Call me old fashioned but I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning in February than running 10 miles straight into a stiff headwind.
OK, so maybe I'm not thinking hard enough or I need to find a new hobby but that's exactly what I and 427 other people with nothing better to do did this past weekend at the Old Fashioned 10 Miler along the scenic backroads of Belichickville, I mean Foxboro, Massachusetts.
This is the third straight year I've partaken in this preferred form of tomfoolery and considering the absence of arctic temperatures and slush-laden roads, along with the fact I ran 44 seconds faster than last year, I really have nothing to complain about. OK, so the soup offering after the race was a little skimpy, but I'll stop there.
Moving on, the pre-race plan laid out by my running mate, Mr. Ryan Carrara, called for us to cover the first few miles at a 5:25-30 clip before gradually ratcheting things down to a pace we can only one day hope to hold for an entire 26.2-mile footrace. The aforementioned headwind altered those plans a bit but the effort was where it needed to be and nobody left with wind burn so I'd say we executed our strategy pretty well.
A large pack of multi-colored singlets hit the first mile in a dead-on nuts split of 5:30 before someone, likely me, got a little bit excited and towed that very same group through a faster-than-desired 5:13 reading for the second mile. The wind was a blowin' at this point, so much so that Ryan offered me a small sum of money for my NB skullcap, a deal that ultimately fell through, however, due to a lack of readily available monetary funds on the part of Mr. Carrara. I would have proposed a counter-offer for an apple-cinnamon Hammer Gel, but bartering for goods while skimming the road at 11.5 MPH is almost as dangerous as texting while driving. There's just no need for it.
Anyway, Mile 3 came and went in 5 minutes and 22 seconds and our merry little group had been whittled down to a half dozen or so folks at this point, including myself, Mr. Carrara, D3 alums Adam Fitzgerald and Dan Vassallo, Timmy Tapply and a pair of BAAers, Eric "Mountain Man" Blake and Terry "Sandbagger" Shea, who was plotting a blitz of Belichick-like proportions at the back of the pack. Mile 4 dipped back below 5:20 and was marked by idle chatter and idle bodies unwilling to move, but that all changed a mile later when Dan the Man must've got sick of listening to Ryan and I babbling away and dropped a 5:02 fifth mile to take the lot of us through halfway a little ahead of schedule in 26:28.
17 seconds from one mile to the next wasn't enough of an adjustment for Blake and Silent Terry, however, as the two of them kept things up for another mile, putting 10 seconds on the pack with another low 5-minute split for the next 1,609 meters before Eric realized Terry was in no talking mood on this sunny Sunday morning and he'd be best served to rejoin the moving chatterbox that was idling on down the road just a few yards behind him.
And as for the race, my friends, that was all he wrote. I'll keep writing, of course, but by Mile 7 Terry had put his pen and notebook away and decided that this story was over. Our little chase pack stuck together though and took turns breaking the wind until Mile 9, which happened to fall at the appropriately-named Ryan Place, where Carrara got excited to see his name on a road sign and started to pick up the pace. Since I told myself before the race that I was going to do whatever Ryan did -- heck, if he stopped in the middle of the road to do a chicken dance I would have been flapping my wings right behind him -- I just stuck to my guns and went with the move, even though I knew he was only pulling such a stunt so I would break the wind for him the last mile. And if you look at the results, you'll notice Ryan entered the finishing chute exactly one second behind me. Now I'm no strategist, but I'd say his plan worked to perfection.