Ahead of the finish line

Father and 9-year-old son who trained together surpass their goals for the Bolder Boulder

Tim and Dave Belin at the Bolder Boulder starting line
Photo courtesy of Dave Belin

The 5:30 a.m. alarm buzzer came a little early, but that was about the only bump in the road along the way to our completion of the 2013 Bolder Boulder. After 16 weeks of training (see “Training for more than a race,” Adventure, May 23), my 9-year-old son Tim and I had a smooth and fast race on a beautifully sunny Boulder morning.

My wife and other son Sam dropped us off at about 6:40 a.m. for our 7:16 a.m. start time, and Tim and I jogged to the location of our starting wave on 30th Street. I could tell Tim was anxious about the race because he was reluctant to leave our wave to go use the port-a-potties, even though we had almost half an hour before the starting gun would sound.

“We better go now because we don’t want to have to go later,” I told him, and nearby racers nodded in agreement.

Walking with our wave to the starting line, the rising sun off to our right, we listened to the bugle player blast the starting tune for the 17th out of 87 times that morning (one for each wave). The starting gun sounded, and, following the mantra “You can’t win the race in the first mile, but you can lose it in the first mile,” we began the race at a strong but not too fast pace. We were cruising along with the speed of the wave and feeling the adrenaline pumping for the event. The broad but quiet boulevards of 30th Street, Valmont Road and 28th Street were punctuated by a couple of entertainers, but few fans were up that early to witness the event.

To keep us focused on something for the duration of the race, we made an impromptu decision to count the number of bands along the route. As the kilometers passed, we debated what qualified as a band: a lone, sleepy bongo player in her front yard (no), Irish step dancers (yes), the slip-n-slide (no) or the multiple belly dancers (yes). We counted 29 bands and entertainers along the way, although I’m sure we missed a few and/or lost count.

As we neared mile four, Tim started cramping, something I was familiar with from early in our training. He was grimacing and obviously in pain.

“Let’s slow it down,” I offered, and started to ease up the pace.

“No,” he insisted, as we continued up and over the hill next to Casey Middle School.

I knew we were ahead of our pace at this point, but I realized that Tim’s determination would put us way ahead of schedule.

I was secretly confident that we could finish in 53 minutes, not the 55 minutes we had set as our goal. Heading into Folsom Field, Tim started sprinting ahead of me, the excitement of the crowd propelling his legs. I was able to reel him in, however, and we crossed the finish line together at 51:46. The 8:19 pace we posted was even faster than our 5K qualifying time.

I am really proud of Tim and the commitment he made to the training and the hard work it took to crush our goal. He finished ninth out of 310 9-year-old boys (though three 9-yearold girls beat him too). And sitting in the stadium after the finish, my other son Sam decided that he wanted to participate in next year’s Bolder Boulder, a race famous for bringing multiple generations of runners and walkers together.

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