The Boston Athletic Association (or BAA as its known to all the runner folk) is now doing a "Triple Crown" which consists of their 5k (in its 4th year), a 10k (in its 2nd year, of which I ran the inaugural event) and the half marathon (in its 12th year). If entered in the Triple Crown, you're entered in a points race, you get special bib numbers, you're pointed out at each race (I mean who doesn't want to feel like a cool kid?) and you get a special Triple Crown finisher's medal at the end of the "season". Now, having run the Boston Marathon and the inaugural 10k last year, I thought the triple crown would be awesome.
I arrive in Boston with about an hour to spare (as is customary with me), park the car and head over to the start. First thing I notice is that there are pace corrals marked so I wander over and stand in-between the 6 and 7min miles corrals thinking I'm probably gonna run a 6:15 mile. Now as I stand there I notice there are not a lot of people and I think "okay, people know where not to line up" and that this will be a race without the fight through the mass of humanity. Oh was I wrong my friends! As I stood there stretching and talking to J, I don't notice (because as per my usual pre-race, I was filled with butterflies, self doubt, wondering why the hell I'm racing and wishing I'd stayed in bed) that those open areas are filling up...with EVERYBODY. Five minutes before the start I look up to see a woman, weighing at least 80lbs more than I do, having taken residence in front of me. Look ma'am, you may be fast, but unless you're a freak of nature or have a rocket pack on under that Camelbak (yes, I said Camelbak...for a 5k!) you have no business in the 6min/mile corral! As we're waiting the announcer says that today's 5k has 6,000 participants. Wait...WHAT?!
A quick good luck to J and the race starts...the race starts...would the race start already!!! After the gun goes off it takes a minute and a half to cross the start! At that point I was already starting to feel like somehow those 6,000 runners had squeezed in front of me and that feeling didn't go away anytime soon. The course start is winding and while I can see the leaders (of us mere mortals not the 15min 5k'ers) there is just no place to go in order to get around the mass of humanity. And it was a mass! I've posted about this before but good lord people, if guys are zipping past you PLEASE get to one side of the road and stay there.
I was hoping to turn the 1st mile in 6:00-6:15. I did my best to weave in and out of the obstacle course of human speed bumps to hit the 1 mile marker...at...7:31. Are you kidding me?! I was furious. I found some daylight and opened it up. Mile 2 came at a 6:18 and I'm thinking I feel good: legs are settled, nice turnover, no gasping for air...keep running. The turn to mile 3 came at the infamous Hereford-Boylston intersection that every Boston Marathoner knows and has a special evil place in my heart (read my 2011 Boston Marathon race report) but I need to push on and keep going. The Boston Marathon finish (and the finish for the 5K) was in sight. I hit Mile 3 at a 6:19 and kept pushing...crossing the line...in...21:38. Ugh!!! If I had been able to hit the first mile on pace, that would've been 20:07 race or even faster without the weaving in and out of bodies. I was in striking distance of my 5k PR of 19:54. For the first time in a while, post knee injury, I felt really good.
I tried to blow it off as a learning experience and the "it wasn't like I was gonna place anyway" reasoning but as time grew on I just got angry (this blog was gonna be titled "fueled by anger" remember?). I'm angry at myself for staying the pace corral and not moving forward, I'm angry at the BAA for putting 6,000 runners on a course that just really couldn't support them, and I'm even more angry at my fellow "runners" for continuing to disappoint me. Like the folks that pulled up, and started walking, in the middle of the road, BEFORE THE FIRST MILE MARKER!!! Throw in that the race, and the walking around after to take in all the marathon festivities, sights and sounds brought up all the memories of a year ago (yes, another blog post is coming) and it was a tough day. Well, nothing to do but use this as fuel to find another 5k and go crush it, right...right?!