Thursday, January 01, 2009

(Frozen) Solid Start

11:00 AM - Sterling - 1:03:54, 10 miles.
Freezer 5 Road Race (1st - 27:54).
20:00 warmup, 2 sets of drills, 2 strides, 16:00 cooldown.

Let me make one thing clear right off the bat. When a road race is named the Freezer 5 they call it that for a reason. I've run this ridiculous race 3 or 4 times now and I can't remember one instance where the conditions weren't less-than-ideal. The air temperature this morning was a balmy 9 degrees, but the wind chill made it feel like a brisk -4. Not to mention the roads resembled snowmobiling trails. But hey, I'm not complaining. It's January in New England and this is what you're gonna get. If you can't accept the harsh realities of winter before you fill out an entry form then you might as well not even show up. Well, not if you're hungover, anyway.

Hungover I wasn't, but eager I was, as today's race took on a lot of significance for me on a few different levels. Above all, this was a very emotional effort for me, today marking the 6-month anniversary of my Mom's passing. Truth me told, I really wanted to win this otherwise insignificant race for her and I thought about my Mom every step of the 27 minutes and 54 seconds I was out there looking for a clear patch of road to run on. Insignificance of the event aside, it meant a lot to me that I was able to cross the finish line first, a finish line I crossed with tears in my eyes, finger pointed to the sky and a smile on my face. All I heard ringing in my ears as I walked back into the gym afterward was Mom telling me, "nice job, bud." It was an incredibly surreal moment, one I'll never forget. I felt her presence out there in the cold today more so than I have at any other point in the last six months. As for being able to feel my toes afterward, well, that's a whole 'nuther story.

As far as the race itself, the plan this morning was to get the new year off to a solid start with a steady sustained effort and I'm happy to have safely executed that plan to perfection. I didn't take any splits, but I know I was 5:53 at the mile mark and 22:18 at Mile 4, for what it's worth. The effort felt very much under control, which given the conditions and the circumstances, is encouraging. Most importantly, everything seems to still be intact and in good working order so I couldn't be any happier with how everything went today. Of course, winning is always nice, too, even when it wasn't exactly a hard-earned victory. Hey, winning is never a bad omen, unless of course you're trying to recover from a gambling addiction. That said, thank you to my good buddy Ryan for deciding to sleep in this morning and not defend his Freezer 5 crown, making me look like Kenenisa Bekele racing against a bunch of high schoolers and allowing me to take home a nifty blue re-icycled sweatshirt as my gold medal. You snooze, you lose, pal.


K.Gwyth said...

hungover run = me at the 2008 Christmas Run...completely unintentional.

We miss you already. Come visit soon!

mconley342 said...

Awesome race report. I had tears in my eyes reading your blog. Mom was there every step you took.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Mario. Great way to start of the new year! Come on down and join us one of these Monday nights.