Denver’s Colfax Marathon – one driver’s perspective
Denver has an annual event called the Colfax Marathon and yesterday was the big day. Thousands participate and have a great time.
For the out-of-town readers, Colfax has the distinction of being the longest continuous street in America. The marathon travels down part of Colfax and several other streets in downtown Denver. This means that many of the streets are fully or partially blocked on marathon day so the runners can participate without being run down by cars.
If you happen to live in downtown Denver, which I do, it can be a challenge to get anywhere by car on race day. The city posts a few warnings about street closures but it can be tricky knowing which streets are fully passable.
Normally, I would just stay home or walk to Colfax and watch the race. This year, however, I needed to be at a photography class starting at 9:00 a.m. I had signed up for this class several weeks ago and was excited about attending. So, I carefully planned my route and left the house 40 minutes early for a drive that usually takes 10 minutes.
Things didn’t go as planned. The police had partially blocked a street I needed to cross. The policeman would let a car through when there was a long enough break in the stream of runners but that wasn’t very often. Cars were really backing up. (By the way, I’ve run 3 marathons and completely “get” the need to protect the runners and give them the right of way. If runners had to stop for cars, they’d never finish.)
I pulled up to this very long line of waiting cars and was not happy. I found out that many drivers had been sitting for over 30 minutes when I got there and most were clearly agitated. Traffic was going nowhere as the runners kept coming.
Drivers started blowing their horns, which caused a chain reaction of horn blowing. The policeman was unfazed and unsympathetic and the runners kept coming.
A few minutes of sitting turned into 30 and I called my teacher to say I’d be late. There was more horn blowing. I resisted the impulse to blow my horn, although it was tempting. You know it won’t do any good but it might relieve some pressure.
Crowd psychology was having an impact and I felt myself getting more and more impatient and angry at missing my class. At last my yoga brain kicked in and reminded me to breathe and to use belly breathing. (See my blog – Calming Down with Belly Breath for the technique.) I moved my attention from the outside frustrations to inside my body and mind and focused like a laser on my breath.
After several minutes, I moved my attention from inside back to the outside scene. But this time I was viewing the scene as a calm observer rather than an agitated participant.
The transformation was fascinating as the scene switched for me and I felt more entertained than agitated. People were hanging off their balconies talking and empathizing with the frustrated drivers. Drivers were visiting other cars and drivers. Horns were still blowing. The runners kept coming and the policeman remained resolute and unsympathetic. It was an entertaining scene from an observer’s point of view.
Finally, another policeman appeared and directed us down a back alley to the only passable street in Denver. Forty-five minutes later I was on my way at last.
It was so interesting to switch from agitated participant to calm observer using my breath. Breath is a powerful life management tool, and it’s available to you anytime, anywhere.
Enjoy and Breathe Easy
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