After the Bolder Boulder last Monday, I spent most of the week feeling sluggish still. I went to Orangetheory on Tuesday, but was so tired that I realized it may have been a mistake to go. My friend Heidi warned that I might be overtraining, and while I didn’t think that was an issue, taking a few days off probably wasn’t a bad idea. And besides – with only four days in between the Bolder Boulder and my next race, I realized I probably ought to rest.
I was pretty excited about the Broncos 7K, as I wrote about here. Not only was it at the beautiful Anheuser-Busch Biergarten in Fort Collins, but it was also a pretty flat/fast course that would be conducive to a PR. I had never run a 7K before, so I was going to PR no matter what, but I wanted to try to break my four mile PR pace of 7:40… and I thought Saturday might be the day. Since I was so unhappy with my Bolder Boulder performance, this seemed like a great opportunity for redemption.
Friday night was low key – I mowed the lawn, met up with my neighbor for some help fixing my grill, and had some pasta for dinner. I know a 7K doesn’t require carb loading, but I still like the tradition of eating pasta the night before the race… it’s delicious 🙂
I got to the race with plenty of time to spare – about 40 minutes before the start. But packet pickup was supposed to close at 8:30am, so I figured better to be there early just in case! The biergarten was much less crowded pre-race than when I was there for the Spring Equinox Four Miler, and I was actually able to use the bathroom (real toilets!) without even waiting in line. This was a nice relaxed start to a race!
I wandered around as more and more people arrived, hitting the bathroom a few more times to make sure I was totally ready to race (hey, why not when there’s no line, right?). Finally, I headed out to the start area. I was seeded into the “A” corral at the very front of the pack, and when it came time to actually get into the corrals, I optimistically stayed right at the front of my corral. I was ready to go hard!
Before the start, there was a short presentation by the Broncos staff / players who were presenting the race. They had all of the Broncos Superbowl trophies there, which was pretty neat, and a few Broncos cheerleaders were also there to lead us in a cheer prior to beginning the race. I’m not a huge football fan, but I thought this was pretty neat! And judging by the number of people who arrived at the race dressed in head-to-toe Broncos gear, there were a lot of people who were there just for this. It was definitely a great way to stay entertained prior to the race start, and the time passed quickly. I even got into the cheering 🙂
The race started with a few runners pushing wheelchairs with disabled children who couldn’t run, which was really inspiring, and we gave them a rowdy sendoff as they took off on the course. As a spoiler, I caught one of these runners finishing right around the same time as me, which I found so impressive. I couldn’t imagine going that quickly while pushing another person in a wheelchair! And then, it was time for our “A” wave to toe the line and get ready to go. 3, 2, 1… we’re off!
I always always always go out way too fast in short races, so my goal was to take that into account and go a little faster in the first mile… but not overdo it. I hoped to start at a 7:00 pace for the first mile, then slow down a bit and hold 7:20s for the next two miles. As usual, though, my pacing was all over the place and I came nowhere near sticking to that plan.
I took off from the start at what felt like a totally comfortable, moderate pace. Then I checked my Garmin about 30 seconds in and saw I was running at a 5:30 pace. Yikes! I tried to slow down, and checked my watch again. Still 5:30? I wondered if maybe my Garmin just hadn’t settled into the pace that I was really going, because of the turns to get out of the parking lot, so I gave it a bit longer and checked back. Still 5:30! Finally I decided to just keep going at what felt like a comfortable pace, and not worry about it till I got to the first mile mark. And in the meantime, I had fun with my delusions of staying the first female all the way till the end 🙂
Before I even got to the first mile mark, two women passed me. I didn’t care; I still slowed to a walk at the water stop just before the mile marker, so I could really drink the water down. I had actually been thirsty at the start (whoops), but hadn’t wanted to leave my corral in search of a drink; now, I wanted to make sure I had some water before I continued. I ended up crossing the first mile mark in 6:30 – so not nearly as fast as I had initially gone out, but not exactly the 7:00 I was hoping for.
The next mile was a bit more on track. We turned right (the course was basically one big square) and ran toward the mountains, which afforded some gorgeous views. I ran that mile in 7:10 – much closer to the 7:20 pace I had wanted to run for this mile. And no women passed me, so I was now reasonably ensconced as the third woman. Nearly halfway done!
