Aaron's Real Opinions:

Aaron's Crazy Race Diary - 2008 Day 38

Race Day Arrives…
Monday, May 26, 2008
Race Day for Bolder Boulder

It was about 2:12 am when the dogs decided to awaken and tell me they had to go out. I had been asleep less than 3½ hours. I initially had planned to get 7 or 8 hours of much-needed rest but had to revise my plan and reduce it to a minimal pre-Race night’s sleep of 5½ hours based on my later-than-expected bedtime the night before.

Once I was up, I found it difficult to fall asleep again. Part of it was my fear I would sleep through the Race and another was the fact my mind was racing on its own. I tried to go to sleep again and realized it wasn’t going to happen so I got up and leisurely prepared for the Race.

I made various selections of what to wear, took a shower, and got suited up. I never ate before exercising but decided to have a cup of vanilla yogurt with some granola. I also took some ibuprofen as a prophylactic.

My wish had been granted and it had rained during the night so it seemed cool, albeit quite humid. In fact the humidity was in the 80 to 90% range – rare for Colorado and not great for me.

The temperature was supposed to be 40°F but was 50°F. Still, with the overcast sky, it felt like a good time to run.

Although I was tired, I felt good and was looking forward to the Race. I got calls from some of my team members – Chuck Fiorella, Chris Rojas, and Brian Kiernan – so I spent some time helping to coordinate our efforts to get footage of yours truly on the course. It was a very complex proposition because it was so difficult to pick one person out of a crowd of 53,000 runners. I was confident my team would get it figured out.

At about 5:00 am, I put my bib number (E411) on my shirt and my radio frequency chip on my shoe. The latter seemed to constrict the natural bending of my foot so, before the Race, I moved it.

Although I had been running in one pair of shoes for the past several months, I decided to switch to a relatively new pair which I had worn only while I was in Iraq earlier this year. I took the trip to visit General David Petraeus and wore them the day I interviewed him at the American Embassy in Baghdad (that was a visual mistake because their bright red and white colors dominated every photograph of the two of us!) and the next day.

That next day, the General had invited me to run with him so I used those shoes to run for the first time. It was the only time I wore them to run and did not wear them after the trip to Iraq so I still had Iraqi soil on them when I put them on. (To read my Iraq trip diary, go to www.HarberTV.com.)

I headed out at 5:20 am to pick up Bill Jones. Bill lived about 4 minutes away. He had blossomed from a terrible runner to a marathon man. He started several years ago and was overweight and out of shape.

When he first ran around the track at the YMCA, he would run one lap and walk two. In a week, he was running two laps and walking one. When I passed him, he recalled I always gave him words of encouragement.

Eventually he began running with me. We would do 20 laps and he would walk one or two and then we would repeat it. After a couple of months, he was running 50 to 100 laps with me without stopping.

As the years went by, my routine decreased in length and frequency. Bill, however, started running 10K races and then moved up to half-marathons. Eventually he started doing marathons and then triathlons. His story truly was inspirational. Today he could out-run, out-bike, and out-swim me while several years ago the opposite was true.

After picking up Bill, we headed to Angela’s house. She was waiting for us and, after getting in, revealed this was her first Bolder Boulder and only her second road race of her life. She was in great shape though so I knew she would do well.

We arrived at the University of Colorado campus and parked where the Race staff had instructed us. It was near the University Memorial Center and was within a three-minute walk to Folsom Stadium and the Balch Fieldhouse. This was very convenient because it allowed us to be close to the Finish Line. The disadvantage, of course, was that we were almost three miles away from the Start Line.

Chuck, Brian, and Chris arrived about the same time we did so they unloaded their equipment while I introduced everyone. It was a nice group.

At this point, it was just after 6:00 pm. The sky seemed to have cleared a bit and the ground was damp but not wet. Chuck, Chris, and Brian decided to take the Media Shuttle to the Start Line while Angela, Bill, and I walked.

