November was an unusual month, but in a good way. My brother lives in NYC, and usually we only see each other every few months, or even less. (Part of it is due to my aversion to that city – having grown up in upstate NY, I always feel like it is patently obvious that I don’t belong.) Anyway, I digress.
I was able to see my brother three weekends in a row in November. I went to NYC for a few days before a meeting, then he ran the Philly Marathon, and then he came up to visit for Thanksgiving. (I’ll write more about the Philly Marathon, complete with pics, in another post.)
For those of you who don’t know my brother, or are new readers to the blog, my brother goes by Jim, but of course, and much to his chagrin when his friends are around, I call him Jamie. (Sorry, 35 years of calling him one name ain’t going to change overnight!) Anyway, Jamie and I have begun a tradition of always running the Feaster Five on Thanksgiving morning. It’s a race that is run by the running group to which I belong, the Merrimack Valley Striders. There’s a kids’ race at 7:45, and then a 5K and 5 Mile race that start at 8:30. This was our third year of running it, and the second year in a row that we’ve done the 5 Miler.
Over 7,000 people run this race. It’s organized by Dave McGillvray (sp?) and his management company, which is, of course, the same guy that directs the world-famous Boston Marathon. So, it follows that it attracts some big names, like Dick Hoyt, Joan Benoit Samuelson (she lives in Maine), and this year, Nate Jenkins. Nate’s name might sound familiar because he placed 7th in the Olympic Trials Marathon in 2007. He’s also from the area. It’s no surprise he won the 5 Mile race, with an average per mile pace of less than 5 minutes. The results are on CoolRunning.
As usual, my brother wasn’t able to make it into town until late the night before (traffic is always horrendous, coming to Boston from NYC.) I picked him up from the Bus Station in Boston around 11:45 p.m., and think I finally got to sleep around 1 a.m. or so. We had to get up around 6ish, so we could leave the house a bit after 7 a.m. (Parking can be an issue at the race.)
This year, we were lucky to have some nice mild weather and we got to the race by around 7:50, in plenty of time to visit the porta potties. Jamie brought his new gloves that he got in the goody bag at the marathon the weekend before. Too bad he didn’t actually get to run in them. You see, when he used the porta potty, he put them up on the shelf. Then, what do you think happened? That’s right….they fell into the abyss. Totally gross….He said he thought, for a split second, about trying to fish them out, but then (thankfully, in my mind) gave up that idea. Lucky for him, I had an extra pair in the car. When I got back in line to use the porta potty a second time (nervous bladder, what can I say?), he ran back to the car and got them.
So, then, we get into line at the start, and put ourselves close to the 9 minute pace sign. As we’re standing there, and it’s getting warmer from all the bodies around us, and we hear the national anthem sung, he looks at me and says “oh boy, I need to use the bathroom.” Trust me, at this point, there is no way in hell he could have broken out of that group. And unlike the Boston Marathon, it’s not so accepted that you might pee in your starting corral. So I looked at him and said “looks like you might need to hold it for a while.”
The course goes like this: There is a MONSTER hill in the first mile. I mean, huge. As in, you keep going up and up and up, and you wonder when the hell will you ever see the crest? It flattens out about halfway up, but it’s just a tease, literally for just a few feet, and then you continue on with your climb. I saw someone in full-on turkey regalia, walking. Can’t say as I blamed the guy. This year, even though my lower back has hurt a lot recently (yes, I know, I need to do more core work), that hill, while being tough, didn’t cause me as much agita as it did the past two years. Maybe because in the mornings I’ve been making myself end my runs up and down over the bridge near my house a few times. After the first mile marker, the 5Kers and the 5 Milers split up, and the road literally opens up more to our race, which is awesome.
From there on, it’s pretty much a flat, but sometimes rolling course. My brother and I even commented to each other that it seemed like there were a lot of downhills on the course. (Maybe they just felt that way after the huge hill at the beginning.) My brother and I remembered that after the two races merge, there is a stretch where you’re not running alongside houses on both sides of the road. We saw that area (not really a woods but that is what we kept calling it, and I pointed out the largest tree I could see and said “go, run there!”) At this point, I think my brother would have been happy peeing behind a pixie stick. At one point, he’d said to me, “the water’s knocking on the door!” with a big smile on his face.
Here’s the funny part – he said that as he was “taking care of things” he heard people yell out “we can still see you!!” and then when he ran back into the field of runners, a lady looked at him and smiled. She said “hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go.” When he’d left me initially, a guy running next to me just kind of smiled, and I was like “he’s been looking for that patch of trees for 4 miles now!” and he just laughed. I said he’d just run Philly a few days before that, and I had no fear that he couldn’t catch up to me.
So, here’s the thing. For most of my runs, it’s felt tiring to run in the low 9 range, for more than just a few miles. Yet, that day, despite being on very little sleep, even running in the 8s didn’t seem too difficult. I even said to myself at one point, even as I looked at my Garmin as it beeped out the miles and paces, “I’m feeling pretty good today. This is COMFORTABLE!” So, after my brother caught up with me (it even looked like he was sprinting there for a moment), he said to me “you want to throw the hammer down and go below 9?” To which I responded “we’ve been under 9 for the past mile!” (He has a stopwatch but not a Garmin, although now he wants to get one for himself. See what a great influence a big sister can be?)
Well, we picked up the pace, and started weaving around people, trying to get ahead. When you get to the last .3 or .4 mile point, there’s a downhill. Followed by an UPHILL at the very end. That’s where my morning runs have really come in handy. I felt strong through to the very end!
All in all, this is a great race. If you register early enough (online), you get a long sleeve technical shirt, plus an apple pie and tons of food at the end. It’s very well organized. Never a worry about there being enough porta potties, thank God. (Hey, it’s a concern, because Lis and I ran a race last winter where there were 3 toilets (count them, 3) for over 600 people…enough said.
Ok, I’ve gone on long enough. The stats are below.
136/384 in division, F35-39
Official net time: 44:49, but average pace of 9:01/mile (doesn’t add up, right?)
This weekend, I’m running a Jolly Jaunt 5k in Boston with some coworkers. I usually like to keep these two parts of my life separate, but for one of them, it’s his first race ever, so I want him to have a good experience. I’ll write about it afterward, and hopefully get some pics! (And the scary thing is, they think I’m the fastest of all of us. That’s never been the case. I just think they’re being nice, honestly.)
Oh, and just because she’s adorable, and I don’t have pics from the Thanksgiving race, below is another picture of my cutie pie, Ruthie. She’s hanging out on my brother’s lap -note the blurriness around the tail, because it’s constantly wagging. She enjoys life, what can I say? And isn’t every 55-60 pound dog a lap dog?
Ruthie, the lap dog, sitting on Jamie
Posted in Races Tagged: 5 mile, 5 miler, Feaster Five, merrimack valley striders, race report, road race, ruthie, thanksgiving