As excited as I was to start this year's Bolder/Boulder, part of me wondered why.
I was looking forward to this year's 10K in Bolder, one of the nation's biggest 10K races, all winter. It was one of the main reasons I kept up my miles through temperatures that occasionally froze the snot in my nose.
But after Thursday, when hundreds of homes were destroyed about 10 miles from my home, all I could think of was, "What's the friggin' point?"
Really, part of the reason I run these races and climb mountains is a need to challenge myself. The Bolder/Boulder, in a sense, is a fabricated way to see how mentally tough I am.
It's also a lot of fun, so don't think I'm a monk who needs to sit and whip himself an hour a day to remain pure. I truly enjoy it.
But after Thursday, I'm not sure I need a challenge. We all have one now around here.
My home was fine, but Thursday was one of toughest days I've had on the job, seeing all those heartbroken people going through their destroyed homes, many of them in shock (including me). I was so drained by the time I got home, I just held Jayden on my lap, then spent an hour on the computer and went to bed.
I've rethought that, however. Maybe a challenge is only part of the reason I run a race. I also think it's because it's who I am.
I am a runner and a climber and a father and a poker player and sometimes a writer. I can't lose sight of that. In fact, when we face times like this, when it seems like we'll never get back to normal, it's more important to never let go of who you are. It's the only stability we've got.
So I ran Monday, and folks, it was tough. The Bolder/Boulder is also one of the tougher races in Colorado. Mile two has a long, gradual hill, and that hill leads to mile 3, which is one long, steep hill. Mile four features several small hills and one huge, super-steep hill. Then it's all downhill from there. Well, except for the ski run that leads into the University of Colorado's stadium at the end.
I really struggled at times. I had to walk twice just to grab a breath. I allowed myself only 10 seconds before I kicked it back into gear. I'm still not sure if that's a good plan. Probably not. But I was able to run much faster after the quick stop. I never felt great the whole day. The girls didn't allow me to sleep much Sunday night, which was frustrating, but I had to roll out of bed at 4:45 a.m. to make it out to Boulder for the 7 a.m. start the early, elite waves require. It will be nice to actually run a race on some sleep. I just hope that's this year.
Still, my splits were better than I thought. I think I started way too fast, which is very easy to do in that race because the first mile is downhill, and the first mile is always easy. I ran 7:15 the first mile, 7:40 the second, and then the hills hit. But it wasn't terrible, averaging 8-minute miles over the next two, which was the plan. Still, I would have liked to have been faster on mile 5, when it's downhill again, with only 7:49, and I ran pretty slow that last mile, on mile 6, when I ran only 8:05. I was pretty tired by then, which frustrates me. Didn't I just run a half marathon three weeks ago?
But I did run 48:33, which was almost 50 seconds faster than my best time last year, and an overall personal record for a 10K, which was nice to set on a tough course. My pace was 7:49 per mile.
I do feel pretty good today after the race. It was cold and rainy by the time I finished, so I filled out a bogus credit card application and got a free towel, which I wrapped around my shoulders.
I know my pain during the race was inconsequential to what those Windsor residents are feeling as I type this.
I hope they can get back to who they are soon.
I thought about them as I finished.
This run was for them.