Mile 3, though, was tough. We turned right into a light wind, and also started going up a teeny tiny uphill. It was nothing like the winds I had experienced during the Spring Equinox Four Miler, but it was enough to be noticeably harder to keep the pace. Between that and the small incline (and my own exhaustion from going out fast), I could feel myself slowing significantly in this mile, as much as I tried to avoid it. On the plus side, I didn’t have any women coming after me, though I did get passed by one guy in here. It was in this mile that I decided my new goal was not a specific time, but to stay in third place. I just needed to not get passed again!
The end of mile 3 was at the tip of a little out-and-back that added the 0.35 miles we needed to turn the four mile square around the biergarten into a 7K. I clocked a 7:57 pace for that third mile; not my best. But that out-and-back gave me the opportunity to check out the competition… and the next woman in the race seemed to be at least a minute behind me (just entering the out-and-back while I was exiting it). I didn’t think she’d be able to catch up, so I figured my position was pretty secure. This was good for my morale!
Furthermore, I now had only a mile to go in the race. Just two songs and it would be done! (Am I the only one who divides remaining miles into how many 3-5 minute songs they will last?) Even though I didn’t think I’d get passed, I tried to pick up the pace so as not to leave any seconds on the table.
I passed a male runner near the train tracks that had literally stopped me in my tracks during the last race (no train this time!), and was really mindful to run the tangents when I got to the one curvy section of road in the race – leading me to pass another guy. I felt kind of weird about that – is it legitimate to pass someone who’s following the exact line on the edge of the road while you take the tangent straight across the curve? I felt like I was cheating, but I also assume that race courses are measured by the tangents, so….? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!
That fourth mile clocked in at 7:24 – nearly right on track for the pace that I had hoped to run, though miles 1 and 3 were pretty far off. There were a few spectators cheering now as I neared the end of the race, and when I turned onto the main frontage road before going right into the Budweiser Brewery parking lot, I knew it was time to give it everything I had. My Garmin clocked that last 0.35 miles at a 6:39/mile pace – so pretty close to how I had been running at the start. Not bad for a strong finish!
As I crossed the line, I was eager to stop my Garmin and see my time. (Okay, perhaps too eager, given the fact that half my finish photos show me looking at my watch.) But I had done it!
My goal was to run under 32:00, which would have been a sub-7:30 pace. In fact, though, I had finished in 30:35 – nearly 90 seconds faster than my goal, and with an average pace of 7:02 per mile! For comparison, my four mile PR (which I’ve now run at two races, the Six Pack #4 and the Spring Equinox Four Miler) is 30:33, and those were each 0.35 miles shorter, so they equated to 36 seconds/mile slower. I had run even faster on a longer course!! I was so pumped.
After I checked the official results on the website (how awesome are races that have live timing results like this?) I hung out for a little while to enjoy the fun festival the race organizers had set up. You could meet/greet several Broncos players and cheerleaders, or even my personal favorite, Miles the aptly-named mascot.
As I had mentioned in my pre-race post, the famous Budweiser Clydesdales were also on hand for photos – and they were gorgeous!
There were also tents with bananas and granola bars, Honest Tea samples, and other giveaways (McDonalds was giving away full-on backpacks for hiking!), plus a barbecue food truck and whatever you might care to order at the biergarten. This time I didn’t have friends meeting me after the race (I had to get home pretty quickly to meet my landscaper), but I still contend that the biergarten is an awesome place for a race finish – great views and some good drinks to celebrate! I hope they do more races there in the future.
So now that I’ve redeemed myself with a faster pace than Bolder Boulder, what’s next? Well, I’d still like to do a better job at pacing myself evenly in a race, rather than having splits as much as 90 seconds apart 😉 This weekend, I’m headed up to Ithaca, New York, for my tenth college reunion – and I’ll be running in the Reunion 5K on Saturday morning. I’m not too sure how that will go, as the scheduled activities the night before run until 3am, but I’m certainly going to try to do my best to come in with a fast time! After that, I don’t have any races scheduled right now… but I think it’s time to get some on the books.
Distance: 4.35 miles
Overall place: 14/691
Gender place: 3/405
Age group place: 3/129