With my summer race schedule becoming filled up quickly with ultra's, I didn't know when I could fit in a fast road marathon (and hopefully PR and qualify for Boston) until late last week when I found what seemed to be the perfect solution: The Colfax Marathon in Denver. It is relatively flat (700ft vertical gain), it was only 3 days away (5/17) and I have had a couple of restful weeks since my last race, so why not?! Everything seemed perfect...
...and then Saturday arrived. I woke up with a nasty sore throat that ended up being the precursor to a head and chest cold I would be fighting for the next 5 days. Super!
Race morning arrived and I wanted nothing more than to stay in bed and feel sorry for myself, but I was already committed and had some friends who were going to be at the race so I dragged my butt to the race start and filed into the starting grid at the 8:00 minute pace area (I was NOT feeling optimistic at that point) just before the gun went off.
I felt good for the first 3 miles, but by the time miles 4-6 came rolling around I was suffering (and from experience this is a bad sign in a 26 mile race). My nose wouldn't stop running, it hurt to swallow, and I couldn't stop coughing. Just before the 10k mark I was passed my a handful of runners and this just added to my low mental state. And then something amazing happened! Almost every runner within my sight went veering off the course and just then it dawned on me: Most of the runners on the course were doing the marathon relay and not the full thing! Once the dust had cleared from this first exchange point I realized that I was actually among the leaders at the front of the marathon pack. Talk about the mental and emotional boost I needed! Now instead of feeling sorry for myself I was getting more and more energized every time I passed another runner (especially when it was a relay runner with fresh legs).
At this point I adopted a new motto: If I am sick and this is going to hurt, why not go hard and have it hurt for a shorter period of time?! I might even place in the top 25!
At the halfway point I was in 15th place and besides the cold symptoms, the rest of my body still felt strong and we had a few miles of gradual downhill to enjoy. By mile 17 I started to feel some tightness in both calves but I was still keeping about a 6:50 pace! Between 18 and 20 I started to feel the fatigue but two things kept me going. 1) I heard some people screaming my name and I soon saw that it was my good friends Grant and Katie Willemarck causing the comotion! I don't think I have ever felt such a boost from hearing cheers. At this point I remembered that I wasn't in this thing alone and didn't want to disappoint my friends or myself by giving in to the pain. 2) I was only 10k away from the finish and I was only at 2:20. This meant as long as I kept putting one foot in front of the other, I would be Boston bound! No amount of pain was going to stop me!
With three miles to go I new that I would finish sub 3:10 so the rest of the race felt like a hard earned victory lap. All the disappointment of missing the qualifying time yet again was gone and I had the goosebumps to prove it! Finishing was surreal; it felt like everything was happening in slow motion. I have never enjoyed being sick so much!! After almost 2 years and 8 marathons I am finally going to Boston!
RESULTS: 3:05.32, 11th Overall, New PR
(I won't dwell on it too much since it has been resolved, but until Wednesday the correct results weren't posted and I was not even shown as having finished. I was livid. Here I had pushed myself sooo hard and accomplished something so memorable and I wasn't going to be able to run the Boston Marathon because of a faulty timing chip?! Needless to say there were a couple of sleepless nights while this issue was getting resolved!)