Monday, September 20, 2010

Downtown 5k

(Results) My time in this race was not as fast as I had hoped, but my place was higher than I would have dreamed! Before the race, I hoped I might be able to place in the top 25. However, I ended up placing 16th, 13th American. Last year, the 16th female ran 16:33! Who knows why many fewer elite women showed up this year, but I'll take it.

The morning was cold, so I wore warm-up pants and a jacket to walk down to the race area. I visualized my 18-minute race. My plan was to run with Joan Benoit Samuelson. I did my warm-up run in my long pants, and by the time I got back my leg muscles were thoroughly warmed up, as was the day itself. It turned out to be much warmer than I expected.

I lined up about 5 rows from the front. I was happy to meet my friend Jenn on the starting line. When I told her of recent PR and my plan to run with Joan, she said that I would probably be faster than Joan. She also told me that she herself would be lucky to run under 18 minutes. So I revised my plan and decided to try to run with Jenn. Also, I couldn't find Joan on the starting line, even though I knew what she was wearing. Only much later, when I watched the race video, did I realize that there were two parallel starting lines: Joan was on the other side of a barrier from me, so I couldn't see her.

The gun went off and I went out at a fast clip. I saw Jenn zip past me on the left and I caught up to her. A pudgy woman passed me on the downhill in the first 1/10 of a mile and called out happily to her friend. Whatever! Jenn was going quite fast and passing people left and right. I kept up with her for a while, but after about 1/4 mile I realized that she was going too fast for me, so I let her go. I also couldn't see Joan, so I had to just run on my own.

Here is a picture of me and Henry in the first mile. I should not have been ahead of Henry -- he finished in 17:28. Photo by Scott Mason.

I passed the mile in 5:28. I had expected the first mile to be fast, and it was! Just then, Joan came zipping by on my left. I caught up to her and ran behind her for a few paces, but I was unable to match her speed, and I watched her open a gap ahead of me as we ran past the Wild Colonial. In the middle of the third mile, Alan was on the side of the course and told me I was in 15th place. I was very surprised to be at such a high position! I wondered if a horde of women was going to pass me in the second half of the race, since I had gone out too fast.

I tried to keep up a good pace for the second mile, but it was very difficult. I felt that I had gone too fast, and my legs had no pep left. So I tried to keep even with the men around me, though some men passed me. I got to the 2-mile mark in 11:28, for a 6:00 second mile, and 19 seconds slower than my 2-mile time last week. Darn. In the third mile, one woman passed me, and I had no response. I just wanted to maintain my position as well as possible, and I was very fortunate that the hordes of women I feared would pass me never materialized.

Here I am at about 2.8 miles, before turning to go up the ramp.

I was very happy to see the approaches to the mall and know that the race was almost over. I hit the 3-mile clock in 17:26, so I thought that I would finish around 18:00, since last week I discovered that it is about 33 seconds to the finish from 3 miles. So I was unhappy to see the clock saying 18:04, 18:05 when I was not even close yet! I crossed the line in about 18:10. Kevin told me later that the race winner (Molly) had taken about 42 seconds from 3 miles to the end, so my 44 seconds was not too bad.

Given the hot conditions, the many turns on the course and the fact that I went out too fast, 18:10 was a fine time. I was not disappointed. After all, if I hadn't run last week, it would be an 11-second PR. Plus, to finish 16th at the national championships was beyond my wildest dreams! (It all depends on who shows up...)

In the past week I have joined New Balance Boston, so I went to chat with the team after the race. I met some of the other runners on the team, who were all very nice. After a while we headed over to the awards ceremony, and we were happy to learn that the team had placed first! Three women's teams showed up, and only one men's team. Like Steve said, "90% of life is showing up." So we went up and received medals for this feat.

Here is a picture of our three runners. You can see that I am wearing the medal; the others took theirs off. I was very happy to be able to contribute to NBB's third straight team title.

There was cash and special medals for the top 10 Americans, so I was only three places out of such an honor. Crazy! I stayed until the very very bitter end of the awards ceremony, when only about 10 people were left, and Brown won the College Challenge competition, as well (the only college to field a full team). So it was a day for lots of winning.

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