Training: I Own the Road

The sea of humanity in the 10:00+ group.

Today I ran the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) 10k. If you ever have the chance to run a BAA race, do it. Don’t even ask questions. There were 6,000 people racing and I can say without a doubt that it was the best managed, best organized race that I’ve ever been lucky enough to be part of.

I’m still struggling with my IT band problems, so I left the hotel this morning with the thorough conviction that I was just going to have to walk the race. I mean, I haven’t been able to do a pain-free mile in months, so how could I hope for anything better?

Let’s go this way and get started.

Turns out that I actually did manage to run a bit. No, I wasn’t up there with the elite athletes, but I did it, and did it better than I’d expected. There’s something to be said for that.

I did some things different for this race. The first was that I didn’t arrive an hour early and then just stand around. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t even leave the hotel until 7:30 for the 8:00 start. By following this new plan, I arrived “only” 15 minutes early. This is the way to do it; why haven’t I done this before?

The race emcee was the best. He was cheerful and encouraging without being insanely and artificially cheerful. And in amid his cheerful requests for us to have fun and enjoy ourselves, he also said something that stuck with me. He said that we were going to be running on closed roads, roads that we wouldn’t usually be able to run on. We needed to remember that today, no matter our pace, we owned the road. I just loved that. Today, I own the road. It made me happy.

Just lounging around instead of standing around.

The race began in waves, separated by a few minutes. (Hey, Nike: are you listening?) The elite runners took off like the bullets that they are, and each subsequent group eased up to the starting line to wait for the next horn. As I waited, third from the front in the slowest pace group, a volunteer reached out and touched my arm. “Geoffrey Mutai stood right there,” she said, pointing to where I stood. “He was smiling too. I hope some of his speed rubs off on you.”

I was really proud of this medal.

We hadn’t yet reached the halfway point of the race when I realized that there was a woman who was leapfrogging with me. It was a classic case of pace-and-chase: I’d pass her, and then she’d pass me. It worked out well for us, and by the final kilometers we were running together, chatting away. So Sandra, if you ever find my blog, thanks so much for keeping me going and distracting me when things were feeling sluggish, to say the least! We finished together, by design, and I hope that our race finish photos turn out well!

I’m sitting at the airport now, waiting for my flight home. I suspect that my leg will be sufficiently cranky on the plane, so I’ve already iced and taken ibuprofen. Tomorrow I’ll be back in physical therapy with all of the other broken people. But right now, wearing my race shirt in the middle of an airport, I’m invincible.

What was your last unexpectedly good race?

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