As we walked briskly, we discussed the merits of doing so much walking before the start of the Race. I decided that, although it was a great way to warm up, I may be expending too much energy before the Race. I noticed I was a bit tired and that, what always was an easy walk, was tiring. I suggested that, next year, we take two cars and leave one at the parking lot and take the other to the Start Line. OK, that wasn’t a way to minimize one’s carbon footprint but, hey, it’s all about your Race time, right?

At about the halfway point, we passed a little tent for radio station KBCO under which were morning DJ Bret Saunders, who had the top-rated morning show in the State, and mid-morning DJ, Ginger Havlat. They were both great people and did a wonderful job on their shows.

I introduced Bret and Ginger to Angela and Bill, chatted for a couple of minutes, and then continued to the Start Line. Bret was known on Wednesdays as “The Sage of World Class Rock” and was amazing answering trivial questions. He also ran a solid morning show which was entertaining, informative, funny, and easy to listen to.

Ginger was simply fun to listen to and also had a beautiful voice on the air. She was headed to the Stadium. I told her she should enter the Race but she said she’d do it only if she didn’t have to run the entire course. I teased her about being the next “Rosie Ruiz” and we all laughed. She said she had just been searching in her mind for that very name. Rosie, of course, had won the 1980 Boston Marathon after cheating by taking a shortcut to the Finish Line and not actually running the full race. Prior to that, she had placed well in the New York Marathon but was found to have taken the subway en route!

The highlight of the walk was when we passed the 1 Mile marker where the technicians from The End Result. This was the company responsible for recording the time of each runner at every mile marker and at the end of the Race. Using a radio frequency chip which every runner had on one of his or her shoes, The End Result would record the data at each mile marker as each runner ran over a set of large blue mats which stretched across the width of the entire street. Underneath the mats were the electronic cables which read the tags as they passed by.

Last year the Race used the same technology but had terrible problems processing the information. For most runners, their official time wasn’t available for days. This time the Race officials were so confident they eliminated the back-up system used last year. This system actually was the only system in place for decades. It consisted of a pull-tab on every runner’s number bib. A Race volunteer would pull it off as runners crossed the Finish Line and would note when the runner had gone by.

The Race officials had so much confidence in the new system that they abandoned the pull-tab concept altogether this year for the first time in the history of the Race.

As we passed, I asked the technician nearby how it was coming along. He said everything looked good and asked us if we wanted to test the system. We said, “Sure” and then ran across the mats. We could hear the highly audible “clicks” which occurred every time a runner passed by.

He said we confirmed everything was working fine and thanked us. I asked what his name was and he said, “Brad Fox.” I then said, “So you’re the guy in charge of everyone’s time, right?” He jokingly said, “Yes, what time would you like to run the Race in today?” We all laughed and continued on our way.

I told Angela and Bill that, perhaps it would be a good idea to pick a time for Brad to enter, go to breakfast, and skip the Race. We all laughed at that concept, too.

We were not making as good time as I had hoped and my guess was I was the culprit. I just wasn’t moving too quickly this morning. We got to the intersection of Valmont and 30th Streets where the Race course intersected with our path. We then started walking quickly to the Start Line and beyond. Our group or Wave was “E” so there were about 15 Waves ahead of us.

The Wheelchair Race started right on time at 6:55 am. I was able to hear and see the start of the Race as we approached the Start Line. There were fences with netting which prevented most people at that point from seeing the participants but I was able to peer over.

As the disabled men and women began their race, one could only be amazed at their physical ability. Almost all of them would complete the course at a speed which exceeded that of all the able-bodied runners. They were inspirational to watch.

We eventually got in the E Wave and started moving forward to the Start Line. Each Wave’s start was separated by a minute and a half or so. Former Olympic cyclist and Boulder resident Davis Phinney was the Starter. That meant he had the opportunity to fire the Starter’s pistol 85 times today – once for each of the Race’s 85 Waves.

