It had been over a year since my last triathlon and I was nervous. I was nervous for the packing. I had forgotten just how much logistics and checklists are involved the day before a triathlon. Sometime mid-morning I felt a fluttering panic in my stomach and was sure that I was missing something major, something critical from the list. I had a crystal clear vision of showing up on race morning without my bike or my pants. Something that would be embarrassing and force me out of the race.
Turns out a few deep breaths and some double checking and then triple checking my race day list was all I needed. I drove the hour south to Wareham, just before the bridges to the Cape, still somewhat convinced that I had forgotten something, but I showed up at the race venue, unpacked my gear and found that it was all there. I was ready. It was time to race.
One silver lining to being limited to shorter distances is that you can race more. You might find yourself racing four times in five weeks. I love racing. I love the nerves and possibility of the start line. I love suffering and pushing myself, at least after the fact.
But even I’ll admit that four in five weeks might be a bit much. And I have two more weeks coming up of races. I’m going to need a break before I get injured or burn out. But back to last weekend. This one wasn’t my fault. Really. I hadn’t scheduled this one on the calendar. A friend who is not quite as obsessed with running and racing as I am suggested we try this race and, to support him, I agreed. Turns out the Trillium 5k is pretty popular and parking is pretty limited at the brewery so entry is a lottery system. You know the end of this story. I was selected. He was not. Therefor, four races in five weeks.
By the fourth mile I was cursing the bride and groom. Turns out when you are a master’s runner, it’s not a great idea to prep for a race by staying up to the small hours of the morning drinking, dancing and eating way too many shrimp appetizers. At my age, I need a week to recover from such debauchery, so running a 5.6 mile trail race a mere two days later was tough.
The series started in 2015 and it’s been my white whale. Each year, circumstances (it is a holiday weekend), injuries, freak diseases or weather (one year was absolutely torrential rains) has kept me from racing. So, given that history, I wasn’t about to let a lingering hangover keep me from racing on Monday.
As I milled about the starting line to this year’s HMEA 5k, I tried to pick him out of the crowd. The problem with having a teenage running nemesis is that they sometimes change so much and so fast that is is hard to recognize them from year-to-year.
Other than the James Joyce 10k in Dedham, this 5k in mid-May may be the race that I’ve ran the most times over the years. It’s my wife’s company fundraiser and along with raising money for a great cause, it also offers a great after party with a free BBQ and lots of family-friendly events. The kids are more than happy to go, collect tchotchkes and eat cotton candy.
One of my favorite things about where we live is the abundance of preservation land and trails. You almost have to try not to run on trails in our neighborhood.It’s given me a keen appreciation of the benefits (and ankle twisting dangers!) of adding trails into my running routine.
So while I have been slowly exploring the local trails and adding more off-road miles to my training plan, I had yet to run an actual trail race. This past weekend, I changed all that. With a new 5k trail race just a few minutes from the house, how could I not sign up?
I ran my third 5k of the year this past Sunday. Hunter’s Run is a local 5k in Medfield to raise awareness for organ donation and is run in honor of a boy in my daughter’s class who’s had two double lung transplants. This is the third year for the race and it remains a mostly small, local affair, which is fine. Not every race needs to be a big production. You can use smaller races to work on specific things in your training.
One the great things about the running culture in New England is that no matter what time of year it is you can find a race any weekend if you are determined. Many people are training for Boston and weekend winter races are a great way to stay motivated and get some speed work done.
Despite this, it’s right around St. Patrick’s day that really feels like the beginning of the spring (it might still be in the 20s or 30s but as long as it’s not actively snowing we call it spring up here) season really gets going with the all the various shamrock-inspired 5k’s getting people to slough off their winter hibernation and get back in their running shoes.
I am no different. This past Saturday I ran in my second 5k of the year.