Wednesday, October 3, 2012

3 Miles On the Road: Jack Kerouac 5k (9/30/12)

Working through the Pain because "it all ends in tears anyways" - Notice the only one smiling is Andrew (259), he's about to blow by all of us like we are standing still.

Race: Jack Kerouac 5k
Location: Lowell, MA
Goal Time: 19:00
Actual Time: 19:33

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Kerouac has launched so many ill-fated adventures.  It’s as if we all have our own Dean Moriarty’s father to find.  I might be the only person in the country who hitchhiked across country as a young adult (probably 22) and then read On The Road afterwards.  But he touches something of the anti-establishment wanderlust whose desire is a rite of passage to all of us.  Somewhere deep inside ourselves we also have to ask: “Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?” 

The whither is not even that important at the time.  It’s the going. “There’s nowhere to go but everywhere…”

Well, Saturday we took Amy’s shiny car in the morning to Kerouac’s hometown – Lowell, MA for the Jack Kerouac 5k.  It was the fifth race in the Pub Series; and – as described by New England Runner – “in a ham-fisted decision” it was made race number six of the New England USATF series and New England 5k championship.

Today I identify as little with Sal Paradise as I ever did with Holden Caulfield (really you left the fencing foils on the subway because you kept looking at the map?).  Today purpose and reason for actions are important.  But that’s probably just getting older, like the old man’s basketball game that doesn’t take any extraneous steps. 

The purpose today was to get nearer my goal of finishing in the top 20 of the Pub Series (and earn my New Balance shoes for 5 out of 6 races).  This was going to be thwarted by the USATF’s “ham-fisted decision” since non-Pub Series runners would take places 1-50.  But, in an extra-ordinary decision, New England Runner ranked the Pub Series runners from 1 to 50.  This meant I still had to race it hard.

In my nervous passion to balance as fast as I can run to that eventual goal of 6 minute miles, I find I always go too far too fast in the beginning of EVERY SINGLE 5k.  This time, I wasn’t going to do it.  I was going to run behind Tim Morin for the first mile NO MATTER WHAT.

After the gun went off – I didn’t.

I did spend the first mile looking back to make sure I wasn’t too far ahead.  While I tried to stay between Tim and Bradley and ahead of Danny Mac, I felt like: “I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till I drop.” At mile one I passed Frank Georges reading off the times; 5:55.  5:55 really isn’t too fast (I told Tim that later.); but – as usual – he was right.  Because that’s 5:55 gun time – which meant I ran a 5:49 first mile! 

Well now it was time for Quitter Jesse to run the second mile.  Maybe it’s the fact that my runner persona is getting further and further away from the ephemerality of youth’s “ so frantic and rushing-about and even further rejecting Sal Paradise and Holden Caulfield.  But Quitter Jesse never emerged; slower Jesse did.

“What's your road, man? — holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road. It's an anywhere road for anybody anyhow.”  For the moment I felt like guppy road.  I figured if I could maintain until the mile two mark, I would be able to regain form. 

I didn’t.  I was lost trying to keep up.  By the time we got back to the Tsongas Center.  I felt lost.  Dan had passed me.  Tim and Tim and Bradley were long gone into the distance.  There was a little bump from the Tsongas Center back up to the turn and I had nearly quit.  Just gliding in was all I had left.

All that lay ahead was a little bit of road and I could still break 19:30 (and still be my third fastest 5k ever) – “the road is life.”  We got to the top of the hill and Martin had passed me; Andrew went blowing by me.  I had enough to sprint to the end despite the pain since “it all ends in tears anyways” (that might be from Dharma Bums or Big Sur actually?); I tried to encourage Jessica who had also caught me too.

I finished in a respectable 19:33 – third fastest 5k ever – and managed to move up to 20th in the Pub Series!

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” 
― Jack Kerouac, On The Road

SRR Shoutouts

-          Bradley PRed and broke 18 (and beat Daniel)
-          Kate Hails PRed and finished second in her age group
-          Robert Cipriano won his age group
-          Jacob Barnett took third in his age group
-          Tim Harden broke 18!
-          Jessica McGarty cemented her hold on 3rd in the Pub Series

SRR Teams:
-          Men’s Open, Masters and Seinors – 7th, 3rd and 2nd
-          Women’s – 6th, 5th and 6th


  1. Having just read this entry for the first time...I have some simple questions...what is it with runners that make them such good writers? it a shared state of mind...that is since I run I relate to runners better?...Is it writers that run or runners that write that have the courage to throw down on the road and on the keyboard...whatever it is this is great stuff Jessie and having observed your running progress with SRR these last couple of years you truely do rock...keep up the great work

    1. Thank you Robert.

      that really means a lot. It has been a fantastic few years. I have loved the time with SRR and the support.