Luv2Run Boston 5K
Sunday, November 6, 2011
5K (3.1 miles)
17:57 / pace 5:47
16th place overall of 180
2nd place Master (AG M40+)
Hardware: Luv2Run Pint Glass
none – no mile markers
In the name of tuning up for an upcoming town Turkey Trot, my wife Heather wanted to line up another 5K, this in addition to the Run For All Ages 5K we did two weeks prior. She figured two or three 5K’s would prep her for a shot at her all-time PR on Thanksgiving Day.
For me, the 5K a few weeks ago showed where I am with regard to short distances. It told me that I am not in PR territory, nor will I probably ever be, but that I was still pretty good. I had hoped to go under 18 minutes that day, and I did. Now, a few weeks later, I knew I’d be locked in around the same time — 18 minutes or under, my line in the sand. The only wildcard was that Heather and I had a party the night before; although the party fell through, I still used it as an opportunity to sample a collection of choice ales, something I knew I would feel the next day.
With a cup of coffee in one hand and the steering wheel in the other, I drove us into Boston for the 10 a.m. start. After warming up a solid 2 miles, complete with many hard and lengthy strides, both into and away from the stiff wind, I was ready. Meanwhile, Heather stayed in the car where it was warm; she was ready, too!
After regrouping, Heather and I talked about how we loved lowkey races like this. Show up, pay a few bucks, no crazy lines for registration or portopotties, friendly local folks. This was downhomey fun.
By then I had already made several friends. Turns out that this race, although small in size at only 180, was stacked deep with fast runners, many of whom were kitted in New Balance Boston gear. I already knew, even before I toed the start line, that I’d be lucky to break Top 10 overall. And so that was my goal: Top 10 overall in a time under 18 minutes.
Back in the pack, Heather thought nothing more than having fun and running hard. Little did she know what kind of race she was in for!
“3… 2… 1… GO!” The race was started.
Off the line I jumped, springing immediately to pace thrusting into one of the first 10 positions in the race. New Balance Boston was, of course, among the 9 ahead. Four of those guys, plus another non-team member, were in a category unto themselves. They filtered behind the Race Director, who led the race by bicycle.
It was quite commical watching the RD on bike trying to stay ahead of the New Balance boys. A quarter mile in, on a slight rise on the bike path on which we ran, the RD pushed down hard on the peddle and shifted at the same time. clunk! Something broke. He quickly pulled to the side of the road while the rest of the field came flying by. “Just follow the New Balance guys,” the Race Director offered in a joking manner.
We didn’t have a choice. New Balance was gone. Three of them would go on to match or do better than 16 minutes flat. A league of their own.
Meanwhile, I lost one, two, three, and more spots. I wasn’t slowing down. But others were now kicking into gear. By a half mile in, nearly all passing was done. We were now locked into position for the remainder of the race.
The course was a single loop entirely along the Charles River in Brighton. Starting in Artesani Park, the course followed a bike path along the river into a stiff head wind, made a right up and over the first bridge and the river, another right back onto the bike path on the other side of the Charles River for a long stretch with the wind at the back. To the next bridge, up and over the river, then right, back on the bike path, into the wind again, another half mile to the finsh.
I was running hard but not feeling all that smooth. I reasoned that it was probably from the beers the night before. Not far behind me, clear out of sight, Heather was feeling good, and she was running hard and fast.
Just before mile 1 I passed a guy on the rise of the bridge over the river. I was somewhere in Top-20; this was not where I wanted to be. Top-10 was the goal, and so after passing I set sights on the group of 6 guys ahead of me.
I spent the remaining time trying, to noavail, to close the gap. Although I closed the gap by a few seconds, the race was too short, and there were too far up, to do any damage.
A weak moment came after crossing the second (and last) bridge. Just over the bridge the course made a hard right into a strong wind. The group ahead of me was now obliterated, strung out in a line. As hard as I tried to get closer to the trailing guy, I felt powerless, not inching any closer nor losing any space. I still did not feel smooth, but I knew I was running as hard as I could. I got back to focus on form and running as fast as I could.
As I rounded the final corner onto the straightaway to the finish, the clock came into view. I was pleased that, although not feeling great, I was again under 18 minutes.
Finish was 17:57, 5:47 pace, the exact same time as the 5K two weeks earlier. This was good for 16th place overall and 2nd Master in the 40 and over class. 2nd place earned me a Luv2Run pint glass.
After finishing, I went back out on the course to cheer Heather in. Heather dreamed of going under 26 minutes. That would be a PR for her. When I saw her come into sight, I looked over my shoulder far back at the clock. It was ticking at 25 minutes. She still had over a minute of running left, so I urged her on by shouting, “Pick it up, girl… you can break 26!” Heather was working hard. She didn’t look at me. But she did pick it up. And she hit the finish line in a victorious effort of 25:51 for an 8:21 pace and a new all-time PR!
Thanksgiving came a little early for Heather. Congratulations, girl… You came into this race with low stress and no expectations. You let the day come to you, ran hard when it felt good and held on when it got tough. You done me proud!