(Results) I opted to do the 5k this year rather than the 12k, because I didn't have a great experience last year (I ran the 12k while sick) and wasn't too excited about doing it. So I simply watched the 12k and cheered for Alan and his teammates and Caitlin, and hydrated while hoping that it wouldn't get too hot by 11 am.
I warmed up on the course with the map in hand, but didn't get much of a feel for the course because the starting line was kind of far from the parking lot where I started and the race was a lollipop. So it goes. I was distressed to see on the starting line a really fast-looking woman. She appeared to be a master's runner with no body fat, clearly defined muscles and perhaps capable of running a 17-minute 5k. Well, there went my chances for this race! I loitered around near the starting line and some guy told me he recognized me and asked if I did the Newburyport track races. That seemed weird because I only did one, in fall 2008, in which I ran 5:58 for a mile (all out). Whatever. He introduced himself and asked what I wanted to run, and I said 18:30.
I lined up on the starting line and there were multiple photographers taking pictures. I used to feel bad about lining up on the starting line, because many of the men would likely beat me. But I have learned that it's okay to line up on the starting line if you're going to (try to) win. In this case I ended up 9th overall, so it was justified.
The gun went off and a guy (Dennis) running next to me said, "I heard you say you want to run 18:30. That makes you my new best friend." I introduced myself and he said he planned to run the first mile in exactly 6 minutes flat. That was okay with me. But I was thinking, wait, that doesn't sound right, 6 minutes flat is too slow for 18:30, isn't it? However, I was planning to start out conservatively because of the heat. Alan said "it's looking really good," meaning that no one was close behind me, so I didn't have to kill myself to establish a lead in the first mile. Dennis pulled away over the second half mile of the race and got to the mile mark a few seconds ahead of me, but I still got there in 5:58.
Over the next mile or so Dennis lengthened out his lead somewhat, catching up to a very little boy who had gone out ahead of us. I was afraid that I would run the second mile slower than the first, because he was getting ahead of me and because I usually run the second one slower. So I was pleasantly surprised to reach two miles in 11:51, for a 5:53 second mile. Not tearing up the pavement by any means, but not slowing down, either. I caught the little boy just before the 2-mile mark. He ended up being just 12 years old. Two miles in 12 minutes is pretty impressive for a 12-year-old, I think. This put me in 10th place.
As I turned back onto the road we had started on (I said it was a lollipop) Alan looked behind me and said, "you have at least 20 seconds on the next woman." Now, this could mean two things -- either "I can see a woman and she is at least 20 seconds behind you," or "I can't see anyone behind you but I can only see about 20 seconds down the course." I decided to assume the former, but it turned out to be the latter.
On long straight road, I caught Dennis. He told me I ran a smart race as I passed by. I got to the track (stadium finish!) and kicked like it was a track race, trying to catch the guy ahead of me. I was running fast enough that I was surprised that he wasn't getting any closer -- he must have been kicking hard, too. Just before I crossed the line I saw the clock and it said 18:33, so I knew I hadn't broken 18:30. So it goes. These cute cheerleaders held up a finish tape and some photographers took a picture. The little kid finshed about 30 seconds later, and his dad asked if I would pose with him for a picture! Gosh, that's the first time anyone's ever asked to take a picture with me. I was honored. Oh yes, and the very fast-looking woman finished 4th in 20 minutes. Still fast!
The timing company added about 6 seconds to everyone's finish time -- mine was reported as 18:41. The guy who won the 12k finished in 37:13, and they reported it as 37:19, which is too bad because he set a course record and it's 6 seconds slower than it should be. (My stopwatch and the finish clock agreed exactly.) So now I know that if I want to break 18 minutes at a race timed by this company, I should run 17:50 just to be safe! (easier said than done)
They did the awards ceremony before I even finished cooling down -- it was over by 11:45. That was surprising! Luckily Alan was there to pick up my medal and put down my mailing address. But happily, there was plenty of food left and we got a good lunch before setting out to hike a few mountains and then go camping.
2 days ago