Saturday, July 04, 2009

Stonington Six

Note: This entry is retro-posted.

Alan and I went to Stonington both looking for the W. I was eager to avenge my third-place finish last year and finally win the 10k version of my hometown race, of which I had won the fun run four years in a row when I was younger. The whole family was running either the 10k or the fun run. Quite an event.

We signed up and got our race numbers. Alan and I did a warm-up backwards on the course. I was distressed to see two other women, one masters-looking and very thin, another normal-looking, also doing strides on the starting line. There were also some skinny men. We lined up and I wished Scott and Karen a good race.

When the gun went off, lots of kids predictably sprinted to the front. Alan took it out hard, as was his plan, and I could see him with a growing lead on the rest of the field. There was another woman close behind me. Darn. As we turned onto Rt 15 she was right there. This was not in the plan. She said hi as she passed me, and I said hi and passed her back. We probably went through the mile in about six minutes.

When we got to the point where the fun run turns off, I was gratified to see that not a single fun-runner was ahead of me. They were running 1.4, I was running 6.2, and still they were not faster. (The winner of the fun run lives next to us and is a male sophomore in college, and his brother was a few places behind.)

The woman passed me on Main Street and I had to let her go. By 1.5 miles she was quite a bit ahead. I got to two miles in 12:30 and was happy that it was not due to my slowness that she was ahead of me. I focused on the men around me. At about 2.5 miles we went up a hill and a guy passed me. "This is the last hill, right?" he asked. In my race-foggy brain state, I couldn't remember exactly from the previous year, but I recalled a very hilly course. "Uh, yeah." What the heck? It was only the first of many.

The middle miles were not very exciting. Mostly I passed walkers (they started 30 minutes before). At one point I was thrilled to see the bright red and pink of the first female ahead of me, but it turned out it was only a walker. At five miles, I realized I was going to have a big 10k PR. When I made the sharp left turn back onto Cemetery Road, I glanced back. There was no one behind me that I could see. The rest was going to have to be all in my head; I would have to push myself; there was no one to do it for me. I ran up the last short hill on Rt 15 and then saw Alan just before the six-mile mark. My time at 6 was right around 39 minutes, so I burned down the final hill and into the finish line.

40:36, a significant PR over 41:59, which I set on the track in my senior year of college. This time would have won last year's Stonington Six by 2.5 minutes. In fact, this year I was 3.5 minutes ahead of the next female. Unfortunately, Susannah Beck had shown up at my hometown race and had run 37:15, good for fourth overall. 2009 50-mile trail champion, fourth in the 2000 Olympic marathon trials, second American at Boston 2002... sometimes you just can't control who shows up.

Alan won his race despite vomiting at the top of the last hill. We each won a six-pack of Poland Springs water, plus a cooler (Alan) and a tote bag (me). Then we watched the parade.

Full results (PDF).

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