Trading disappointment for delight at the Bolder Boulder 10K

Disappointment is one of the emotions I have the hardest time dealing with. As I was standing at the start line of the Bolder Boulder 10K on Monday waiting for the gun to go off, I wasn’t sure how to prepare my mind for the letdown I was sure to have at the finish line. I knew before I even began to put one foot in front of the next that I had no chance of matching or beating my results from the last time I did this race in 2009. I hadn’t run for at least a month and had just found out from my physical therapist a few days before that I had some major pelvis misalignment issues that were likely causing some of my pain and injury. Though he didn’t say I shouldn’t do the race, he did say I should take it easy and stop to do some exercises and stretches along the route. I had no idea what a taking it easy pace would even be. Did that mean I should jog? Walk? I had never done a race where I wasn’t running as fast as I possibly could.

Making my way to the Bolder Boulder starting area at 6:30 a.m.

I was still pondering these questions when the shot fired. I took off at a pace between a jog and a run, but still the questions lingered. What time would I be satisfied with? An hour? Two? Though I don’t have a competitive streak when comparing my performance with others, I am fiercely competitive with myself. Ever since recovering from ostomy surgery, I had wanted to prove that I could do as well in this race as I had before getting so sick.  I knew that was impossible with my current painful hip, but there had to be some sort of goal, right?

As I ran down the street and watched the people in my wave pass me one by one, I realized that this race wasn’t going to be about reaching any pace goals. It was about simply being there. After all, just weeks ago Doug had picked up my race package for me. At the time, I couldn’t even make myself open it. I didn’t want to see the running bib that I was sure I wouldn’t be wearing due to what was thought to be a stress fracture in my pelvis. Yet luck had veered my way.  The x-ray had been a misread and I had been given the go-ahead to run while undergoing further tests for other pain causes. Here I was immersed in the event that I had wanted to do so much, and all I could focus on were things I had no control over. I couldn’t make my injury go away, and I couldn’t magically make up for a month of lost training time. I could, however, adjust my outlook.  As I ran under the banner marking mile two, I flicked an attitude switch in my head from the side that read  I am so bummed that I am not going to get the time I hoped for to the one that said I am so amazed to be running through the streets of Boulder surrounded by beautiful views, music on the street corners and onlookers handing out treats to the runners like bacon, cotton candy, and marshmallows.

I much preferred the second attitude and decided to keep the switch there for the remainder of the race. (I did, however, avoid catching any marshmallows. I had already had my fill of those the day before after consuming six of them to slow output before my appliance change.) At every mile marker, I stopped to do the exercises the physical therapist had recommended I do during the race. I knew that these stops were sabotaging my time, but I no longer cared. When my hips started to hurt slightly at mile four, I slowed down the pace. I had no worries. No expectations. In the past, I would never have veered off course to become a target for child with a Super Soaker. Never before had I taken advantage of the offers for high fives from sideline spectators. I don’t remember looking at the stunning vistas of the Flatiron rock formations along the race route in previous race years. At the slower pace, I took all this in.

Every other time I ran the Bolder Boulder, I finished in just under an hour. This time, when I looked at my watch at 59 minutes, I still had a little over a half mile to go. Just for old times’ sake and knowing that I was close to the end of the race, I picked up the pace and ran as fast as I could for that last half mile. I felt strong and vibrant as I entered the stadium and sprinted the final half lap to the finish line. Other than amidst the marshmallow-catching antics earlier in the route, this was the first time I thought of my ostomy during the entire race. I thought of  all the things I had gone through since last entering that stadium in 2009, and how lucky I was to be back to health and running there again.

As I crossed the finish line, the letdown and disappointment that I was sure would greet me there had been replaced by delight. And when I finally looked down at my watch to see my time, 1:06:33, I was even more blown away. That was only about eight minutes longer than my 2009 time. This was certainly enough to please my self-competitive side — well, for the most part. In the stands after the race, there was a moment when I lamented to Doug that had I not been injured, I would have really nailed it. He reminded me that I was injured and that I did nail it. Oops, that little attitude switch had gotten bumped into the wrong place again. I put it back to the “here and now” slot, slathered myself with some sunscreen and sat back to watch others racers jubilantly cross the finish line — including a banana, gorilla, coyote, bear ,and unicorn. Hmm… maybe my goal for next year should be to run the Bolder Boulder in costume.

Resting in the stadium with Doug after the race.

9 thoughts on “Trading disappointment for delight at the Bolder Boulder 10K

  1. Well done, great time!
    Sometimes all you can do is change your attitude, sometimes that’s all you need to do.
    If you ran next year as a big ostomy bag, do you think anyone would get it ? LOL

    1. Ha ha. No not very aerodynamic. Plus there is a rule that says your costume can not extend far past your body. An ostomy pouch would be way too wide. I would be taking out runners left and right:)

  2. Congratulations Heidi!
    You beat your “I probably can’t”, your “I will be too slow”, “My UC, prednisone, surgery and injury let me down” and even “I cannot eat marshmallows and more”. Four victories during the race already. And taking into account all the stops you had to make and high fives which usually push runners backward, you can consider this race as your personal record.
    And, I agree that ostomy bag as a costume for 10K is not a great idea. Marshmallow is better, but if the temperature at this race is similar to ours at the end of May, I’ll personally prefer something cooler 🙂

    1. You are so right… thanks for pointing all those things out and helping me see the bright side. Taking all those things into consideration, it was a fine run indeed! And it was made even better by the fact that my hip and knee felt great by the next day and even felt good enough to head into the wilderness for a three day backpacking trip by the next weekend. Yep! I just got out of the backcountry yesterday. So happy to be gaining strength and feeling good again.

      No marshmallow unless I wanted to be a roasted one:) It is usually pretty toasty the day of the Bolder Boulder.

  3. Well done, Heidi! After what you’ve been through recently, 8 minutes is only the result of you teeing off the Championship tees, rather than the Men’s tees you usually play from. Had you teed off there, you’d have easily made par, maybe birdie. Now, if you had teed off from the Lady’s tees, an albatross you would have scored.

    And Doug, perfect observation.

    Yeah, ditch the bag costume. But a wafer costume? Thin, light, cool, hole for your head, shade for the rest, and the flat surface area might provide some lift, making you light and fast on your feet.


    1. Thanks Cary, though I think I need a golf lesson. When I think of albatrosses, I picture giant sea birds, and birdies are the little winged-ones singing in my trees in the morning.

      Hmmm…. a wafer costume. You might be on to something. I could decorate my head to look like a stoma:)


  4. Just wanted to say you have a great blog. I have uc and am seriously considering surgery, so your sight is very informative. I posted a question under contacts, Not sure if it worked. Thakns

    1. Hi Kirstin,

      Thanks! Your question under contacts did work. I have just been out of town for a few days on a backpacking trip away from my computer. I will head over to your other post and answer your question.


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