Race Report: Bolder Boulder

What can I say beside I love this race? There is no race like this race. Period. The Bolder Boulder has been run since the year I was born. 2011 marked the year the one millionth person would cross the line of this race. ONE MILLION. This race makes people who hardly even exercise scratch their heads and go, “Everyone’s doing it, I will too!” And by everyone, I mean everyone. Over 50,000 people participated this year.

The only way to keep it organized is to have people run in waves. Either you qualify for a time based on a previous race or a treadmill test or you run in the back in one of the dozens of hour plus waves. I qualified for a spot in the 48ish minute finishers wave, CA. This meant that I had to be at the start line for 7:07:40. They are not messing around. 20 seconds late and I would have had to go with the CB’s. There are even people standing by each wave to make sure you belong there, bouncers, if you will. Except thinner and more friendly.

As I stood with my CA comrades, I sized them up and almost immediately decided who I needed to beat. It was Miss Perfect herself, standing just a few feet from me. Although her blond hair had dark roots, it was in two long braids and was perfectly not exactly perfect. Her body was just plain old perfectly perfect, like the ladies in fitness videos. She wore a skintight tri top and a pink running skirt. Her nails were perfectly French manicured. On her wrist was a fancy Garmin, with which she was messing, to make sure probably, that her splits were- you guessed it- perfect. I had to take her down.

The gun went off. At the last minute I had decided not to set my watch, and just to go by feel. My training, if you could call it that, had been spotty. I was trying to recover from the marathon, maintain my fitness, and try to sharpen for this race. I was also lacking a solid plan and significant motivation but my goal was to break 48 and at least to do better than my time in 2008, however they changed the course slightly this year, which made it a bit harder. In the first place, its a tough course, with a net elevation gain and at least 15 sharp turns.

My legs felt good. I’d had a solid warm-up. Now I was just enjoying the vibe. There were bands every mile or so, and lots of spectators and everything from belly dancers to a Slip and Slide lining the neighborhood streets. I was just overcome by how much I love this town! I love its mountains, I love its people, I love this race. I thought to myself “I live in the best town anywhere!” (Pawtucket is a close second. Kind of). I smiled to myself, and added “smile a lot” to my race plan. I was not so overwhelmed by emotion however that I forgot about Perfect. I could see her just ahead. I knew the first half of the first mile was uphill and I saw no need to push it too hard now. As it was, I was keeping what felt like a tempo pace, a comfortable hard that I knew would become uncomfortable soon.

Around mile 2, I started to think, “This hurts.” I replied to myself “It’s supposed to.” I wondered if it would be easier if I was a kilometer person, as the kilometers were marked, too. Kilometers go by so much faster! But there are so many of them… I went around and around in my head like this for a while. Around 2.5 miles, I started to pull Perfect in. I passed her easily and never saw her again. Oh I how I loved this race!

Finally, after what seemed like endless turns, endless gradual climbs, we turned east on Pearl and before me was at least a mile of downhill running! I felt so good. We were at about mile 4 and I was passing people left and right. I was hurting, but not like I was going to die. I still had no idea of my pace, but I knew I felt like I was supposed to feel. By the time we passed the 5 mile mark, the “I might vomit” feeling was upon me, but I was so close. Passing the corner of Folsom and Canyon I thought Dan might surprise me with a cheer, like he did in 2008, but I guess that’s what people mean when they say marriage changes your relationship. To be fair, Dan supported me in a major way by dropping me off at the start line at 6am. That’s love.

Just when you are almost done with the race, the course gets ugly. There was a gradual climb up Folsom, and then a steeper climb leading us into the CU football stadium. Then just a couple hundred meters of flat running on this metal flooring stuff they put down to protect the football field. Finally, done! I looked at my watch and tried to figure out my time but the math just wasn’t computing. I turned to a woman on my right who started in my wave and asked her if she knew what our time was. She thought 50:20. I was surprised, thinking I should have at least done what I did in ’08 (48:46), but not entirely disappointed, knowing I ran as hard as I could have and perhaps was still not recovered from the marathon.

Later, I waited in the stands with friends, as the elite race didn’t go till 11am, and they showed a live feed of the leaders on the jumbotrons in the stadium (so cool!). Dan texted me “Great job, babe!” He would know better than to say “Great Job” about not even breaking 50 minutes. I needed to get to the bottom of this. It turned out Dan had looked me up online (Bolder Boulder is so freaking organized!); Over the phone, he read me all my mile splits (everywhere from 8 something to 7:35!) and said my time was listed as 48:44! I don’t think I would have been as happy about this had I not been moping about the 50 whatever time I thought I had posted, but I was. I guess it’s all relative.

The next thing I need to do is find a normal 10k (eg, finish and start at the same place and doesn’t have a turn every 200 feet) so I can break 48 minutes. I haven’t done that since 2007 and I just know I can do it again.

4 thoughts on “Race Report: Bolder Boulder

  1. Kim says:

    you can totally break 48 minutes! great job out there, and i love the description of the “perfect” runner in your wave… and you beat her! yay! congrats! well done.

  2. Becky says:

    I was in BB and wondered if you were there. It’s funny to read your report because every step of the way felt exactly the same way to me. I didn’t even need the Garmin except to know when to slow down a bit but I went for it, too, just to see what I could do just 29 days post-marathon. Lovely, lovely race and I’m doing it each year, for sure!

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