After all the consideration I gave to wearing a hat, and after having brought the only white cap I had – which had “Romer” emblazoned in bright blue letters across the front – I ended up discarding it while waiting in the E Wave. It now was overcast again and it didn’t look like the Sun had much of a chance of making an appearance. I tossed it to Brian for safekeeping.

The weather was now absolutely perfect for running. It still was 50°F or so and wasn’t getting warmer. In some years, the increase in temperature from the beginning of the Race to the end could easily be 15°F or more (such as going from 45°F to 60°F or even from 45°F to 70°F).

Today, the temperature seemed very stable and, with rain clouds forming, it did not seem likely it would warm up much. I liked that.

Weather-wise, there was very little wind and that was nice, too. The high humidity was not ideal but it was moderated by the cool temperatures. And with no Sun beating down upon the runners, there was little need for gobs of sunscreen, although it’s always recommended.

As the E Wave slowly progressed to the Start Line, I stood at the front, where a yellow rope separated us from the preceding Wave. At one point a Security staff member came over to say “Hello” and compliment me on the television show. That was nice. Then a Channel 9 KUSA camera crew and reporter came over for a very quick interview. I’m sure they didn’t use any of the footage. I sure wouldn’t have!

Some people had come up to me to say “Hello” and I was joking around with my “E” running compatriots when suddenly I heard a shot. “Hey, they started the race prematurely!” I incorrectly thought. I started sprinting with the rest of the crowd as we roared off down 30th Street.

For the first 300 yards, I felt very good. I was speeding along at a pace unlike any I had ever run. I was somewhat paranoid about pulling a hamstring muscle, as I had done during Mile 1 of last year’s Race, but a women standing next to me in the E Wave had demonstrated a stretching exercise which helped prevent that problem. I had mimicked her stretch a few times and was confident that would not be a problem this time.

We passed the 1 Kilometer marker and I said to Angela, “1 down, 9 to go,” and we both laughed. But after just half a mile, I was beginning to have a new problem. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, I was having trouble breathing. With the 1 Mile marker in sight, my breathing was very labored. It seemed that no matter how much breath I took, I couldn’t get enough. I literally was gasping for air.

Having no idea what was happening, I started to slow down. Even slowing down, however, didn’t seem to help. The 1 Mile marker was not far ahead so I convinced myself to continue running until I reached it and then slow to just a fast walk.

By now, Bill was long gone. He had stayed with us for the first mile and kept us in view for another quarter mile but soon lost sight of us. Angela insisted on slowing down but I knew I was holding her back.

As soon as I hit the 1 Mile marker, I began walking and tried to catch my breath. Angela said all I needed to do was catch my “second wind” but the reality was I hadn’t found my “first wind.” I asked her what our time was and she said her watch had recorded our time from the Start Line at about 8:50. That wasn’t a bad pace but I knew it would be the last time I saw anything like that today. Heck, if I could run the Race in 8:50 per mile, I would finish in 54:46 – a time far better than anything I had done in years.

By now people were streaming past us at an incredible rate. After a minute or two, I began jogging again and tried to keep it up. I lasted only half a mile and walked for another minute. Then I started running again.

At this point, we had gone from 30th Street to Pearl Street and now were on Folsom Street, heading north. One of the best aspects of the Bolder Boulder were all the live bands which played along the route. Each one was distinct and provided a great distraction. There probably were

As we ran north on Folsom Street, I knew I was in a bad way when I barely looked at the belly dancers. Usually I would give them a cheer, along with many other runners. Today I barely noticed them as we went by.

At the first water station, I stopped to get half a cup of Gatorade. It didn’t seem to help much but I figured I had nothing to lose at this point.

After a refreshment break during which I actually stood still for a minute, I resumed the run. It was difficult having stopped and then starting again. I was finding this to be more severe than in the past when I could get geared up again quite quickly. Today that was not happening.

