Monday, May 30, 2011

Race Report: Bolder Boulder 10K

It's never happened to me before: I was the first to use one of the hundreds of port-o-johns set up for the nearly 60,000 participants in the Bolder Boulder 10K this morning.

Yes, that's right. I entered said port-o-john for my first pre-race pit stop at about 6:15 a.m. and found the lid closed, the floor dry, the TP unopened, the murky liquid in the pot empty of human waste (no, I do not look on purpose, but c'mon, you can't help noticing something like that). My friend Kathy had the same experience. Neither of us expects this to ever happen again. And when we emerged from these pristine port-o-johns, a great blue heron wafted above us.

Both the toilet and the bird were good omens for what turned out to be a respectable race. I'm going to tell you the truth upfront: I am nowhere near ready to try for a BQ time in my next marathon. But I am getting closer. The thing I'm proud of with this race is that I made a plan, and I stuck to it. I didn't bonk. I didn't blast out too fast at the beginning, and I didn't slow down at the end. In fact, I sped up.

As usual lately, I was nervous last night and this morning, especially after Kathy and I wished each other luck and moved to our separate start waves. The A wave (the fast ones) went off at 7 a.m. The waves are distinguished from one another by volunteer-held signs and ropes, and as each one begins its race, launched by a trumpet and a gun, the other waves then move forward. So you can see and hear each start. You know others are already running, and you are still waiting, anticipating. Standing in the CC wave, I kept to the left (because I knew the first turn would be left), my jumpiness growing with each wave's start: A, AA, AB; then B, BA, BB; and finally C, CA...then CB...and then my own wave stepped to the front.

I had discussed race day strategy with Dan, my husband. Last year, this race was the first in a series of disappointments for me, and going out too fast was the biggest issue. Dan said the vital thing would be for me to stick to a reasonable pace for the first mile (as well as the second and third, which feature lots of uphill). "Pass no one" in the first mile, he admonished.

And damn if I didn't!

Oh, it was tempting. Ahead of me I saw the heels of the CB runners like the churning hooves of racehorses, headed toward that first turn at Valmont. Inside me jangled all the nerves of a year of disappointment followed by a tough goal established, and steady but slow progress. I'm not a patient person. When the gun went off for my wave, it would have been so easy to bust it out. But I heard Dan's voice inside my head (as Kathy said later, like that of Obi Wan Kenobi): "Pass no one." So I let them go by me. And when the D wave folks behind me began to catch up, I let them pass too. I put a little Zen smile on my face. I concentrated on staying at 8:35/mile (which is my bare minimum BQ pace), and on running the tangents.

Miles 2 and 3, with their hills and false flats, found me still feeling good. But I didn't loosen the reins yet. Only in mile 4, beyond which I knew lay lots of real downhill, did I begin to bear down. Mile 5 begins near the crest of a hill. I heard Dan's voice again: "Once you get into the fifth mile, you can let it rip. And on the last mile, run as fast as you can."

And, again, damn if I didn't!

The thing I'm proudest of about this race (besides sticking to my plan) is that I ran the last mile at about the same pace as that downhill mile 5, despite a steep-ish hill going into the stadium where that beautiful finish line is. I wish I could have run mile 4 a bit faster. But the general direction of each mile was exactly right, a miraculous thing for someone who has never been good at pacing (even with a Garmin to help).

Two things I remember about those last two miles: one is that I barely noticed my surroundings, different from past efforts on this course where the belly dancers, the bacon-offering residents of the neighborhoods, and the weather all diverted my attention from the business at hand. The second thing is that I passed lots of people in those last two miles, just as proponents of negative splits say you will, but it was with no feeling of triumph, none of that video game sensation that you're picking people off. I remember thinking, "I'm passing people, but it's not as much fun as they say it is."

What was fun (besides the post-race massage, hanging out with Kathy--picture below!--and watching the elites finish to the roar of the crowd in the stadium): setting my post-pregnancy PR of 52:24. I didn't beat my overall PR, but that was set at sea level and on an easier course.

It was progress. It's nice to have no regrets, to do what I set out to do.

We both got super cold after the race, so we bought some snazzy new shirts with a classic Bolder Boulder theme.

Race Notes: They changed the course slightly this year. The first mile, instead of being slightly downhill as in years past, is now slightly uphill. This didn't make a lot of difference to me, as it was all I could do to hold myself back on that part of the race. I think this change was an improvement. The start area felt much roomier. We did a one-mile warm-up with no dodging necessary and found our way easily to the wave starts. In prior years, this has felt rushed. Things like coffee and water were much easier to find as well. Good job, Bolder Boulder organizers!

For another great race recap and some truly awesome pictures that give you a good flavor for the craziness of this race, visit Julie's blog, You Just Have to TRI, and read her race recap.

Training and Fueling News: Now it's time to start my ramp-up for the Top of Utah Marathon on September 17. I'll have some news on that front in my next post. It's also time to begin the Sugar-Free Challenge. Last week, my old enemy, the scale at North Boulder Recreation Center, registered 130.2. Needless to say, I was over the moon about this, and it, and my successful race today, make me look forward to truly eating like a marathoner.


  1. Great job!!! I was taking note of your notes for my race this weekend. Thanks for the pointers! Great job again. No PR, but an awesome performance at altitude!

  2. Fantastic race for you! I love your descriptions and can just hear Obi Wan Kenobi speaking to you! :)and the idea of a totally new!

    Great race report!

  3. Smart racing!! congrats on having a good time and such a satisfying day. Made all the better, of course, by getting to the port-a-johns first!!

  4. Great job!! You are doing awesome!!! And Yay for TOU training starting. I am excited. :) Wish we could do some long runs together!!

  5. Great job on sticking to your plan and racing smart!

  6. Nicely executed girl! I'm so happy for you, especially going into TOU training! Congrats!

  7. Great job! I am hoping to do this run next year! So excited for it.