Last weekend, my wife and I participated in our town's Halloween themed 5k. Coming off my recent PR at the Chicago Marathon, the intention of this race was to see how my body was feeling in preparation for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon which is a few short weeks out. So for this race, it was all about an easy run, enjoying the sights of my small town, with possibly some tempo work thrown in for good measure.
The race was held on Saturday, which is a nice change from the usual Sunday morning races, where the rest of the day is generally spent sleeping off the race. Since it was mere steps away from our house, I was able to sleep in a bit, throw on whatever, grab a bite and still make it to the start line with time to spare.
To say this race was local is an understatement. Over the 500 or so runners, the majority were families, most dressed up in costumes. We saw a very well done Lego family, the entire Game of Thrones cast and every superhero you could imagine. The course would take us through the residential streets of Melrose, a wooded park and finally ending at the steps of the local YMCA. From serious runner to non-serious one, everybody was having a great time. Looking around, I enjoyed the atmosphere and felt, for the first time, like a Massachusetts resident.
The only way you could tell a race was about the happen was that "race director" had a gigantic bullhorn and was trying to corral folks to the the starting mat. Finally, folks started running, so I figured I'd better run, also. Out I shot, past the Lego family, Captain America, and Batman onto the small streets of my town. All throughout the race, the folks whose houses lined the course would slowly make their way out of their houses to cheer us runners on. Now, I had just come from the most social race in the world (Chicago), with seemingly hundreds of thousands of spectators. Now, here I was, running past tens of people, but the feeling was surreal. It was such an intimate gathering; a handful of runners and even less spectators sharing in a brisk, but sunny morning. I really enjoyed the feeling.
It must have really gotten to me, since at Mile 2, I noticed my pace was about 7:00 per mile, well under my intended race time. Since my body and legs felt so good, I decided to push it and go for a PR. With the wind at my back, I made the final turn and pushed past the finish line in a record-shattering 21:38, some 34 seconds under my previous PR. Granted, the course was about one-tenth of a mile short, but I'll take it.
After the race, there were doughnuts and drinks for all. The kids all made a mad dash for the sugary goodness, and even I may have enjoyed a doughnut or two.
Overall, I finished 39th out of 501 runners, and as usual, got my butt kicked in my age/division 14/66. But, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of this race and I think that was a determining factor in the success of my race. There weren't any of the added pressures, like a race DJ, or even corrals.
Just a small town out for an easy run.