This experience was making we wonder if I had underestimated the accuracy of the biorhythm chart I had seen. It had warned me I would be at a low point but I always figured my low point was equal to the high point for most other people. Perhaps I was wrong and there really was something to the whole biorhythm analysis. “Nah,” I thought, “It couldn’t be true… or could it?”

The sky had become completely overcast and probably was starting to feel chilly for most people. I already was sweating profusely, however, and was surprised at how tired I was. I also could tell my shoes were not helping matters. The front ends did not have enough padding so the pavement was killing my feet and one of them was tied too tight so it generated pain on the top of my left foot. I was too lazy to loosen the laces and figured the moisture from the atmosphere and my foot would loosen it. Wrong, again, Bonzo (as in “The Chimp”)…

I was regretting not having used my regular running shoes. At the minimum, I should have worn these new ones a couple of times so I could have adjusted the extra cushioning I usually put inside each shoe. But even with the best-fitting and best-cushioned shoes in the world, I knew it would have made no difference today. I was toast.

I wanted to keep running so I tried to settle into a light jog. It worked for a while but slowly degenerated into a “trudge.” I was going so slowly I began to wonder if I actually was going any faster than my normal walk. After a while, I was forced to objectively conclude my current running pace was about the same as my walking pace. I was absolutely disgusted with myself.

Even worse, I felt I was really holding Angela back. My guess is she could have been running almost twice as fast as I was. There were times she literally was running in place so I could catch up with her. I belonged in a wheelchair with an assistant – not in the middle of one of the world’s largest road races.

Despite my entreaties for her to go ahead at her own pace, Angela insisted on staying with me – probably out of fear I would croak on the course. I assured her that only one person out of almost one million runners had died during the Bolder Boulder over a now 30-year period. I assured her I would not die on the course but would wait until I got home. Actually, if someone had volunteered to shot me at this point, to put me out of my misery, I probably would have given him or her the go-ahead. I was miserable and had not even run half the course.

We now were past the 2 Mile marker and began heading west, weaving our way through smaller streets in North Boulder. Around the 4 Kilometer marker, Angela said, “It’s so nice to run and be able to see this part of Boulder. I really haven’t seen it before and didn’t realize how nice it was.” I could barely lift my head up and, for the most part, the only thing I was seeing was an unending stream of asphalt pavement. If anyone had asked me what we had run by, I wouldn’t have had a clue. I grunted my agreement and kept plodding onward.

People were passing us right and left. I looked at my bib number – 411 – and decided 911 would have been more appropriate today. And, if I had a cell phone, I would have been tempted to dial that number for help.

When we came to a hill of any size, Angela didn’t say anything but as soon as we crested it, she would mention how great it was to now be running downhill. I knew I was tired when running downhill didn’t help me at all. In fact, later in the Race, when we had climbed the hill on 13th Street next to Casey Junior High School, I was so exhausted when we reached the top I actually stopped to catch my breath.

Normally, when I finished getting to the top of a hill, I would sprint down the other side with reckless abandon. That thought never even crossed my mind today. I was considering rolling down a few of the hills but there were far too many other runners to whom I would present a danger so I skipped that idea.

Speaking of skipping, there actually were some people in the Race who ran barefoot. I couldn’t believe it. How could one do that, especially with your foot slamming against the hard pavement? And what if your tootsies encountered a stone or glass or some other sharp object? That was something I would never do but I had to respect the fearlessness and incredible condition of those who ran in that manner.

We now were at Mile Marker 3 and I had settled into a 75% run/jog and 25% walk pattern. In past races, I had either run the entire Race straight through or slowed no more than 4 or 5 times to walk for 1 to 3 minutes. That typically covered 2 to 8 minutes of the Race (5 to 10% of my official time) and always refreshed me. Today the percentage was at least 25% and was elevating my overall time to new and horrendous heights.

