Sunday, May 25, 2014

Remembering the Bolder Boulder

On Memorial Day each year there is a 10k race in Boulder, Colorado called the Bolder Boulder.  Once I started really running in high school, I started doing the Bolder Boulder.  It's a huge race that winds through the streets of Boulder and ends in the football stadium. 

I love the Bolder Boulder.  Runners and walkers are everywhere the morning of the race.  Once in the neighborhood streets of Boulder the atmosphere is fun and relaxed.  People sit outside their houses, put out lawn chairs, hook up hoses to spray runners who want to be sprayed, and so on.   At other places along the course, there are various groups who perform, including belly dancers.  It brings a calm to the race, something a bit uncommon for road races.

The first time I ran the Bolder Boulder was after my sophomore year of high school, and most of what I remember is being dropped off at the starting line and then meeting my parents in the stands of the football stadium where the race ends.  After my junior year, I was placed in the top women's heat and ran well.  My senior year was the best ever.  The race also comes right after track season, so high school runners are still in shape.  With all the stresses of my senior year done, I flew through the course, got a really high overall placement, and my best time (which I don't remember).

Time changes things and by the time I was ready to do the Bolder Boulder again, I had been diagnosed with MS (there was once I did it after high school and before I was diagnosed with MS, but I don't want to remember that).  The goal then was to finish.  I remember one year doing the Bolder Boulder with my mom and brother, running various parts.

I will never forget my last Bolder Boulder.  I had my walking stick (a hiking stick) for when I would get tired, and I had my mom and my brother there with me.  We started the race early despite being told to go back, but I knew we needed the extra time.  By mile 5.5 or so of 6.2 miles, I knew I had very little left to give.  Where is the stadium?  How much further?  My mom would go ahead, look, and come back to tell me.  You see, I knew this was my last Bolder Boulder.  I had said I wanted to do it just one more time, and I knew it carried a risk of falling, of not finishing - many risks. I made it to the final hill up before entering the stadium and I knew I had it.

As I entered the stadium, I was overwhelmed by the number of people and a few tears of joy marvel and joy surfaced. Years previously, almost no one would be in the stadium when I finished because I was one of the first to finish.  This last year there was no sprint to the finish.  I made my way gradually around the semi-track in the stadium, to the finish, where I finished.  I made it - I finished my final Bolder Boulder.  I didn't fall.  No one can take all my Bolder Boulder memories from me - each one being important in its own way.

I think taking risks is important. The times I ran the Bolder Boulder in high school were so easy and are different types of memories, of times when I always ran faster outside the big track races.  I always ran faster when all the pressure was removed.  And during those times, I was really fast.  There was little risk.

The times of risk involved doing the race with MS, when there were obstacles and uncertainty.  And there are many obstacles and uncertainty in everything when MS is in the mix.  Recently I've been doing physical therapy to help me stand straighter and to help me walk better and faster (see "The Bubble Machine" entry earlier).  On the treadmill that I use in physical therapy, I have to decide whether to risk things like increasing speed, and the unknown associated with it.  Will I fail?  This past week I learned that rather than fail, I needed a higher speed.  Walking faster was a bit easier and I was less tired at the end.  There can be so many rewards to taking risks, and we don't know how far we can go until we try.  Another risk in increasing the speed was there was a part of my Bioness needing a new battery.  I determined when to take a step by watching a camera that is on my feet, so when I saw my left foot reach a certain spot, I knew to take a step.  This added to the risk of increasing the speed on the treadmill.

This year for the MS Walk I also took a risk.  I was asked if I would be willing to be interviewed as part of a television story.  This was a risk because I am not comfortable with others seeing me walk.  Me walking, on the news, was an emotional risk I didn't know if I wanted to take.  I certainly didn't go waving my hand and asking to be interviewed and to be filmed walking.  I did it - I'm glad they showcased me and that I took the risk, mainly so others may see the Bioness and consider trying it.  The camera footage was excellent.  The story was great; Bioness got its coverage.  Here is the link:

... Each Memorial Day I remember the Bolder Boulder.  After the race is done, there is an honor to the military.  And this is another great part of the race.

Thanks be to God for granting me the courage to take risks, to sometimes find failure, but most often to experience unexpected success.


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