Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bolder Boulder

Photo from the Daily Camera: This is the wave I started in
In the eight years I have lived in Boulder, I have avoided the annual spectacle that is the Bolder Boulder 10K. Various reasons have kept me away from the start line. Conflicting races. Injuries. Apathy. But, mostly, I have stayed away from this legendary race because of the enormity of the number of racers.

This year, I decided that I had run out of excuses. I signed up for the race. In doing so, I embraced all that the Bolder Boulder weekend had to offer. Mark and I went to the Boulder Creek festival on Saturday and the race expo on Pearl Street on Sunday. Adding race day on Monday, I had three very full days of crowd control.
The happy group race morning: Mark, JZ, Krista, Lara, Billy
My race was over right from the start. I had trouble breathing almost immediately. When I reached the 2k banner, I was contemplating just running home since it was much closer than the finish line. I forged on though, mostly because Mark was running as well and we had planned to meet at the finish area. I backed off the pace in hopes of feeling better. Just after the 4 mile marker, I was stooped over on the side of the road wheezing like a pack a day smoker who just climbed a flight of stairs. After about 10 minutes, I stepped back onto the course and finished the race.

Fortunately, my asthma has been under fairly good control lately, so this episode was unexpected. Despite all of the years of experience with asthma, and despite all of the counseling I have given to other athletes with asthma, I was still incredibly disappointed that this happened. Later in the day, I commiserated with a fellow asthma sufferer who dropped out of the race at the very spot I stood on the side of the road. It turns out that misery truly loves company.

When I was discussing the race with Mark, I was lamenting about my frustration. He asked if I would have been happier if I had just run poorly and turned in a bad time. I replied, “of course, not,” to which he responded, “There is no such thing as a “good” bad day.” His words, which made me chuckle, are so true. I never jump for joy over a bad race, no matter the circumstances.

Despite the less than awesome outcome of this race, I had the opportunity to make some interesting observations.

Triathletes really stand out in running races. Runners pin their race number onto their shirt. Triathletes use a number belt. Runners either wear a full hat or no hat. Triathletes use a visor.  Finally, runners wear their Boston marathon gear. Triathletes sport their Ironman gear. The wearing of the race shirt during the race seems to be a universal faux pas. Compression socks have made the jump from obscure triathlon fad to being respected apparel during run races. Today, I pinned my number on my top, but I wore a visor; apparently I am still a triathlete at heart.

Just in case you men out there were wondering, us ladies are well aware when our “headlights” are showing. No, we do not like it; it just happens to be a side effect of racing in scanty clothing. I have been caught on numerous occasions in photographs with this embarrassing affliction. I have tried different sports bras to no avail. I was grousing about this to my friend Kim recently when an indecent photo surfaced after a recent race. She owns a specialty bra shop called Boulder Fields (I liked the name The Knocker Locker, but she thought it was too crass). She recommended a product called DIMRS (you know, “dimmers”; such a cute name), a silicon protector which smoothes things out in the chest area. They worked fantastically and will now become a part of my race kit.

Racing at altitude is hard. I can’t wait to head to sea level this week to tackle the Rock ‘n Roll San Diego half marathon.

5 comments:

  1. I will have to find some dimmers that sounds great!

    Sorry about your race.

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  2. This is a very funny post - sorry the asthma hit at such a bad time, but your writing here is delightful - the runner vs. triathlete analysis is excellent!

    I have a lot of trouble with asthma myself. Strange to say, I only realized that that was what I was having after not one but TWO marathons where I ran with strongly positive splits, both times aiming for sub-4, hitting the halfway point at pretty much exactly 2:00 and then saying with puzzlement to myself, "This is very strange, I am not metabolically wiped out, I haven't been running too fast but I JUST CAN'T SEEM TO GET ENOUGH AIR!" And then slowing down to a pace where I COULD get enough air. I use steroids and a pre-exercise albuterol inhaler to manage it now, and it's much better, but I still get pretty wheezy if I'm not careful - it's no fun!

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  3. Jenny-

    I'm so glad that your asthma is under control. As you know, prevention is the best way to operate! Good luck.

    JZ

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  4. I must say, it is nice to hear a pro say that "it is hard to race at altitude"! This makes me feel a little better. I seem to travel to races at sea level because I feel so much better running than I do on my training runs in Colorado. Great posts -love reading your blog and thanks for all of the tips!

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