When we passed the 3 Mile marker and had been running for about 35 minutes, I knew we were, at best, on a 72-minute pace. My worst time had been under 67 minutes so I was headed for a record I didn’t want to set.

Angela kept asking if I were getting my “second wind” and I would rejoin that I still was looking for my “first.” And neither arrived in time. I knew I was not speeding up as often was the case when I ran a race. Instead, I was barely hanging on. I had set a goal of running under 75 minutes today but had hoped for a time closer to 65 minutes or less. At this point I knew I would be lucky to stay under 75 minutes unless a miracle occurred and I found all my missing energy.

I tried to convince my mitochondria to work harder on the energy production front but no one was listening to me. It was as if everyone had shut down for the holiday. My commands went unheard and unheeded so I just plodded onward.

We now were working our way through the streets leading to 13th Street where I would have to climb the hill to Casey Middle School. That was near the 4 Mile marker. I somehow made it to the top of the hill and declined the offers of water and Gatorade. I eschewed any more liquids except for water which could be sprayed on me to cool me off.

On the way up the Casey hill, some people said “Hello” to me. Before, during, and after the Race people came up to me to say they enjoyed my television show. Some described watching it at various hours because it was broadcast on different stations and channels, often at obscure times. It was flattering to have people like one’s work and Angela was surprised at the response the show evoked.

Then, as we were running up Balsam Street, half a mile before we got to Casey, a gentleman with gray hair who appeared to be in his early forties ran by and said, “Hi, Angela.” It turned out it was her instructor in a graduate program she was enrolled at the University of Denver. She tried to figure out how he recognized her and assumed he had heard her voice. That was entirely possible because I certainly wasn’t doing any talking. My lungs lunged for every breath of air I could swallow. Words, at this point, were a luxury.

On our morning runs, we had talked a lot about her ethics course with this instructor. He had no teaching credentials or teaching experience at that level and was an abomination. He rarely shared information with the two students in the course and, instead, kept asking their personal opinions about various ethical issues without providing even a basic construct for consideration and analysis. Both students though he was terrible but felt helpless. This guy was so bad as a teacher, I thought DU should be embarrassed.

Although Angela couldn’t believe the degree of his incompetence or why DU hired him, she was reluctant to write an overly critical review. I had encouraged her to be brutally honest. Otherwise, I explained, people such as this guy would continue to be hired and would academically and intellectually torture future students. Plus, I told her the University would want to know it had made a hiring mistake so it could correct it.

I actually was surprised at DU for hiring someone who clearly was not competent to teach the course he had been assigned. I could tell it was spoiling Angela’s experience at DU’s program which granted a special certificate in alternative dispute resolution.

These thoughts all were great distractions and allowed me to continue running for a while. I wasn’t increasing my speed but I was running a little better (the operative word is “little”).

We ascended the great mountain known as Casey hill to me and, once at the top, I was ready to call it quits. Instead I ran down at a very lame pace to Spruce Street and then onto Pearl Street. Seeing the 7 Kilometer marker made me feel better. “70% down means only 30% to go,” I somehow mumbled without choking.

As we proceeded down Pearl Street, I knew I would finish the Race. At this point, I could have walked the rest of the way. We turned right onto 20th Street for a block or so and then made a left onto Walnut, heading east.

Before we approached the 5 Mile marker and water station, I saw a young man with a tray and an aide with a sign offering runners pieces of bacon. This was an annual joke but the bacon was cooked for anyone who wanted it. This year there was a new addition. A young woman stood with a different tray and a sign which said, “Veggie Bacon.” You had to laugh. It was a great way to poke fun at the runners and everyone in Boulder.

Once past the 5 Mile marker and the water station, I came upon my good friend Carl Oldham’s house. Carl and a friend of his constituted a two-man band and were playing. Carl jumped out of his drum seat, grabbed a camera, and motioned me to go back and run past him again. I complied and went back 100 yards or so and then began running again towards Carl’s location. He snapped a picture and I was on my way.

