This web log was created to keep you up to date with the athletic pursuits of Blake Boldon. It will be updated regularly with competition schedules, results, and photos.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Seagate Elite Athlete 5k Race Summary (finally)

After my roommate, Cele Rodriguez (formerly of Adams State), and I made it to the starting line I found a place to lay down for a while. Laying flat on my back was about the only way that I was pain free the whole day. About an hour before the race I headed out for my normal warm up jog and tried to put the pain in my back out of my mind. Of course, after a few minutes of jogging it became clear that it wasn’t going to be my day. I started debating whether or not I should even start the race but I had no idea what I was going to say to the race director if I didn’t at least start the race. I went through a stretching routine and tried to bolster my flagging confidence but instead I contemplated what part of the course was the best spot to drop out. As a last ditch effort to relieve the pain in my back I found a member of the medical staff to quickly rub BioFreeze on me. They obliged and at first things seemed ok. My spirits raised, I went out for what I call my “extended run.” It’s usually 3 minutes around 5 minute mile pace to prepare my body for a hard effort. On this day, it was barely 6 minute pace and I slowed to a jog after the first 2 minutes because of the pain. At this point I decided that I was definitely going to drop out but I would at least start in the hopes of the adrenaline carrying me for a mile. I jogged down to the start of the 4 loop course and I noticed that I was the only entrant in the elite race that hadn’t even bothered to take the timing chip off the ankle band and put it on my shoe. I also didn’t bother to do any strides because I knew the extra effort would only make my back tighter. Before the race started I decided my goal was to run almost 2 full laps; I even had the exact location for my drop out picked. I decided this would be far enough that the race director would understand and invite me back to the event next year, but it wasn’t far enough to due a lot of extra damage to my back. Within 100 yards of the start the pain was pretty bad. It was a pain that is hard to explain but I’ll never forget it. It felt like a screw driver was being pushed between two of my ribs next to my shoulder blade. It caused my whole back to tighten up made it really hard to breathe. I survived the first lap, but mostly thanks to our pedestrian pace. We came through the finish line (just more than one lap) in about 4 minutes and the announcer comically said “Wow! They are on world record pace, coming through the mile right around 4 minutes.” The mile mark wasn’t for a couple hundred more meters and I think I was around 4:35 or 4:37. The pace felt so easy except my back was getting much worse and moving my right arm back and forth was getting hard. About 600 meters later I came to my designated drop out point and I saw another competitor step off exactly where I had planned. I won’t name names, but I’ve never hated another runner more than I hated that guy at that exact moment. My plan was ruined and I didn’t know what I was going to do; this meant that I was going to have to run another 1200 meters to get back to this spot. By the time that I got back to the finish line again the leaders had gapped me and I was running alone when the announcer said “And here’s last year’s champion, Blake Boldon, running strong.” Right then, I hated that announcer more than the guy who had dropped out. Not only was I embarrassed to be back that far, I now felt obligated to stick it out even farther. A half lap later I passed the 2 mile mark around 9:15 and I realized that I was ahead of some good runners (including an Olympian) so I decided to hang on as best I could and finish. After I crossed the line I couldn’t stand up straight but it hurt as much to bend over and grab my knees. I hobbled to the VIP tent to get a massage but they told me I had to cool down first. I didn’t tell them that I couldn’t cool down, but I did head back to the start line to gather my things and change my shoes. After a massage I met up with my buddy Jim Sorensen who had graciously driven down to watch the race and then pick me up so that I wouldn’t have to spend Thanksgiving Day alone. It took me about 11 minutes to jog the mile back to the hotel and that’s all I could handle. I rushed to shower and collect my things and then Jim and I were on our way to Modesto to spend Thanksgiving Day with Jim’s girlfriend’s family. I spent the afternoon at the home of Don and Liz McInnes-Messamer in the company of Alissa Shook’s family. I was in a lot of pain especially when I laughed or coughed and Jim seemed to think it was hilarious to get me laughing. His claim of “laughter is the best medicine” never seemed more untrue. Aside from a great Thanksgiving meal with welcoming hosts, it was a tough trip. A big part of me feels like it was a lost opportunity to compete with world class athletes, but there were a lot of positives. I managed a 14:33 5k under terrible circumstances and I truly feel that it was the toughest race that I’ve ever run. I was the 3rd American overall, behind an Olympian and an American record holder and I left San Jose with a new sense of confidence. I’m looking forward to the spring when I can take a crack at a healthy 5k. Happy New Year hopefully I can stick to my resolution and eliminate this embarassing lag time between posts.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Misch said...

Boldon, I am really glad you wrote this story up because now I don't have to re-tell it to others! :) I can just send them to the blog! I still think the Oregon trip last spring was a bit more inspiring, but this is the kind of stuff that makes you tough as nails after you come out the other side of it. One thing is for sure, when you are standing on the starting line at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon in 2008, you can confidently say to yourself that you are as tough as anyone on that track and you have the experiences to prove it. Here's to a good 2006 and an even better 2007 for Blake Boldon! Keep on keepin' on man! We're all pulling for ya! Misch

9:40 PM

 
Anonymous Hipp said...

BB, I hope the back is starting to get better. Way to be tough, see you indoors somewhere I'm sure.

Hipp

11:03 AM

 

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