Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mrs. Crankypants Runs the Bolder Boulder

Welcome to summer reruns. No, I didn't run the Bolder Boulder yesterday. This race report is from 2003. But eventually I want to get all of my pre-blog race reports cut and pasted into the blog so I can have them all in one place. This report originally appeared on an old defunct running forum.

For those unfamiliar, the Bolder Boulder is one of the biggest 10K (6.2 miles) road races in the U.S. I think there were 44,000 or so people in this race in 2003, not sure how many raced yesterday. For some people it's a highly competitive road race, for others who walk it it's a big street party. Competitiors dress up, there are bands and belly dancers lining the streets for most of the course. Anyway, here's my old race report to tide you over until I have time to write about more recent events.


I entered this race completely untrained and had no goals in mind other than running as best I could. Someone gave me a free entry form a few weeks ago so I thought what the hey. I've been running only 2-3 times per week-one long trail run on the weekend and 1 or 2 short lunch time runs, and the past 2 weekends were spent at dog agility competitions so even those trail runs weren't happening. This is my 6th Bolder Boulder, I run it every other year or so, and I'm sure it'll be my worst, at least time wise.

My pre-race tactics involve trying to arrive at the start line as close to my wave start as possible so that I can lessen my chances of hearing a Bruce Springsteen song and getting it stuck in my head for the entire race, as almost happened to me at the Chicago Marathon. I leave my house at 6:55 am, park the car at 7:00 and have a nice 10 minute warm up jog to the start line, arriving just in time to hear the last 30 secs. of 'Born to Run'. Aaaaaargh!!! I try to drown it out with just about every Ramones song I can think of and finally succeed. My wave leaves around 7:30, within seconds of its advertised start time, and the Boss is mercifully purged from my brain.

Soon just about everything else is purged from my brain as I try to keep up with my wave. My first mile is 9:50, yes I know it's slow for most of you but for me, well, I honestly can’t remember the last time I've run a mile this fast, it was at least before starting to train for the Chicago marathon last June. I feel like crap and I can't remember why I thought this would be fun. The second mile's a bit slower at 10:05. I pass an Elvis impersonator and I still have enough oxygen making it to my brain to slightly enjoy his crooning. By the third mile I'm feeling much better despite the course heading uphill. This is usually the hardest part for me but all that trail running must be paying off as I'm actually passing people and my mile split is a 'blazing' 9:25 despite the hills. My split at the halfway mark is 30:36 and this is the last split I can remember despite looking at my watch at all the mile markers. The rest of the race is just a blur. Through the haze I think I see my massage therapist in a line of belly dancers and maybe my dog sitter playing African drums. Unfortunately I have enough of my wits about me to recognize the theme from Rocky being blared from two different locations on the course. At least it's the original theme and not 'Eye of the Tiger'. Somewhere between miles 4 and 5 there are jokers passing out donuts and hot bacon. Somebody actually takes the bacon and I turn my head away so I can't see the horror of him eating it.

By the time I reach the final short but steep hill up to the stadium/finish line I'm trying to figure out if I can possibly break an hour but I'm just too out of it to do the math. I look up stupidly from my watch to find an elderly woman in front of me who's crapped her shorts and is wheezing and staggering alarmingly up the hill. Being the kind and thoughtful person that I am all I can think is that I really need to get as far away from Miss Crappypants as I can or I'm going to lose my breakfast. Thankfully someone with a firmer grasp of priorities (and probably less oxygen deprivation) tries talking the woman into stopping. I'm angry with myself for being so selfish but keep on going up the hill, hoping very hard that the lady takes his advice and seeks medical attention.

My finish time is 1:00:31, pretty slow but over a minute faster than my worst time 2 years ago so I don't even manage the PW I was aiming for. I thought it would be a lot uglier so I really can't complain and now that it's over I've decided it really was kind of fun.

After the race I met up with the Colorado contingent of the V-teamers, very cool to meet them all though with the noise of the stadium I was having a hard time hearing (too many loud concerts in my youth). I didn't hang around to watch the pro race, it would have been fun to see in person but I've seen it other years and I really just wanted to get home. I actually preferred it when the pros ran the same course thru the neighborhoods as the regular folk and they didn't have the teams but I watched it on tv and enjoyed it anyway. The worst part of the whole race was having to wait 50 minutes for the freakin' bus. I could have walked home quicker. Instead I waited & waited while some crazy old guy from Ireland who was touring America told me bad jokes. All in all a pretty fun day.


  1. That sounds like it was quite a day! But at least you can still run in the Bolder Boulder - the Bay to Breakers out here is so jampacked with party types that you wind up walking the first couple miles trapped in a sea of people and never really get your running going till nearly the end.

  2. Luckily the Bolder Boulder has seeded waves that you have to qualify for and they'll take just about any race result so it's easy to qualify. I've never had a problem with crowds in a seeded wave but once I entered last minute in a non-seeded wave and that was a nightmare. It was the first non-seeded wave for people hoping to finish in under 1:05 or something like that and people were walking right from the start. I'll never do that race again without being in a seeded wave unless I intend to walk.

    I'm surprised Bay to Breakers, which I think is even bigger than Bolder Boulder, doesn't have a wave system, even a small one. It works really well and all levels can enjoy the race at their own pace. I'm always amazed at how well organized the BB is considering the massive amounts of people jammed into such a small area.

  3. I took a quick peek at the Bay to Breakers website and they do have seeded waves but they're very competitive, way more competitive than the Bolder Boulder. If you're under 40 you have to run sub 7:00 min. miles for 10K for a seeded wave and around 7:15 for a sub-seeded wave, whatever that means. If you're 40-50 you can qualify for sub-seeded with around 8:20. The Bolder Boulder waves go up to 10:00 min per mile for a 10K.

    I also noticed that Bay to Breakers had around 22,400 finishers compared to Bolder's 48,000 or so. For some reason I thought it was bigger. It's still a huge crowd to have to wade through if you're stuck with people walking in big bulky costumes and qualifying for those seeded/sub-seeded waves is tough.