Monday, May 26, 2014

Father vs. Son - Showdown at the Bolder Boulder!

Our 22nd Bolder Boulder in a row! (12 in a row for the boys)

Last weekend Derek beat me in a road race for the first time, but that was just a 5K. Today at the Bolder Boulder the distance is twice as long. I figured that would give me an advantage since Derek's training consisted of running the 200 and 400 meters during high school track. Could he last this long?

I wanted Derek to do great and if he crushed me, I'd be so proud of him, but... The fact of the matter was that we were going to be running about the same time and as long as that's the case - game on! Derek is going to surpass me in just about everything and no one will be happier about that than me, but that doesn't mean I'm going to make it easy on him.

Before the showdown! I'm stretching to at least remain taller, just in case I can't be faster as well.
Our plan was to run the first 5K at at 7:15/mile pace and then see if we could drive it down. That pace is almost exactly a 45-minute 10K, so the obvious goal was to break 45 minutes. Derek's PR, three years ago when he was 13, was 47:30. While Derek did get a qualifying time for the B wave, my wave, it was after he registered in the BA wave. Since this race is chip-timed, I just dropped back one wave so that we could start together and duke it out, head to head. Sheri dropped back a wave as well to run with Danny in the CC wave. Danny did all of one training run and cut that short with shin pain, a condition that has been giving him trouble for a couple of years. He was also coming from sea level and would decry the lack of oxygen here.

We didn't jostle too much for position in our wave, but I did feel the need to move up shortly after the gun. Normally, if you are moving up in the first mile, you're going too fast, but where we were is a slightly slower wave and I used my GPS watch to keep us on pace. I took us through the first mile in 6:56, which was a bit too fast, but I felt very comfortable. I corrected a bit in the second mile, running 7:10. The third mile is a tough one, but I stayed with the plan and still felt pretty good, clocking 7:14.

Through the first 5K Derek was mostly by my side, occasionally he'd drop back behind me when I weaved through traffic. I resisted picking up the pace, wanting to get over the Casey Elementary hill at the start of the fifth mile first. Derek didn't hold off as long and moved out in front of me at the 6K mark. Nice move, I thought. He's trying to beat me at my own game. He could have drafted on me to the 6-mile mark and used his superior speed, but he knew I'd try to drop him before then, so he figured he'd just leave me early. I didn't go with him, but kept him on a short leash.

I gained a bit on Derek while climbing the hill, shortening my stride and increasing my turn over. I thought about closing all the way up to him, but detected my effort getting a bit too high this far out. I resisted, but his gap stopped growing. At least until the downhill, where his leg speed opened up a nice gap on me, though probably not more than ten seconds at most. I'd helped him stay on pace in the first 5K and now he was the carrot, helping me to push through the pain and stay with him.

I worked hard, running 7:14 in the fourth mile and then 7:00 in the fast, fifth mile. I knew we had some time in the bank. If I didn't blow up completely in the final mile, I knew I'd break 45 minutes. This worked against me to some extent, as that was my goal and I didn't have to suffer as much. Except I could still see Derek. If he had gotten out of sight, it would have been game over, but he didn't. I knew the distance was going to be as tough on him as it was on me. I enter races to race and to hurt. No matter what my fitness, I want to race to the best of my ability and that means one thing in the sixth mile: PAIN.

At the 9K mark I switched over my watch from showing me pace to time. I went through in 40 minutes even. If I stayed on 7:15/mile pace I would finish in 44:30. The last mile of this race is brutal, though, with two very painful hills just before and just after the 6-mile mark. My eyes were fixed on Derek and, though I was working as hard as I dared, I wasn't closing. But I wasn't losing ground either.

As we started up the first hill, I picked it up a bit and rolled into the short downhill under the 6-mile banner. I ran 7:18 for this mile and knew I didn't have much left. On the second hill I saw Derek bent over and saw his back heave. I knew that heave. I've been that heave. He was hurling on the last hill. I love that. I love that he will push himself until his body rebels. I used to be able to push so hard at the end of every race that I'd hurl in the finishing chute. Others might think this is gross and it certainly is unpleasant. I'd always try to get to the side, but I never held back for fear that I'd hurl. I have not been able to do it in the last many years, though. I just haven't been willing to take it to that level of suffering.

Derek's hurling before the finish allowed me to come all the way back. I put my hand on his shoulder as I went by, silently urging him onward. I could have sneaked by on the far side and maybe sped away, but I'd never do that. I was giving my best, but I wanted Derek to give everything he had and I knew if I went by, he'd respond, despite the hurling. He did.

As we crested the final hill and started the descent into Folsom Field, Derek kicked. We still had 300 meters to go and I had gone deep catching Derek, so I waited to kick. I couldn't go from that far out. I knew I couldn't match Derek's speed either, so it wasn't much of a decision to let him go. Of course, I did pick up my pace somewhat.

With 100 meters to go, Derek was fading, the lactic acid shutting down his legs. I wasn't far behind. I might be able to get him, I thought. I kicked hard, as hard as my 40+12 legs allowed. Maxed out, I sped past other runners closing fast on Derek. I was going to get him. Then, with just a few yards to go, for some reason, Derek felt me. He looked over his left shoulder, saw me, and somehow jumped his pace for the final strides, edging me out by a foot or two. He'd be happy to find out later that his chip time would officially be one second faster than mine: 44:19 vs. 44:20. In the official results, our time difference was just 0.3 seconds. I got 10th in my age (yes, "age", as at the Bolder Boulder the "age groups" are 1-year age groups). Derek was further down, as there are tons of fast kids.

We'd done it. We'd made our goal. We had a great battle and it was undecided until the last step. It was one of the most satisfying Bolder Boulders I've ever run. It was one of the most satisfying races I've ever run. Right down to me puking in a trashcan after crossing the finish line. It took chasing my son for me to re-gain my potential and once again hurl at the end of a race...

Sheri finished in 47:39, a bit ahead of what she expected, and, surprisingly, second in her age. Danny didn't know what to expect, but after a mile with Sheri, he knew he wasn't going to maintain that. He switched over to surviving the race and even did the slip n'slide along the race course. He felt he was going so slow and feared he wouldn't break an hour, but finished just under 54 minutes. His best is 46:30, but apparently college life has slowed him down, and California has made him weak.

I'm not bored with this race in the least. We'll all be back next year. I know I'm going to have to train a lot harder if I ever expect to beat Derek again, but things were just too close this year to throw in the towel. See you next year, youngster!


Buzz said...

Great report! And I might suggest a lighter breakfast.

Jeff Valliere said...

Classic, one of the best.

GZ said...

AWESOME REPORT. One of the best race day reports I have ever enjoyed. Well done to both of you.

Michael Baetz said...

Good stuff

Sean said...

Can't wait to read this to my 8 y.o. son tomorrow! :-)

David Mollerstuen said...

Saw your family's times and wondered whether you and Derek had just run together casually -- should've known better! Great report, Bill.