Monday, March 29, 2010
On Saturday I ran in the 15k Run the Reservoir Race in N. Scituate, Rhode Island. All in all it was a good experience. But in some respects it was bad. And in one respect it was downright ugly.
Good: It was a very cool morning, low 30's Fahrenheit, perfect conditions for running.
Bad: After registering in the church hall, I was hanging out with some other old geezer runners, and I noticed one of them was messing about with an old running sock. I asked him what he was doing and he explained he planned to stuff it down the front of his pants to give his... umm... more sensitive parts... some protection from the cold. Sorry I asked. Couldn't get the image of that sock out of mind. Some runners are a little strange, I think.
Good: Hanging out with other runners just before the start, one very friendly guy started chatting to me. He had run the race before, so I was able to ask him about what to expect.
Bad: The very friendly guy kept telling me that the course was uphill all the way round! Ridiculous! How could that be, when we start and finish at the same point?
Good: Set off at a nice relaxed pace. Around 11 minutes a mile I guessed. A bit faster than my long training runs but still comfortable. The first half of the race was mainly along a forest road that isn't normally open to the public. There were spectacular views through the trees of Scituate Reservoir, the largest body of fresh water in Rhode Island.
Bad: No sailing, no boating of any kind in fact, is allowed on the pristine waters of the reservoir. I felt like stopping for a pee in the watershed just to make a protest. But I didn't.
Good: As we passed the first few mile markers I discovered I was going a little faster than my target pace of 11 minutes a mile...
Bad: ... until we reached the first big hill.
Good: We exited the forest trail and ran on a road on a causeway across the reservoir. Gorgeous views of water to north and south. What a wonderful lake this would be for sailing. I was feeling terrific...
Bad: ... until we reached an even bigger hill. I walked up this one.
Good: While walking up the hill I consumed one of my magic go-faster energy gels. I reached the 5 mile mark in 55 minutes, bang on target pace. I could see a group of a dozen runners about 150 yards ahead of me so I set myself a goal to catch up and pass them over the rest of the race. I was feeling so strong that I was able to accelerate a bit and slowly started reeling in the group ahead. Without pushing myself, I passed a few of them, a couple of teenage boys... two guys about my age, a lady stopping to retie her shoe laces... and then I saw that the next six runners in front of me were all women, separated from each other by several yards. Slowly but surely I started passing them one by one. When I reached the 7 mile mark, I discovered that I had run the last two miles at a 10 minute a mile pace. Woo hoo!
Bad: Then I realized that the friendly guy at the start had not been joking. It was uphill all the way. At least this section was. Or it felt like it. My legs started to feel rubbery, my breathing became labored, and I slowed down considerably. Slowly but surely the women I had overtaken started passing me again.
Good: We finally reached the road back to N. Scituate village. I knew where we were. Turn left at those traffic lights up there and it's a short distance to the finish. Yeah, baby!
Bad: When we reached the traffic lights, the police waved for us to go straight on. Apparently there was a detour around a few extra blocks to make the distance up to 15k.
Good: A tall attractive woman about 20 years younger than me caught up with me and started a conversation.
Bad: But she wanted to discuss the politics of health insurance. She had a theory that runners should have reduced premiums and smokers shouldn't be allowed to have insurance at all. Then she ran off ahead of me, loudly shouted out her name, and followed with, "If I ever run for office, vote for me!" Strange!
Good: I saw the finish. I crossed the finish line. The tall lady with the strong opinions about health insurance congratulated me on a good race, and I returned the compliment. I looked back to the finish line. I wasn't last. There was still a whole bunch of runners behind me, including some guy in a Boston Marathon shirt. I grabbed some water and fruit. Inside the church hall there was hot soup. Yummm. It was a good day. I went home and soaked in the tub, and relaxed for the rest of the day.
Ugly: On Sunday, I was still so tired from the run -- totally "knackered" as we Brits say -- that I didn't have the energy to go Laser sailing. Not only am I slower than I was when I was younger, it takes me a lot longer to recover from a hard run. Very ugly.
The older I get, the faster I was.
What a strange weekend.