It’s looking like 2012 is the year of the five miler. So far this year I’ve done three with at least one more looming on the horizon. As these five milers go, Super Sunday in February was the first one of the year and the first one I had ever done. I finished that in 33:42 surprising even myself and setting the bar high for future races. The next one was last month in Quincy at the Squantum Five Miler, where we arrived late to the start and had to play catch-up from behind after the field was already well on the course and the event was not chip timed. I went out way too fast, but still managed to finish a little over 38 minutes. There was a large hill just over a mile into the course that really killed my momentum, but it was the fast start that ultimately led to the less than stellar showing.
And then there was last night. I ran the Marathon Sports 5 Miler in Weston. After the debacle getting to the starting line at Squantum, I made sure that my sister, Ally, and I were on our way well in advance. The race had a scheduled 7:00 start time, and we arrived about an hour in advance. After meeting up with Alain and Kathleen and meeting a few of Ally’s friend, my sister and I went over to watch the kids ‘fun run’ my sister and I thought they were simply going to be doing a ¾ lap around the track. One little kid in a red shirt and red hat blasted out, but when they kept going passed where we though the finish was he started to trail off. The kids ran off the track and then in to the woods. A few minutes later they emerged and came in with awesome strong finishes. These kids have so much energy! I think they did what every runner always is trying to do – find the simple joy in just running, where going as fast as you can isn’t a thought or strategy, it’s just, well, lrunning. The kid that came in second was running barefoot, which was awesome. After this we made our way over to the start line. The race had an old-school cross country start that started at the end of a football practice field and then led down a hill before going through a parking lot and emerging on the roads. The start line was about a 100 feet across. I positioned myself in the second row of runners on the left hand side so I wouldn’t have to jockey for the first turn that led down the hill. The horn sounded and we were off. I stuck with the first pack for much of the first mile. When they called out the split at mile one, it was 5:50. See the problem here? That’s fast. As in a minute faster than my average mile splits. The difference between me and the rest of this first pack is that they were gauging their effort and speed through the first mile feeling out how they would conquer the next 4. I, on the other hand, punched the gas way too early and was already fading. Add in the fact that I had foolishly done speed work two days earlier so my legs felt like they had concrete streaming through them and my race was essentially over. I plodded along, trying my best to attack the hill 1.5 miles in. When I passed the 3 mile mark, I was just over 20 minutes – so I think I pr’d my 5k time (I need to run a 5K soon to see how I’m measuring up). There were a surprising amount of downhill sections that I did my best to ride the momentum on. After we crossed the bridge over Route 95 on the return we were almost done, an easy turn on to a trail and then across a field was absolutely torturous. My legs were shaky at this point and the uneven terrain on the grass was wreaking havoc on my strides. I felt like I was jumping from rock to rock in a stream. The field eventually ended and led onto the track. I was in rough shape. I heard Alain shouting and managed to muster some speed to pass one guy during the last 100 meters, apparently ruing Alain’s picture that he was trying to capture (sorry!). After finishing and gasping and getting some water I went back to where the field led on to the track to wait for Ally and my sister. Ally finished a few minutes later. I had failed to catch my sister’s awesome finish at Super Sunday and was determined not to miss out on this race. As soon as I saw here I began cheering and wildly ringing a cowbell I had found. Lara has awesome finishing speed and running with her on the track was almost too much for my tired legs. But, we all finished – may be a bit worse for wear and went to Union Street in Newton for a post-race beer where we met up with Ally’s friends. I think my sister has also become a follower in the holy trinity of beer, burger, and fries. On the ride back we ordered burgers to go from the Washington Sq. Tavern – definitely hit the spot. I wound up finishing around 34:40. Certainly not perfect, but not bad. Next time: no speed work and…no excuses.
Next up: Jim Kane Sugar Bowl 5K on Thursday.