I registered for the Bolder Boulder Tuesday in person at their 29th Street Mall location. I’d tell you where exactly at the mall but I want you to have as much fun as I did trying to find it in 10° and blowing snow that evening. I went in person to request the starting wave I felt I should be in – wave B. This maps to my plan to run a 7 minute pace. Of course, they don’t let just anyone walk in from the street and demand their starting wave. They looked up my recent performances. First I told them to look up Sunday’s Boulder Half. “Not fast enough.” Next I had them look up Moab. “That’ll be $54.” I got my race bib to start in wave B – #B037. I still held a card in my hands from a race ran at sea level this year that I was ready to throw down on the table if necessary.
It’s never been my style to be so concerned about a starting wave. When I returned to road races a few years ago, I ran them at my workout pace. I treated the events as sort of a celebration of my fitness but didn’t necessarily race. With no expectations other than a workout, I’d casually stroll up to the start and line up behind the best scenery. And that hasn’t changed so much with the exception of the Bolder Boulder that is coming up because I have made a project of sorts out of increasing my speed at shorter distances. Nowadays I consider a 10K to be a shorter distance. Maybe I shouldn’t refer to it as racing because a 7 minute pace won’t be competitive, but it’s fair to say I’ll be racing myself – or the clock.
I know from past Bolder Boulders that running back in the pack can really slow down your potential time. Even if the wave is accurate for your pace, there will be tons of people you’ll have to pass. It not only slows you down, you have to run farther by not running a straight line. And it’s frustrating if you really do want to cruise. I’ll tell you a worse story – not that it applies to this event. I actually took 2nd place in my division at the Boulder Half. This is according to chip time. And really, what other time would count? Well, apparently USATF sanctioned events go by clock time. I beat 2nd place by nearly a half minute but he finished 6 seconds ahead of me. He started on the line while I started in the back. Whatever. The rules are the rules. At least I started behind some nice scenery. Would have been nice though had they mentioned this detail in the FAQs, but I’m taking away from this experience that position matters.
I refer to this above as a project rather than a goal because that’s what it’s all about really. The process. I don’t intend to wake up on Memorial Day and hope to run a 7 minute pace. Between now and then, I’ll perform the necessary actions to lower my pace by the requisite 30 seconds per mile. Like Lance says, I’ll pump up the tires and fill the water bottles. And on race day, I could dial in my time. I’ll absolutely know what I can do before I do it. Because I’ll have prepared for it. Just like my buddy Keith followed a plan to gradually increase his distance before running his first marathon. After he had run so many 20 plus mile workouts, Keith knew he could run 26. He might have found religion in those couple of extra miles, but there was no doubt he could run the distance because he’d pretty much done it in the weeks and months leading up to the marathon.
I’ll do the same thing. I’ll start wearing my Garmin on training runs. I’ll be running a 7 minute pace on 8 mile runs before I line up on Memorial Day to run that pace for 6 miles. So it won’t be arrogance or a cocky attitude. There won’t be any nerves. There’ll be some hope perhaps that I can exceed my expectations. A 6 minute pace would be competitive at my age. A boy can dream.