odds and ends from a life under construction

, / 2009 1

Boldly running where thousands have run before

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I’ve run a couple 5ks and have been gradually increasing my training, but this weekend I logged another first – my first 10k. And of course I couldn’t run just ANY 10k, it had to be one of the best 10ks in the country (and quite possible the world). The Bolder Boulder.

I’ve heard lots of stories about the Bolder Boulder, and I know lots of people who have run it (or, in the case of my boss, walked it). For many, it’s an annual tradition. And with a little bit of training under my belt, I felt ready to accomplish it. My friends Beth and Andrew (who are running a race with me in January that you’ll hear all about later) also signed up, and we made sure to get in a wave together at registration. We ended up in wave NA, which we joked stood for “non-athletes” (yes, there are so many waves that they go to double letters; we started about an hour after the fast people in the first wave).

Since traffic is a beast getting into Boulder when there’s not 50,000 other people trying to do the same thing, we left home before 6 am. Beth works at the Google offices in Boulder, so we were able to park in one of their underground lots and walk to the starting line a few blocks away instead of wrestling with paid parking closer to the finish line. We stretched, we ate granola bars, we drank water, we went to the bathroom… we basically just killed time until we had to join our wave (and by the time we started walking to the start, the winner of the first wave had already finished). The crowd was in a great mood – lots of families walking or running together, and lots of fun costumes, including a large group of people dressed was Waldo who would stand in the crowd and then run off in random directions whenever someone yelled “There’s Waldo!”

Waiting with our wave

It took about 45 minutes to get to the start from the time we joined our wave, but it passed pretty quickly. But with a start time close to 9 am, it was getting HOT. I figured out pretty early that we were going to be slow. The three of us started together, but since Andrew hadn’t trained as much as us ladies, we quickly split off and did our own thing (his long legs let him catch up with us every now and then).

The Bolder Boulder course is great, because it goes through a lot of residential neighborhoods. People set up parties in their lawn with food and sprinklers and cheer on all the runners. There’s even places where homeowners have choreographed dance routines! The sprinklers were, by far, our favorite part; at many points I wished for someone to run alongside me with a misting fan. And at every water stop, I dumped most of it down my back (I get cramps if I drink too much while I’m running).

Beth and I did okay, but since we hadn’t really trained for the distance (or the hills), we took frequent walk breaks. And the last mile was the worst – insanely hot and mostly uphill. Our splits went from near 12:00 for the first mile to over 16:00 for the last. Not all that spectacular. But we did manage to save enough energy to run the last turn into the stadium and around the track. The experience of running onto the field in a college football stadium with thousands of people in the stands cheering for you is not something that will ever be forgotten, even with the heat and fatigue.

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All day long, people photobombing us… sigh.

After we finished, we slowly walked out of the finish chute to wait for Andrew, who was only a couple minutes behind us. Then we returned our timing tags (or, at least, Andrew and Beth did…) and filed into the fieldhouse for our snack bags (filled to the brim with goodies) and drinks. The fieldhouse was more like a madhouse, and hot and humid to boot, so heading back outside was a relief. We had our “official” finisher photo taken, and then we headed around the stadium to find Jason and Evan waiting for us in the stands. We stuck around and stretched things out while watching the stragglers from the main race clear the course and then the elite race finishers smoking us all (so cool); Evan even got in on the cheering action.

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At that point we were all exhausted and a little woozy, so we said our goodbyes and headed back to the car. Even Jason was not feeling great, so we made a pit stop for post-race treats at Sonic on the way home. All in all, a pretty good day! And an experience I look forward to repeating next year – when I run for a PR!

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