The Bolder Boulder is one of the largest running races in the US. Each year over 50,000 run this 10k around the city of Boulder, Colorado. Having now lived in the area for over a year it was about time I ran in the race. It also helped that my work was willing to cover the entry fees; I will never turn down a free race. The course runs the different roads around Boulder before finishing with half a lap around Folsom field and the finish.
Leading up to the race I did not train too much, just doing enough to be ready. I also had to do a short qualifying run on a treadmill to get a better starting position. If you do not, then you get placed in a later wave, and that makes it harder to get enough room to run your race. I had to run two miles on a treadmill, and my wave was determined by that pace. I decided that seven and a half minute miles would be good and ended up getting wave D. This put me up near the front which would allow me to run my race.
The Bolder Boulder is held on Memorial Day and essentially closes down the city. I ended up carpooling in with a buddy of mine, and then we parked on the outskirts of the city and caught a bus to the race. They do a good job with special routes just for the race. Race day morning was a perfect morning for a run. It was perfectly clear out with only a slight breeze. The day was supposed to get up into the eighties, but I would be well done by that time. The race started around 7am, and my wave was shortly after that. There are actually waves that start-up to around 11, so I was happy to be going early.
When we arrived at the race, it was a bit cold. I feel like I am always freezing before a race as I am dressed to run, not stand around. We dropped off our backpacks and did a bit of stretching before heading to our waves. I was a couple of waves ahead of my buddy, so I would not see him until we finished. Standing in my wave, I decided to line up toward the back as I did not want to go out to hard. I did not know how fast I might be able to go so I wanted to pace myself. The start was fairly uneventful as they started a wave every couple minutes so you just slowly walked up to the start line then started running. Off the start, I got into a decent groove right away as we headed up the road. For most of the course the roads are quite wide and only in a couple of sections did I ever feel a bit closed in. I will also add that I did try to run the inside on occasions, which likely contributed to this.
The first mile was mostly flat, and I was aiming for a 7:30 mile which I hit right on the nose. So far, so good. I figured I would run the race on feel, so I picked it up a bit on mile two. Miles number two and three are the uphill sections of the course. For mile two, I had a pretty good pace of 7:22 but on the third mile I slowed down bit and went 7:38. I was still happy with how I was feeling and enjoying the community atmosphere of the race. Since the course goes through some of the city neighborhoods, many people come out and support the runners. There were bands, sprinklers, and even a slip-n-slide. Mile 4 is the top of the course. Since I was feeling pretty good, I decide to pick it up some more. At this point, the course also starts to head back towards the stadium, and I started to feel the pull of the finish line. Even though mile four is pretty much flat my pace increased to a 7:15 mile.
After getting over one small hill at the beginning of mile five you start to make your way downhill, which is fun. It was at about this point that I started to need to dig a little deeper to maintain my faster pace. I was also starting to notice some of the people around me more since we were all at a similar pace. Most of the race up until this point I had been passing quite a lot of people, but as I made my way up, the racers got faster so this was happening less and less. I also noticed at one point on this mile that I slowly passed a kid who had to be 10 or 11 years old. He could not have been much higher than my belly button, which was crazy. As for my pace, this was my fastest mile at 7:02. Mile six was pretty fun as it is down Pearl Street, an iconic street in Boulder. I was now pushing with everything I had left and while most of the mile was flat or slightly downhill, the last section kicks up and makes for a net uphill mile. Even so, I was still doing well and now able to hear the finish line which always helps me with my last kick. Mile six ended up coming in at 7:09 so I was feeling really good about that. The last little bit of the race is a steep hill into Folsom Field and a half lap around the track to the finish. This little hill is actually a little mean and painful at this point in the race. Many people seemed to be struggling up it a bug, so I once again passed quite a few. There was even some unfortunate spots where earlier runners had lost their breakfast. Once at the top of the hill, I cruised around the track driven by adrenaline and knowing the pain would be over soon.
I crossed the line in 45:33 and a 7:17 pace which was right where I hoped to. After waiting a couple of minutes my buddy also came across the line and hit his goal too. We wandered out and grabbed our bags before getting some pictures. For the whole race the temperature seemed about right but once up in the stands and in the sun, you could feel it warming up. It was also funny to think there were people who wouldn’t be starting for a couple more hours. We did a quick pass through the finishing area where a lot of vendors were handing out food and goodies which I’d always fun. Nothing like ice cream in the morning. After a quick bus ride and drive home, I was ready for the rest of the day, and it was still morning.
As for the Bolder Boulder, it was a fun race. I was impressed with how smoothly it went even though it is huge. It is a net uphill race at 5,400 feet in altitude, so I wouldn’t expect your fastest race, but it is a fun experience, and I would definitely recommend it. As always, Your Mileage May Vary.
Newton MV3 Shoes – I really like how light these shoes are. I just feel fast when I wear them and for a short race like this they were perfect.
Garmin Forerunner 101 GPS Watch – I like this watch. It does what I need without being overkill. It is nice to have the pace to gauge how I was doing.