Last week, despite my race containing many, many hills (on which I will say no more), I somehow managed to get absurdly close to running a 5K in less than 30 minutes. I am partially convinced the race clock was wrong (seriously, if you had seen me trudging along, cursing the asphalt and the trees and the clouds and … well, everything, really … you’d be doubting the veracity of the timing instruments too). But the official results say I was three seconds away from this milestone, so who am I to argue?
Hell, I thought, If I can do that well in the presence of many, many hills, just think what I can do in their absence. In your face, 30 minutes! Next time you see me I’ll be relaxing with a cold one and basking in the post-race glow …
Which brings me to this week’s run, the Boston Marine Corps Honor Run 5K at Carson Beach, No. 19 in my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge.
Prepping the start.
This run had huge potential. The website said so:
“This is the flattest and fastest course you will find in the Boston area. Perfect for beginner runners or for experienced runners looking for a PR!”
Huge potential. I am not really a beginner, nor am I experienced. Rather, I like to consider myself an experienced beginner. And I was definitely looking for a PR. Perfect …
I never thought I could run five miles in a row. Maybe over the course of my life, but not in a row. If you had told me this time last year that I would be running such a vast distance at some point in the next 12 months, I would have declared you the ruler of Crazy Land.
Well, I must have relocated to Crazy Land, because last weekend I ran the Hynes 5-Mile Road Race. It was No. 3 in the Wild Rover series, and No. 11 in my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge (gosh, the time has flown by – at a blistering speed of 5.5 mph). Needless to say, this race signaled a new distance for me. And, I am ashamed to say, yet another week of zero training. I must stop doing that.
The Hynes Tavern in Lowell, MA, that would soon be overrun (!) by folks in bibs. This was the 32nd incarnation of the Hynes road race.
The forecast was for windy/warm weather, which prompted a question: Could I finally retire the Absurd Winter Running Outfit? It’s a fine line between too chilly and too hot. Sartorial quandaries aside, it turned out to be a glorious day. Warm but not steamy; breezy but not blowy. Ideal. So I doffed my trusty wool and donned one of my many, many running shirts. I would have felt totally hard core had a significant number of runners not also been wearing the same threads. Note to self: Next time, wear a shirt from a different series.
It occurred to me on the weekend that I spend a good deal of time these days looking at butts. It’s the price I pay for always being in the bottom (heh) third of a run. I’m privy to 30-45 solid minutes of butts in tights; butts in leggings; butts in jeans (yes, jeans); butts in shorts; butts in shorts-over-tights; butts in tutus; and – my new favorite – butts in kilts.
The latter I hadn’t experienced prior to the Wild Rover series, which I am currently in the midst of running as part of my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge. (I wonder how it feels to run in a kilt. If any aficionados are reading this, you must let me know.)
The colorful crowd lines up for the start. Spot the kilt!
This past weekend was the Claddagh Pub 4-Mile Classic in Lawrence, MA, No. 2 in the series. Savvy readers will note that I had never run that far. Ever. You might also recall that I hadn’t done a stitch of training coming up to this race, apart from the Frozen Shamrock 3-Mile Run the weekend before. If you look up “unprepared” in the dictionary, you may well find a picture of me, probably wearing tights and holding a beer.
The start. Needless to say, I was nowhere near here when the race began.
Despite the gloomy skies, it was a great day weather-wise. I’ll take any scenario where the temperature is above zero, and the wind isn’t being huge fat bully (see last week’s run). Also, no sun means my face is at least one shade of crimson lighter.
But still, I was convinced, convinced that this was going to be a disaster. I hadn’t trained, hadn’t ever run farther than 3.5 miles (and I wouldn’t call what I was doing on that day running), and hadn’t mentally prepared for a longer distance (four miles is short to some, but an eternity to me).
Despite the absence of official beer, I had high hopes for last weekend’s 5K run, the Old Fashioned 10 Miler and Flat 5K in Foxboro, MA. This was primarily due to the distinct lack of hills. Or sand. Or sand in hill form. Glee!
Our shadows waiting for the starting gun.
Hills and I have a long, troubled history, and sand is a recent addition to the list of things that give me the fear, so I wasn’t at all upset that they both decided to make themselves scarce. Add to the mix some brilliant weather (if this is winter then I’m a marathoner), and the fact I had a running buddy who shares the same pace as me, and things were looking up.
With the blazing sun at our backs, Running Buddy and I started off strong … Probably too strong … Definitely too strong (when I say “strong,” I mean a 10.20 pace. It’s all relative, of course). We were going great guns until mile marker No. 2 loomed (when I say “great guns,” I mean me wheezing like a cat with a hairball, and taking my inhaler more than I would have thought necessary. But still, we didn’t stop).
But back to that mile marker …
I grew up in Sydney’s western suburbs, an hour’s drive from the nearest beach, so I didn’t get many chances to channel my inner bronzed Aussie. I hated getting sand in all the wrong places, couldn’t surf, and was scared of the waves after I got too big for my dad’s shoulders. The only time I ever ran (i.e., stumbled ineffectually) was when I needed food and had to traverse lava-hot sand in order to get it. Needless to say, I was an inelegant beach-goer.
I adore the beach now – but not much has changed, it would seem.
Me vs. the water at the Frosty Knuckle 5K in Salisbury, MA.
As part of my 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge, Hubby and I signed up for the Frosty Knuckle 5K at Salisbury Beach, MA (actually, it was a 3.5-miler, but 5K sounded snappier). I was excited about this road/beach run as I figured it would make for a fun change from all the dullsville paved surfaces. Also, there are no hills down by the water! Or so I thought …
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 was miffed when Old Man Winter decided to drop by last weekend. I mean, can’t he schedule his visits for mid-week, when I haven’t committed to being outdoors for 45 minutes in tights and no jacket? With a cold.
Had the Run for Your Lunch 5.5K in Middleboro, MA, not been for such a fantastic cause (and had I not publicly declared my intention to run 52 races this year), I may have decided to sit this one out. But, despite protestations by my nose, I was happy to run in support of the new All Are Welcome Community Kitchen and Bakery, which is dedicated to providing access to nutritious meals to those who need them.
And it could have been worse. We could have been in New Hampshire.
Mask and you
I have learned many lessons over the past month or so about dressing for winter runs. But until this particular day, I had not experienced the genius that is the running balaclava.
Hubby was kind enough to hand his over when he saw my formerly red nose turning blue at the start of the run, and I was happy to accept this multi-talented piece of fabric. Not only does it take your running ensemble to new levels of absurdity (see left), it also conceals any and all instances of tomato-face. And after the run, you can go rob a bank or two if you feel so inclined.
OK fine, it also functions as a hat and a neck warmer, although trying to manipulate it between these states as you are running a blistering 10:50 mile pace is somewhat challenging (I believe I looked as though I had hair-ears at one point. Not ear hairs, but ears made of hair).