Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Running The Broncos 7K: Hot, Sweaty, Tiring Fun!


On Sunday morning my coworker Kim and I woke up early to run a race. I had been training for this race since the end of the last school year, and knew this race would help me kickstart my half marathon training, which officially begins at the end of the month.

"Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)," Shakira featuring Freshlyground

As I'd been told in the many running advice blogs I'd read, I kept everything similar to a normal run: I wore the same wardrobe I'd been wearing when I was training, I kept my waterbottle with me like I usually did, and I didn't time myself as I ran. Those pieces of advice really helped, because I ended up running a great race!

We arrived at Sports Authority Field at Mile High around 7:20 a.m. There was quite a lot of traffic trying to squeeze into one entrance, which wasn't fun. But there was ample parking once we got into the lot.

"Mon Petite Chou-Chou," Philmore

We tried to find a porta-potty to use before the race started, but even though they were all over the parking lot, only a select few were unlocked! The others had padlocks on them, which prevented the thousands of people racing to use them. That was frustrating - but fortunately that was probably the only frustrating thing about the race.

We were assigned corrals based on the pace we'd put in our registration. Kim and I had both put down a pace between 11 and 12 minutes, so we were assigned to corral G. There were many corrals behind us, which meant people with strollers, as well as walkers (no, not those walkers, Dad!) were relegated to the back. This helped me at the start of the race, since I remember the hardest part of previous races was maneuvering between the walkers and strollers.

"A Model Day at the Magic Kingdom (AKA Good Morning Cleveland)," Daniel Holter & Matt Smith

After we found our corral, we slowly were ushered up to the starting line. We had chip timers attached to our bibs, which started as soon as we crossed the timer indicator. They released 2 corrals every 5 minutes or so, which spread out the amount of people and made it much easier to start the race!

Kim and I both played music - I on my iPhone and her on her iPod shuffle. We kept the music low so we could still talk to each other. I'm not sure about her, but I was glad to have the music in my ears, keeping me going. Especially later...but I'll come back to that.

"Ways to Go," Grouplove

I also experimented with using SnapChat to send videos back to my family during the race so they could keep up with me. I hope they didn't get sick of it. I want to do the same thing in Disneyland...there will be far more to show off at those races for sure!

Mile 1 was uphill. I was thankful for that, because it meant that the rest of the race would be mostly downhill. I started at a pretty easy pace, and the fact that I was passing person after person who were walking made me positive that I was doing well.

"Call Me Maybe," Carly Rae Jepsen

Kim and I ran together, and we ended up using a few techniques my father taught me in our walks to Michigan Stadium for football games, like the split-around-the-slow-person, the point-to-the-right-or-left-and-go-around-the-slow-person, or the single-file-formation-to-go-around-the-slow-person. There were lots of people in front of us that were doing a runwalk or had gone out too fast and were now walking for quite a ways. I was determined not to be one of those people.

Kim and I also had fun spotting a pretty odd piece of clothing some people were wearing. They were Broncos leggings - navy with a huge splotch of orange and the word "BRONCOS" on the rear. We actually saw five people wearing those leggings. We both decided that those were a little too bold for us!

"I Wanna Get Better," Bleachers

The entire first mile was run on 23rd Street, taking us from the stadium to Sloan's Lake - a great lake with a very nice trail. Mile 2 was almost entirely spent on the Sloan's Lake path. I enjoyed the route around the lake, but didn't enjoy how narrow the trail was. This meant I had to slow down and speed up even more around slow runners and walkers, and occasionally run in the grass.

"The Forest Battle (from Return of the Jedi)," John Williams

I had been to Sloan's Lake for the Dragon Boat Festival a few weeks earlier, but that only took up a small section of the park and lake. I was surprised to see how much bigger the lake and the trail were once all the festival stuff was gone and the trail was fully utilized!

"Shut Up and Dance," Walk the Moon

Along the trail there would be small signs saying how many kilometers we'd run - this was a 7K, after all. But the cool thing was that they converted the kilometers to yards (I know, I know, going between metric and American measurements is awful, blah blah blah), and told you a Did You Know fact with that number.

"The City," Madeon

For example, when we reached 5 kilometers, they converted that to 5477 yards, which just so happened to be the single season passing record, set by Peyton Manning in 2013 with the Broncos. There were five or six of these, and I enjoyed them!

Mile 3 was the completion of the lake route and the return to the streets of Denver - 17th Street, to be exact. This was blacktop, and by this time (around 9:15 a.m.) the sun was up pretty high in the sky and it made for some warm conditions. There were only two water stops for the whole race, and I was thankful I had brought my trusty waterbottle along for frequent hydration.

"And We Danced," The Hooters

Kim needed a few more walking breaks than I did, but it turned out that I could still do a light jog and she could still keep up with me! I think if I had just walked, I might not have started up again.

"Galvanize (from the London 2012 Olympics)," The Chemical Brothers

Mile 4 was hard, but off in the distance you could see Sports Authority Field. That really kept me going. What also kept me going was my music - if you've been reading, you've noticed song titles and artists listed in bold throughout the article. I do this every time I post a race article - it's my playlist from the race! And at this point in the race, the soundtrack for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics kicked in - the music that played as the athletes entered the arena. And it was absolutely perfect for this part of the run.

"Minneapolis (from the London 2012 Olympics)," Underworld

Kim had been telling me it was okay to keep running even when she had to walk, and I'd told her I would do so when the stadium was in view. And at one point, she fell behind me and I just kept on going. I was going to finish strong.

Right when I was getting to the parking entrance for the stadium, the remixed song

"Where the Streets Have No Name (from the London 2012 Olympics),"  U2 

came on, and it couldn't have come on at a better time. Suddenly I was flying down the hill, knowing that I was almost done and I had energy to spare. We ran around the quarter of the stadium before finally entering a tunnel at field level, and I was tired but ready to finish on a high note.

I tend to do well with competition, and I was running side-by-side with another lady about my age. But when we got to the tunnel and I could see the FINISH line at the 50-yard line, I sprinted and left her in the dust. It was a great way to end the race!

"For Years (from the London 2012 Olympics)," High Contrast

Kim had caught up to me, and she finished right behind me! That was great because we could be in the stadium together (they shuttled us out pretty fast after we finished), and didn't have to search for each other. We received a water bottle and medal outside the stadium, and they had a large area fenced off for people to rest, get their canvas bags with food, and use their free beer token. (We did not get beer.)

I was ecstatic to get a running medal - I had never received one before! I immediately put it on and wore it the rest of the time at the stadium.

We stretched and ate fruit snacks in the grass and listened to a live cover band they had on a stage, and then changed out of our gross shoes and headed into the stadium concourse for their inaugural Health and Wellness Expo. It was crowded, but it did give us a chance to explore the stadium, and to get out onto the field!

I felt really good about this day, and my results make me optimistic for my future training I have to do for the Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon. I'm especially excited that the temperature will be cooling off, and I can do fewer early morning runs and more afternoon jacket-weather runs. Before I know it, we'll be in January and I'll be pumped and ready to race again!

But this week? My feet are going to take a break. Until they start itching to go on another run, of course.

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