Sunday, June 01, 2008

Bolder Boulder Race Report

Work and training has kept me very busy so I haven't had time to blog, especially posting my race report from the Bolder Boulder 10k. So without further delay here is the race report.

30th Bolder Boulder 10k

I am going to keep this to a race report instead of a complete recap of the entire weekend trip to Denver and Boulder. The only preface I want to provide is that Friday through Sunday were beautiful days despite the cooler than normal temperatures.

We ate at a very nice Italian restaurant with Bolder in Boulder as our pre-race meal. It was just what we wanted for the night before the big event. When we returned to the HABC we settled in for the night with good conversation and plenty of laughs. I hadn’t been sleeping that well all weekend but I was still feeling rested. Part way through the night I woke up to use the bathroom and I heard rain falling outside. The rain was constant until the early morning when we woke up around 5:00AM.

Breakfast consisted of half a bagel with peanut butter and Boost. I really didn’t need the Boost for a 10k but I drank it anyway since my stomach was used to this type of breakfast. The three of us left around 6:00AM for the race so we could find good parking for the short walk to the start. Walking to the starting area I was nervous but in a much different way than other races. My nerves were calmer and I didn’t have any butterflies. Being an “A” race I thought I would be much more nervous to run. Was it the atmosphere for the race? Was it being with Aimee and Bolder that kept me calm?

The start of the Bolder Boulder is done in waves……a lot of waves…..87 waves to be exact. There were people holding poles with the start waves similar to the pace groups of a marathon. I was in wave AB which is the third wave to go. Looking up the street it was impressive to see all the people. The race was expecting over 50,000 people for the day. I left Aimee and Bolder at the bag check while I waded through the masses to my start area. The first 23 waves you have to qualify for by submitting a previous race result. The security for these waves was very well organized. They were checking race bibs to make sure you belonged with the group.

For each start a trumpeter played the “Call to Post” with 30 seconds to go. Then Davis Phinney would say a few words to the group before he shot the starter pistol. At 7:01:50 we were on our way.

I was back further from the starting line than I wanted to be. I had to weave around quite a few people before I found good open space to run in. Once I made my way towards the front I was able to get a better stride going. The first mile has a downward grade. It’s one of those that you don’t notice but it definitely increases your speed. During this mile my left quad tightened up on me ever so slightly. I don’t know if it was a mild pull or some type of strain but I used the first mile to take a quick inventory, see what the quad wanted me to do and decide my course of action. I’ve never had this muscle tighten up on me like this so I really didn’t know what caused the issue. After crossing the timing mat for the first mile I knew the muscle would get me through to the finish. This race was going to be a test of pain management.

Despite the profile of the race course, the uphills were not as bad as I thought. Sure there were some visible inclines but nothing that lasted too long or couldn’t be handled with extra helping of leg muscles. One aspect of the Bolder Boulder that helps you make it through the streets of Boulder is the on course entertainment. There were 30 bands, musicians, entertainers and front yards that provided distraction for the 50,000+ runners that would pass by during the day. I saw the Blues Brothers, Elvis, an 80’s garage band blasting their neighborhood, belly dancers (something I wish I hadn’t seen) and cheerleaders. I heard some bad karaoke and people saying “you’re almost there” with 4 miles to go.

Back to my race, I was running strong. The effort felt right as I was pushing hard for such a short distance race. I never looked at my watch but marked the splits when I passed each mile marker. Each mile that ticked by was the only indication of where I was. Not knowing the streets was a possible benefit that allowed me to just keep running. When I reached mile three I was half way done. I knew my pace was still good and it was something that I could keep until the finish.

At mile 4 was the first of two sharp uphills. I powered my way up the hill and through the aid station at the top. The volunteers at this aid station were not handing out the cups but were standing behind the tables filled with cups. I ran along the tables until I spotted the Gatorade I wanted and snagged it from the table. Since the volunteers were not handing out the cups they were able to cheer very loudly for us runners as we went by. Separated by only the table, their cheering surged through me and I felt the extra boost of energy as I crested the hill. I used the adrenaline rush to begin the downhill push towards the center of Boulder.

Bolder had told me that between miles 4 and 5 the street would have a slight downhill grade that would help with the pace. As I rounded the corner onto Pearl Street I tried to shoot the gap between two runners. They squeezed together just as I increased my speed. This was the only time I made contact with another runner. I backed off briefly until they separated again and made my move. I pushed down the street until we made several turns and crossed the 5 mile timing mats.

During mile 6 is where I started to really feel the fatigue but I was still in control of my race and kept a good pace as the course headed towards Folsom Stadium on the campus of Colorado University. Looming ahead was the second short uphill that dropped us into the stadium. What a cruel place to put an uphill so late in the race, but the benefit of finishing inside the stadium was worth it. I powered up the hill surrounded by runners from my wave and the wave before me and we all entered the stadium for the final lap to the finish line. I stopped my watch after crossing the finish line and tried to compose myself as quickly as possible. The finish line volunteers were trying to move people through the area quickly and I tried to oblige in between grabbing my knees for air. I finally was able to look at my watch and saw 40:13. I missed my goal of being sub 40 by approximately 13 seconds. I was immediately happy with my race. I ran hard and solid on a tough course. I left everything I had on the roads of Boulder except my breakfast. My actual chip time was 40:06, so I missed my goal by 7 seconds.

There are several people I have to thank for such a great run: Aimee for believing in me and reminding me to keep my arms down and loose, Jeff for telling me to stop scuffing my feet on the ground when my foot lands, especially when I’m tired, Coach Angela for getting me ready with some great workouts leading up to the race, Bolder for providing insight into the race course and accommodations while in Boulder. When everything is combined together it made for a great weekend in Colorado and a race to remember.


triguyjt said...

great report....yeah..i figured it would have more "killer" hills, but it sounded like a very tough test (hills-altitude)and lots of people...

cool event

ds said...

Nice job Eric.