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Race Report: Colder Boulder 2016

The last time I ran the Colder Boulder I was coming off a knee injury that severely curtailed my training. This year I was nursing a serious groin injury that held me out of training for months. In the run up to it next year I’m hoping to contract some sort of debilitating disease like leprosy or a taste for Taylor Swift music.

I honestly don’t have much to say about the race this time out. My injury gave me my longest stretch of idleness since I first laced up a pair of running shoes (not that I didn’t intermittently try to run, fail miserably, and probably reset the clock on my healing time, but that’s a different discussion), and I took advantage of the down time to… drown my sorrows in copious amounts of enchilada sauce. Somewhere between not training and eating enough food to choke a giraffe I gained about 28 pounds between the St George Marathon and this thing (that’s right I do everything fast, from running, to putting on weight, to… well, like I said, everything), and wasn’t expecting much from myself when I lined up to start. Hell, I only managed to legitimately start training on the Tuesday before the race, and I’m pretty sure there’s a proverb among one ancient people or another that says “Four days of training does not a runner make.” Actually I debated long and hard about whether I should even bother showing up, and in the end the embarrassment of not putting in the effort for a mere 5K I’d already paid for outweighed the embarrassment of a guaranteed awful finishing time, so I resolved to suck it up and just treat the thing like a high paced training run. But even with that goal in mind the result was a little ugly. At one point as I huffed and puffed along a volunteer told me to “push through the pain and get that PR,” so I glanced down at my watch and actually laughed out loud as I realized if I hopped in a car at that exact second and gassed it to the end of the race I’d still probably come up a few seconds short of a PR (by the way, I like this race, but don’t show up here looking for a new best time. The course isn’t quite hilly enough for me to call it legitimately slow, but you’ll definitely notice it isn’t flat, and some of those speed robbing zig zag turns are sharper than an errant elbow from an restless partner sharing a twin sized bed). Eventually I did manage to cross the finish line and earned myself a shiny new personal worst 5K time (by 40 fucking seconds). In the end I’m happy to be racing again (or running at all for that matter) but I think I’d like to quickly move on from this one (a hell of a lot quicker than I actually ran it).

Overall Impressions: I put together more detailed thoughts on this race back in 2015, and most of those impressions still hold true. Overall it’s a fun race and I would highly recommend it to someone looking for something to blast through while spending as little time as possible braving the unpredictable elements of a Colorado winter. Although one note I’d add that I couldn’t speak to before is, if you can, go to the Bolder Boulder in May and earn yourself an entry in one of the qualified waves for this thing. The cheering section’s mostly the same (outside of the finish line it’s mostly volunteers and a few random passerby students), but the course itself is just way less crowded (there were 18 runners in my wave this year as opposed to the 1,688 I ran with in the open wave the year before). Parking’s also easier for the earlier waves, before everyone else has shown up. And, while there’s fewer people in the sheltered (and heated) finish area to cheer you on as you cross the finish line, there’s also fewer to fight through for post race snacks, beer, and (most importantly) bathrooms. In fact, really the only downside to the early morning waves is the prospect of running at a dramatically colder temperature. In 2015 I did this race in a long sleeved running tee and felt overdressed, while this year someone mentioned to me that the temperature was just under 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) when we got the starting nod. But that’s why it’s a 5K. Run fast damn it, the hot chocolate’s at the finish line.