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The 2011 running of the Bolder Boulder could be it for me for awhile.  It’s the last road race on my schedule until perhaps an Aspen half marathon trail run in September.  I refrained from running the remainder of this week in order to recover from plantar fasciitus in my left foot caused from pronation and wearing the wrong shoes to correct it.  Worse, after buying a proper pair of shoes, my left knee began to hurt like a sonofagun.  And there’s simply no reason for me to run through the pain any longer than I already have.  I’m no Chronic Runner.  I’ve completed most of my goals for the year.  I suppose I’d have other goals but they’ve been usurped by my weekends hiking the Colorado Trail.  First, I’ll recount the 2011 Bolder Boulder, then I’ll relate future plans.

I initially set this run as the biggest target of the year.  It was my first serious road race after over 20 years and marked my re-entry into the sport last spring.  It would serve as the perfect measure of improvement in my fitness level.  I ran a marathon down in Austin and two halves (one in Moab and one here in Boulder) over the winter to prepare.  I had planned to then perform some speed training in order to teach my muscles how to run fast again.  My goal was to beat last year’s mile pace by a full minute.  I ran an 8:01 mile pace in 2010 and truly believed a 7 minute pace was possible.  A boy can dream.  But instead of speed work I began running the Colorado Trail on weekends with a good friend.  And I have no regrets, I’m having a blast.  I’ve hiked the first 5.5 segments and intend to spend the rest of the summer – and likely some of the fall – completing the full 28 trail segments.  Additionally, work has been too busy to afford me the time to increase my mileage during the week.  A half hour run is about all I have time for.  Actually, I might get more time now that the days are getting longer.  But still, I’ve only been running 3.5 miles during week days.  So I entered this year’s run with reset goals, hoping to only beat last year’s time by any measurable amount.  I thought maybe I could run a 7:30 mile pace at best.  I came close.

The official Boulder Boulder Timex had me at a 7:46 pace.  I prefer to reference my Garmin results which showed me run a 7:37 mile pace.  My belief is, starting further back in the pack results in running less of a straight line.  Having to go around slower runners causes you to zigzag across the street.  My Garmin measured my overall distance at 6.33 miles.  And this is accurate.  Both the Garmin and the BB Timex finish times are of course correct at 48:17, but I ran farther than a 10K.  Seems like a trivial point and it is since I’m pretty happy with both times.  But it is interesting how much harder you have to work back in the pack.

If there is a reason I’m a bit focused on my Garmin results it’s because the more I consider this phenomenon, the more I believe it’s possible I didn’t run faster than last year.  I wasn’t in a qualifying wave last year and started way, way in the back.  I remember being frustrated by how much passing and slowing down to pass I had to do last year.

By contrast, I started this year in the CC wave, only 10 minutes after the first wave.  If my Garmin had me run 6.33 miles this year with only 8 waves ahead of me and minimal passing, it’s conceivable I ran 6.5 miles last year.  For all I know, I ran the same true pace.  If there’s a useful point to this, it’s that it’s important to be in an early qualified wave if you hope to meet a goal time.  I expect to be able to enter in the C wave next year based on this year’s time, avoiding a few thousand more runners.  Theoretically, my allotment into a qualified wave has me in a self-propelling spiral of faster times each year whilst only truly running the same pace.  If you think I’m pulling your leg, I propose that if the gap between my Garmin time and the BB time is smaller next year, then there’s some possible truth to my bullshit.  In fact, I suspect I could measure this gap now with other Garmin wearing runners who started in various waves.  If you’re one of them, comment with your gap.  My gap is .13 miles and a 10 second mile pace.  I imagine there are diminishing negative returns, but I suspect this effect is measurable in the first 20 or so waves.

