Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Seventh Time's a Charm: An Ras Mor (3/6/16)

2005 An Ras Mor running with Jason and behind Johnny O
photo by Jim Rhoades
Race: An Ras Mor
Distance: 5K
Location: Cambridge, MA
Goal Time: 18:00
Actual Time: 18:12 (PR!)

An Ras Mor is a special race for me.  My adult running career can be followed, and in some ways measured, by this race.  2016 marked the seventh time I've run it (plus, I volunteered on the course in 2013 & 2015; this giving my time and not racing also follows the trajectory of my running career).

Once (2004) - A jump start
My first race since high school was the 2004 An Ras Mor.  Peter Ustinov was still alive; the Red Sox hadn't won the World Series and same sex marriage was still illegal in Massachusetts.

I was trying to get back into running and I had run the SRR's Khoury's Thursday Night run a couple of times.  So I figured I'd try a "real race." I ran around 7:30/miles.  It felt okay.

That was going to be my jumping off point for getting myself back into shape...It didn't take.

Twice (2005) - A second jump
Since it didn't take in 2004, I tried again in 2005.  This time I brought my cousin along.  We ran both An Ras Mor and a week later Ras Na hEireann.  Due to construction An Ras Mor was MORE.  It was 3.6 miles this year.  Neither Jason nor I was prepared for that extra half mile, I remember just slowing down as we rounded the UHaul place on Main Street.  But still managed 8:15/miles.

Either way, it would be a good jumping off point to get back into shape...It didn't take.

Finishing the 2005 An Ras Mor
photo by Jim Rhoades
Thrice (2009) - Calm before the Expedition
Trying to get back into shape fell onto the back burner again until 2009.  I registered for An Ras Mor again and EARLY.  This time I was determined to get back into shape.  I think I actually ran for several weeks leading up to it.  Finished with 8:00/miles and then had a great after party.

2009 An Ras Mor - notice I registered so early that I was number 19
(I wonder what happened to that Adidas sweatshirt - I really liked it)
photo by Ted Tyler
Maybe the '09 race would have jumped started me back into shape.  But it was immediately followed by Bikespedition-2009 which did get me back into shape.

Force (2011) - Almost back
By 2011, I was back into shape.  I was now starting to actually "race."  While maybe I wasn't "recreationally competitive" yet, I was competitive with myself.  The 2011 An Ras Mor was the first time I broke 7:00/miles in a road 5k.  And it was the first road 5k faster than 2004(!)  Considering I was probably 250 lbs and two weeks away from my second marathon, I was pretty happy.

Fifce (2012) - A Great Race for a Great Year
While I ran faster at the 2012 Super 5k than I did An Ras Mor, I still broke 20 minutes and had a completely different outlook on racing and running. A series of great races would follow including almost qualifying for Boston and running the Reykjavik Marathon and I was to be SRR's Most Improved Runner.

2012 An Ras Mor (the last time it was Out & Back on Mass Ave)
Photo by Laurie Gagnon
Sixce (2014) - Grand Prix and a Jacket
The 2014 race was the USATF Grand Prix 5k.  My only goal of An Ras Mor was to run all 7 GP races to get the jacket.  My real target in 2014 was the BAA 5K.  

I had convinced Eamonn to run it too.  The weather was awful.  It poured and the only people who showed up were USATF competitors and Eamonn and his fiance (now wife).  There were lots of fast people and I was not in the mood to race.

2014 An Ras Mor (It was a little damp this year)
photo by Tom Cole
Sevence (2016) - Back on Top Again
After having a good (but badly run) Super 5K, I set out with a new strategy for An Ras Mor. 

First, at Super 5K I had started out with the goal of 5:45 for the first mile which became 5:43 and then steadily declined. 

So, the strategy for this was 5:50 for the first mile. Predictably, it was a little faster - 5:48.9. But I was right up with Chris Smith and a girl from Western Mass Distance Project. So, in a world of malleable tactics, I decided to hang with the two of them. We made it past the Harvard Book Store and the sharp turn on Linden to head back onto Mt Auburn. 

I was feeling surprisingly good. And all I had to do was stay with Chris. I figured we'd hit mile 2 and he'd pull away but at the moment I was just hanging onto him and trying to keep the pace. At the turn onto Putnam I was conscious not to jump out ahead (or at least not too far ahead) of Chris. 

As we crossed mile 2 I saw I had actually put in a faster mile (!) 5:47. Now I knew if I could just hang onto a 6 minute mile, I would do pretty well. I moved passed Chris as we crossed River Street. By the left turn onto Brookline and the doldrums of the race, I started to just jump from one person to the other. 

Just keeping my mind on the next person and holding back from sprinting too early. I brought in another sub 6 mile and sprinted in for the finish and a New PR!!!

Now, as I'm a married man, An Ras Mor is back where it's supposed to be - on top!

2016 An Ras Mor
photo by Chris Kluznick (which meant he wasn't racing for my fantasy team, d'oh)
Also on top were several SRRs who had PRs:
Todd & Megan Prokop
Tim Morin
Tim Blanchard
Nichole Bukowski

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