Sometimes, our journeys lead us to unexpected destinations.
Like when I’m trying to change my Apple ID on my high school email address and I end up finding one of the papers I wrote in tenth grade.
I cringed, I laughed, I almost threw up, but I was able to see how I’ve progressed into the writer I am today. Plus I was able to relive the fun years of acne and boys never talking to me.
And I thought it was too good not to share, so if you’re ever considering running the Bolder Boulder, this paper should be the impetus that gets you to sign up.
Being Bolder (in Boulder!)
Dawn broke early on Memorial Day of 2011. I stepped outside of our hotel room’s sliding glass door and inhaled the cool, fresh air. Through the dark haze I could just make out the
Flatiron mountain range. While they’re not quite as impressive as their cousins, the Rockies, they still pack quite a punch for a flatlander. I stretched and smiled. Today was the day that my family and I were running the largest and best 10k in America, The Bolder Boulder in Boulder, Colorado.
As I prepped for the race, I gave myself a little prerace pep talk. “This really, really, doesn’t even matter,” I thought to myself. “Run as slow as you wish.” I dressed in my favorite pink running shoes, matching shorts, and my “Fudge!” tee-shirt that got our cross country team into trouble my freshman year. I stretched my legs and pinned on my race tag. Then, my parents and I slipped out into the early morning darkness and made our way to the bus stop. Walking through Boulder at any time of the day is quite the experience, but six in the morning is a world all to itself. The hippies that dominate the daytime are still sleeping peacefully, so it was only myself, the rustic, cabinesque architecture, and of course, the valleys of sagebrush and columbine flowers, framed by the elusive mountains.
As my parents and I got onto the race bus, we weren’t surprised to see toned, fit people clad in short shorts sharing Powerbars and zoning out, plugged into their iPods. The Bolder Boulder attracts more than 50,000 people annually, so naturally, not everyone starts together in one big amoeba. Waves start every two minutes, with the first (and fastest) wave starting at 7
AM, and the last wave starting nearly two hours later. I, being the stud that I am, started at 7:04 in wave BA, possibly the most b.a. wave in the race. My brothers, failing to submit a qualifying time, were in wave HJ, meaning they got to enjoy an extra hour of sleep.
The race starting line wasn’t as packed as I imagined it would be. People were spread out stretching and socializing. A few random strangers attempted to talk to me. I, being tired and cranky and not in the mood to converse, generally ignored them. Our conversations went a little something like this:
Stranger- “Nice morning, isn’t it?”
Stranger- “Ready to run?”
Stranger- “Is this your first Bolder Boulder?”
Stranger- “So, do you do cross country?”
Me- “Please go away before I mace you.”
Needless to say, I did not make very many friends that day.
The Race started with a bugle call, and the first wave was off. Four minutes later, wave
BA was let go and I tore off like a bat out of hell. Actually, more like a 3-toed-sloth out of the Ice Age. My goal was to run as slow as humanely possible without actually falling over. The morning was cold and rainy, but by the first kilometer mark I was wishing that I wore a tank top. My face was uncomfortably hot, and I was sure I could feel my hair falling out of its bun.
The first mile came and went, and I was wondering, “Why the (bleep) do I like to run? I
could be in my (bleeping) bed right now!” Fortunately. The on-course entertainment distracted me. Throughout the entire race, I witnessed countless bands, including one comprised of 12 year old children, belly dancers, a slip-and-slide (which I am proud to say I went on, adding 5 pounds to my clothing and 5 minutes to my time), and people handing out beer and cupcakes from their front yards.
Some clever souls dressed up, and I am proud to say that I didn’t let any of these people beat me, except for a girl dressed as an eagle. More noticeable than she were a group of teletubbies, a gorilla carrying a cage with an actual person in it, a ticking time bomb, and a whole herd of purple people.
By the fourth mile, I was exhausted to the point of tears. So, I plugged into my handy dandy iPod to help me push through the last two miles. The course, up to this point, was an uphill battle. At this point, though, I broke from my reverie and noticed a sign: “Summit of the
Bolder Boulder.” “What does that mean?” I pondered. Soon after that, I had my answer: a giant downhill slope. I smiled like a crazy person, and the whole world probably thought me mentally unstable, but I didn’t care. This was my time to shine, baby.
When I saw the six mile mark, I thought to myself, “Woo hoo! The race is almost over!”
But as anyone who’s ever run a 10k knows, it’s not a six mile race. It’s 6.2 miler. And anything can happen in that last fifth of a mile.
A big hill greeted me as I passed the six mile mark. And by big, I mean gigantic, enormous, completely vertical climb kind of hill. I changed the song on my iPod to “City of
Blinding Lights” by U2 and gritted my teeth. I wasn’t going to let this road bump ruin the great time I had going.
Well, I made it to the top of the hill. My calves were screaming and my thighs were begging for mercy, but I made it. The final stretch of the race leads into Folsom Field, CU Boulder’s football stadium. For a brief period of time, I felt like I was running the ball down the field for a 100-yard touchdown. I sprinted out the last 300 meters and crossed the electronic timing mat. I turned off my iPod and was barraged by the sound of 50,000 runner’s heavy feet and labored breathing. I was shepherded through a labyrinth of barricades into a loud, hot crowded room where we received a complimentary gift bag full of healthy, organic snacks.
“That’s Boulder for you!” I thought.
My family members weren’t close to finishing yet, so I decided to walk back to the hotel and change. “It’s not that far. It’ll be easy to find!” was my thought process. After passing the planetarium three times, crossing two soccer fields, and walking by a sculpture of half a pair of glasses, I realized that I was an idiot. After finally finding the hotel, changing and making the long trek back to Folsom Field, I found my family, plus some random cousins that I didn’t know were there, sitting in the open-air stadium. My dad looked online at our race results on my mom’s Blackberry, because the great people behind the scenes at the Bolder Boulder post them almost immediately. I had run a 47:51! Quite the respectable time for a flatlander!
The Bolder Boulder taught me that I can excel at anything I choose, even if at first I find it difficult or intimidating. My family and I also bonded over the mutual pain of running at high altitudes. Last but not least, I have an uber legit story to tell people when they ask me about my summer!
I also found some of the chain emails and correspondences with boys from junior high on my email account, in case anyone is interested.