Thursday, October 28, 2010

Making your own race

It was a warm morning, nearly 60 degrees which is just wrong for Oct 28. My first mile, the slow one, didn't feel bad at all so I pushed the pace a little.  At Sanders Theater I watched the pedestrian crossing light count down and I tried to race it, but pulled up just a little short, reaching the crosswalk just after it hit 0 and the traffic started across. Oh well, there are always more lights.  On to the river, along the dirt paths (I put new batteries in my headlamp, still need a brighter one) and enjoyed the early morning warmth.  At the Elliot bridge I noticed a shell in the water, gliding silently along in the darkness with nothing but a bow and stern light to bring notice.  They pulled up along side me as I came closer to the water and for a while we paced each other down the Charles in the darkness. A rabbit jumped out of the bushes in front of me and decided she was going the same direction I was and hopped away directly ahead.  I picked up speed to catch her but no such luck; that was not a race I was going to win.

Waiting for the light at the JFK bridge I noticed the crew boat was now well ahead of me so I decided to race it to the River St bridge.  Fortunately, they had no idea I was racing them and it was easy to catch up and pass.  I suspect they were fishing.  Just before the last bridge a collection of about 20 young folks in matching running gear and snazzy reflective belts all ran by the opposite way, almost in unison, in stark contrast to my solitary morning.  Back to Cambridge and I spied another runner that I attempted to reel in.  There was a second runner as well, but he was clearly too fast to catch so no race was initiated on my part.  I caught my prey at Western Ave just in time to meet up again with the group of 20 identical outfits, passing by me in clumps of 3 and 4 now. Back towards home and a pretty fast time for me.  It was my fastest run since the half marathon, except for the first mile I was right around 8:30.

I loved the little races I could make for myself.  Traffic lights are great, but the consequences for losing can be dire. Rabbits and other game are classic targets, but you have to prepare yourself for lifetime of disappointment.  Crew boats are great fun, but it works best IMO when they don't realize that they're racing you, and it's best to avoid the 8's if you're slow like me.  Other runners can be fun, but it's hard to sneak up on them when it's pitch black and you're running with a headlamp.  And, as it turns out, they are all variations of running against yourself.