Next I spotted a sprinkler set out in a front law for runners. I went over to it, stopped, and let it spray me. It felt great. Then I picked it up and sprayed my entire front side. Several people at the home where the sprinkler was located watched and laughed. I asked one of them to soak my entire back and he obliged.

By the time I left that yard, I was completely drenched. It felt refreshing and invigorating. I was a new man and began running with the vigor I had missed. I caught up with Angela and shared the good news.

We now were on Folsom Street, heading towards Folsom Stadium, where the Race would end. There was only three-quarters of a mile to go but my water-soaked clothes and shoes now were dragging me down. Not only was the extra weight a factor but my shorts were starting to fall off due to the extra weight of the water. “Great,” I thought, “Just what I need – another problem.” I solved the problem by tugging on my shorts and bringing them up every minute or so. It was a hassle but I didn’t need to make any headlines this way.

It was now time for Angela to sprint ahead and tell our photographers I was on the way and would arrive in a few minutes. She was reluctant to go but I finally convinced her we would meet at the Finish Line so she went. She took off like a rocket. I couldn’t believe her acceleration and speed. In a matter of seconds she disappeared into the crowd of runners ahead of us. It was indicative of how much faster she could have run the Race.

Even though I now had only half a mile to go, I could barely move. I resumed walking for a couple of minutes and then started running again. I knew I was coming to the hill leading up to the Stadium access road so I looked down and did not look at the upward sloping road ahead. That would have been so depressing and demotivating I might have stopped.

At this point, as we all turned into the access road, the road had narrowed and hundreds of people rushed by me. They were intent on making the best time they could. I was intent on not collapsing. I considered how my goals had devolved from trying to run a great time to trying to run a decent time to trying to run a not-overly-embarrassing-time to trying to finish and now almost to “I don’t care what the heck happens – give me a root beer now!”

I somehow made it up the incline to the entrance to the Stadium. Inside were thousands of cheering fans, all encouraging their friends and family members who were running to sprint to the finish.

Running slower than the stream of people passing me, I looked around the Stadium, happy to know I would finish without any injury. Looking for my still photographer, Chris Rojas, in the position he said he would be, I ran by but never saw him. I then rounded the last curve in the Race – the southern or U-shaped portion of the football field – and headed towards the Finish Line.

I thought I saw our video photographer and ran past him on the extreme left side of the field so he could get a good shot. Somehow, even in my energy-deprived condition, I managed to sprint for 100 yards. It was my only sprint of the day.

The Finish Line surprised me because, this year, there weren’t the formal chutes they always had in the past. There also were no Race officials taking tags from the runners. They had so much confidence in the radio frequency tag system they decided to not even bother with having a back-up system.

I looked at the clock on the Stadium’s north-end screen and it said 8:31 am. We had left right before 7:16 am so that meant my time was about 75 minutes. Wow, that would be the worst time I had ever run the Race in my life. I was happy to finish but disgusted with my awful performance.

I looked around and couldn’t see Angela anywhere. I was hoping to meet her husband Brett and their little three year-old Jacob but they were nowhere to be seen. It now was cold and misting out so I could understand their desire to not stay. Plus, finding them in this crowd was almost impossible anyway. And with my not having a cell phone, there was no way they could reach me.

Next I followed the crowd off the Stadium floor and was funneled with everyone else to the Balch Fieldhouse. I picked up a lunch and a Dick’s Sporting Goods bag and headed over to the Exposition to see what was being offered.

After spending several minutes at the Expo, munching on food samples and gathering swag for Holly, I headed to the car. I was freezing because I still was soaked from the sprinkler experience on Walnut Street. I was wearing clothing which held water nicely and it was working against me in a big way. I didn’t see Bill near the car and waited a little while.

