Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Every year, BolderBoulder serves as the yearly reunion for the Newton Elite team.  We all have to try our best to be there but we can run as hard, or as easy, as we wish. Last year, I went from wanting to run it as a tempo, to going into a semi-jog until a woman almost caught me, then it was a tempo run again.  I haven't been chicked since 2008, so I didn't want it happening again.

Bonita Paul: The girl who whooped me in a local 10k almost seven years ago

Originally, Bolder Boulder was going to be my first major race of the season.  Even though I'm a sea level guy and am not a fan of 10ks, and especially hilly ones, I felt like I could place well.  My goal a few weeks before this was to run 30:30-30:45, which would give me a shot at winning, depending on who showed up.

One of the slogans of the race is "sea level is for sissies", so I really wanted to win so I could tell them "altitude is for sissies".  But since I was a Nancy for about three weeks of training, my new goal was to try and break 32:00. I felt like that would mean I was in around 30:00 track shape, and a semi-good place to be in, considering my last month of training.   I also wanted to take out two of my Newton teammates, Mike Andersen and Nik Schweikert. They are nice guys but I wanted to come out on top of the "Sea Levelers at Altitude" battle.

Our first battle in 2014.  Nik dominated

I got into Boulder Saturday afternoon, after having to work half of a day at school.  Nik and I arrived around the same time, so we rode into Boulder with our friend, Steve Chu.  After getting to our hotel, we hooked up with Mike and went on a run around a reservoir that was only a mile from our hotel.  

It was pretty nice and running on dirt was different from my usual concrete and pavement I tend to run on.  They even had some prairie dogs, which I tried to catch.  The sign said your pet couldn't chase them, but never said anything about people.  After the run, I saw we ran a couple of segments on Strava, with Clint Wells leading one of them. It was only about a quarter mile long at just over 5:00 pace, so our plan was to go back the next day and take his record down.  But we got lazy and never did it. You got lucky, Clint.  And on another bad note, Mike jacked up his hip flexor and probably wouldn't be able to race.  Was it a fake injury because he feared his whooping he was going to get?  I'll let you decide.

The rest of the weekend, we hung around, had team photos, I bought some stuff at the Newton Running Lab and I noticed that there are a lot of Subarus and girls with nose rings. There weren't a lot of bearded people though.  In Tennessee, nearly everyone has one, men and women included. 

On race morning, I warmed up just with Nik for a couple of miles because Mike was still feeling gimpy. And the weather was only 42 degrees and dry as can be.  That's the complete opposite of Hendersonville, so I was pleased.  After a warm-up, I like to knock out some strides about 10 minutes before the gun, but since BolderBoulder is insanely large, they have to make sure everyone is behind the starting line on time.  That meant exactly zero pre-race race strides.  I guess a plus of that is that I'd be a little more flat early on, so I wouldn't go out as fast.

Finally, the gun went off and a bunch of dudes shot off, including a red Power Ranger. I checked my GPS and saw that I was under 5:00 pace, so I relaxed a little bit.  Everyone tells me that dying at altitude is no joke, so I wanted to make sure I ran conservative early on.  

After about 1k, the pace up front really slowed and I found myself a few seconds behind the leaders.  I was right beside Steve and Nik and mentioned that I was nervous being this close to the front.  If everyone would have kept on hammering, I could focus on my own individual pace.  But when you're stuck in a large pack, it's very easy to be "tricked" into a faster pace as the guys at the front slowly put down the hammer.

I went through the mile in 5:03, which was perfect, since I planned to go out around 5:05.  I felt good and could still see the leaders.  In the second mile, I was able to make up some ground and moved up a few spots.  The second mile is more difficult than the first but I came back with another 5:03.

I was pleased with my position and felt like I was around 20th place and could still see the leaders about 100m ahead of me.  I felt like I would eventually slow down to the 5:15-5:20 range, but I surprisingly went through the third mile in 5:14.  It was a bit of a slowdown, but the third mile is the toughest on the course.

On the fourth mile, I could start to feel some fatigue crawl in.  I was hoping that it wouldn't be the beginning of the end. And to make matters worse, I was in a bit of no-mans land with a large, strung-out pack a good bit ahead of me, with one only guy near me.  I went through the fourth mile in 5:08 and was ready for the downhill running to come. 

I could see a couple of guys about 15 seconds ahead of me, so I planned to see how close I could get.  I was slowly chipping away but I was running out of time because we were getting near the stadium, which was where the finish line was.  Right near six miles, you have to climb a short hill, which is nasty enough at six miles into a hilly 10k but at over 5,000 feet in the air, it's rough..

I had my eyes set on two guys about 50 meters ahead of me and my plan was to turn on my old man rocket boosters and try and reel them in once we got onto the football field.  As soon as we entered the stadium, I noticed the grass was covered by some white plastic crap, which I guess was designed to protect the grass.  There were a lot of little puddles all over it and anytime I tried to accelerate, I immediately started slipping.  I had to slow things down so I couldn't bust and wasn't able to gain any ground on the guys ahead of me.  So instead of closing out the last 200m like a maniac, I ran it over 5:30 pace.

I crossed the line in 11th place in 31:36.  I was happy with my time because it was well under 32:00 and I feel like I would have broken 31:30 if it wasn't for that stupid white surface.  I was also the first sea level guy and only about 30s behind 3rd.  Ben Payne won the race in 30:41, which was in the time window I felt like I could have run if I would have kept up the hard work those lazy few weeks.  But he ran 9:30 for the last two miles, with a 4:42 last mile, so I'm sure he could have easily run well under 30:30 if he wanted.  

Before my race, I was expecting to take some more down time after this race.  Running wasn't going well and due to some non-running things I was mentally burnt out, with no motivation.  But this race turned things around for me and the march goes on.

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