Friday, June 3, 2016

Running: The BolderBoulder Review!


After I completed the Disneyland Star Wars 10K and Half Marathon, I didn't run on a regular basis for about 2 months. I would run, but sporadically and I wouldn't push myself. 

By the end of February, however, I was starting to feel an itch for another challenge. I had heard lots of things about a local race called the BolderBoulder 10K and how amazing it was. After checking out the price (much cheaper than RunDisney races!) I decided to sign up.

The race has been held in Boulder every Memorial Day for the past 38 years and ends at Folsom Field, the Colorado University football stadium. This year there were over 52,000 participants! Because of this, BolderBoulder organizers have created a great event with thousands of volunteers who help keep everything going smoothly. I was very impressed!

One of the great things about BolderBoulder is the shuttle system. They have coach buses that shuttle people from the Denver area up to Boulder and drop you off right by the starting line. Yes, it does cost money, but it saved me a ton of headaches trying to find parking or maneuvering through traffic. 

I have a friend who lives with her family in Firestone, and she dropped me off in Longmont to catch the north end shuttle. The shuttle made one additional stop at Niwot, and the bus was full of crazy runners like me!

I didn't know how long the shuttle would take, or how long it would take me to get from the bus to the starting line, and I greatly overestimated my time. I ended up arriving at the starting waves an hour before my wave left!

The waves for BolderBoulder are really crazy - they have over 100 waves that launch every 2 minutes or so. The first wave launched at 6:55, but my wave (NA) didn't launch until 8:51! You don't need to be there for the first waves, luckily. 

I made three different stops to the port-a-potties to make sure I wouldn't have any race emergencies. They had 100 set up in a strip mall parking lot, and they had signs that "cleverly" used potty humor to promote the sponsors. 

There were plenty of amazing costumes worn by runners through the race. From what I can recall, I saw several hula dancers, someone riding an inflatable ostrich, Waldo, a giant dinosaur, Wonder Women, beer cans, a clown, and 15 people dressed up as various characters from Mario Kart! I saw several of them separately and couldn't catch a picture, but then I saw all of them gathered for a professional picture and I snagged a shot. 

The Mario Kart crew actually was in the wave right in front of mine, so I followed them to the start. Some of them had battle balloons, and the wind kept tangling them up, which was too bad. They were great costumes!

Right at 8:51, our wave approached the starting line, the trumpeter played the call that is played before the Kentucky Derby, and the gun went off! 

Since it was 9am and the day was bright and sunny, the race started off at a pretty warm temperature. We mostly ran through neighborhoods, which meant there were plenty of trees to provide shade. I tried to catch as much of it as possible. (And even though Boulder is known for its water conservation and green energy initiatives, there were plenty of people who were just spraying their hoses at the runners!)

They kept track of the race in kilometers and miles, and in no time we had hit the first kilometer. Of course, I stupidly thought, "Hey, this is gonna be easy! Only 9 more to go!" The first mile also felt the same way. 

There were lots of people cheering from their lawns, and some were handing out lemonade and beer. I saw a few runners on the course holding a beer can in their hands. Others just had the music cranked on their speakers, and some played instruments! I saw two furries cheering people as well, which must have been insanely hot. Of course, they weren't running, but still. 

It's funny - they encourage people to wear their personal headphones to play music, but it seemed like that literally every point in the race had either a DJ or live band blasting music! I still played my normal running music, because that's what I'm used to. 

Not only were there DJs and bands, there were some side adventures, too. There was a trampoline, an obstacle course, two slip-n-slides, a water balloon launcher, an inflatable pool, belly dancers, bagpipes, cookies, and cotton candy! There was something new around every corner. 

Of course, there was still a race to run, and when we hit the halfway point, everyone was saying, "You've done half! Now there's only half left!" and I'm thinking "I STILL HAVE HALF THE RACE TO GO?!" I was doing a run-walk interval, and I increased my running interval from the Disney races. Now I ran 2 minutes and walked 1 minute. My goal essentially was to be faster than my Disneyland 10K time, so that pushed me on. 

You see, I had a few setbacks in my training this time - one physical and one mental. Two weeks before the race, I smashed my left pinky toe against a cat scratching post. That set me back a few days - before that injury I had been doing so well. The day before I had done a 5K test run and completed it in my best time; when I started running after the injury, my pace had slowed by almost an entire minute. The toe didn't hurt as I ran, and by the time I ran the BolderBoulder it didn't affect me in the slightest. 

The mental setback was a conversation I had with some friends. I was mentioning that I was thinking about doing the run across the Mackinac Bridge, but I was wondering if I could maintain the required pace of 12 minutes. One of my friends looked at me and said, "Twelve minutes? That's so SLOW." 

Now at the time, I just looked straight at him and said in a matter-of-fact voice, "Well that's how fast I can run." But you don't realize how much of a toll that takes on your training until you just hear that over and over and it slows you down greatly. I tried to keep it out of my mind as I ran today. What was cool was that I was placed in a wave that was much slower than my normal pace. As a result, I was passing quite a few people. That helped my mental state.

The final leg took us down Pearl Street and down the road to the stadium. To get into the stadium, you needed to go uphill. That stunk, especially because it was the final part of the race! 

But finally, I entered the stadium. There was no locker room or tunnels like there were at Sports Authority Field for the Broncos 7K - they just take people right onto the field. (Well, sort of. They have a white flooring over the grass.) We did a loop, and I started to cramp. Was I going to finish the race in a walk? No! I pushed on and crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. I checked, and I did indeed beat my Disneyland 10K time by almost 15 minutes!)

The hardest part of the race (besides the running) was after the race. To get the postrace bag of goodies, you had to go into the stands and climb up all the way to the concourse level. And that concourse is not wide! So there were thousands of people crammed into the area trying to grab goodie bags, water bottles, Pepsi, and a free can of beer. I did indeed grab a beer, because it's Boulder!

Even though there wasn't a medal for this race, the goodie bag was full of stuff. I didn't check it out until I got back to Longmont, but I was impressed! (It also came in a nice little lunchbox - my new lunchbox for school!)

Once I exited the stadium, there was a bunch of other stuff you could do, but I was more interested in getting back to my friend and her family. But I had never been on CU's campus before, and got really turned around trying to find the buses! One guy got me in the right direction, and it took me around to (what I'm guessing) is the dormitory area and a green grassy area. That is a really beautiful campus.

I got a seat on the bus, and it was the bus' problem to get through Boulder traffic. I just sat back and texted with people and hoped I had gotten on the right bus! (Note: I had.)

I was exhausted the rest of the day, and really needed to amp my water intake the whole rest of the day, but I was glad I had done it. It's one of the most popular races in the nation, and I've done it!


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