BolderBOULDER: an overdue race recap

I finally did it. I finally raced a 10k! The 10k has always seemed like a dauntingly difficult distance because it’s twice a 5k and almost as fast… not quite a half marathon but definitely faster… It occupies a spot among the race distance spectrum that is {for me} particularly intimidating. Six miles is a long way to ride the pain train.

I still don't have a working phone, so thank God for free race images. Much needed content-filler.

I still don’t have a working phone, so thank God for free race images. Much needed content-filler.

BolderBOULDER seems like a long time ago now, so props to me for drafting this *memoir* the day after it, because otherwise this entry would be like: The race was fun! Here is my finishing time.

I spent the night in the Fort. My wave start time was 7am, and driving to Boulder from Laramie would have been awful. I was up at 4am anyway, and parked my car at 6. It was a sunny and beautiful morning, and the streets were already densely packed with participants making their ways to the start. By 6:45 I zigzagged up 30th to the start tapes.

I ran into my buddy Mark up in the AA wave. We both did that thing that runners do at the start… ohhh yeah….we’ll see how this goes… but I’m not aiming for anything… casual banter that masks your real goal with something much more modest. I declared that holding 7:00 pace or better would be good enough.

I outdid myself.

Most of the first four miles are a gradual incline. I cruised a 6:25 in the first mile and was a little concerned I wouldn’t be able to hold onto that. Around mile 2 I could already feel the lactic acid stinging, and I couldn’t stop dwelling on the long miles ahead. I kept negativity at bay by practicing form up the hills… shorten my stride, pick up my knees, and let my arms do the work. At long last, I passed under the 5k banner at 20:24. Solid, I thought.

Oiselle POP shorts look sweet in early morning sunshine.

Oiselle POP shorts look sweet in early morning sunshine.

Miles 3 and 4 make up the bulk of the climbing. I stopped worrying about my “form” and focused on cuing myself to relax. Drop the shoulders. Release the tension in my arms. Let my legs go freely.

With all races, a certain amount of “black out” occurs. I’m never really sure what is happening around me because the tunnel vision gets so intense. I vaguely glanced around on Pearl St., but otherwise took in very little of my surroundings. Usually, my thoughts are two-fold: 1) pain and 2) don’t stop. For several seconds before mile 3, I was contemplating taking a breather, but I let it go. And once you decide you’re not a quitter, stopping never seems like an option again.

Mile 5 finally dipped downhill, and I cruised comfortably around 6:15-6:20 for much of miles 5 and 6. To my surprise, I felt undeniably good.

Until the finish. According to my watch data, I climbed 50 feet after mile 6. In a 6.2 mile race. The climb into the stadium is a heartbreaker.

My official time was 41:02, which, according to my foggy idea of 10k times, is much better than I was expecting to run. It also means my 5k splits were pretty even. For several seconds along mile 6, I wondered if I could go under 40, but I think the elevation at the finish did me in.

This race was a huge confidence-builder for me. Something about tackling the 10k distance at 6:30ish pace and feeling comfortably uncomfortable confirms that I can break some pace barriers in a half marathon. Often, the best races are the ones where there was very little expectation at the start.

I’ll leave it at that. Many more summer races are quickly approaching!!