Since I started running last year, I’ve packed in a lot of races. So many, in fact, that you’d think one thing would be painfully obvious to me by now: There. Will. Be. Hills. I figure the fact that hills continue to elicit from me such breathless rage either means I have some unresolved hill-related issues from my past or I really need to take an anger-management course.
Looking back through some of my recent posts, I’ve noticed a pervasive “hills = evil” theme. And while they are evil, all this complaining has made me concerned that I’m turning into Stride and Killjoy.
To that end, I have decided to issue a moratorium on hilly rants. Although, this doesn’t apply if a hill is a) unnaturally steep or b) occurs at a particularly inopportune place in a run, such as right at the freaking end. Which brings me to this week’s event, the Lake George Half Marathon and 5K, No. 18 in my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge.
Lovely Lake George on a chilly – but thankfully still – Sunday morning.
I love how the most idyllic settings have produced, for me, some of the most challenging runs. Salisbury Beach, MA; Riverside Park in NYC, the covered bridge in Henniker, NH, and, now, Lake George, NY.
A diabolical duo of DIY runs these past two weeks proved what I already knew: unless there’s T-shirts, assorted malty beverages, and a crowd to propel me forward (fear of shame is a great motivator), I’m an epic failure as a runner. So I was excited to get back to my regularly scheduled 52 Weeks, 52 Runs programming by suiting up for the Super Sunday 5 in Cambridge, MA. I figured at the very least, the race would erase from my mind the ignominy of the great treadmill and wind debacles of 2012.
And we're off. The slightly blurry start (for all) and finish (for most).
In addition to its shame-eradicating properties, Sunday’s event promised beer and general Super Bowl Day merriment (with music courtesy of BearFight, “Boston’s premier hard-rock party band”). Also, it benefited Target Cancer, Cycle Kids, East Cambridge Little League, Broad Institute, and LIVESTRONG. Reasons enough to come out in the cold. But what really sealed the deal for me was the presence of the famed Boston party bus The Bustonian.
Hmmm, which to choose?
The race was ostensibly a five-miler, but organizers wisely figured that some people (i.e., me) might want to ditch after 3.1, so the rockin’ bus was there – complete with festive lighting and party music – to transport us back to the start.
Can I have The Bustonian on standby every time I do a race? It’s the dream!
I was a bit sad that I didn’t just get to ride the bus with a cold one (beer, not vampire) for the duration of the 5K, but I guess this 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge requires me to, you know, run …
I’ve reached a milestone. In the past seven months, I’ve somehow managed to run 20 5K races. I’m wheezing even thinking about it. I know this is a jog around the block for serious runners. But for me, who previously collapsed in a heap after two minutes on the treadmill, it’s huge.
It hasn’t been pretty (my redder-than-the-sun face is testament to that). But I thought it deserved a little (graphical) round-up. Why not! …
We took another trip to Crazytown last weekend and registered to run two 5Ks. Both were a blast, although thankfully only one of them required me to wear facial hair and oversized novelty felt pants. The other, a decidedly more serious affair (despite the presence of a number of saucy Miss Santas), was the occasion of a major milestone for me: I RAN THE WHOLE WAY!
Runners gather along the Charles River in Boston for the Holiday 5K.
This is huge. In my previous life, I couldn’t even run up the street without wheezing like an old man and stopping to catch my breath. And while I still wheeze like an old man, and often need to take my asthma puffer during a run, being able to do a 5K without pausing is something I never thought I would accomplish. Ever. (Granted, until six months ago, I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about running.)
After the massive crowd and silly millinery of the Feaster Five, the Pentucket Pride 5K, at Pentucket Regional High School, in West Newbury, MA, was a laid-back affair, with 223 runners gathering on a foggy morning to support the high school’s athletic programs.
Runners at the foggy start of the Pentucket Pride 5K.
The course had been described as “challenging,” which, as my avid readers (!) know, puts the fear into me. In road race language, “challenging” always means “hilly.” Just once I’d like there to be a water hazard or something. You know, to shake it up a bit.
This helpful poster at the entrance to the high school cafeteria, where we gathered pre-race, did little to comfort me …
I may have peaked.
Sure, it may not seem so steep if you look at the numbers, but trust me, on a damp and chilly day, it was basically Everest.
The setting doesn't get more Australian than this. The start of the Brooks Spring Into Shape Sydney Series Race 2, in Parramatta Park.
When I was in high school, some (ahem) years ago, I got a zero on my report card for failing – twice – to run the mandatory cross country (I can’t recall the precise distance; it was a few kilometers masquerading as an eternity. All I know is I had to get picked up in a car). For someone who prided herself on doing well in school, this epic fail was unacceptable. I never quite got over it.
So it was with mixed feelings that I returned to the site of my shame – Parramatta Park, in Sydney’s western suburbs – to run one half of the Brooks Spring Into Shape Series, benefiting the Heart Foundation.
But this time I was ready. No knee-length skirt and sensible brown shoes for me (I was forced to run my second attempt in my Catholic school uniform. Not that it really mattered; I failed wearing sneakers too). No, this time I had eight 5Ks under my belt, a pair of brilliant shorts and an iPhone. And it was only a 4K. I was going to triumph.
In your face, Parramatta Park!
Looks pretty, yes? But this idyllic start and finish belied a truly murderous run.
This running gig certainly takes you to uncharted territory. Such as teeny, tiny Henniker, NH (pop. 4,850) – hardly a tourist draw, but a lovely town nonetheless. The Covered Bridge 5K supports the athletic programs at New England College, whose campus hosted the race.
It was a small event, with fewer than 100 runners, that started under the covered bridge from which the race gets its name. I was convinced I really would be last this time, as I’d never run among such a small field. That turned out to be the least of my worries.