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September 2023
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Chelmsford Lion’s Club 5K

On Saturday we ran a small local race, the Chelmsford Lion’s 5K, to benefit student athletic scholarships.  When we arrived at 9am, we tried to park at the front of the middle school, only to find that the lot was a zoo!  It was completely full, with overflow at the administrative offices also full, and all reasonable street (sidewalk) parking also taken.  Hmm, we expected a low-key local event; has this race gotten much more popular since last year?  So we drove around the block through a neighborhood (no good places to park) and drove around to the back of the school, where we saw a sign for 5K parking across the street from the track.  It turned out that the wildly popular Chelmsford Mother’s Club tag sale was the same day, and it’s reported that you have to get there right at 9am to get the “good deals.”  There was also a bottle and can drive at the back of the parking lot.  No wonder it was crazy!  Fortunately the back lot contained plenty of space and a much calmer air, as students and a few non-affiliated local runners like ourselves gathered at the track to register and warm up.

I still had some nervousness, but was much calmer than most races.  I think having Brian and Isaac around helped, as well as it being a much smaller race than I have done in a long time.  It was reminiscent of high school cross-country races, with a little bit of catching-up with other runners, friendly banter about the course’s hills and turns, and general enjoyment to be out running on a beautiful morning.  I did a few laps on the track to warm up and work out the nervous energy, went to check on Isaac and Brian at the playground, and then did one more lap with some pickups to get my legs moving.  Without much fanfare, we lined up at the blue tent indicating the starting line, Brian with the stroller toward the back, and me running solo near the front.

I had decided to run this event based on feel, and not use a watch.  I wore the Garmin for data collection purposes, but didn’t glance at it once (which turned out to be hard to resist!).  I just kept asking myself if I could go harder, and listened to what was limiting – catching my breath, leg turnover, muscles, mental state?  When the horn went off, I took of at a sprint like the rest of the front runners.  It was fun to tear out of the parking lot and down the road.  After about a quarter mile, I settled in, checking on those around me.  A group of girls from Team Run (affiliated with the sponsoring running store) were leading the pack, and I was a reasonable distance behind.  I tried to keep tabs on the top women other than the youth team, and felt like I was probably running around 3rd to 5th.  I ended up pacing most of the time with Alex, a super kid with amazing talent – can you believe he’s only 8!  I towered above him and felt bad several time when I was literally breathing down his neck.  I’d pass him on the down hills, while he had an edge on me when going up hill (size and I’m just not in hill shape yet), exchanging a few words of encouragement here and there.  Mostly I was breathing too hard to talk and be social, even though there were several other guys running about the same pace as we were.

A 5K still seems to go way too fast.  There’s no settling into a pace or clicking off the miles – it’s go out hard, try to stay focused, and finish strong!  It was easy to know how far we had left when we started cruising back up the road, and once we entered the track, there was 300m left to go.  I had been closing on another woman in my sights, and thought I might be able to catch her with a burst of speed.  Unfortunately, speed has never been my strong suit, and this day was no exception, so I wasn’t able to catch her, and in fact got passed with about 100m to go by another woman despite a pretty good push at the end, at least for me.  I finished in 23:11, almost a minute faster than my last 5k, and sub 7:30 pace.  Improvement is good!

I walked through the short chute and grabbed a water, tried to catch my breath, and turned around to see Brian and Isaac finishing right behind me!  Brian was going to take it easy, but evidently he was feeling spunky with the stroller, coming in at 24:46.  The full race results are here.

Since they had age group awards, and it was a small race, I knew I had placed.  So we hung out on the track, grabbed refreshments, and let Isaac run around to his heart’s content until the awards ceremony.  The sun was warm and it was so nice to just be out among other local runners.  Isaac decided to get in his own workout, so cute to see him on the track!

If you can’t see the video below, here is the link: Isaac running track!

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