Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Forty Years, and Four Years Ago

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June 6, 2002, before the run.

June 6 is a personal anniversary day, because 40 years ago today I had almost died at age 7, when I was hit by a car on the block where I grew up. That incident is detailed in my entry, "Name one event that changed your life."

I had suffered two broken legs (the left a compound fracture) and ruptured intestines -- which is why my running of the 3.5-mile J.P. Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge on the 36th anniversary of that accident felt so wonderful....

I had posted the following on 7 June, 2002, on the Runner's World New Runner forum. Mary is referred to here as "Sweetie":

J.P. Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge 3.5M, 6 June 2002, Boston, MA
Finish time: 43:36
Place: Somewhere among a cast of thousands!

A series of firsts:
1. First run in the rain.
2. First time I got The Look.
3. First really kick-ass negative split! ;p

My company team originally numbered 23 people; we ended up as 7. I checked the weather report before I left the house yesterday morning: showers, highs in the 50s. Packed my running pants and long-sleeved jersey. For much of the morning the temperature was a tropical 68 degrees, and I began to wonder if I should have packed my singlet -- if worse came to worse I could purchase one at the sports store near work, or just run in my bra. :) Sweetie would meet me if she felt up to it; she was feeling a bit under the weather when I left.

My team would meet before & after the race at the Bull & Finch, now known as the "Cheers" bar. I hopped on the subway from work, where I met my landlord heading home. Normally we'd go to the same stop, but not this time; I mentioned I was doing this race and he gave me the Are You Nuts? look. First, because he'd seen me during the AIDS Run 5K, and here I was running another race four days later. Second, because the weather ranged throughout the day from heavy drizzle to torrential downpour with wind gusts. I grinned back.

I camped out with other runners from other teams under the awning outside the bar. Some decided to camp out in the bar rather than run the race. I took advantage of following them in so that I could use the flush toilet in the back (luxury!). I had my gym bag with me, now holding my work clothes -- I didn't want to leave it in the office and schlep back for it afterwards, and I didn't want to ask my landlord to take it home for me. At the same time, I still wasn't sure whether my sweetie would show up, and I momentarily debated stashing my bag in the sink's unlocked cabinet in the women's room. A year ago I might have done it (had I been running then), but yesterday I realized that all I need is for someone to find the bag and start a terrorist panic, especially since my socks probably qualified as something toxic. Sweetie did show up, and ended up joining us in the run -- but not before I asked around and discovered I could use a coat check at the bar (and for free!).

I went back outside & met some team members, including the captain who informed me of our puny turnout. (She didn't want to run in the rain, herself, but had been strong-armed into it.) I'd cycled in the rain numerous times, including during some pretty scary thunder & lightning storms, so I was looking forward to seeing what running in the rain would be like. By the time I left the office, the temperature had dropped to 53 degrees. Nope, I wouldn't need the singlet.

My first race, my bib was #20 in a field of 300+. My second race, my bib was #179 in a field of 600+. This time, my bib was #13353 in a field estimated to be 11,000 when we finally lined up. One spot for those with 6 min. miles or faster; one spot for the rest of us. (Or, as I told some folks: The 6-min-mile people are running a race; the rest of us are doing an event.)

Our intimate group of 11,000 stood in the rain through a series of bigwig speeches, followed by the national anthem. My races have gone from grassroots to grassroots/municipal to unabashed Corporate -- quite a progression from a small crowd cheering on the kids' races last month to the gargantuan speakers at crow's nest height, blaring, "Everybody, let's give a hand for our runners!" Oh please. Meanwhile, in inimitable Boston fashion, a couple of drivers had managed to get on the road that served as the start point and were doing teeeeeeeeeeny tiiiiiiiiiiiiny K-turns over and over and over and over until they could manage to get away from us....

And then we were off! Well, the frontrunners were off. The rest of us stood around and danced, stretched, kibbitzed. Walked. Stopped. Walked. Stopped. Started to run. (Speakers blaring for the second time: "And let's have a big hand for our runners!") Stopped. Started. Stopped. Started, got up something of a pace -- and came screeching to a halt as harried commuters struggled to cross Commonwealth Avenue, dodging us as we dodged them! I let out a raspberry. I was running with our team leader, who was getting flustered. This is the first time she was running in a group; talk about trial by fire. We played Dodge the Commuter, Dodge the Dodging Runners, and -- my favorite -- Dodge the Sudden Runner-Turned-Walker.

At the Mile 1 marker a man called out, "Sixteen minutes!" I let out another raspberry. Our team leader checked her watch, indignant; we'd started running 4 minutes after the official start time. Comm. Ave. is a picturesque, brownstone-lined street with 2 lanes in either direction, separated by a grassy park median. I said we'd be seeing the frontrunners returning on the other side of the park any minute now. "No!" the team leader said. "Yep," I insisted. Sure enough. We broke out into a huge cheer, amplified as we ran through the underpass. Rain kept to a healthy drizzle.

I let our team leader forge on ahead at about the 2.5-mile mark (she finished about a minute ahead of me) -- I have chondromallachia patella in my right knee and it was zinging me just a bit, so I eased up on it. We didn't get a time for the second or third mile -- I just kept running. Sweetie was behind me somewhere -- she hadn't come dressed to run and she hadn't checked anything at the bar, though she'd stashed her large umbrella somewhere along the route.

Back to and around the Public Gardens and on to the finish line. There would be no printouts to check; we had to look up at the clock and report our time to the team leader. I was feeling a bit bedraggled and decided not to go for a sprint -- but then they changed the music:

"Get up, get up, put the body in motion...."

Okay, there was no resisting this one. I went out full-tilt. I'd sprinted at Melrose, galloped at the AIDS Run, and this was another notch up from that. "Wind it up, baby!" Passed under the clock at 43:36.

I picked up my T-shirt and a banana, went back to the bar, got my bag. Met our other team members, including folks who hadn't shown up before the race. I didn't care who looked; I stripped down to my sports bra in front of the bar, pulled my warm work shirt out of the bag, and changed. Sweetie showed up, then went off to retrieve her umbrella. I went to check out the after-race party, but it looked too much like a frat bash. (I was too old for frat bashes when I was in college a quarter-century ago.)

At home I factored out the first mile and figured my pace for the rest of the race. That came to 11:04, an excellent time for me. Sixteen minutes to 11:04; now that's what I call a negative split!

There's a 5K fun run in the neighborhood on the 15th. Then my next races are at the end of the month: the POW-MIA 10K, and the Jessica J-Club Virtual 5K. Meanwhile, I'll see if I can extend my long run this weekend -- and finally try some Gu....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Inspiring! I loved to envision the run through Boston.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Brenda Clews said...

Magnificent! And, I agree with Colleen, inspiring...

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crazy. You should check out the post I did for Middle-Grey yesterday.


8:22 AM  
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3:42 AM  

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