Jolly Jaunt's many running shoes!

25:40!!!!  25:40!!  I finally did it – I finally met one of my goals for this year, in running a 5K race somewhere in the 25s! I broke that elusive 26 minute barrier! Wahooo!!!  I was smiling about that all day yesterday.

The picture on the left is of our shoes after the race.  (Some of us are camera shy, meaning we don’t want our sweaty mugs out there for everyone to see.)  As you can see, one of us, Meg, wears the Vibram Five Finger shoes. She really loves them. Me, I just can’t bring myself to wear them. I am really not a biomechanically efficient runner. I can’t imagine my running form would get any better with them.

A few weeks ago, a few of my coworkers decided to do this race and pledged to raise $200. As of the last time I looked, they had raised over $800. We could join the team and just pay $35 to register without having any fundraising responsibilities, so that’s what I decided to do.  We ended up with 4 people from work, including a coworker, for whom this was his first race EVER, and Lis and her husband rounded out the team with a toal of 6 people.

The race begins and ends on Charles Street, which intersects the Boston Common and the beautiful Public Gardens.  It’s an out and back loop on Commonwealth Avenue, with the only incline being where Commonwealth Ave.’s thru traffic goes underneath the green grass separating Beacon Street from Commonwealth’s “local” traffic.  (If you’ve ever run the Boston Marathon, you know where I’m talking about, and how hard it is to describe Boston’s roads!)

I have to be honest, I am not sure I would do this race again. The entry fee was on the high end for a 5K race. I realize it went to charity (Special Olympics of MA) though, so I try to take that into account. However, I’ve run other races where the entry fee proceeds go to a charity and they’ve been a lot less.  Yes, the course was fast but I’ve got lots of other fast races that I can choose from, I mean, this is Boston!

Things I liked:

  • We had timing chips (D Chrono tags, nice and disposable)
  • Fast and flat course, not too crowded with runners, but enough so you didn’t feel like you were running all alone the whole way
  • Jingle bells on everyone’s shoes, making it sound very festive
  • Number pick-up option the night before at City Sports
  • Prompt race start (but see below)
  • I set a PR!!!

Things I didn’t like:

  • No starting mat at the beginning (so the results on  Cool Running are really not accurate unless you’re standing smack on the start line when the gun goes off)
  • Absolutely no way to tell where the start line was once the gun went off. Literally, no markings on the street.
  • The race started at 9:57.  What?! When have you ever seen a race start EARLY? I was still setting up my Garmin, because as anyone knows who has one, if you do it too early, and then wait too long at the start, it’ll reset itself to sleep mode.
  • They closed down the street, yet only had  a narrow timing mat off to the right where you could jump on it at the very end. What’s the point in giving us timing chips, and closing off the street if you’re not going to have a timing mat at the beginning?
  • Results not even broken down into divisions. I’m happy with my placement overall (288/1043) but to me, the “placement in division F35-39” is usually what I judge myself on more than how I do compared to the overall field.
  • Walkers were not given bibs, yet they had to pay the $35 fee. To me, I think that’s crap. If you’re going to take their money, then treat them as many other races do, like real entrants.  Really. (Lis’ husband, Steve, was a walker, and he should have had a timing chip and bib.)  
  • Really the bare bones of information on the website beforehand. No info on the fact that if you were a walker, you’d not receive a bib.
  • No info on the website (at least that I could see) about being able to pick up the numbers beforehand. We just got the idea to call City Sports beforehand, since we knew that they were a sponsor, and for many races that they sponsor, that’s how registration is handled to take the pressure off of race-day pickup.

At the end of the race, we were all handled bottles of water.  There may have been more stuff around but I didn’t see it ( I mean, other than in the vendor’s tents.) I’ve run races where I’ve paid a lot less and there’s been a lot more food at the end.  Why is that? That little local races seem to really put out quite a spread, but one that is run by a much larger organization doesn’t? I ran a race in October that benefits Special Olympians of Newton, MA, and they go crazy with the after-race spread! So, maybe it’s just this race. That’s what I am going to choose to believe, anyway.

I don’t want to sound completely negative about this race though. There was good support for water around the 2 mile mark. I stopped to get my heart rate down, as my first mile had been run at 8:10, and I suspected that was a bit fast for me.  By the way, my second mile was 8:43, and third was 7:59!!!! I covered the last .1 in 7:30!!! Yay!   I just kept looking at my watch occasionally and doing some quick math in my head, and I was so excited as I rounded the Public Garden, because I knew I still had about 2.5 or 3 minutes and I could still finish before the 26 minute mark (where my watch is concerned, which is the time I’m choosing to go with!)  I kept looking and seeing my Garmin show me something like 7:53 as my pace, and I was like “oh my God, oh my God! I’m going to do it! FINALLY!” And whenever I felt tired, I just kept repeating “25! 25! in my head over and over.”  Such a good feeling, believe me.  (And it’s funny, I didn’t really want to say this goal to anyone ahead of time, other than Lis, because I was worried that might jinx it.  My best races have been the ones where I’ve not put a lot of pressure on myself.

 I am proud of my coworkers for running the race the way they did. Meg and Lisa finished within a second of each other. George ran his first 5K ever, and much faster than he expected.  He thought it’d take about 39 minutes to do it (he runs for time in the mornings, rather than miles – he sets a time goal and aims to get out there and continue running the whole time, regardless of the distance he covers.)  His time on Cool Running is off by probably over a minute or maybe two.  I know this because he started at the back of the pack, and  I even had a time that was off by about 45-50 seconds, and I started in the middle.  His official time was in the 36 minute range. We all finished the race with him, too.  When I finished, I caught my breath, and started walking back on the side of the road so I could see Meg and Lisa, who yelled out to me when they saw me.  I told them I was going to go back and find George, so that’s what they did when they finished. 

Oh, and I found out that there had been some private bets at work about who would beat whom, between Lisa and Meg. I’ll have to find out how much was wagered! 🙂

Anyway, thanks for reading.