ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIVE runners woke up to a crisp, clear morning with temps in the low to mid 50’s. Absolutely perfect by my standards. I was greeted at my house by Danielle, one of my “sweat sisters” who has spent the last EIGHT weeks cheering us on as she nurses her high ankle sprain back to life and Deb, friend and fellow runner excited and nervous as a Garden 10 mile newbie. We made it to the park around 6:15am looking for the Pikespeaksports.us team tent, greeted by Susie who wasn’t running but rather assuming the role of cheerleader for the day in addition to our fellow morning warrior Kyle and Dave who obviously didn’t have enough fun pacing me in the Poconos race because he agreed to do it again. We gathered for a quick team picture and then went off to warm up a bit. I was excited to see the eager and perhaps somewhat nervous faces of my fellow teammates, to meet Jen for the first time, to get a great big hug from Lee and show Alexis that I did, in fact, remember her Reese’s Cups for her post-race reward. Susie and Danielle, the cheerleaders, ran off in a bit of a hurry…up to something no doubt.
The race started right on time. Dave had spent a good amount of time in our last training run talking me though some of the spots that are hard for me. I really like to look at my feet…”head up, Amy…head up!”. Well I don’t think we had hit the first mile before he told me to look down at the pavement (wait…I’m confused…shouldn’t I be looking up?!) it seems the cheerleaders had decorated the ENTIRE course with “run happy”, “upandover”, “loveyameanit” , “go Amy, Dave, Deb & Kyle”, we rounded the first corner into the park and there they were in their bright pink with their orange pom-poms cheering for everyone at the top of their lungs. Oh this was going to be fun. At the top of nearly every hill was a cheering squad, preceded by sidewalk chalk cheerleading all along the way, held steady by Dave “the machine” talking me through each and every hill I was feeling pretty good. I was thrilled to see Aaron pass me early on and never see him again because that meant he was beating his goal. I loved coming to the parking lot on heartbreak hill and seeing fellow Pikespeaksports.us teammate Brandon come rolling out with the lead runners. SO SO SO EXCITED to see Susie and Danielle hunkered down on the trails on the inner loop back to the parking lot cheering their hearts out. I loved seeing Alexis and Lee coming up heartbreak hill with their big smiles. Lee pointed at me and said “AMY, YOU’VE GOT THIS!”. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to hear that than at mile marker 6. Not sure how it’s possible to make a mile longer than a mile but I am convinced that mile 7 was at least twice as long as it should have been. Congratulations to Ron Ilgen for defying the Laws of Physics and stretching out that uphill mile. It is a really good thing Dave hung with me here and didn’t let me quit. He just kept saying, “we are almost there, see there is the top”…I wanted to yell at him and tell him I can see that we are not almost there and we still have another turn and another hill but alas, I couldn’t breathe so I put my head down (bad form, I know) and tried not to look. I got to see the big bright smile on Deb’s face after the turn around at mile 7 which made it all worth it. Well believe it or not, I survived mile 7 and 8 and 9 and it wasn’t until the final push around 9.5 that I finally snapped at Dave (sorry, Buddy) …I had given it my all and I was tired. I was greeted by Adam with less than ½ mile to go who had finished many minutes before me but doubled back to run with me and cheer me in to the finish. My goal (which turned out to be somewhat arbitrary…long story) was to beat 1:24:30 and I did, in fact beat that with a finishing time of 1:24:13. Not bad considering my temper tantrum at mile 7. Its days like these that make you thankful for such great friends, such a terrific community and mother nature playing nice. Susie and Danielle, I am sure there are 1000 other runners who found motivation from your cheering and pom poms. UPANDOVER ladies, those hills were for you! GB - THANK YOU! Congratulations to the Pikespeaksports.us team members who all beat their goals. As Aaron said early on, “wow, what a difference a team makes”….I couldn’t agree more. A huge thank you to Ron Ilgren, the masses of volunteers and the high school water stations that make those hills so worth climbing, together you once again put on a spectacular event
See you all at the Roundup!