As I got progressively colder, I decided to head home, take a shower, and put on fresh and warmer clothing. Then I could come back and look for Bill. Before leaving I spoke with Dan McVickers of the University of Colorado Events staff. Dan was great and said he would make sure I could get out of the parking lot I was in and also would be allowed to return.

This was a big deal. Earlier in the day, I had spoken to both the law enforcement Dispatch Center and the Boulder Police about making arrangements to be able to return. Neither knew what to do and weren’t helpful at all. Dan, however, said he would make sure the Boulder Deputy Sheriffs on Broadway would let me back in on campus. He was great. Talk about a superb ambassador for the University.

I had spoken with a Boulder Police officer at the end of the Race and had asked him for assistance related to getting a message to the right people but he said the Sheriff’s Deputies were on the “gold” radio spectrum and, as a result, he had no way to reach them. I was wondering whatever happened to the post-911 concept of putting all law enforcement and emergency personnel on the same radio frequency or at least providing the technology so they all could easily communicate with each other.

As I left the CU campus, I turned right onto Broadway, heading north, and realized I had made a boo-boo. If I kept going, I would be stopped by the Race. This indicated to me I was tired and not thinking straight. I managed to turn around in a side street on the Hill and headed south to Baseline Road so I could avoid the Race entirely.

I got home by 9:30 am, got cleaned up, took the dogs out, and then left with Holly to pick up her cousin Joel. As I headed back to Boulder, feeling much better now that I was in a nicely-heated vehicle, I received a call from Andrea Jones, Bill’s wife. She had heard from Bill, who thought I had abandoned him. The good news was Bill had found a ride with some of his neighbors in Erie.

That was great! I felt relieved and was glad he was safe and I didn’t have to look for him. I had called his cell phone several times but then realized it was in his workout bag. Unfortunately, the bag was still in my car so, in essence, I was in my car calling the bag in my car.

As we got into the RTD bus lane to turn into 18th Street to access the CU parking lot, Holly and Joel told me I would never get back onto campus. I got to the turn and, as I made the turn, two Sherriff’s Deputies jumped in front of the car and vociferously shouted, “Whoa, there!” The kids thought we were going to get shot or, at the minimum, arrested.

I rolled down my window to give them a business card and one of the Deputies said, “Are you Alan?” I said, “No, I’m Aaron” and the kids started laughing. The Deputies said we had been cleared to go through and stepped aside as I thanked them. We then parked in a lot next to the one we had been in. Dan McVickers had taken care of everything, just as he said he would.

We then went to the Expo and filled two bags with goodies. The NatureMade people were great as were the PowerBar folks later on. I was disappointed the First National Bank people would not give the kids a blanket. They were handing them out only if you applied for a credit card but at 13 and 14 years old, respectively, Holly and Joel should not be doing that (although UNITED Airlines solicited Holly every month to apply for a VISA card).

The Expo had been depleted. Several booths had already been torn down once the sponsor’s supplies were all given away. While the majority of booths were left, I was surprised that, at 11:30 am, so many companies had not brought enough with them. The NatureMade, PowerBar, and Dreyer’s folks had come well-supplied and I gave them credit for that.

The kids were disappointed and felt the goodies available at the Expo were lame. I explained many of the goodies were long gone and promised we would come earlier next year.

The next event was the military jet flyover at Folsom Stadium, right across from the Expo. It was an exciting event. The jet pilots often did their final practice near our house between Erie and Lafayette so it was even more exciting to see their final execution while in perfect formation.

The kids, however, didn’t want to leave the car. It was raining lightly outside and they didn’t want to get wet so I headed out by myself. I had a hat and wasn’t too cold, thanks to being dry. Right as I was about to enter the Stadium via a tunnel, the jets from the 120th Fighter Squadron screamed overhead at what seemed was near supersonic speed (they seemed to be right on top of the Stadium) and the crowd cheered wildly. I felt lucky to have seen them just in time.

