Back in 2007, a few friends decided to run the Harpoon five miler and asked if I wanted to join in. I'd never run a race before, but I distinctly remember thinking "hey, how hard can it be to run five miles?".
In case you were wondering, the answer is: REALLY DAMN HARD when you haven't trained and it's about a million degrees (thanks, New England!).
Needless to say, I did not take training for this race very seriously. And boy, did I regret it. It was hot and I. Was. Miserable. I didn't have any concept of running
clothing so I wore regular shorts and a Hanes tank top. Case in point:
In the middle of
the race I realized that my thighs were on fire (goddamn you chub rub!). I took several walking breaks, each
time blaming my "bad knee," when really I was just out of shape and
under-trained. I almost puked when I crossed the finish line. My time was 56:30, or an 11:20 mile pace. Instead of being discouraged because I was obviously not a natural-born runner, I told myself that I would continue to run. Additionally, I made a promise that I would never again find myself so unprepared for a race. I'd say that i have (more or less) stayed true to that statement. A few days later I found myself perusing races online and signed up for my next race, which also happened to be my very first half marathon.
A runner was born..
I ran this race again the following year, this time with proper clothing, no thigh chafing and most important - I felt GREAT. I took just about two minutes off of my time and finished in 54:48, or a 10:27 mile pace. After that, I found myself running a lot more races of varying distances and lost interest in the Harpoon five miler. But, a few months ago I received an email from Alett asking if I wanted to be part of their six-pack for the lottery. I was pleasantly surprised when we got in, especially since the race is now at the end of May, as opposed to the first week in June. In Boston, that can make a huge difference in terms of the temperature.
On race morning I made my way down to the Harpoon Brewery and my first thought was OH SHIT, this race has gotten huge. I remember it being a big race, but it's pretty insane these days. There were people everywhere and I was very happy that I'd picked up my race packet in advance and had decided against checking a bag as both lines were mobbed. The course is also different - and due to some construction, was way short of 5 miles (and by that i mean three tenths of a mile). I was on my own for the race and I focused on trying to find some free space, which was difficult considering how many people were around me. The course goes through some industrial areas and while not scenic, is pretty much as flat as you can get here in Boston. It got really tight between miles 1.5-3 because runners were coming in both directions and the road is not all that wide. Also, some awesome drivers decided not to move their cars, so we had to weave around those. My Garmin was dead when I got to the race (figures), so I used my phone.
There were no clocks on the race course, so I had no way of knowing how
I was doing other than by how I felt. Which, despite being pretty hot,
was pretty damn good.
I could tell I was nearing the end of the race once I heard names being announced over the loudspeaker. I had enough energy for a kick for the last quarter mile or so. As I made the last turn I looked up at the clock and saw that I had come in at 46:15, an average of 9:50 miles. I can't call it a PR since the course was so short, but I was definitely on track for it, and likely would have finished in about 49 minutes. It made me realize how far I'd come over the course of six years. I've learned so much about the sport, and myself, since that very painful race finish in 2007.
For my six year runnaversary I gave myself the gift of race redemption.
See you next year, Harpoon five miler.
Tell me about your first race!