We arrived at the start with plenty of time to spare and immediately took advantage of the vacant port-a-potties at the drop off area. we hung out near the UPS trucks until it was time to hand our bags over to them so that they could transport them to the finish line. The final prep before getting into our corrals included lubing my toes with every blister prevention known to man and waiting in VERY long lines to use the port-a-potties.
With corrals starting every two minutes, it was a good half an hour before my group reached the starting line. During that time I must have adjusted my shoe laces at least 10 times (people around me surely thought that I had OCD) and started to remove the numerous layers that I had on to keep warm before the start. (One of the really nice things about these races it that all the clothing left at the start or on the course is giving to the homeless or other people in need).
My 13.1 mile journey started slowely as I continued to remind myself that this wasn't the usual 5k race that I was used to. At mile one I heard someone say to their friend "we have completed a mile" and thought to myself, "nothing like being reminded of the 12.1 miles I have to go!" ARGHH...
At the 1.5 mile mark I was looking for the port-a-potties but refused to wait in the lines. There was no way I was going to stop this soon into the race, to stand in a line knowing the time I was losing, only to have to face the long journey ahead. I am not one of those who is able to stop and get going again easily. Once I stop or start walking the battle to keep running gets harder and harder. While I had no set in stone goal for this race, I was hoping that I would be able to run the whole thing and no port-a-potty line was going to nix that hope at the 1.5 mile mark! As the miles went on and my search for an empty port-a-potty or some alley way to duck into continued, my focus changed from the need for a bathroom to the mission of run the whole race. Living in CO was a huge advantage for me. The course was flat and the altitude change made the cardio part of the race more then bearable. In fact, I never felt that I was struggling in that area and probably could have pushed it harder except for the fact that my quads had other ideas. At about mile nine, my legs were starting to have enough of this whole thing ad by mile 10 my quads were rebelling at very step. I knew that now it was just a matter of mind over matter. I told myself "you only have a 5k to go, you can do this!" At mile 11 I thought "ok, just keep running until you hit the 12 mile mark" and at the 12 mile mark I thought" there is NO way you are going to walk now with only 1.1 miles to go!" It was a battle of mind over matter but I did it. I ran the whole race! Now some people could watch the clip of me coming across the finish line and think "that isn't running" but I would say, "oh yes it was!" It wasn't pretty but it was running.
After crossing the finish line I remember thinking to myself " how am I going to ever do a Half Ironman" but allowed that thought to quickly escape until a later date. I received my medal, had my picture taken, and hobbled over to the UPS truck to pick up my bag with my change of clothes in it. After finally hitting the port-a-potty I continued to hobble over the designated meeting area. While I stood around awhile for fear of sitting and not being able to get back up, the idea of getting off my feet won over and down I went. Fortunately the others found me and I was able to stay where I was until we had to go. And yes, I did need to be helped to my feet. :)
The day was a huge success. Everyone finished and we were all very happy with our efforts.
Waiting at the airport the next day it was very obvious who had done the race the day before. People wincing when trying to sit or stand or walking with a limp or very gingerly were very common. I felt right at home :)
Since the race, I have had some lingering blisters and muscle soreness that has kept me from doing to much running. I was able to finally start running again yesterday and it felt good to be back out there. I don't enjoy running but I actually missed the high and feeling of accomplishment, of having sucked it up and getting the miles in. I truly never thought I would take on a challenge like this and then actually complete it. Just goes to show you that if you Dare to Dream, sometimes those dreams come true.