“Why would you want to do that to yourself?”
“It’s a huge party! It’s one of those Boulder experiences everyone should have at least once!”
“It’s expensive and crowded and you’ll spend half your time dodging people in gorilla suits and tutus! Besides you hate running on pavement.”
“It’s not that expensive and if you get into one of the qualified waves of people actually running, you won’t be stuck with all the yahoos.”
“There are plenty of more interesting races out there.”
“Sure, but they all require more training and traveling commitment than something done right across the street from where you work.”
Oh fine! I’ll give it a shot. If nothing else, I’ve never raced something as short as a 10k, it would be nice to have a race over in less than an hour, and I need some new T-shirts.
Thus it was that I talked myself into running the Bolder Boulder, second largest 10k race in the US, possibly the world, held for the past 33 years on Memorial Day in Boulder. Fifty thousand people regularly participate and an equal number of spectators and camp followers turn the town into a complete circus. They have the logistics pretty dialed, but it’s still a lot of people.
I have enough of an ego that I fancy myself an actual runner (as opposed to the vast majority of people who come out and jog or walk the 6.2 miles), so I can go in one of the first dozen waves (launched a minute apart in groups of a few hundred) and minimize pace dispersion and traffic on the course. There’s only one problem. To compete in a qualified wave, you have to have a qualifying time from a race in the last year. My two races of 2010… well, let’s just say they wouldn’t predict a particularly fast time in a road 10k.
So I bit the bullet and went down to do a two mile time trial on the treadmills at Bolder Boulder HQ. While treadmills are awful, it solves my pacing problem nicely; I can punch in my desired pace, and then have no choice but to keep it. I’m normally not good at pacing and will slip into my usual 9-10 minute mosey if left to my own devices.
Two miles later, having gotten no where but incredibly sweaty, I staggered off the treadmill. I managed a 7:24 pace which is, for me, unprecedentedly fast. I felt completely pounded and limp. This is way faster than I intend to race (8 minute pace or so), but enough to qualify me for the C-wave start — 7th off the blocks at 7:06:30 am and estimated to finish 48+/-1 minutes later. Based on previous flat 10 mile and half-marathon finishes, I hope to manage an 8-minute pace which should bring me in just under my 50-minute goal. Granted I was in much better shape for both of those races, but having slightly faster people to pull me along should help.
Oy! Time will tell. I’ve got three weeks to get trained up. Or something. If nothing else, I’ve got this nice shirt to hang in my closet.