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I might just be the least athletic man in Boulder

August 1, 2011

We got into Boulder at 10am this morning.  Within about 45 minutes I was on a trail that runs along Boulder Creek with Marty Kibilosky, the owner of the absolutely stunning house that is our home for the next week.  This is another Home Exchange for us and I was lucky enough to cross paths for a couple hours with Marty before they left for our place.

First, a word about the house, neighborhood, and town.  Boulder has been on the radar for Alison and me for a few years.  For me, it is kind of a no-brainer: mountains, small town, close to big town, and more foodies, baristas, and world class athletes per capita that any place I’m aware of.  In another huge Home Exchange score, we’ve found ourselves in perhaps the nicest home that I’ve ever been in.  Everything is, well, perfect.  It is big without being obnoxious, immaculately clean and well organized without seeming OCD, beautifully furnished with custom everything while still comfy enough for hanging out as a family.  I mean, this is the stove:

And we’re located within easy walking distance to downtown Boulder, Pearl Street (fun for tourists and locals), Boulder Creek, parks, and Flagstaff Mountain.

But the real appeal of Boulder is the lifestyle.  While Marty and I were out for a 7 or 8 mile run to help orient me to the area, we happened across one of Marty’s running buddies, a tall, easy  running fellow named Bill.  The three of us ran together for about an hour, during which time I found out just how sub-ordinary my running really is.  Especially by Boulder standards.  I was a bit out of my element, with guys who each posted 2:20-something marathon PRs in their competitive running days.  Bill didn’t even really focus on running much in his college years – his real passion was rock climbing.  And they had plenty of stories about their “fast” friends – the ones who were world class and even world record holders (as opposed to being “just” among the best runners in America, as both Marty and Bill have been).  I joking asked them if there is anyone in Boulder who hasn’t run a marathon under 2:30 and, missing (or ignoring) my attempt at middling runner humor, they lamented the fact that so many of the runners in Boulder are only in the 2:30-2:35 marathon range.  (My goal time for my upcoming marathon is 3:15.)

It is all a matter of perspective.  One of their local friends, Frank Shorter, is perhaps the most celebrated American marathon runner in history, winning lots of them, including the gold medal in the 1972 Olympics.  There’s also a guy who lives down the street named Dave Scott.  He’s a legend in triathlon, having won the Ironman Championship a record six times.  Scott Jurek, one of the most dominant guys in the history of ultra-running, is another local.  And most of the guys  – and gals – in their running groups have bios that include “World Record Holder” and “World Champion” and “Olympian”.  The slackers have to settle for just “All American” or “College National Champion”.

Marty, after losing some of his passion for running in his 30s, decided to see how he could do training for the National Championships for the 1-Mile as a 41-year-old (considered the “masters” division).  The mile wasn’t his best distance so he wanted to challenge himself.*  For a guy who had taken some time off and was running an event other than his strength, he still managed to make it to the finals and place 7th.  That’s 7th place master in the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, which as the name suggests, fields many of the best runners from around the country. Shortly after, he ran in the local 1-miler here in Boulder.  He beat his time from Nationals but still ended up in 8th place.  And that pretty much sums up the level of athletic talent here.

The average level of motivation and achievement here is mind boggling.  These people, who are ridiculously accomplished runners and cyclists and swimmers and climbers and paddlers and skiers and snow shoe-ers are also brilliant business people and writers and artists.  Almost all work day jobs.  And most are able to be good – even world class – at one or more discipline while raising families, helping communities, and exploring the world, both outside their doors and across the globe.

It is a town where it is easy to be humble and inspired, by the people and the environment.  I think it might be home, and I haven’t even been here 8 hours.

*When I mentioned in passing that I used to be more of a weightlifter than a runner Marty said that he, too, got into lifting for a while.  He could only bench press 95 pounds when he started.  Five years later, he hit his goal, benching 300 pounds, while weighing only 165.  I would bet that there was a moment in time where there wasn’t a comparable marathoner alive who could come within 100 pounds of Marty’s bench press and not a comparable weightlifter alive who could come within 30 minutes of his marathon time.


One Comment
  1. Yowser. Time to move. Here or Flagstaff:)

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