Here's what I was thinking as we pulled into the dark parking lot in the small mountain town of Idaho Springs, CO (elev. 7,500 ft.) at 5:15 a.m. on Saturday: really, whose idea was this anyway and why does anyone agree to it? Getting up at pre crack-ass dawn, freezing your butt off, waiting around to run a long f'n way, and paying to do it. How did these race organizers get so many people on board for this nonsense? Why am I on board for this nonsense? Someone should be paying me. But I think that's called sponsorship and I'm a long way off from that. Like not-in-this-lifetime off from that. I thought: the shirt at the end better be pretty awesome (which by the way it wasn't - a cotton tee with a picture that I think my eight year old drew of a gold miner with a pick axe and a mountain goat in the background - I might donate it to the local pre-school to use as a smock).
Being a point to point course, there were school buses to take the 2,700 runners up the hill (mountain) to Georgetown (elev. 8,500 ft.). At least they weren't short buses and they had heat. The seats, however, were not heated (what's wrong with these school districts) and my little ass froze the second it hit the seat. No, I wasn't naked, just in shorts that rode up a bit. We got dropped on a dirt road in Georgetown. I thought about hiding in the back of the bus and taking another round trip just so I wouldn't have to hang out in the dark and the cold. Then I heard the bus driver say she was going home to have donuts and to go back to bed (why do non-runners like to say shit like that: "Oh have fun running 95 miles, I'm just going to grab a smoke, some Jim Beam and lay in the hammock touching myself while you do that). I didn't really want to go back to her house with her, so I begrudgingly left the comfort of the bus.
I saw those porta potties lined up and thought they might be an option for warmth. Hmmm...which is worse, near frostbite or the smell of many runner's pre-race crap? After waiting in line behind two chatty women for awhile, they let me know that they weren't in line. I'm all who hangs out by the porta potties shooting the shit and doesn't tell someone who stands behind them obviously waiting to get into a porta potty that they aren't in line. But I digress. Finally this dude emerges from the P.P. and I know he's gone number two because he's been in there forever. The only saving grace was the seat was so warm from his ass and it felt good compared to the bus seat.
Okay at this rate I'll be writing this story deep into the night, so let me speed up. We wait...blah blah blah...and wait...choosing to stand with hundreds of other people inside this little open air shelter thing. I sat crouched on the floor with my knees buckled up inside my shirt (you know how you used to do when you were little and wanted to look like you had big boobs). The dude next to me was actually shivering, teeth chattering and all. I felt sorry for him and almost offered to blow warm air all over him or to warm up the porta potty seat, but I'm just not that selfless.
Finally - it's 8:00 a.m. and we're lining up with a mass of people. Ken and I are strategizing how to stay together but we know we won't so we both have our ear buds ready to go. I see some guy I recognize and realize he is someone I have just done an adoption home study on (in my other life I am a social worker who writes home studies on people who want to adopt and do foster care through social services). Then I see he is with his partner who has a newborn in a front pack and I realize that they have adopted a baby and this makes me really jazzed because I have been sorta instrumental in helping to create this new family...see I do have a sweet, serious side.
And we're off. We did a two mile loop around Georgetown, then started heading down. The best moment of the morning was as we started running into the sun and I was finally warm. Miles go by and there is downhill, uphill, downhill, uphill more downhill. My Garmin is staying I'm flying by with sub-eight minute miles. I am psyched because I'm thinking I'm going to beat my PR of 1:52. My music is loud, the sun is shining, there's Powerade and I'm feeling strong. I think there's a point in everyone's race where you think, "Damn I'm good. I feel so good. I could do an ultra marathon no problem. In the desert with no water. On the treadmill watching only Love Boat re-runs. Man, I'm going to win this thing." (okay, not really, but you know how you get to feeling so good you feel invincible)...
And then came mile eight. I don't know what happened. I ran out of steam. I lost momentum. I forced down a vanilla power bar gel with water and felt an almost immediate surge. I pushed on. My right toe started burning and I thought there must be a blister. I pushed on. My toe was killing me. That blister must be something else. Now my ass hurts and my hamstrings too. Seriously I'm ready to be done.
I crossed the finish line in 1:47. 17th out of 174 in my age group. Who says 42 year old moms who find homes for defenseless babies and who have small boobs and toilet problems are slow? And by the way, my Garmin said it was 13.2 miles. I'm just saying.
Mile 1: 8:22
Mile 2: 8:18
Mile 3: 7:58
Mile 4: 7:54
Mile 5: 8:23
Mile 6: 7:46
Mile 7: 7:56
Mile 8: 8:02
Mile 9: 8:24
Mile 10: 8:17
Mile 11: 8:02
Mile 12: 8:08
Mile 13: 8:24
Then we were done, and I found Ken (who is such a stud) and we ate yogurt and fruit and bagels. On the way home we had to make a pit stop at Ken's office in Boulder to launch a couple of steamers, if you know what I mean. I feel sorry for the cleaning people who were coming on Monday. They probably wondered what the heck had gone on over the weekend and if the bathrooms were invaded by some frat boys or something.
That sticker on the left says "Shut Up and Run," by the way. My daughter thinks it's cool I invented that and have my own bumper stickers, shirts, etc. I don't have the heart to tell her I just am a big copy cat.
We did some camping these past couple days. Guess what I'm doing here? Hint: not pretending to be a hunter hiding in the weeds. I LOVE this picture. Thanks Ken for catching me in the moment.
And here is proof that I don't live and breathe running only. I had an AWESOME 20 miler on the Peak to Peak Highway:
Oh, and I know you're wondering about the toe (or did you already forget about it?) Well, the toe hurts like a mother. All of that jamming on my big toe toenail and left it black and blue and swollen. The price you pay above the price you already paid to run these races!