I’ve had a long journey back to running. One I will get into a little bit more in a post to come. But, I’ve gotten back in to the swing of things slowly but surely. With the help of treadmills, new shoes, and not wearing a gps watch.
Two weeks ago I signed up for the Run To Remember half marathon, a race I’ve wanted to run for several years because the course winds along the Charles and the esplanade and I like the idea of running a race on a very familiar route. Knowing several people also running this year is a bonus.
Although, I’d been getting nervous. A half marathon as my first race in two years seemed a bit intense. I wanted to shake the dust off. And there was a lot of dust. I ran 8 miles a week ago, which made me confident enough in my ability to run 13, but I hadn’t had the nervous feeling of being at a race in a long time. So… I impulsively signed up for a 7 mile race in Danvers with a bib pick up in Beverly. Having only moved to Salem three weeks ago, I had never been to Beverly nor Danvers before. Bring on the adventure!
I drove out to the course in the morning a mere fifteen minutes away, which allowed me to have a nice, casual morning of coffee and oatmeal with bananas mixed in. I laced up my shoes in my car because it was a bit brisk to start the day in a parking lot in Danvers. Which I now realize looked suspicious. I was being eyed by a gentleman in his yard, and I’m pretty sure with my bed hair and fumbling with my shoes I must have looked like I was up to something more illicit. And I hope I alleviated his fears when I got out and did my warmup run and stretches. But who knows.
The course promised to be flat and was on both a local rail trail and mostly residential streets. It started on the rail trail and warming up with crazy high kicks and not an ounce of fat was this guy I had no intention of actually racing. What I wanted to do was run about even sevens and then have enough left for a faster closing mile around 6:30.
The race went off and for about the first mile I was with the leaders in about 5th position in a long straight line. When my watched clicked 6:26, which felt surprising easy, I decide to back off and get more into a groove. The day was a bit sunnier than expected so it felt warmer than the mid-fifties it actually was, but there was a delightful cool breeze that would pop up now and then. My 4th mile clocked in at 7:20 and I started feeling like there was more dust, possibly even rust, than I had thought but I started turning my legs over a bit more and shortening my stride. By around mile 5.5 two runners that were ahead of me the whole race appeared in sight. With the way the course was laid out I was able to use the curves of the residential streets to line myself up better and run tighter tangents than they were and started closing the gap more and more and eventually passed them. Going into the last miles I felt comfortable and like my legs were and had been moving instinctively for about the last 2 miles. On the final stretch with about 400 meters to go, the one runner I had reined back in caught up and passed me, I fell in behind him for a few strides deciding if I had it in me to bust out a final sprint. But as the picture below(and continuing my legacy of race pictures in which I look like early modern man chasing down prey) can tell you, I didn’t. Last mile in 6:26-chalk that up for a win in my book! PS, definitely looking less cro-magnon in the second shot-photo credit Lisa Kelly.
I did my usual immediate post race dry heave and then stretched and sticked myself before heading over to the after race ceremony at the Osborn Tavern. I got a free beer(nice and unexpected perk!) and introduced myself to a few runners from the Wicked Running Club based in my new home town of Salem that I just joined last week. I haven’t been able to make it to a club run yet, but they have some good vibes about them.
Overall came in 15th place with and overall time and pace of 48:15 and 6:54. I went in with the mindset to cruise and finish well and overall just enjoy the experience. Fun, winding course, quirky little race, just great stuff. And I went to bed at 8:45 last night, so there’s also that.