Race Recap: DeForest, WI 4th of July 10k

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I’ve done 5ks.
I’ve done half marathons – lots of them.
I’ve done marathons.

But somehow, the 10k has alluded me these last two years of running. For some pretty silly reasons too.

First, they’re just not as common, so the opportunity hasn’t presented itself as readily as other, longer races. “Why do a 10k, when I can get a heavier, swankier half marathon finishers medal?”

Ok, if that sound like B.S. – you’re right. It is.

Here’s the real reason I was a 10k virgin until yesterday – I’m a BIG FAT WUSS.

See, with the 5k I know what I’m getting into. In the world of long distance running (it’s all about perspective here) the 5k is virtually a sprint. I run 3 miles all the time without stopping. I can handle that. Run it fast – got it.

With the half marathon, which is definitely a long race, I know how to approach that as well. My pacing strategy always comes down to 3 mile blocks, with water/walk breaks at those points. Run it steady – got it.

But the 10k – who knows with that one?! For me, the 10k is perplexing. Three miles is no problem to run, even five miles I can do without stopping. With that background, I feel like the six miles of a 10k should be no problem. Except there has always been a mental block for me. It’s JUUUST long enough to be intimidating to run my heart out for, but JUUUST short enough that I can’t simply zone out for a couple hours.

I decided to man up this week and at the last minute registered for this 10k in DeForest, WI. It wasn’t really motivated by anything other than I hadn’t done a race in awhile and since it is a holiday I figured this would be a pretty fun and lively one. I already needed to do a medium-length run for marathon training, and for $25 it delivered a new course, some comrades, a free t-shirt, and lunch. Not a bad deal.

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Being over enthusiastic, as per usual, I dawned my red, white and blue. Pigtails (yeah, it surprised me that I did that too) flag ribbons, and a blue star clapper completed my ensemble. I figured I would be the “Freedom Fairy” with my little star clapper along the course.

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I assumed I would fit in with the fine freedom-loving folks of DeForest, WI. Doesn’t everyone look for an excuse to get dressed up? Apparently not, because 98% of people were just there in their LuLu Lemon and Nike clothes. DID YOU MISS THE MEMO: It’s Independence Day. Hello! (I was a little disappointed I didn’t even see one person wearing a birthday hat for the occasion. Come on, that would be hilarious!)

I felt like Elle Woods from Legally Blonde showing up to the “costume” party in a bunny outfit, while all the Harvard YoPros (that’s young professionals for all you non-YoPros out there) wore their suit jackets and cardigans. After I recovered from my (very mild) embarrassment I was ready to run.

Let me tell you about 10ks. They’re not that much different from 5ks. Or half marathons. You run. And you do that for about 55 minutes. And then you’re done. I stopped for water, just like any other race, and I sprinted to the finish, just like any other race. Talk about building something up too much in my mind, again – as per usual.

I finished the 10k in 55:28, just south of the 9:00min/mi pace I have been striving for lately! I would have placed in my age group (W20-24) but being a small race the age group I fell into was W20-29. Either way, I walked away with a PR!

Bomb pops at the end - how perfect!

Bomb pops at the end – how perfect!

Having gotten my workout in for the day, I celebrated our nation’s birthday like I’m sure the founding fathers would have wanted us to – with a flag cake! (That’s what they envisioned when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, right?) And yes, I kept the red, white, and blue theme going all day – because I love America, that’s why.

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Bolder Boulder 10k

This weekend I participated in the largest 10k in the nation – the Bolder Boulder.

This was an especially important race for me because I was doing it with my Aunt Karla, and we were celebrating losing more than 110lbs between the two of us!

Over the last year, my aunt has been a tremendous source of inspiration for me. At 50 years old, my aunt lost 60+ lbs, completed a triathlon, and completely revamped her life. All 22 years I’ve known her, she was overweight. To see her transform herself and embrace a healthier lifestyle inspired me. If my aunt could do it at 50, certainly I could do it in my twenties!

Karla ‘before’ at my high school graduation in 2008

Karla ‘after’ – 60+lbs lost later at the Bolder Boulder 10k!

Karla also did Weight Watchers and having her to talk to about the program and the weight loss process has been invaluable. If I’m ever struggling, I can always count on her to remind me that tomorrow is a new day and to forgive myself.

So the two of us formally-fat-turned-fit ladies took to the streets of Boulder for each of our first 10ks! My friend Tarah from back at the University of Missouri (who did the Chicago Monster Dash with me) also did the race with us, but she was running it while we planned to take it easy and just walk it.

Getting to the start was a breeze. I was wondering what the logistics would be like with 50,000+ participants, but they clearly have a method to the madness. There were military-precise waves for the start, beginning at 7:00 a.m. and going ever three minutes until almost 10:00. Because of that, the crowds were nicely staggered. We took a shuttle bus into Boulder which worked great!

Tarah planned on racing it and her wave was at 7:20 a.m. That meant an early morning wake up to make the drive from Estes Park, but the sunrise coming through the canyon was gorgeous. We waited in a line for the gear check that felt like a 10k itself, and then sent Tarah on her way.

Because Karla and I planned to just walk the course, we weren’t scheduled to start until 9:20. Tarah would already be done by then! (Shout out to her for reaching her goal of sub 60:00!) Karla and I got some breakfast and then headed to the roof of a nearby parking garage to watch the action.

I’m really glad we signed up for a late heat, because the ‘run/walk’ division was filled with many more costumes and nonsensical outfits that weren’t present with the serious runners. See if you can spot all the Waldos! 

The course itself was a blast. With all the participants and entertainers it was impossible to be bored! I was a little worried because walking six miles seems like it could be a little dull, but between the Marshmallow Mile, Elvis impersonators, and the mountains there was plenty to keep you excited!

If you hadn’t noticed, Elvis race pictures are kind of my thing!

Being Boulder, there was at least one keg stand per mile. Part of me wished I wasn’t with my aunt so I could get in on the action – even though I knew she wouldn’t have cared and maybe even would have joined me! 

The race ends in the University of Colorado stadium, which was incredible to run into. I know a lot of races in college towns do this, but this was my first experience. Another reason I liked being in a later wave was that the stadium was packed when we finished, making it a fun climax to the race! 

This was my second year in a row out to Colorado for Memorial Day weekend. My Grandma’s birthday falls perfectly at this time, and I think it just might become a tradition for me to head out there. Karla and I definitely plan on doing the Bolder Boulder again and next time I think we’re going to run it! It was a great experience to share together and I am so proud of the both of us!