As luck would have it the last Saturday in April took me east to Boston. A long-standing work commitment meant I would miss the opportunity to get out for one last hard weekend on the trails before the Ice Cream Sandwich Run next weekend with a handful of anonymous Oregonians on the Western States Course. So, hoping to make the most of my circumstances, this morning I headed out for a 20ish miler along the Charles River.
It was a beautiful, postcard perfect spring morning and I had a bit of spring in my step. The river itself was filled with crew teams and the banks of the river were filled with runners, walkers, bikers, and a whole bunch of others just enjoying the day. The flat, smooth bike trail was gentle on my body and the 7-minute miles passed by without too much effort. It was spring at its East Coast best!
After about ten miles on the Cambridge side of the river I crossed over to the Boston side and began to head back. About fifteen minutes into this leg I encountered a large crowd gathered by the river. I wondered what was going on and jogged over. It turned out to be the beginning of a 5K road race.
Now, I honestly can’t remember the last time I ran a 5K road race but it was at least 10 years ago. Nonetheless, I thought it would be fun to see what I could do so I jumped in. Carrying two bottles, wearing trail shoes, and not having time to officially sign up I started running the 5K without a number. It was a little weird, but surprisingly fun.
A few minutes later a guy by the side of the bike trail was standing there with a watch. He was shouting out numbers,
“5:40, 5:41, 5:42…”
“Wow, pretty good I thought.” I tucked in behind a young guy with a Harvard shirt on who looked like Lewis Taylor. I forged on, now into a headwind.
At the end of a long straightaway another guy with a watch called out, “11:31, 11:32, 11:32…”
“Holy crap!” I thought, “Is this course short?”
I moved hesitantly past the Harvard guy and set my sights on the next guy in front - a skinny little bugger who looked a lot like Craig Thornley – in fact, he even had shaved legs! I passed him like a broken-down bus and turned for home.
At Mile 3 another watch guy was there, “ “17:10, 17:11, 17: 12…”
“Wait a minute, is this actually me? Is this me running?” A guy in front with a bunch of tattoos and a funny accent turned to look back, for a second, I thought it was Scott Wolfe. He pulled away before I could make positive identification.
Of course, since I was running bandit I politely (at least for me!) veered off about five yards before the finishing chute with an unofficial 5K road time of 17:45. I know that may not be fast for some people but for me it is pretty good especially after a two hour, 15 mile warm up.
By the time all was said and I made it back to my hotel I had run a solid 23 road miles with 3.1 miles hard running. Not bad for a Saturday morning on an off-weekend.
Needless to say, I am really looking forward to traveling down to Michigan Bluff on Thursday night and getting out onto hallowed ground. It should be fun! I’ll be doing my “heat dance” all week.
PS – For those who might be wondering what the Ice Cream Sandwich Run is here are the details:
We start at Cal 2 and run back, against the direction of the race, to the Swinging Bridge. Then, we turn around and run back to Cal 2. Along the way we stop at Michigan Bluff to talk smack and at Foresthill to eat an Ice Cream Sandwich and drink a soda (some guys drink Coke and the cool guys drink Dr. Pepper). After that, we try to run back to Cal 2 in under 1:15. Those who can do so without puking get a special prize. The rest of the day just deteriorates from there…