Sunday, April 15, 2007

Running With a Kenyan or Are You Faster Than a 5th Grader?

Beautiful weather for the Canine Classic 5k out at the Boulder Reservoir this morning, 50's and sunny with occasional cloud cover. The predicted monster snow storm on Friday came to nothing so the trails were bone dry.

The start of the race was pure chaos with too many dogs & people crammed into much too small an area. This is one of the only races where I'll line up at the front because people who have no intention of running a single step will line up near the front and it's too hard to weave past them with all the dogs. If you've got a bunch of little kids and your dogs are wearing t-shirts you really shouldn't seed yourself up at the front. I stood off to the side with Lola until the start of the race to avoid the fray but once the race started I had to jump in at some point and for a minute or two it was a big jumble of legs, leashes and barking. The crowd quickly spread out though and we were on our way with few other issues.

This year the race was an out and back starting along a dirt trail along the south side of the Boulder Rez then heading back on another trail that lies just below the first trail so you didn't have dogs going in 2 directions on the same trail, a nice switch from years past.

I had no goal for this race, it was mainly to see where I was at, but I couldn't help wondering if there was a chance I could break 30 minutes. This was my first race since knee surgery a year ago last Feb. and my second since the car crash almost exactly 2 years ago so to be honest I was thankful just to be able to be out there with a number on my shirt. Still, I was trying to run it like a real race but had no idea how to pace myself or how hard I was capable of going. I'm tired of being injured and didn't want to end up sidelined because of overdoing it at a stupid 5k. First mile came up at 9:30 and I was happy enough with that but wasn't sure if I could keep up the pace.

When I turned onto the return trail I had to head downhill a bit and took advantage, picking up the pace and catching up to a Kenyan who was obviously out for a training run and found himself caught up in a mess of dogs and weekend warriors. Despite the warm temps. and hot sun melting the cloud cover away he was wearing a wooly hat, heavy long nylon workout pants and a nylon jacket on top of who know how many layers. Probably training for some crazy race in the desert somewhere. Anyway, I somehow found myself running side by side in perfect rhythm with him, probably the only time in my life I'll ever find myself running next to a Kenyan. Now mind you I was holding onto my pace for dear life and this man was probably 2 hours into a 6 hour run and taking it nice & easy. This second mile came up at 10:00 so even with the benefit of being paced by a Kenyan I was still falling off a bit.

The last quarter mile or so is when things got interesting. Behind me a man running with his 10 year old daughter being hauled at the end of a leash by an overly energetic Pointer pointed out an even younger boy ahead of us and bellowed out to her that she should try to beat him. My first thought (and I still stand by it) was that this father was pretty obnoxious, teaching his daughter the fine art of being snotty & overcompetitive at such a tender age. My second thought was hmmm, I wonder if I can take them both. Yes that's me, duking it out with the grade school kids. Unfortunately the girl took off and once the Pointer got that extra burst of speed I don't think she could have stopped him if she'd wanted to. She was soon out of sight but I did eventually catch the younger boy who looked, oh, about 7 or so. Mile 3 came in at 9:30 which put me at 29:00 total for the 3 miles. Could I run .1 mile in less than a minute to break 30:00? I was too tired & oxygen deprived to do the math but it seemed iffy. I turned a corner to find the finish line with the clock reading 29:40 when I crossed. A couple seconds later I clicked my own watch off and saw it said 30:06. Rats, that could easily have been the amount of time it took me to get over the start plus shut my watch off at the end but oh well, unless my official race time comes up 29:40 (it's possible I misunderstood where the start was and I had started my watch a bit early anyway) I'm putting it down as 30:06. In any case I was pretty close to guessing where I was at.

Lola's favorite part is the post race expo where she works all the people at the booths for treats and snugs. The little vixen is pretty darn good at it too, people were feeding and fussing over her right and left. She was so good during the race that I thought she deserved it and indulged her. She's been on such a restricitve diet the past few months so I figured it was o.k. for her to overindulge just a little. Then I took her down to the water to let her cool off and play a little. She had no interest in the free frisbee we got so I found her a stick and she went crazy, diving into the shallows after it.

I got an impressive haul of swag myself-a good sized bag of quality dog food, a large stainless steel travel mug, a mini Swiss army knife type thing, lots of treat and dog food samples, a water bottle, a $10 gift certificate to the snooty doggie boutique in Boulder's new shopping mall, and free organic ice cream. I also had some oreos for the first time in years. Normally I would never eat something so toxic but I was hungry after the race and they looked oh so inviting. They were yummy but it'll probably be years before I'll have another.

Even though my time was slow I do feel confident now that I can get back into racing. My legs feel like lead but in a normal, good, post race sort of way. Nothing feels injured though the car crash injuries surfaced ever so briefly as I was walking Lo down to the beach but quickly subsided. I suppose those will haunt me for evermore but it was no big deal really and didn't hamper me while I was racing. Next race will hopefully be the Buffalo Creek Triathlon Short Course in June. Now I just need to get my ass on that bike.


  1. Good job! 30:06 is pretty danged close and I'm betting you really were under the 30 mark. So how did you know the Kenyan was Kenyan?


  2. Well there was plenty of circumstantial evidence as well as the fact that the Kenyan runners are pretty well funded compared to other African nations so from a financial point of view running into a Kenyan in Boulder would be most likely. However the 'Kenya' on his jacket was a dead giveaway.

  3. Sounds like that course was measured about twenty metres short to me, Elayne ...

    ... excellent job on finishing your race.

  4. Typical Boulder event: the dog's goodies for a 5K beat anything I ever got for an ultra. I should be so lucky as to be a dog in Boulder, CO.

    Congrats on making it back to the start (and finish) line; it's been a long time. Way to be pig-headed.