I didn't really plan to run the Moose on the Loose Half Marathon in Nashua, NH last Sunday. Well, if I did, I didn't tell anybody about it. That post The Trouble with New England was just a hypothetical list of half marathons in every New England state that someone might run if they were crazy enough.
But somehow I found myself in Nashua at 7:30 am on Sunday morning. The race start was scheduled for 9:00 am. I was early. I am always early for running races and sailing regattas. Probably some personality disorder, I guess.
There were plenty of Porta Potties. It's very important to have to have enough porta potties. So I used the facilities and collected my cool Moose on the Loose shirt and my cool Moose on the Loose pint glass. The pint glasses were really for awards but as I never win awards at running races (well hardly ever) I had paid a bit extra at registration to get a cool Moose on the Loose pint glass. I went back to my car and called my wife and waited for the start.
And then it started to rain. The weather forecast all week had said that Sunday would be a beautiful sunny cool day, perfect for running. But the night before the race the evil weather forecasters changed the plan and said it would be a miserable rainy cold day, awful for running. I dug out my hat and my rain jacket from my bag.
I chatted to some other runners before the start as we sheltered under a tree from the rain. One couple told me some story about how they had been running half marathons all winter including one when it was 6 degrees F. Complete lies of course. Didn't believe a word of it.
The course was absolutely gorgeous. Well, most of it was. Well, it would have been if it hadn't been for the bloody rain. It was a two lap course, and about three quarters of each lap was in Mine Falls Park. As it says on the Nashua city website…
The name "Mine Falls" derives from the 1700s, when low quality lead was supposedly mined from the island below the falls. In the early 1800s the potential of the Nashua River to drive the wheels of industry was recognized. Workers used shovels and mules to dig the three-mile long canal, which provides a vertical drop of 36 feet at the mills.
So now there is a linear park in the center of the city with a river and a canal and a millpond and all these paths winding along the water with bridges to cross the canal at various points. Spectacular.
Let's talk about my run. My plan, such as it was, was to run the first 8 miles at an easy relaxed pace, speed up a bit for miles 9-12, and go even faster for the final mile. It didn't quite work out like that. I did run the first 8 miles at what felt like an easy relaxed pace. But then when I stepped up the effort I found I was working harder but actually going slightly slower in miles 9-12, and then I was totally knackered (that's a technical running term) so I went even slower in the final mile. Perhaps there is something wrong with my training program? Oh yeah, I didn't really finish the half marathon training program. That might be it.
But it was fun. The scenery made it fun. The other runners made it fun. I enjoyed some light banter with another runner (about half my age) as we kept passing and re-passing all other around the course. I made encouraging sounds at other runners whom I passed in the final few miles. Even though I was knackered they looked even more knackered than I felt.
And all too soon we were at the finish line. That's a lie of course. When you are as slow as me, the finish is never "all too soon." And I was lapped by the winner on the first lap. Yes, the winner (some kid about a third my age) was actually running twice as fast as I was and finished the race before I was even half way round. He'll probably blow his knees out by the time he's my age.
I went over to check the results. I was sixth in my age group!!! Woo hoo!!! And I was the second oldest person in the race and I wasn't last!!! Woo hoo!!! It looked as if they had already done the awards ceremony. That's a measure of how slow I really was. But as I was looking at the results the race director came over to talk to me and he asked me how old I was and when he heard he gave me another cool Moose on the Loose pint mug. Woo hoo!!! And I got a finisher's medal of course.
So I may have been slow but I did have some swag. And, after all, that's what why we run, isn't it? It's all about the swag.
Only bad thing was that I never did see the moose. Why would that be?