The “InVinceAble” 2013 Colfax Marathon

Sometimes, it takes a few weeks for me to digest a trip and/or a marathon before I can write about it — but this was not a normal trip and certainly not just another marathon. That said, a few weeks ago I went back to my home turf in Denver to run the Colfax Marathon, but this marathon would have special meaning.  It was to show support for a friend and fellow runner, Vince DiCroce, as he continues to battle brain cancer.

Colfax Marathon

As the plane landed at DIA, I was excited that I would soon see many of my friends.  I’ve been living in Maui for almost a year already, and have been able to keep up with many of them through Facebook. I was also excited that I’d be able to pick up some new running gear and supplies from my favorite running store Runners Roost, a luxury since we have little access to running stuff on the island. My current running apparel was getting a little worn out.

During the first few days, I went for a couple of runs at Wash Park.  It was so refreshing to run in 50-degree temperatures again.  In Maui, it’s a treat to run in the low 70s.  I was also surprised that, at least for the Wash Park runs, the altitude didn’t bother me.  It was also nice to reminisce about all the speed work sessions that beat me up at that park over the years.

Shaving heads for Vince DiCroce

Shaving heads for Vince DiCroce

The first Saturday in town, I reconnected with my running group family, Runners Edge of the Rockies, and ran a hilly 10 miles during which the altitude caught up with me and kicked my ass!  It didn’t matter; I had fun reconnecting with several friends throughout the run and joined a few of them for some socializing afterward at breakfast.  Breakfast after our Saturday runs could very well be what I miss most.  What was also awesome about this particular Saturday is about 15 of the male runners from our running group shaved their head in support of Vince (who’s lost his hair due to treatments). I actually got a head start four years ago as I’m bald!

The weekend was capped off with an incredible concert, Prince and 3rdEyeGirl, with my good friend and fellow runner, Dr. Michelle Wolcott at an intimate venue, The Ogden Theater in downtown Denver.

I had never run the Colfax Marathon and it seemed it always received a bad rap.  However, the purpose of me running this marathon was not about the race itself, it was about Vince.

Somehow, I received an E-mail that invited me to VIP hours at the expo, held at Sports Authority Field at Mile High (where the best NFL team, the Denver Broncos, play).  Not sure why I received it, but I jumped all over it, and it was great.  There were only about 20 people inside, so I got my race bib in record time and did some more shopping for running apparel!  As I was exiting, my friend Jay was in the line outside, which was wrapped around Sports Authority Field, and he said, “You’ve got to be #%@*& kidding me,” which was classic!  Jay does not beat around the bush!  He thereafter figured out a quick plan for himself, which I can’t reveal, and got his bib in record time.

Race day was perfect, the temperature was in the high 40s at the 6 a.m. start at City Park, and everything was organized extremely well.  Due to the Boston Marathon tragedy, security was tight and all bags had to be checked thoroughly.

Family and friends designed a running shirt designed in honor of Vince that looked like the Superman logo, but instead said “InVinceAble” in place of the “S.” The front had the words “We Run to Live” and the back was a quote from Vince himself, “I will not just survive, I will be better than before.” It was awesome to see numerous people wearing the InVinceAble shirt for both the marathon and half-marathon.

Vince himself originally planned to run the half-marathon as he was between cancer treatments.  However, a few days beforehand he announced that instead, he was going to do the full marathon!  Just six months earlier, Vince logged his PR running a 3:03; his goal for Colfax was a 3:30.  Vince, along with a group of Runners Edge’s faster runners running with him were in the first corral, A.  I was in corral C.  Each corral was released a minute and a half after each other to control the flow of runners.

From the very start, the Colfax Marathon was a wonderful race.  The route was awesome, taking us through urban areas of Denver, through an actual fire station, and even through the infield of Sports Authority Field at Mile High on the way out and back.  As the route wrapped around Sloan’s Lake Park, a backdrop of breathtaking snow-capped mountains was visible since we were running west.  The halfway point was in Lakewood around a beautiful neighborhood, the Glens.  As I was at about mile 15, I was passing runners on the other side still heading west towards Lakewood.  Steve Renda, a fellow runner who was graciously pacing Vince’s wife, Molly, for her first marathon, shouted over to me that Vince and the crew were not that far ahead of me.  Great motivation for me to push harder, and great timing since I was now cruising comfortably on the 4-mile downhill part of the race on Colfax.

Vince finishing the Colfax Marathon with the crew!

Vince finishing the Colfax Marathon with the crew!

Mile 21 was on the Cherry Creek Trail, where I passed a very dedicated and inspiration runner from Runners Edge, Laura Chartrand — she was running the half-marathon. I had to stop and give her a hug and let her know it was great to see her!  She really inspires me as she’s very dedicated and has come a long way over the years.

Now back in Downtown Denver, on 17th Street just before mile marker 23, I spotted Vince and the crew and actually caught up to them.  Amazingingly, though not a 3:30, Vince was going to break 4 hours.  For me, it was the best three miles in all my 92 marathon and quite an honer to be able to run with Vince to the finish!

The half-marathon, which started an hour later than the marathon was mostly over and many of those runners were hanging out cheering on the marathoners. As we entered City Park, pods of Runners Edge members were cheering on Vince and as we got close to the finish line, the cheering just got louder.  Vince went ahead of us and all us blue shirt “InVinceAbles” followed him across the finish line.  What an amazing, emotional and inspirational running moment.  It was Vince’s moment; it was Vince’s day!

After receiving our medals, some grabbed food, others fluids or both– there was certainly plenty for everyone.  All the volunteers at the Colfax Marathon were fantastic and deserve a huge thank you and the numerous post-race booths were a great touch.  Our group gathered at the Runners Edge tent for some relaxation and socializing with what seemed like a hundred runners.  Then it was on to a birthday party of a fellow runner, and then another after party at Vince’s house.

Vince DiCroce and Jim Lynch

Vince DiCroce and Jim Lynch

For me, the Denver trip was very memorable and I enjoyed reconnecting.  A big thank you to all my friends for their hospitality, conversation, generosity, laughs and most of all, friendship.  As for the Colfax Marathon, I give it a huge thumbs up, way up, and would highly recommend others to run this marathon next year.  What a wonderful day, what an incredible experience, and to Vince, what an inspirational person you are my friend!  Rock on!

 

I post my blog on Tuesday ,unless I am deeply involved  writing my book.  Follow me on TwitterFacebook and Youtube, and feel free to forward this blog post to others in your network.  Also, on the homepage of this site, sign up for updates on my upcoming book, “One Foot in Front of the Other.”  You’ll also receive my first chapter FREE!  And lastly, I was featured on Podcasts on November 11, 2012, on Runner Academy and on March 13,  2012, on The Conversation Hub!  Enjoy!

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Categories: Cool Memories, Inspirational People & Stories, Inspirational Runs, Marathons, Running Groups, Running Motivation, Running Related, Social Media, Twitter, Why I Run
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