Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Funday

It’s race day, the inaugural running of the B.A.A. 10K.  I only slept three hours but I’m feeling spunky -- I decide to get wild and crazy and I pass on my usual race-day black shorts. Blue shorts instead. And then I swap out my white Nike shirt. I'm living dangerously and wearing a tangerine shirt.

I get on the T and the train is full of runners -- some with their numbers proudly displayed, others in hoodies to protect against any early morning chill still lingering.

The train empties at the Arlington station, as we all walk up to the Public Garden and cut down Charles Street. The sidewalks are wet and plastered with leaves -- I’m not so thrilled at the prospect of rolling an ankle on the slime -- but the roads are fairly dry.

I move quickly, finding the Port-A-Potties, picking up my race T shirt, and checking my bag. Volunteers are handing out sturdy plastic bags at the luggage drop -- red ones leftover from the last Boston Marathon and yellow ones designed for today. One volunteer holds up a yellow bag and asks, “Who wants some sunshine?” I do. I absolutely do.

I jog for ten minutes down the paths crisscrossing the Common. I’m already writing this recap in my mind, but I don’t know how the story ends yet. I’m hopeful though, as I line up in the race start corral. I've just realized that I unintentionally ran almost the exact race course last weekend... I know the measure of each Back Bay block and I'm anticipating the long stretch of Commonwealth Avenue. 

In the race corral, I’m not losing my cool. I’m losing my warm. So I’m bouncing and jumping and running in place and trying to stay warm, because I need to move right into a fast pace once the gun goes off.

At the start, the first song that comes on my iPod Shuffle is the Thin White Duke remix of Seal’s Amazing. I’m a little superstitious. I love this song -- just downloaded it yesterday -- and I paired it with a bagel at 6am for my pre-race prep. I decide it means that this will be a good race.

Mile 1, as I’m always wont to do, is too fast at 6:48. I slow up a bit and I spend the next few miles tweaking my pace, head down and legs churning. We work our way down Comm Ave, past the Algonquin Club, through Kenmore Square, and out to BU. My baseball cap keeps slipping down over my eyes and it’s so damn frustrating, but I don’t want to carry the cap. I turn it around backwards. Totally stylin’.

The 5K mark comes at Babcock Street and we make the U-Turn around tall orange cones. I spend the next mile scanning the crowd of runners headed the opposite direction, looking for familiar faces. But I don’t find the faces I’m looking for, so I focus and run. Counting off the blocks of Back Bay: Dartmouth, Clarendon, Berkeley. Fast. A right on Arlington. Faster. A left on Boylston, a left on Charles. Fastest. Finish line. A slow walk…  very slow.

My finish time is a full minute faster than my New York time two weeks ago and 48 seconds faster than my personal best. Excuse me, I meant my old personal best. Because I just set a new one. A backwards baseball cap definitely works for me.

It takes a little time, but I find those familiar faces I was looking for -- L, E, J, and D, plus a few new friends. And we're on to part two of the morning’s events: Brunch. There’s no chance of getting a table in a tiny Beacon Hill brunch place with such a large group, so we head for Panificio with the intent of ordering takeout.

Armed with plastic boxes of eggs, bacon, and pancakes, we sprawl out on the grass of the Common. The sun comes out and the post-race entertainment continues in the distance -- a live band with no audience, except for us and our breakfast.

I’m almost catatonic after a fast race, blueberry pancakes, and sunshine. But, after a shower and a nap, I’m ready. Ready for my Boston Cream Pie class at Flour Bakery in Fort Point.

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