Monday, July 4, 2011

Harvard Pilgrim 10k race report

Today was the 2nd annual Harvard Pilgrim 10k at Gillette Stadium, and I've been looking forward to this race since I ran the first one last year.  About a mile into this run I thought to myself, why the HELL have I been looking forward to this??  True, it's a fun race.  Yes, it's a super flat course.  Yup, very scenic.  Definitely a fun experience to run through the inflatable helmet and cross the finish at the 50 yard line.  So what's not to like?  Just the fact that it takes place on the 4th of July which is bound to know...HOT.  As we New Englanders say, it was a real scorcha!  The sun beat down on us with very little shade, and the result was people dropping like flies all around me.  I can say I was very grateful for already determining I would be running super slow due to my hip, which eliminated any pressure for me to hit a time goal.

The day started off fairly cool and I was hopeful that it would remain that way throughout the morning.  Unfortunately the race started at 9:00am, which I think is a bit late for a mid-summer race.  I wish they would consider starting it early.  I packed up my race bag as well as a cooler full of goodies for after the race, ate my bagel thin with almond butter, downed two preemptive Motrin, and headed to Foxboro.  My son Andrew came with me and was on camera duty.  I asked him to take some scenic shots while I was out running.  Apparently Andrew and I differ on definitions of "scenic".

About 15 minutes before the race started I lined up, and stayed in the 10:00 minute pace area.  Within that 15 minutes of standing in the sun, I already had worked up a good sweat and knew that the race was going to be tough for me.  I never do well in the heat.  We started off and I tried to stick to my slow pace, and kept about a 9:40 pace for much of the first couple miles.  I was running amongst all sizes and shapes, shufflers, limpers, stroller pushers, and speed walkers.  Less than two miles in I got passed by Captain America.  I also got passed by a guy in combat boots and camouflage pants carrying a giant American flag.  Although some of this was a little discouraging, I had two main priorities with this race. 
  1. Don't cause further damage to the hip, and require a lift back to the stadium
  2. Don't get heat stroke and die, and require a lift back to...wherever dead runners go
I stuck to my plan, grabbed water and walked at every water stop, and even built in a couple extra walks in the shade when I needed to.  I did get a little nervous at one point because I started feeling chilly and had the goosebumps.  I reflected on the last time I ran these streets, back in February during the very frigid Foxboro 10 Miler, and thought of how many layers I was wearing that day.  Today I was thankful to be wearing a nice light airy singlet.  Around mile 5 I caught up with Team Hoyt.  Seeing Dick Hoyt pushing his son Rick in the wheelchair was uplifting and gave me motivation to forge ahead.  How can I possibly complain about being a little hot when he's pushing his grown son in that chair, and he's twice my age.  I continued on until I reached the stadium and then did something unusual.  I slowed down!  It's kind of instinctual for a runner to speed up near the finish line.  "Finish strong!", we always hear.  But running through the tunnel, then the inflatable helmet, and finally out across the field...this was an experience I didn't want to pass too quickly, and I decided to enjoy every moment.

Officially I have said all along that I didn't have a time goal in mind since my goal was just to finish this race, but my unofficial hope was to finish in less than 60 minutes.  My official time was 60:07.  I guess maybe I shouldn't have wandered quite so slowly to the finish! 

Ronnie & I after the race.  (He hasn't discovered technical fabrics yet)
After crossing the finish line I made a beeline to a giant container of water bottles and ice.  I grabbed handfuls of ice and stuffed them down my shirt.  That really did the trick and I was feeling cool in no time!

Bumped into fellow TVFR member Charlene at the finish line...

Once I finally caught back up with Andrew, we snuck him onto the field so he could feel the experience too.

We met up with more of Ronnie's friends, fellow runners from Papa Gino's.  We snapped more pictures before heading out.

Ronnie with his Papa pals
Finally with the race behind us and heart rates back in a normal range, we left the stadium and headed over to Ronnie's house for a cookout.  Lounging around in the pool all afternoon with a couple Corona's was a perfect end to this holiday and a great post-race treat.

Triathlon training
Notice I've said very little about my hip?  Honestly, it wasn't too awful.  I think the strategy of running slow and sticking to flat runs is a good one!  (I know, I sound like such a wuss).

Yes, I will most definitely have this race on my calendar for next year too.  I'm just going to pray for a cloudy morning!

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