the boston build-up is one of my favorite race series (just behind the norwalk summer series and the new york ultra running grand prix). the 2009 edition was my 5th time lining up for the 10k, which kicks off the winter race series at the start of january. it's a tough 10k course, with the toughest hill of all waiting in the last mile - the 9k mark to be precise. in light of the 10 miler i ran the day before in norfolk, my target was a sub-45 minute finish.
that time would substantially better my 2008 finish of 52:24 (which became a training run after the "recover from the holidays" fa 50k i ran the day before). but, it would be well off the 40 to 42 minute results i posted in earlier editions:
remarkably, in each of those prior races i confess to walking a portion of the last hill. and, under the circumstances, i fully intended to walk some of it again this time around!
a great thing about this race is it also doubles as a social event. the 10k garners the highest turnout of the series, with participation declining as the race distances increase. in addition to emmy (who ran the norfolk 10 miler with me), rob, roy, john, kate, brian, anton, dawn, don (who, amazingly, i didn't see before, during, or after the race!), kim, joe, mike (a/k/a torpedo), just to name a few, were all there!
aside from a huge sheet of ice that stretched out in front of the start line, the road conditions - and weather - were great for racing. once the horn went off a bunch of runners ran on the school sidewalk (i among them) to avoid the ice. after that tricky start, the course exited the high school and took to the streets of norwalk (rowayton, actually). i could see emmy a good distance in front of me, which was surprising since she had told me minutes earlier that she wasn't planning to race it!
by the first mile i had caught up to her and took a second to innocently mention that we were going at a sub 6:30 pace! emmy, without missing a beat, said that was okay since we were going downhill! well, so much for a 45 minute 10k! while i knew that we wouldn't maintain this pace and finish up in 40 minutes, i would tag along and see what happened. we hit the 4k split at 16:24, a 6:35 pace; and, just beyond it, the 3 mile split at 19:54, a 6:38 pace. i was surprised to be running this fast, but figured the course itself would ease the pace.
four miles went by in 26:59, a 6:45 pace. the 8k split of 34:10 and 5 mile split of 34:10 were both at a 6:50 pace. knowing what lay ahead, namely the last big hill, i had to ease back a little. the hill itself looks menacing enough on the approach. but once you reach what seems the top and cut to the right, the second half reveals itself - and there's a bit more to climb. i gave in to temptation and walked the second part of the hill. my split at 9k was 38:45, a 6:56 pace.
i finished in 43:09, for 6:57 pace, which was almost 2 minutes faster than expected. without the walk up the hill it would have been a sub-43. but, had it not been for emmy's decision to race it (and she won her age group as a result!), i'm sure my result would have been much closer to 45. it turned out to be a reversal of my original plan for the weekend (run the 10 miler hard, take the 10k easy). still, it was a productive pair of races and i was very pleased with both.
here are some race photos.
postscript: even though the ipod ban is now effectively dead, it's still within the race director's discretion to apply it to any given race. check the fate of the runner who finished in 1:01:01 - he was disqualified for using headphones during the race!