Friday morning, there was snow on the ground; Saturday morning, we were running a 5K race under beautiful blue skies. Fall is here, and with it, comes mostly perfect running weather! Woody and I ran the Blue Shoe Run for Prostate Cancer – an annual 5K run/walk and 1.5 mile family walk. The fifth annual event, which welcomed over 1,200 participants, is produced by and raises funds for, the TUCC Foundation, dedicated to advancing urologic care in the Rocky Mountain region through advocacy, research, education and support.
I had heard from fellow Oiselle teammate, Laura, that this is a great race. And as the cause has recently become an important one to us, we thought it would be a great 5K to add to our fall racing schedule. After our experience, I can say with certainty that we will make our best efforts to run this race every year!
The race begins and ends right outside the TUCC office building, which is across a large parking lot from Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos. While the course itself isn’t the most scenic, the race organizers have done a great job creating a unique course that utilizes a lot of low-traffic roads, incorporating unexpected hills and allows for plenty of free, easily accessible parking for participants.
According to the TUCC Foundation, prostate cancer is now the most diagnosed type of cancer in Colorado, and the 2nd most common cancer among men in the U.S.. Current numbers state that 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed within their lifetime. More than 230,000 American men will be diagnosed this year. That’s a lot of guys. While very serious, there is some good news: the rate of survival for men is very high, especially when caught early. Over the past several years, many new treatments have been developed that are proving successful. There is great hope for men, and the ones who love them, who are diagnosed.
There were a lot of people enjoying the survivors oasis before and after the race. A lot of happy, healthy and strong people.
Woody and I arrived a bit early so we could do a little warm-up – 1.5 miles, or just over 2 laps around Mile High Stadium. It was very chilly but a beautiful morning. With less than 800 participants in the 5K, the start was a breeze. We walked up, found a spot near the front – ahead of the guy wearing jeans – and a few minutes later we were off. I definitely went out too fast, but didn’t realize until a little too late. I had my Garmin on, but chose not to focus on it. Looking back, I probably should have given it a glance during that first mile, which I ran in 8:01, too fast for me.
I had heard there was a serious hill, but I wasn’t expecting all the short, but steep hills that came before it. Spectators were far and few between, but the course was well marked and there were police, volunteers, and two bands in just the right spots along the way. I mentioned the view wasn’t the best, but I enjoyed it, and appreciate that it wasn’t a simple out and back.
The last hill was the serious one. After going past Mile High, we entered onto the highway entrance ramp, going up the on ramp. It was steep. And long. The fact that I went out too fast had caught up with me by this point. I’m pretty good at hills but this one got to me. I couldn’t breath by the time I hit the top, made the turn and saw we kept going up! I will admit it, I walked. Just for 15 seconds, but I simply couldn’t attack this last hill without catching my breath first. I made it to the top, took the turn-around and new it was just a downhill, right turn and straight away sprint to the finish line.
A lovely volunteer reached out with a bottle of cold water, exactly what I needed, as soon as I could breath again.
The post-race festival included several vendors, a massage tent and lots of great food. There were cut bagels with peanut butter and cream cheese, bananas and apples, cups of pretzels, coffee. Jimmy Johns was on hand with sandwiches and cookies. KIND Bars were handing out free bars (I’m addicted, so this was amazing).
With food and beers from Alaskan Brewing Co. in hand, we found a table and enjoyed the live band for a bit before the a few presentations from the Foundation staff and a prostate cancer survivor, who was diagnosed in his 30’s.
Woody and I were both happy with our results. He finished in 21:53 – 18th overall and 3rd AG; I finished in 25:31 (38 seconds faster than the 5K in Bend last month!) and 4th AG! Sure, this was definitely a smaller field than many races we do, and one that probably flies under the radar for many, but that aside, I’m thrilled with my time! And after following this race with a 7 mile run the next morning that left me with gas in my tank, it seems things are clicking for me right now when it comes to running!
If any guys are reading this – please don’t ignore your health. You may be nervous to get the test results, but it’s better than ignorance. And ladies – let the guys you love know that this is important. Early detection increases the likelihood for long, happy and active lives.
How did you get active this weekend? Did you run a race, run for fun, go hiking or do something else that got your heartbeat up? Let us know!