In case you didn't realize it, let me say it again: I LOVE THIS RACE.
On New Year's Eve, I went to dinner at Doyle's and the applications were out and I signed up. April seemed so far away that night, plenty of time to train. Then I ended up in a boot on Valentine's day and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do this. The reality is, I didn't really train. It's only been 2 weeks since I ended PT for the Valentine's Day injury and the closest I've come to running is last week when I went out for w5 (r1/w1)*10+w5 which was just under 2.5 miles. So would I be able to do this?
Add getting over an upper respiratory infection and I had to be nuts thinking it would be a good idea. So I made a deal with myself. I would check myself at the one mile and two mile mark and see how I was feeling. If I was hurting or slowing down, I would turn around. My oldest decided to run too. He loves this race was going to "take it slow" instead of running his race pace. For him, this means running a 7 min mile instead of a 6 minute mile.
Me, I was hoping for a 15 minute mile.
The race is through Franklin Park, one of the gems in Olmstead's Emerald Necklace park system. There are little treasures like the park entrance on the JP side of the park.
Behind me is densely packed neighborhood of triple deckers. In fact, all around this section of the park is densely pack triple deckers and a lot of lower income families, immigrants, old hippies and anarchists.
Going into the park, it's easy to forget all that when all you see is open space, trees, ducks and water ways. I would run the other way through this arch at the end, but for now, I was heading to the start line to warm up. My son had disappeared at some point, I figured he was doing his pre-race warm ups and rituals as well. Turning the corner, I saw him.
He was sitting in the spring sun meditating. As one of my friends said, "He looked as if he was solving all the problems in the world."
I lined up towards the back of the 2200 or so runners and walked my first five minutes. About a quarter mile in, just before I was going to run, was the Boston Police Gaelic Column. Every year, no matter what the weather, there they are to send us off.
It's a great feeling to hear the pipes calling you forward. I broke into my first run at this point and passed a number of people walking. I had a feeling that, in spite of the lack of training and prep, it was going to be a good race.
I followed the plan: run 1 minute, walk 1 minute and see how well I could pace myself. I crossed the one mile mark just before the 14 minute mark and everything felt strong. My ankle was solid, my breathing was good and I didn't need my inhaler. The course is an out and back and shortly after the 1 mile mark, the leaders were passing in the other direction. I saw my son and did my traditional yell to him.
"You're getting beat by a girl!"
"You disappoint me," he returned and we both laughed as we continued on our way.
I passed the entrance to the Zoo just before mile 2, where I checked myself again. I was still keeping a strong pace - down to under 13 minutes - and still feeling strong. That meant no turning around.
At the halfway mark my body began to ask if we were done yet? Given that my furthest distance in months was 2.5 miles, I can't say as I was surprised. I kept up the r1/w1 pacing to see how I'd do. I passed the 5k mark just after the 40 minute mark and that's when my body told me, "Enough." Just under a 13 minute mile was more than respectable.
I knew I'd be walking the last two miles. It was OK, I had already exceeded my expectations. Now came the next goal: finishing in 1:15.
I always love the 4 mile stretch when you cross over a bridge and through some woods. Every year I look for the ducks on one side of the bridge and the golfers on the other side.
From here, it's wrap around the pond, past the Shattuck (where we started) and under the arch back into the neighborhood before ending at Doyle's.
I always look forward to the drummers as you come out of the park and head up the street.
I crossed at the 1:15 and change mark, thus hitting my other goal on the day. My son, not a shock he ran the race in 36 minutes finishing in the top 250 runners. It was a wonderful day and a wonderful race and already I'm wishing for next year's race.