First off, I don't have any fancy charts like Dave does, but I will try to piece together a cohesive race report nonetheless.
It was a sunny, windy, great day for a race. Cold enough to keep you on your toes but warm enough to leave the tights and go with shorts. The only unknown was going to be the blustery wind which seemed to swirl around unpredictably but if I found myself getting cold I figured I could always just run faster to get warm. Any time there was a bad headwind I made sure to tuck in behind someone and let them take the brunt of it.
As this was the second time I have run this race there was none of the pre-race anxiety about where to park, pick up numbers, where the start line is, etc, etc. After picking up my packet, making fun of Michael who was working the goody-bag table, and a last second stop at the porta-john I made my way over to the start.
I saw Maria right near the front so I muscled my way over to her and lined up. We talked about how Coach Matron has been telling her to just get right in there at the front and not to worry about anyone else. Better to elbow some people out of the way than to get stuck behind a jogger. Clearly I have long ago embraced that philosophy as I had no qualms about showing up at the last second and inserting myself into the front lines.
This was my first race since December so as I mentioned in a previous post I was mostly interested in beating my time of 1:14 from last year while also getting a gauge of my current fitness. I guessed that a 1:11 or 1:12 would be good so I planned on a 7:15 pace. Now any of you who have been paying attention to my posts about all of my previous races may be able to guess what happened next: the gun goes off, I start to run, and completely abandon all of my plans. Figuring that there would be some decent hills in the middle part of the race I decided to run on the short side of a 7:00 pace for the first few miles to pad the pace in case.
I had a nice chat with Don just after the start and as he pulled away I settled in for the long run. Through Foxboro center, into the winding woods, right up until mile 3 I kept a sub-7 pace. For some reason I slowed down over mile 3 and did a 7:05, but across Rt 140 and I was back to sub-7's. Just past mile 5 and Gillette Stadium the bigger hills began and this is where I had assumed a slowdown was imminent.
Mile 5.5 I passed a guy wearing a sweet pair of Newtons. "Awesome shoes, man" I let him know as I passed him. "Thanks, but you're still kicking my ass!" he exclaimed back. That's when it hit me, he was right. I was holding a sub-7 pace without much problem. I thought I would be slowing down by now but wasn't. Well, might as well just keep it up and lock in this pace.
Around mile 7.5 is the last of the big, long hills. This is the one that I wasn't looking forward to but for some reason this is where I have done my best both times I have run this race. Again this year I found that I just cruised up the hill and managed to pass several people in the process. Afterwards, I knew that the terrain was all flat so I could open it up a bit.
Mile 8 I got passed, by a chick. How humiliating, I could have died right there. Nah, I'm kidding; I called out some encouragement as she went by me. She was the only person that had passed me in the last 7 miles of the race so good for her. But that doesn't mean I didn't try to catch her. Those last two miles I picked it up but she managed to stay just a few short seconds ahead of me.
The final half-mile down Neponset Av was a welcome sight. I just concentrated on getting to that parking lot and crossing the finish line. When I finally turned into the chute the clock flashed 1:08:48, I guess I beat my expectations a bit by holding a 6:53 pace. 53rd overall, 15th AG, and 6 minutes faster than last year. So now I will nurse the blister that was a rather painful companion for the last 4 miles of the race and look forward to future races knowing that I am doing well. If this was to be a report on the state of my running ability than I am quite pleased with the results.