Monday May 26th marked the 30th running of the Bolder Boulder. That makes me almost as old as the race. I toed the line with 53,000 other runners, joggers, and walkers. Actually, to be fair, it would have been physically impossible for all of us to be in the exact same place at the same time. It started at 7am and a wave went every 50 seconds. (Minus the elites, who went at noon). I was pleased to be in the 7th of what I think was at least 50 waves. You have to qualify to get a good seed. So even though it was a big race, I never fought for personal space or a good line around the corners. Of which there were many. I counted at least 17. Everyone told me this was not a fast course and not to expect a PR. (And by everyone, I mean everyone… I don’t think I know a single person in Boulder with 2 legs and an inclination for running that wasn’t out there). But I always expect a PR, actually. I just figure I have yet to meet my athletic potential, I’m still young, and so what if the course has a lot of turns, thousands of other people, a net elevation gain of 100′, takes place at 5430′ and I just started running again in earnest 6 weeks ago… Perhaps you can see where this is headed.
So I hoped for a PR and to negative split. I was due for a decent race, considering my last one felt like an utter disaster (I placed 94th out of 101 in last week’s Boulder Time Trial Series bike race. No that was not a typo. I have never sucked that badly at anything, ever, except long division). So I accomplished goal #1 but not #2, and that was fine with me. I anticipated starting at a 7:40 pace and descending from there. I passed the first mile mark at 7:57. Yikes. Not what I’d had in mind. I committed however to focusing on how I felt not my watch and to keep going at a conservatively hard pace. I saw some people taking a detour to use the Slip and Slide in a spectator’s front yard… I considered it, knowing now that I would not have a PR anyway but decided against it, even though Slip and Slide is so fun. It would be embarrassing to break my face in front of everyone during the Bolder Boulder. My split at the 2nd mile mark was 8:10. Double yikes. At mile 3 I saw 8:13. I soldiered on, resigning myself to a good workout at the very least. Mile 4 saw 7:52, which was marginally encouraging. I started to pass people though, and this felt good. At mile 5 my watch read 7:19. I then wondered if perhaps Cliff was my lucky charm and that I might just PR after all. Let me rewind: Out of a sea of thousands of runners, standing beside me at the start was none other than Cliff, a fellow New Englander and friend from the Bicycle Tour of Colorado 2006. Since I met him, I have seen him at no fewer than 50% of the races I’ve done, including the Cape Cod Marathon, the Tufts 10k, Ironman Lake Placid, and I think he was at the Ashland tri last summer too… Anyway I’ve had a PR every time he was around so I thought perhaps he was a good omen. I picked up the pace a little, encouraged by my magical thinking.
As the course took us eastward on Pearl to 21st… or was it Folsom… whatever… it occurred to me that Dan (boyfriend) must be around here somewhere. He acted like he was going to sleep in but the course practically goes by his house and I just felt sure he would surprise me at the next corner. Sure enough, there he was at the corner of Folsom and Canyon, cheering for me, which was definitely the highlight of the race! This lifted my spirits enough to quicken my step for at leat the next quarter mile or so. I stayed pretty strong for the final push, which included a fairly steep hill to Folsom Stadium, with 7:35 for the last mile and 1:40 for that final .2
My official time was 48:46, which I am satisfied with. Its only a minute and 26 seconds slower than my PR and I feel its only fair to consider the 5 hour bike ride that literally destroyed my legs on Saturday, the 6 hour ride on Friday that included a 14 mile climb up Boulder Canyon to Nederland and some more climbing up to Ward, the evil Wednesday night time trial, and the 8 mile hilly run of Tuesday.
If my coach doesn’t end up destroying me I should be able to do things I haven’t done before. [Note: “things” does not refer to long division but rather to faster swimming, biking, and running]. I am really looking forward to the rest of the season, specifically the Rhode Island 70.3 (which still has available slots) and Ironman Wisconsin.