Friday, April 25, 2014

Run as One: BAA 5k (4/19/14)

Me and Brendan at the finish
Event: BAA 5K
Location: Boston, MA
Goal Time: 19:00
Actual: 18:59 (Masters PR, 2nd Faster 5k ever, 9th age-group)

Every year the Boston Corporate Challenge is a clusterf**k.  The start is on Charles Street between the beautiful Public Garden and the world famous Boston Common.  The first 200 meters runs to Beacon Street and takes a left.  The start is 3 lanes wide; the left is one.  Everything comes to a complete stop.  It's famous in the running community for being a disaster.

As part of the Boston Marathon race weekend, the 5K was the launch of retaking the streets after last year's bombing.  I had been so focused on running this race and helping Urvi to the marathon that I didn't even think of it as being an emotional time.  Even jamming to the line - as they opened the 6:00/mile and under corral at the last possible moment - I didn't think about it.  But as I stood there and BAA officials and the Mayor spoke about last year, I started to well up a little.

Fortunately, the mayhem of the moment kept it from getting too bad.  This year, the BAA 5K increased to 10,000 entrants.  This mass of humanity led me to the issue of getting out and to that turn in the first 200. Bradley had suggested that I "toe the line with the Elites."  To be honest this seemed a little excessive.  I mean, if there are multiple people breaking 14 minutes, I don't want to be the schmo in the way.  So I lined up about 6 rows from the start line.  That was far enough up, I felt.

As one speaker was finishing up some statements, midsentence the Mayor blew the horn.  That took everyone off guard.  It was like he was going at 8am no matter what.  I managed to nudge through the crowd once everyone realized we were going.  I avoided two people who were not even close to 6 minute miles and two people who fell (and, assisted a third to keep him from tripping...) Once I had made the left onto Beacon, I knew the issue was now running - no longer a race to avoid gridlock.

I settled into a good hard pace.  The course is great on both a racing and an aesthetic level.  It turns off Beacon onto Commonwealth Ave.  The lovely divided avenue is a beautiful stretch.  This is where many fans set up.  I saw Tommy M. along the stretch.  There is a turnaround at Charlesgate - which means you go down through the tunnel under Mass Ave and turn around right before Kenmore - back to the tunnel under Mass Ave.  Urvi said this was her favorite stretch, because through the tunnel everyone was high fiving and yelling.  It was the first time we could celebrate the running again.  Boston was coming back.

I kept rambling at a comfortably uncomfortable pace - right above 6 minute/mile. We took the right on Hereford and Left onto Boylston.  Four blocks ahead, you could see the finish line to the marathon.  People who were going to and coming from the Marathon Expo were lining Boylston and cheering for the 5ker's (I saw John Gorvin at Exeter). This was when I realized what I was doing was important to me.  I wasn't just running a 5k.  I was rekindling those running/athletic spirits.  I was small part of the retelling.

Once I got through the Marathon finish line, there was about a mile left to the 5k finish line.  I had wanted to put it into another gear, but that wasn't happening.  However, I was able to maintain my pace.  As we made the turn back onto Charles Street, I saw I could break 19 minutes.  With a sprint and a flourish, I did: by a second.  It was my second fastest 5k ever and put me in 9th in my age-group in a 10,000 person field!

Next up - James Joyce Ramble

Shoutout to Mark Duggan - PR!!

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