As I exited the 100-foot tunnel, I joined in the applause. Then, as I was working my way to the Stadium field, the national anthem began to be played so I stopped. It was a moving moment, especially in the rain.

The Bolder Boulder was the nation’s largest Memorial Day celebration. This year it also included traditions such as a Navy Reserve Officer in Training Marine 21-gun salute and a Color Guard. Honored was retired U.S. Army Major General Patrick H. Brady, a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was a Major in Viet Nam when he repeatedly risked his life making helicopter flights to save pinned-down troops, often using helicopters being damaged by enemy fire.

I saw Chuck, Chris, and Brian on the Stadium floor and thought Chuck and Brian saw me. Then, while on the floor, the International Team men’s race was coming to a climax with the leading runner heading into the Stadium. I happened to be about 20 yards past the Finish Line so when the winner, Ridouana Harroufi of Morroco, finished in first place, I unintentionally was one of the first people to congratulate him. We had met on Saturday at the Media Luncheon so it was fun to see him do so well.

As the men came past the Finish Line, I was able to congratulate a few of them, including some of the members of Team USA.

Next I spoke with Chuck and Brian. They actually hadn’t seen me there and, as a result, got no footage of me. I also found out Angela couldn’t find either them or Chris so none of them got what we had hoped. I laughed and told them it was a good lesson about how difficult it was to shoot a specific person when there are more than 54,000 people in shorts and T-shirts all running together. Given my performance, I couldn’t fault anyone else today.

After watching the women’s team finish, with our Ethiopian tablemate finishing second to a great Kenyan runner, Chuck and Brian headed home while Chris and I went up to the Stadium Club to hear the announcements of the results and get a bite to eat.

Knowing the kids were in the car and now being informed they were bored, I didn’t spend much time at the Media briefing luncheon. The Stadium Club was packed with runners and their families, coaches, Press people, CU folks (including Chancellor Bud Peterson), and others.

The first item I ate was a giant baby Ruth frozen ice cream cone but I was good and had a salad and some roast turkey afterwards. Normally, I would give myself permission to pig out after a race but today, given my dismal performance, I was motivated to get serious about losing weight, eating better, exercising more, and getting more sleep – probably in that order

We visited with several runners, some CU administrators, and some CU students who had worked the event. Then I headed back to the car because I had been gone for over an hour. I wish they had come with me and thought that, next time, we should bring raingear along just in case the weather was bad.

Holly and Joel had been raiding the edible goodies we had collected but were still hungry. We went to Joel’s house in Lafayette so they could have a quick bite. Then I headed home, dropped off Holly, walked the dogs, and drove a short way to deliver Bill’s bag to his house.

Bill was home and told me he had tried to find me but had given up. I then heard the whole story of how he got back. He wasn’t perturbed at all because he always had a back-up plan – Andrea could come and get him. I didn’t think she would have been too excited about that because it was a 15- to 20-minute drive but he said she wouldn’t have minded at all. That made me feel better.

Bill had already seen the Race results and that surprised me. The results never were available so quickly in the past. He confirmed I had run the Race in 75 minutes (actually 75:39, so it really was closer to a lethargic 76 minutes).

Hel said Angela and I started out at such a fast pace even he didn’t want to do it. He was a lot smarter than I was. He thought the initial half mile we ran at a breakneck speed contributed greatly to my downfall.

That may have been true but I wasn’t so sure. After all, in cases where I started out too quickly, I would eventually recover and run fairly well even if it took a mile or two. This time I never recovered.

The good news was I completed the Race, I felt tired but good, and I was motivated to do much better. I knew I would run next year and decided I needed to start training tomorrow – not a few weeks before the Race. I knew it was crazy but I decided to set some goals. They included weighing no more than 185 for the entire two weeks before Race Day and running the Race in a time under 60 minutes. That meant making a 17-minute improvement in one year. I realized this would be extraordinary but I didn’t see any reason I couldn’t do it. Any bets out there?