October 23, 2005

Ghost and Goblins run for CF

Several months ago, I got wind of a 5K that was going to happen in Rhode Island to raise money for CF. I signed up, conversed with the organizer Ken McGill, and generally got ready to run for CF.

What is it about races that makes me get up at hours I would never entertain in the course of my job? Last night, instead of heading up to Pawtucket and getting a hotel, I opted for my own bed and my own cooking. But that meant that I was out of bed and on the road by 3:45 a.m. this morning. After all, Pawtucket is 4 hours away! I rented a car for this one and am glad I did so; the weather heading up there - indeed, right up 'til the race began - was miserable: cold, drizzly, and a little windy.

I arrived at Dagget Farm in Slater Memorial Park in Pawtucket at 7:15. The hours listed on the entry form were 8 a.m. to noon. I didn't know that the race wasn't scheduled to BEGIN until 9:30! Shortly after I arrived, the organizers showed up. Ken is a swell guy, as is his brother. They introduced me to the kid they organized all this for, Ben, who also has CF. He looks very healthy for having recently gotten out of the hospital! He is tall and weighs 165. I struggle to maintain 120.

I spent the next couple of hours trying not to get chilled to the bone. Knowing I'd soon be warm enough wasn't a help. The time passed and soon enough, I and a about 70 other people were wandering over to a side road. A little after that and some idiot shattered the stillness of the no-longer-raining morning with an air horn. Then a bunch of other idiots, myself included, starting running away.

The course twisted and turned and looped on itself; I stopped keeping track of it after, oh... eighty steps. I figured I'd just run until either I stopped or until someone told me to stop.

There were a bunch of track kids from local schools there, all running together. The boys did quite well, as I recall, but I passed the girls' track group at about half a mile, when they encountered their first small hill. I wound up crossing the finish line way, way ahead of them.

I was soon way too warm and realized I'd once again overdressed, being unacclimated to the cold yet. I took off my hat and gloves and ran fairly comfortably the rest of the way, though I soon realized that my pre-race routine had been abysmal and that it was now costing me.

I started out at a slow pace and slowly worked up; but all too soon was running well -- and I do mean too soon! At that pace, I wasn't going to last. And...I didn't. For most of the second mile, my pace felt sluggish; I felt like I was wearing about 20 pounds of clothes; my coughing wouldn't stop; my legs felt like lead. Thinking back, perhaps a single cup of coffee at 5:30 a.m. and two ounces of spiced gumdrops were not the best race fuel, nor was standing in a less-windy corner of the park shivering the best pre-race warmup. I was stupid.

About mile three, or 3 1/3, I really loosened up, I got some energy back, and the promise of a finish line and something to eat and drink spurred me on. I got my pace back up and soon enough found myself crossing the finish line. I must say, that was the LONGEST 5K I've run yet!

And though I felt I ran lousy, I actually did quite well, besting my previous 5K time by almost a minute and a half, bringing me in at 27:08 - with an overall pace of 8:45 per mile! I really didn't think I ran that well, though I noticed I passed a LOT of people who fizzled at the mile mark.

I'm most especially intrigued by one woman named Penny, who came in second for the females - and who is 54! She's only been running for 4 years, she told me, but her time was almost 4 minutes faster than mine. I am in awe of her abilities.

I think Ben and I were the only two people there actually with CF. I'm going to try to rope some more NY runners into heading up there next year with me. I also may become one of the organizers next year; Ken and I are talking about it. It's really a good race to have and I wonder why I don't find any CF-fundraising races around here....


In other news, my sports doc, Dr. Maharam, gave me a clean bill of health and I'll have my last PT tomorrow morning. I still need to continue home treatment, especially for my IT bands, but my runner's knee is pretty much a thing of the past, as the Staten Island Half illustrates. Now, if I could just get this (literally) bloody left middle toe to heal up...

Also in the news, I now find myself a medical team captain for one of the aid stations en route for the NY Marathon. Maharam roped me into it.... sheesh. Well, this should be interesting. Two training meetings, though. More to build into my very busy next couple of weeks.

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