The race was in the evening, so it was hot. Alan and I warmed up by running around the parking lots for the football stadium. There were about 7,000 people in the 10k and 5k races combined. I saw Bill Rogers on the starting line!
I also saw a BAA runner (Lisa) who I knew had run under 3:00 at the Providence Marathon, so I knew she was very fast. I figured she would be my main competition, and I was nervous. There was also a very skinny high school girl listening to music, but I was not concerned about her.
Rightly so. When the gun went off, the skinny high schooler sprinted to the lead -- of the entire race, ahead of everyone in both the 5k and 10k, including all the men. That didn't last very long. I passed her, and then waited for another woman to catch up to me. Where were they? I wondered. I didn't feel like I was going that fast.
A BAA guy passed me and I asked him where Lisa was. He told me she was planning to run 6:20 for the first mile. Just then, we hit the mile mark. 5:45! Hoo boy, that's a little quick. That's my cool evening track 10,000m pace, not my hot summer road 10k pace.
To make a long story short, that was it for the racing. I had maybe 20 seconds on the second female at that point, and I would extend it to about a minute by the end of the race, despite slowing down to a more reasonable pace. In the second mile, I passed a guy in red (Breno), and he immediately surged to pass me again, so I decided not to play that game, and instead just stuck behind him for the rest of the race. I was afraid that Lisa's race plan was some sort of cat-and-mouse deal where she would start slow and then chase me down (which is why I ended up with more than a minute lead; I didn't want to slow down too much just in case), but it didn't happen.
As we neared the stadium, I got a biker! This guy biked next to me and radioed back to the finish line about my number and what I was wearing. Also, I passed a guy, still on his way out of the stadium, who was walking with bare feet. Imagine paying an entry fee to walk a 10k barefoot on hot pavement! Not my idea of fun.
My idea of fun was to run into a dark, humid tunnel, and then emerge out of a giant helmet onto the football field.
I ran out of the big helmet!
I had this grand idea that when I emerged onto the field, there would be the 50-yard line and I would cross it -- you know, "Finish On The Fifty." But it was like a beach at high tide, people everywhere. The announcer pointed out that the first female had entered the stadium, and instinctively I put up my arm, to identify myself -- with the idea that anyone who paying attention to the announcer might need help trying to pick me out of the mob.
Only after I finished the race did I remember that no one really listens to the announcer, except to hear their own name. So the waving probably came off as self-promoting. But seriously, my cognition is severely impaired when I'm running (remember, I can't even subtract). I was just trying to help people.
Anyway, I finished! On the 50! And I ran 38:29. The last time I ran 10k on a hot day, I also ran 38:29, and it almost killed me. This time, I was just bopping along. I think that's a great sign!
Miss Massachusetts is holding the finish tape!
Maybe a Patriots football player is holding the other end, but we'll never know for sure.
The post-race refreshments were good; I had a nice time talking with Lisa and Breno; I briefly met Dave McGillivray himself; and I was happily surprised to win a nice gift bag with socks, a hat, a shirt, an American flag, algae bits, $25 to the adjacent mall, and an overnight stay at the adjacent hotel!