That’s really the biggest thing I got out of this year’s event – it made for some good discussion at the Gadget Girl’s post race Memorial Day BBQ.  Other than that, nice running weather – the light rain felt good.  Finishing in Folsom Stadium is always cool and I believe one of the key features that makes this event.  And I think the new start works out much better.  Parking is improved by an order of magnitude.  More importantly, the first mile is no longer downhill.  In past events, this would lead inexperienced runners to start too fast and then die on mile 2 which runs up Folsom.  It’s difficult enough to maintain early pace discipline with 56,000 runners breathing down your neck.  Now I believe, based on some of the times I’ve queried, many runners ran strong through the second mile and didn’t slow down until mile 3 – which is a tough one.

My personal race experience is best illustrated in the pace chart near the top of this blog.  It shows me running an extremely even pace – I didn’t just average 7:46 per mile, I ran within a few seconds of that time each mile.  You might think I’ve been running for so long that perhaps I don’t know a different pace.  There’s a little truth to that, but trust me when I tell you this is fast for me.  My training pace is closer to 8:30.  So I’m happy that I did in fact race this event by pushing myself.  I had two concerns toward this.  I was fairly certain I could run a 7:30 pace after warming up.  But I didn’t know if I could start off that fast.  And I was concerned I might start off too quickly by following the crowd.  I discovered however that many of the runners in my wave were experienced enough – God knows they looked a lot more athletic than me – to control their starting pace.  So being able to begin with a 7:45 mile and then maintain that pace has me quite pleased with my performance.  I had a smile on my face the rest of the day.  I can tell you though, while my legs felt strong the entire run, my weak-assed stomach got in my way when I wanted to turn on the jets in mile 5.  I’ve given up on trimming it down much more, but some situps are in order.  I could do that while I’m not running.

As I mentioned at the start, I’ve taken the rest of this week off from running.  My knee feels totally better already; that would be stupid to let a knee injury continue.  I don’t know that my plantar fasciitus will heal quite so quickly, but it should heal over time if I have the right shoes.  It does feel marginally better after a few days of rest.  I can tell by how sore my heel is when I wake in the morning.  I’m not exactly jumping out of bed like Cameron Diaz just yet.  Whatever, I’ll take a sore heel over a knee injury any day.

A little something about buying the wrong shoes.  I reviewed the Runner’s World review on shoes for stability – to correct the pronation in my left foot.  I clipped the picture of the ASICs Gel-Kayano and went to Dick’s Sports which is only 2 miles down the road.  They had a shoe that matched the picture, and to add confidence, the $140 suggested retail price matched.  But it didn’t have a label with the shoe name.  I bought it and it never seemed to help.  I then bought inserts, but it still always hurt and my plantar fasciitus has continued to progress.  A week before the Bolder Boulder I visited the renown Boulder Running Company to purchase new shoes.  Their help there consists of expert world class athletes.  I explained my issue.  The guy barely glanced at my shoes without a name and said, “Those aren’t the Kayano, those are the Nimbus.  They’re designed for supination.”  Dammit!  That explains my pain.  That helps to also explain why the Austin Marathon hurt like hell.  They got me on the tread mill to ensure the Kayano corrected my pronation.  This is why you go to the Boulder Running Company.  I’ll never go anywhere else again.  I picked up a pair of racing shoes too to reward myself for all my running and so I could stop racing in heavy trainers.

I might go a second week without running to heal.  I’m not worried about losing my conditioning, or more importantly, losing my discipline.  I’m comfortable that I’ll stay in shape.  Too much competition from the neighbors to let myself go entirely.  You live in Boulder County – you know what I mean.  The typical house wife is 5-11, world class at something, and can kick your ass while her spouse is out shopping at REI.  If I feel I’m no longer running sufficiently to blog a runner’s theme, I’ll change up the topics here.  Wouldn’t be the first time.  I’ll archive the blogs tagged with the “running” category into a menu item above like I’ve done with some of my other stories if I do end this theme.  Wait a second.  Just added the menu item.  Hot damn, my running category has 56 posts, over half my blog.  And this post makes 100 total stories.  Time to change up my content because I’m done with forking over copious coin for the digital downloads of these race pics.