Be it ever so humble / There’s no place like home.
Run Start - 10K between T&T and beer.
It’s been a tough spring at Blaze Travel Guides.
My dedicated readers have probably noticed my dearth of posts in April and May. This was in part due to an all-out push to finish up the European content before I head to Canada tomorrow. This was in part due to many things which were out of my control. The absence of writing has been reflected by the absence of miles I’ve run on the road. While I’ve been able to keep up my fitness on the bike, the reality was I came into today’s race uncertain of my conditioning, uncertain of my motivation, uncertain of myself.
On the bright side, I came into this race with my friend Tanya. After two years away from running, this spring Tanya dedicated herself to a couch-to-5K training program, and continued to work her way up to a solid 4-mile circuit before this race.
We came to the Bolder Boulder starting line with two different running histories behind us. And yet, we came to the starting line with the same excitement, nervousness, and anticipation that many of today’s 55,000 runners also harbored in their hearts.
As we stood in a clump, jumping up and down and waiting to go, I couldn’t help thinking about all the places I’ve been in this past year, all the people I’ve met, all the runs I’ve taken. On so many of them I was alone. For the most part I’m okay with that – I’ve learned to embrace the loneliness of the long-distance runner. But there’s something special about days when the roads are closed and the mountains stand tall, and the home course is decked out with fans and entertainment along its entire 10,000-meter length. There’s something nice about days when you aren’t alone, and you’re surrounded by the friends and community you love.
There’s something nice about Bolder Boulder Day.
The gun went off, and we set off to run the route in the shadow of the Flatirons and the heart of the Republic. After the yelps of excitement and the first few quick steps, I grabbed Tanya. “Let’s slow this down,” I said. “It’s too early to go too fast.” Tanya had been working on a run-four-minutes-walk-one-minute regime, and when our first four minutes were up, I said, “Let’s walk it. If this is what you’ve been doing, we have to keep doing it from the start.”
Six months ago, I wouldn’t have had the discipline to say this too myself. And I didn’t. I remember all too well thinking I was rocking the first 12 miles of the Nice-Cannes marathon, and then suffering for the next 14. While the scale of the 10K is different, the running strategy is still the same. Start slow. Pace yourself. And above all, enjoy the flow of the people, and the beauty of the scenery along the way. It’s not about the number on the clock when you reach the end of the run. It’s the things you see, you learn, and you appreciate along the way.
That’s not just good running. That’s smart running. That’s also smart living, and the two are inexorably intertwined.
Having a running buddy made running a smart run all that much more doable. Tanya kept me engaged, motivated, and happy. We checked in with each other. We talked. We yelled. We sang “Whip it good!” at the top of our lungs as we ran up the first hill, and belted out “Don’t stop believin’!” as we moved through the streets of North Boulder and turned into town. We high-fived approximately every 700 meters, and laughed every single time we did.
Interestingly enough, our running splits reflected our good humor. The times we took to go from one mile to the next got shorter and shorter, and I knew we were on pace for a great finish if we could end the race as well as we began.
It wasn’t easy. The temptation to let your legs go and pass the throngs of people gets tempting on this race, especially when you turn from Walnut onto Folsom and start heading towards the stadium. But we held on, and kept to our plan. “Don’t push it until we cross the Creek path,” I kept saying to her, and to me (it helps having biked that road so many times – I know exactly where the last push starts).
We crossed the bridge, and together we said, “Go.” And we flew by people and rocked that last stretch up to CU stadium. We hollared, we hugged, we took our triumphant tour around the field as so many others have done, and will do, today.
59:16. The "A" in "Tanya" and "Taylor" is for "Awesome." Tanya has two a's in her name, so she is doubly awesome.
Running is about many things to many people. But at Blaze Travel Guides, running is about community. It’s about taking a loop with the people around you through a place you hold dear to your heart, it’s about accomplishing something amazing with the people you love. It’s about discovering the world, and discovering yourself.
And it’s about not being able to wait to do it all again.