Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Colorado Marathon Spectating

Colorado Marathon
13.1 or 26.2 Miles -- not run by me!

'Twas a beautiful Sunday morning, with perfect running weather for a marathon. Perhaps, even better, for spectating!

The previous day, I dragged myself up and down Crosier Mountain, thrice, and the previous weekend, I dragged myself 50 miles through the hills near Buena Vista, so it was nice to take a day and watch other people run.

My top runner of interest was my wife, Jessica, who was running the half, along with her friends Tammy and Jenna. Besides the ladies, I knew several other folks running the half and full marathons, so I was hoping to catch a glimpse of them as well.

The best way to spectate a marathon is by bike. I learned this a few years ago when bike-spectating with my friend Jeff, watching his girlfriend running the San Diego marathon, where at one point we sat down in a median with some greasy Mexican food in styrofoam boxes -- good times! Anyway, a bike gives you easy and close access to the runners and various parts of the course, otherwise closed to cars, while also allowing you to carry supplies (your own or picked up from runners) and plentiful supplies of coffee.

So Jonathan and I headed out from Old Town around 6:40AM, making our way up to Ted's Place. I brought my free (as in, found it roadside) steel rigid mountain bike so I could lock it up for a few hours and not worry about it, which slowed us down a bit but ended up giving a good workout heading up 287. On our way up, we saw some of the lead half marathoner's across the way, so I rang my New Belgium bike bell and shouted like a madman, breaking the otherwise desolate silence of that section of course. I was pleasantly surprised to see friend John Mick making great time in his bright-yellow Boston shirt, as promised, and knew he was well on his way to a 1/2 PR.

Soon we were at Ted's Place: mile 4:17 for the 1/2:full course. We had a great vantage point of runners coming out of the canyon, and we were early enough to cheer on plenty of runners. It's been too long -- over a year, I guess -- since doing a road marathon, and I do miss that aspect of energy from people cheering, but it's fun to be on the other side of it as well. I wasn't sure if the marathon started at 6:00 or 6:15, but it turned out it did start early, as we were able to see the leaders coming through as well.

Shortly after, the ladies came through, looking strong but working hard, and threw their jackets and gloves at us, as it was plenty warm enough already. We were able to ride up along 287 a bit to snap some photos, and did some rolling cheers along the way. Then, we took off along 287 as they curved up Bagel Hill.

We then headed for our next planned spot: the Poudre Trail intersection with Taft. We were plenty early, so I regret not stopping at Vern's first for a cinammon roll, but c'est la vie. I locked my bike up and watched runners roll through, when all of the sudden I recognized Pete Stevenson with his trademark arm warmers! As I got in position for a picture, I saw Nick Clark shouted out as well -- Nick made it out for some run-spectating and pacing. It was great seeing those guys out there, as Pete hammered out a massive PR with a sub-2:55, exactly as he predicted and desired.

After more folks rolled through, I also saw my friend Ray Gasser rolling through right at his goal pace. Got a great pic of him, and only later noticed that Alex Alvarez was right next to him as well. Fun to see lots of folks out for this one.

Soon enough, the ladies rolled through. They were working, but still moving strong. As planned, I started running here with Jessica for most of the last 3 miles. She let me pace with her but was in no mood to talk. She kept up a good, consistent pace, running the whole way, as we headed down the bike path, and I stayed out of everyone's way so that I didn't create any extra work for other runners. I got a call from her family to find out they were near the finish line, so I told them I estimated Jess was about 7-8 minutes, and I peeled off the path before the last few turns, out of respect for the finishers, taking a shortcut to the finish.

Jess and Jenna finished strong, right around where they hoped. A good time was had by all! Including Tammy's son John, a mini camera-loving running super-fan!

After this, we headed to Rainbow Cafe for an awesome Mother's Day breakfast -- yum!

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