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.
When we lived in Boston, there was a strong running culture and a lot of places to run, but you almost always had to pause at some point to cross a road or dodge some cars. In the ‘burbs, you don’t usually has that problem. You have space and if you’re lucky you might have trails.
As a master runner with an arthritic knee, I’ve been very happy to watch the growth of trail races in recent years. There is now a thriving barn-to-trail race series that partners with local farms, plus a number of other races taking advantage of the preserved land and trails in the area. That includes the New Life Furniture 5k trail race on the Medfield State Hospital land.
I thought I had managed to dodge the cough and cold that has been stalking our house the past month. The girls all had it and had recovered. I thought I was good. With the Addison’s, I’m already very conscious of sleep and hydration. I thought my chronic disease actually helped in this case. I’ll admit, I was feeling pretty good about myself. And then I got sick.
Wednesday morning, I found myself a snotty, coughing mess. The perfect condition to compete in Hunter’s Run, a local 5k, for a great cause, that weekend. My plan had been to use the race as a tune up for the duathlon in a few weeks. Yeah….
One of the most frustrating things about being an athlete with Addison’s Disease is that sometimes you can do everything right leading up to a race, taper, stay hydrated, take your meds, and yet somehow your body chemistry still drifts off and you end up with a performance that is less than your best.
This is exactly what happened to me this past Sunday during the Old Fashioned 10 miler in Foxboro. I went out a little fast but not completely crazy, yet by mile 3 I was fighting an intense internal battle not to pull up and stop completely.
When you sign up for a race in New England, you really never know what you are going to get. It could be mid-40’s in June or mid-60’s in January. It keeps you on your toes. It wasn’t quite 60 degrees, but it was way, way warmer for this New Year’s Day 5k versus last year’s version.
Last year, I struggled to pin my bib through six layers of clothes and had icicles hanging from my ears by the end. This year, I was quite comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt. The hill in the first mile? Yeah, that didn’t change.
I realized later in the day that it was almost three years to the day that I last won my age group in a triathlon. Three years ago, I thought I was perhaps in the best shape of my life. I had just had a great race at the Rev3 Poconos Olympic distance. The plan was to step up and absolutely crush a 70.3 the next year before taking on the full Ironman after that. I had no idea that I would actually end up in the hospital instead with a tumor, a chronic disease, and the mandate to not do much of anything for six months.
It was a long and winding road back (hello, arthritis), but last weekend I finally felt like the old 2015 version of me as all the preparation came together in a great race and I once again climbed up on the top step. I have no plans to do a half or full iron anymore, that shipped sailed with the cartilage in my knee, but it felt really good crossing that finish line knowing I put everything I had into the race.