New Year's Day. What I do on January 1st tends to set the tone for the entire year. Okay okay. If I sleep in on New Year's Day it's not like I'm sleeping in the rest of the year ... or am I?
Maybe I just use the "setting the tone" as an excuse to get myself to sign up for a road race. ;)
Since 2011, I have walked or ran a 5k each New Year's Day. In 2011, I had a herniated disc so my wife and I walked the course. I apparently also perfected the thumbs up as the years have gone on. ;)
In 2013, my first New Year's Day back in Boston I participated in the Lowell's 1st Run 5k (which you can read about here). I loved the bling so much (pictured below) I had to go back for more in 2014!!
And I even recruited some friends and blog readers to take part as well! <<evil grin>> :P
My wife and dad made the trek to Lowell with me - it takes about 35 minutes from our house. The bib and hat pick-up takes place day of so we made sure to allow for a little extra time pre-race.
The line moved smoothly and I had my number and hat in no time. Thankfully the pre-race packet pick-up/area to hide from the cold was in a nice VFW hall in Lowell. Same spot as last year so we knew the lay of the lands.
After running into my friend Robin (darn me for forgetting to snap a pic), I went back to chit chat with my two best supporters and was tapped on my shoulder by Susan. Susan is a blog reader who was walking her first 5k. I was so proud to meet Susan and be a part of her first 5k.
I had my bib secured to the usual spot - on my leg - in no time and it was time to head to the port-o-potties. :)
With over 1,300 runners between the 5k and 10k option, we made our way to the Start corral at about 10:45am. I wanted to get a good spot in the corral.
It hit 11am, the National Anthem played and we were off!
Thanks to the race photographers for grabbing a pic right after the Start.
Since I had run the course the previous year I had a vague recollection of what to expect. I stress vague. So yes I forgot the course started out on a hill. Oops! :P
I wasn't really sure what to expect from my legs since I had run 10 miles the day before and New Year's Day marked the 35th and final day of the Runner's World Run Streak (#RWRunStreak). But, I told myself that I would give my all - as always.
The legs actually felt great. I just decided to let go and have a blast.
Mile 1: 7:39
As the race went on, the scenery and terrain started coming back to me from the previous year.
It was great to see so many runners out starting their year on such a positive note. I just smiled at all the runners around me and thanked the few spectators that braved the cold weather to cheer us on. (It was 13 degrees at the start of the race!)
Just before the half way mark, we start our decent from the incline to the flat shot along the River to the Finish. It was around this time I started asking a woman near me where she got her jacket. Hey it looked cute and functional. The woman had no idea, but told me she would tell me at the Finish since she "wouldn't be able to forget my outfit." I decided to take this as a compliment and a reminder that not everyone likes to chat during races as much as I do. :P
As we hit the flat straight route along the River, the wind picks up and attacks you right in your face. I remembered this from the previous year. I remembered feeling like I was running in place on a treadmill. Thankfully the wind wasn't AS strong as the last year, but it was still packing a punch.
Mile 2: 7:24
I made sure to thank all of the volunteers freezing their booty off to keep traffic at bay, hand us water and keep the tunes going. Unless I am having a hard time breathing, I always make sure to thank all volunteers/police officers! :)
Plus, I had to give a nice pose to the race photog who was positioned just before the turn towards the Finish area.
I tried to pick it up a notch for the final mile and actually felt like I was making up some time...
... until I looked at my watch. ;)
Mile 3: 7:33
I was really shocked when I saw that time. Can I blame the wind? Either way I was happy with the time, but realized I am still learning to "feel" my pace. Something I am working on in 2014.
As I hit Mile 3, a random guy started creeping up my right side and I knew there was NO WAY I was letting him pass me this close to the end. So I kicked in everything I had left and booked it through the final 0.1 miles of the race.
First race of 2014 complete: 23:43.1 (7:39 min/mile) -- 52 out of 869 overall and 4 out of 169 in my division.
Oh and you wanna know who came in third in my division? Yup, my girl Robin! ;)
Within minutes of finishing, I was joined by my Saturday morning running buddies, Nanci and Cristina ... who I had nicely convinced to do the run.
They both did great.
And I KNOW you are wondering how Susan did. She ROCKED it. She experienced a side stitch during the walk, but slowed down the pace and kept moving forward. I am so excited for Susan and again happy to meet her before the race.
I was sad to miss a couple other friends/blog readers at the race, but I know everyone had a blast - which is all that matters.
Did you start the New Year with activity?