I got to the Kings Park High School a little before 8am. It was an overcast 46 degrees. Rain was on tap, but not until later. Packet pickup was at the elementary school about a quarter of a mile down the road. I got my number and my cozy hooded sweatshirt. Thank God not another ill-fitting cotton t-shirt! I brought a small bag that I tied to a leg of one of the tables in the gym. I trusted that the runners were more interested in getting through this race than scoring a duplicate sweatshirt.
I used the indoor bathroom to avoid another Roosevelt Island incident and then went outside to wait at the start. I met a woman, Lisa, who just happened to take my high school buddy's spin classes. She was really friendly. She was telling me how she was trying to change her life for the good by teaching cooking classes and running! Good for her! Five minutes before the start she went to the back of the pack because she didn't want to get in anyone's way. Considerate, too!
One reason I don't wear headphones during a race is if it's an unfamiliar course, I try to listen to other people's conversations about the course. One man was telling a couple of women that there were two really big hills. Another guy told his friends the first 10k was a fun run, then the last 5k was the race. I overheard a very fit and loud woman shout that this was a practice run for Boston. It turned out I was standing in front of two men talking about getting to Hopkinton. Of course, I had to join in. One guy is staying at a hotel walking distance to Boston Common where most runners will catch school buses to the start. The other guy is going to drive to the South Street parking lot outside of Hopkinton to take a shuttle bus. I told them I haven't decided what I'm going to do yet. Finally, the announcer started the countdown. The South Street guy quickly advised me to take this course easy because of the hills. Got it! Run slow!
The horn went off and I realized there was no starting mat. I wasn't that far back, but at least 30-45 seconds. No biggie, I'm running slow! There were no clocks at the mile markers, just volunteers shouting the time as you ran past. I prefer clocks. I ran Mile 1 in about 8 minutes. I saw the hill at the end of Mile 2. I ran up. Not fast, but I didn't walk. It leveled off quickly. That wasn't bad. But the next one was. Just past the second mile marker, I saw the next hill. This one was steep and long. Was it the second hill that the man earlier spoke of or was this a continuation of the first hill? My breathing was labored. I felt like I was moving at a snail's pace, make that an elderly, very tired snail with breathing issues. My goal was to keep moving. Don't stop. Don't walk. After what seemed like an eternity, I reached the top. Next was the downhill which was just as steep as the ascent. I tried to remember what I read about downhill running. Some say the downhills in Boston are worse than the uphills. If you go too fast or try to brake too much, you can shred your quadricep muscles making them useless by the time you reach the Newton Hills. I leaned forward and let gravity take over. It felt awkward because I naturally wanted to lean backward.
Mile 6 took us down Kings Park Boulevard which is a long out and back road surrounded by woods and something that looked like an old abandoned mental hospital (think American Horror Story: Asylum). I was running, but conservatively. I was waiting for the next big hill. Miles 7 -9 came and went and I realized there weren't any more hills. I saw the school. I had no idea what my time would be, but I knew it wasn't going to be great. I figured I might as well sprint the last couple of hundred yards to the finish since I still had plenty of gas left in the tank. The clock read 1:15:42. About five minutes off what I would have expected if I had run it all out.
I went back into the gym and retrieved my bag. Because this was an event put on by my running club, GLIRC, they had a large array of baked goods set out. I grabbed half of a giant chocolate cupcake, a water, and a Sprite. I checked the posted results. I finished 7th out of 54 in my age group at an 8:07 pace, and 194th out of 740. I hadn't run a race in the 8 minute pace since my marathon. I was disappointed, but I guess it wasn't bad for running slow...
Boston will be a crapshoot.