First race of the 2010 season was a surprisingly good one: finished in 30:07, a lot faster than I expected. I've hit the gym pretty consistently all winter (spending a lot of time on an elliptical trainer), but haven't had a lot of road time recently, so thought I'd be somewhere in the 35-minute range for the "Helping Children Hear 5K Run/Walk" in Dover, N.H.
So, with that in mind, I started at the back. But the weather was cool and the course was kind, and I felt good enough to push myself a little. What happened was after the first mile, I found myself sandwiched between an energetic power-walker and a much older gentleman, and I thought as bad as I am, I should be able to push ahead of both of these worthy competitors. We were on a slight downhill, and so I let the brakes off and pulled away, and it stuck. I kept up the pace, passing a few others, and felt strong all the way to the finish.
I have to check to see what "number" this race is: probably about 109. But even so, it held a few firsts for me:
• It was the first time I'd ever heard a pre-race talk that included warning runners about the speed bumps. It sounded funny at first, but this was serious: big humps on the access road to Portsmouth Christian Academy (where the race started and ended) could trip up people in the opening pack and also sprinting to the finish.
• It was the first time I saw a mid-race baby change, which happened shortly after the start. The kid was being pushed in a stroller by mom, and when the squalling started, both parents pulled over to the side of the road and commenced a well-organized maneuver worthy of any pit crew, drawing applause from many passing runners.
• And for the first time ever, I saw a guy lose his breakfast in mid-race. Usually if this happens, the person runs into the woods for cover or something, but this poor guy right in front of me just bent over and there it went. A friend was there with him and everything seemed under control, so I didn't stop, which would have only increased his embarrassment, I think.
• Mid-race entertainment: Guy playing bagpipes in driveway. My witty passing comment to his wife: "Hey, I thought you got bagpipes when you die."
And yes, to my surprise, when the timer at the finish line came into view, it had yet to reach 30:00! So I poured it on, and though wasn't able to beat the half-hour mark, it was a surprisingly fast time and a good start for what I hope will be a fun season of collecting more towns on the way to running in all 234 in New Hampshire.