere and it was literally taking minutes to "run." As I made the first turn, about 300 meters after the start, I realized that I have not hit the right button on my watch and started it...and not only that, I didn't even have it ready to "hit." So I dinked around with my watch some and by the time I got it going, I decided today was not a day to RACE; today was a day to run hard but my legs were not fresh, I was out of breath before I even started, and there way too many people to get uptight about a great race time. I decided I'd just use the race as type of tempo type run and try to run about 8-minute miles, a comfortable yet somewhat challenging pace, and just absorb those around me. The course is very hilly and after Friday's run, my legs just didn't want to run up them hills strong and after hill number two, I was grateful that I had this quick change of let's-not-race-it-heart. I saw Brendan when I was just past mile 3 and he had not quite hit mile 2 and at about 3.5 miles, my neighbor Jim came up behind me and easily passed. I smiled, I was happy he was running well and I was not in the least bit upset with my obviously slower than his performance. The official finish line clock had me at a 33:22 ... which I was shocked because this pace still had me about a 1:20 faster than last year and around a 7:40 pace. I couldn't believe it. But I'll gladly take it!
The masses after the race were just unbelievable and yet somehow I saw a guy, Jay, from the prostate running group and I went and talked to him for a bit. Dennis managed to find us, too, but by now the crowds were swarming and I was getting nervous about meeting the boys; I knew Ryan was going to really have problems if I didn't find him. I went back to the finish area and after about 10 minutes of frantically searching, I found Ryan trying to exit with the swarms off to the side of the exit gate. Thank God!! I got him and we eventually found Brendan in the designated meeting spot (one I was certain Ryan would never find but confident Brendan would). Ryan finished in around 43:00 and Brendan in 49:00. I am super proud!!! That course was definitely challenging and both of the boys are not what you call in 7k running condition.
Miraculously, I found my friend Jim and a group of other runners and we converged over near the beer tent (how convenient). Jim's wife, Jane, and daughter, Katie, came down and we all enjoyed a few beers (aside from Katie who is only 12 :) ) and soon, I look over and I see John and Abbey; he had brought her down unbeknown to me. A few more beers and over to lunch at Wahoos (and a margarita....and by now, I'm so tired I want to go to bed!) - I had a really great time!! Lots of laughs with great friends and no disappointment in my mid-race decision to "enjoy" the race; a perfect day!
I shared my adventure today with a dear Iowan friend who told me: Sounds like you had fun today! Isn't it great to sometimes go with the flow and not let 'have to's' to be in control? Life can be so much more enjoyable.......... Yes, I must agree. Some races are run to have a good time, not a faster time. Not all, but some.
I admit I can have such pre-race nerves where my stomach hurts so much I can't even eat anything solid for days before (the nervousness is exponentially increased according to the number of miles run, most times). I vow to call a truce between my warring internal parties of needing to perform at every race and let my hair down more often. Remind me that I need to go on more adventures.
6 miles run (4.35 race; another 1.65 pre-race "warm-up" :) )
Below are pic from the day:
Brendan, Michelle's sister-in-law, Michelle, me, Ryan
Me, Ryan and Brendan
Me and Jim having a post-celebratory Irish beer!
Abbey and me
My green hair-do