When is a race not really a race? In the time of quarantine.
It might be a long time before we get back to live-action road races but last Sunday, I had the unique opportunity to race a 5k. Through a weird hiccup of circumstance, I actually won the HMEA 5k last year and when COVID forced this year’s fundraising event to go virtual, they invited the men’s (me) and women’s winner to run and be live streamed on Facebook as part of their fundraising day.
So how did it go?
This year’s Old Fashioned 10 Miler was going to be about redemption. At least, that was the plan. Last year’s race went off the rails almost immediately. Despite not really training more for the distance (I’ve been on the bike a lot more this winter), I was determined that this year would be better than last. I did everything I could to make sure this year left me with better memories. I managed my taper, my fatigue, and my meds carefully in the lead up to Sunday. But you still never know. You gotta toe the line and find out.
Held at the nearby Eagle Brook Saloon this low key, no-frills (other than the great breakfast buffet and raffle) is quickly becoming a personal tradition and a favorite way to kick off the new year. A field that tops 100 would be a big turnout. This is one of the those small races held in the middle of the New England winter where it might be -30 or 60 and you are quite happy if it’s just 30 above zero.
Everyone that comes out is there because they love running or support the race and it’s Lion’s Club charity. That sense of excitement and generosity comes through in both the runners and the volunteers. Even you show up nursing a little hangover from the prior night, I guarantee you’re more than likely to leave smiling. The power of running!
If I was appointed to a position where I could promote and influence running throughout the country (heck, the world!), the Angel Run 5k is the type of race I’d wish for every local community. It’s a family-oriented day built around a great cause and celebrates being active as a family. Yes, there is a competitive portion to the run (more on that in a second) but the vast majority of the race is kids, and moms, and dads, and dogs, and strollers, and costumes getting out running or walking the course. It’s a small, local race but it’s one of my favorite days of the year.
When you tell people you are going to do an overnight 200-mile relay race that involves traveling in a van with 6 other people for 36 hours, getting little sleep, running at 2 am, all while paying for the privilege, you are going to get one of two reactions: some will get a recognizable gleam in their eye and ask if there are still any open spots in the van. The others will openly question your sanity. One of the many joys of belonging to a local running club is that I saw much more of the former than the latter.
I wouldn’t have the weather to blame for any poor performance this year. This past Saturday was very mild (for August in New England) with low humidity. Past Brew Runs have been unholy slogs through a thick paste of water vapor and scorching sun. Not this year! This might have been the best weather The Brew Run has had in years.
Like Falmouth, The Brew Run is one of those funky throwback races before standard measurements like 5 and 10k’s where people just ran point-to-point or in some arbitrary circle. For the record it’s 5.2 miles with plenty of water stops and lots of crowds both running and cheering. You won’t be running alone in this race.
I realized I might have made a mistake just about a mile into the race when my foot slipped off a root and I felt a twinge run up my ankle. We have a big vacation coming up with a lot of walking and if I broke an ankle running a race, my wife might divorce me.
Spoiler: I didn’t break an ankle but it was a little dicier than I expected.