Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
10 miles (flat & fast)
Finish: 1:03:57 (6:24 pace)
68th Overall of 1400
12th Place M40-44 of 129
Having been running and racing for nearly 20 years, it is hard for me to believe that this year was my first Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler road race. But as with me trying mountain running for a first time this year, so too was my entry in this popular race on a hot Tuesday night in the middle of summer in the bucolic town of Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Although I do not typically run at a time other than morning, I was easily sucked into this weekday evening race by a bunch of fellow Goons. Not only was there a private escort to the doorstep of the race, compliments of Doctor Death, but there was also promise of fresh Newton Brand Brews by Brewski and OCG. How could I pass this opportunity up? I heard the call of a sturdy Newton Pliny.
But before I could answer the call of the IPA, there was first a race. And before there was a race, we had to get there. So in style of the official Goonmobile, a Doctored-up silver limo with enough room to stuff inside a count of 10 Goons, we pimped along the highway to the race. I got to sit in the far back of the limo next to Judge and Hill Checker. Judge sweat all over me while Hill Checker tried to persuade anyone who would listen that the best rock band in the entire world was, bar none, Queensryche. Silent Lucidity. I kept it to myself.
Many laughs later, the Goonmobile bumped into the parking lot of Gumby’s crystal palace a few streets down from the Newburyport High School, site of race start. Showtime, too good for the Goonmobile, trailed with his own ride. Goons were in place. The race was about to start.
As the sun was setting on an otherwise hot summer day, with temperatures still in the lower 90’s, I wiggled into the starting line four rows from the front. Having looked at results of previous years, I knew I’d be lucky to crack Top-50, so I was sure to seed myself accordingly. I saw Taz up on the front line. He was bouncing around, shaking hands like a mayor. In fact, he probably shook the mayor’s hand, too. Before I had a chance to say hello, bang, the race started.
My goal was pretty simple: run hard. I had no time goal. Having spent the last few months climbing all sorts of mountains and running technical trails, I knew my speed was lacking, so instead of setting myself up for disappointment at what I want to be rather than who I am, I set the same goal as I do for all races: run to my ability with what I have today. And that’s what I did.
Miles 1 & 2 (6:11, 6:11) were fast. I tried to constrain myself, to hold back, but the pull of a deep field sucked me in. Although I felt comfortable, my effort was a bit too harder. I found a happy rhythm pumping my legs and stayed there. It would get ugly, I knew, in a few short miles.
Mile 3 & 4 (6:19, 6:21) were also fast as the course darted through downtown Newburyport. Whenever I’d start racing myself, with the pace getting too fast, something I do when starting to fatigue, I would gradually dial effort back until breathing was again in control. I tried to stay “on top of my feet” with brisk yet fluid leg turnover. Effortless, I kept thinking as a way to help smooth the stride. Silent Lucidity? I don’t think so. Boisterous Stupidity? Maybe. Who the hell is Queensryche anyway? I was running too fast – far too fast.
Miles 5 (6:39) & 6 (6:43) was when the quick early miles caught up to me. This was also when the course turned from flat and fast to slightly rolling. I hammered over the first long bump but got bogged down on each of the remaining ones. After spending months running up mountains, I had to laugh at myself, for here was a 2 foot rise over a quarter of a mile, and it nearly brought me to a stop, my legs barely moving as if churning in mud.
After surviving that rough patch, I seemed to gain steam. Mile 7 (6:25) was better; I seemed to charge up and over the little rises in the road without losing momentum. But Mile 8 (6:39) was back to the grind. The only thing going for me was that by this point the “hills” on the course were done.
The remaining two miles were the fastest on the course. And I knew that I was far too strong to have the hills in the early going knock my race out of whack. So I got back to form, back to a happy rhythm, and pumped out Mile 9 (6:19) and 10 (6:15) to finish with a punch.
Finish line came in 1:03:57 with an average pace of 6:24, which was good for 68th place overall of 1400 and 12th place AG M40-44 of 129. No complaints: I gave it my all. I wasn’t in peak condition to blaze a fast time. And so I didn’t expect it. I expected to race to my current ability, leave it all on the course, and that’s what I did.
Fellow Goons crossed the finish line one by one, some with personal records for the distance (OCG, Doctor Death, etc), one doing a first race in many years (Fingers), and others with nothing more than a lot of sweat. After we all gathered, the procession back to Gumby’s love shack ensued. We were on a mission: the Goon After-Party. Over several sturdy ales, I learned how Hill Checker got his name. It was not what I thought. And probably not what you thought either.
Right about then, Judge took out a bottle of Jeagermeister. It was like being at a Kirleis family reunion. Silent Lucidity was slowly being thrown out the window. We were not very Lucid, not after a shot, and then another, of Jeagermeister. And we were not very Silent. In fact, we were reminded of how far from both Silent and Lucidity we were when, at exactly 10:00 pm, a neighbor come out to ask, “When is your little party going to end?” We laughed as he walked away. But we laughed at ourselves more than him. To prove it, we packed up and headed home. Silent Lucidity returned.
1 – 6:11
2 – 6:11
3 – 6:19
4 – 6:21
5 – 6:39 (31:33) – slow
6 – 6:43 – embarassing
7 – 6:25 – better
8 – 6:39 – dude!
9 – 6:19
10 – 6:15 (32:24)