Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christopher Martins 5K Road Race

Well, here I am, sitting watching the Patriots game. My shins and calves are sore, my season is finally, pretty much unquestionably, over.

Last year, I ran a 17:45, and was 10th in my age group, according to the race results. It's funny, I went into today's race thinking I'd run a 17:39 last year.

It was cold- really cold, and with a sharp wind. I was wearing racing shoes, and I couldn't get my feet to warm up at all, which meant that my calves, at the far back end of a long season, got more, and not less sore as I warmed up. I was a little concerned. I know how this race is- you have to run pretty hard in the first mile, run to that turn-around, like you really mean it, or you will be out of the race by the mile mark.

They had one of the personalities from Channel 8 there and after some pleasantries, he handed the microphone over to the MC and he started the race instructions with "We'll be counting down from 5."

The was a wheelchair athlete in front of the rest of the start, and we assumed they'd be starting him off before the rest of us, so we were unprepared for the next thing which the MC said, which was "4".

At two the wheelchair athlete attempted to haul ass, but unfortunately it takes longer for him to get started than for us, and I have a feeling he got engulfed at the start.

The start goes down State Street, pretty much all of it, so there are a lot of people that surge out early. Like most well attended 5Ks- over 1500 people- there were a LOT of people who ran by me early, and I was fighting just to stay in the race, or at least that is what it felt like. On my right was some guy who had to be in his fifties, then Yemisi ran by me. That actually made me relax a little. Yemisi is fast, but she goes out really hard and usually if she goes out and passes me in the first half mile then I'm in good shape pace-wise, and I'll be able to pass her back before the mile mark.

As we ran down the street, I started to lose contact with he lead group. This was expected, yet still ever so slightly frustrating. I wanted to finish top twenty, and so many people in front of me, but I was also passing people.

Just before we turned, someone clipped my feet. Then hit my elbow. Then tried to go inside me on the right. I knew the four people coming up on me were going to end up running faster, but I don't like having my feet clipped that late in a race- nearly a mile- I don't like being bumped- so I accelerated and made that corner and the next one before I let anyone by.

Once you make it around those two corners, it's one hell of a long way the other direction.

But a little adventure first. We hit the mile marker and the woman at the marker said '5:07'. I said, very loudly, 'Holy Sh!t !'

Brian Talon was good enough to say 'She's wrong, it's 5:30.' I was profoundly grateful to Brian, because 5:07 ? That would have probably been a disaster-inducing meltdown.

The second mile is just hard. You run, and run, and run, and you just never get to the turn. There were people all along the way, cheering, and that was great, I needed it. I was struggling, or felt like I was struggling, although I was neither passing nor being passed. I think maybe two people passed me in the second mile. You reach that mile marker and you're still running in the same direction. You finally see the lead people turn and that turn looks like it's a forever from where you are.

I made the turn, following four guys, all of whom would gap me a little bit. We wound our way through a set of short turns and then we were headed towards the unlit 'Mezcal' sign. And finally we were back on Main Street, headed towards the finish line. I could see the cones, but not the Christopher Martins awnings. The guys in front of me just weren't coming back to me.

And then I saw the clock, partially hidden. I could see the 17: but not the seconds. Bogus for me. I thought I had plenty of time to finish under 18:00, but who knew, so I gave it everything I had until i had crossed both mats.

17:43. Two seconds better than last year. 22nd overall, 4 places higher than last year and 4th out of 204 in my age group.

I guess I have nothing to complain about. I certainly didn't knock it out of the park, but it was another solid race, another race that was faster than last year, and I had a good time hanging out with friends after the race.

No, nothing to complain about at all.

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