As Leighton and I loaded up Monday morning for the Bolder Boulder at 5:45AM I knew it was going to be a day of lessons. It was either going to be a lesson on how hard work and perseverance pay off and goals are met, or it was going to be a lesson on how despite hard work and perseverance sometimes goals and dreams aren’t met and what to do with that and how to come back from that. I was really hoping that it was going to be the former but also as a mom knowing that the second was just as important of a lesson to learn if needed.
We got parked early and I think beat a big portion of the parking crowd as I heard from my brother later how he got stuck in it and had to run to the start line to make his wave. We did the usual “bathroom break” in the Home Depot parking lot and headed up the road to find our start corral. Leighton did tell me as we stood in line at the bathrooms that he thinks the reason he hasn’t made the top 15 in years past is because I have to go the bathroom part way through and there are always lines. So this year mommy wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom after the start. We heard the A wave go off and got in line for our FL group.
Leighton said he was ready. I reminded him that he had trained hard and he could do it. I told him that this was his only chance to make the top 15 as a 7 year old, next year he would be 8 and would have different times he’d have to meet to make it. As we talked and stretched and slowly made our way to the start line I told him he would have to leave it all out on the course and I’d be with him each step of the way. I think I felt all the nerves of both a mom and a coach wondering and hoping if we had done enough and if he was ready. To reach his goal he’d have to drop nearly 25 minutes from his time from last year. I also told him, that more than anything I wanted him to have fun.
Before long we were at the start, and the gun was about to go off. I didn’t find out till later but the official starter was Emma Coburn, the 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist in the steeplechase. I wish I had known when I was there at the start line. But we were quickly off and Leighton chose a pretty fast speed. Turned out mile 1 was going to be our fastest mile, but not by much, he powered through mile after mile. I knew to get under 70 minutes with a hope for him to finish in the top 15 we’d have to be 11 minute miles or under which he had not really done in training. When my watched beeped at mile 1 and we were cruising at 10:30 pace and he was holding steady I thought for the first time that we might actually make it.
The miles passed quickly, with a high 5 under each mile sign and I did a wiggle dance (mostly just to embarrass him) at each kilometer sign. I asked how he was doing and he kept saying “I’m doing good mommy”, and so we kept on going. We kept it fun though, he did a cartwheel for some guys drinking on the side of the road, picked up a marshmallow along the way and even did the slip-n-slide. It was actually the first time he’s done the slip-n-slide as we usually start in a later wave and the lines are super long by the time we get there. He had a smile on his face the whole way. We got to enjoy some yummy Cliff shots at the 1/2 way point that I got as part of the blogger program.
About mile 4.6 he started to loose a little steam. He asked if we could walk then. I told him we were getting close, and how about we count as we run to 30 and see how he’s feeling after that. We grabbed hands and started counting slowly as we ran along. Just was we were getting to 30 we went under the 8Km sign and his face lite up, “I know where we are mommy, we are close to the end”. And there was no stopping him from there.
He told me later that as we turned on to Folsom he could see the stadium way down at the other end, he said he put his head down and just ran a lot and when he looked up it was much closer so he knew he could do it. I was fighting back tears as we got closer to the final turn/hill as a proud mommy and coach. I had been texting Clint who was back home with the other 4 kiddos photos of the mile markers along the way so he could keep track of us, I knew he had the finish line camera up so I was hoping he’d see us finish. We ran into the stadium holding hands and I was telling Leighton each step of the way “you’ve got this buddy, you’ve done so well, just finish it out”. And he did. Our official time was 1 hour 8 minutes and 27 seconds. 24 minutes faster than 2016. I knew there were a lot more people finishing behind us and I told him we wouldn’t know till at least the end of the day if he made the top 15, but that I was so proud of him. As it turns out Clint and the other kiddos actually saw us on TV at home finish which was cool to find out. During all our training runs he had stopped and walked along the way, so he was super proud of the fact that he ran the whole thing.
We grabbed our goodie bags and chocolate milk and grabbed a seat in the stands to rest, watch, cheer on and wait for the pro-race which was still over 2 hours away. My brother and his girlfriend met up with us after a bit after they finished their race and we rested and relaxed. We decided to go check out the expo to help the time pass and scored banana popsicles. We made our way back to Folsom st while we enjoyed those to hop on the press truck for the women’s race. As part of the Bolder Boulder Blogging program I got to ride one of the press trucks which is just an amazing experience.
As the pro-women took off it was so cool to watch the runners/walkers who will still finishing their races stop and cheer them on. I got to meet a number of my fellow bloggers on the truck and we just watched in awe at the women speeding along at 5 minute mile pace. It didn’t take long for the two Ethiopian women to pull out in front, but from where we were at in the truck we could see there was a real race going on for 3rd and 4th place between Natosha Rogers and the first racer from Kenya. In the end Natosha took 3rd and overall the Ethiopians won the team race with USA coming in a close 2nd.
While we were down on the field at the finish line watching the pro-women finish I asked Leighton if he wanted to stay down there for the Memorial Day Tribute and he said he wanted to return to the stands. I was a little bummed, but also knew we’d have a great view from there. Turns out he told me later that he remembered the 21 gun salute and that always makes him nervous and he wanted to be away from that. We watched the close men’s race finish and settled in to honor and remember all those that have fought for the freedoms we have.
We finished our morning watching the USA flag be parachuted into the stadium reflecting on the fact that, “all have given some, and some have given all.” As we got home and checked the results to learn that Leighton did in fact finish 10th in his age group and meet his goal, we remembered that we are where we are today and do the things that we do because of all the men and women that have stood and fought for us and our freedoms and the freedoms of those around this world. And to them we will always be grateful.