Off to New Ipswich, N.H. (Town #128) for an early morning 5K in that town. Almost didn't make it because the race start was 8 a.m. and it was only after 7 a.m. when I checked the info at home, which is in Bedford, N.H. about 35 miles away. Whoops! But I hit the road fast and made good time, arriving with 10 minutes to spare -- a pretty wide margin for me, and downright excellent when you consider I had to guess at the location of Mascenic Regional High School, site of the race.
One factor was a good intuitive decision I made at the last minute. See, all I knew was that Mascenic High was on Route 124, which runs the length of the town. When I hit Route 124, it was on the far eastern side of town. Turn left, and the road went only about a half-mile. Turn right, and it ran about seven miles to the next town line. So to find the high school, odds are you turn right, right?
And that's what I was about to do, right at that intersection, until I glanced left just to check for traffic, and noticed a little "RUNNERS IN ROAD" sign. Hmmmm. On the left side of the intersection. Should I turn left? And then I remembered: it's Mascenic Regional High School, meaning more than one town sends kids to it, and in this case the towns are Greenville and Mason, which are, yes, to the left.
All this thought happened in a split second. I didn't have time to make a mistake, but I figured if I turned left and there was no high school in the half-mile in that direction, I at least had a chance of turning around and finding the school in the other direction. But if I turned right, I could go up to seven miles and not find it, making me miss the race.
So I turned left, drove up a hill, and there it was, off on the left: Mascenic Regional High School. Ha! No lottery tickets for me today: I've used up all my good fortune for awhile.
For me, it was the first race of the "post summer," meaning it was noticeably chilly at the start and in the shade, though not a problem to still wear the simple shirt/shorts outfit that I stick to when it's above 40 degrees. (It was 43 when I got out of the car, but felt colder because I'm not used to this just yet. By January, 43 will seem downright balmy.)
This first-ever "Viking 5K" was to support the school's athletic booster fund ($15 registration fee, very reasonable), and I was in need of a little boosting myself. I haven't been sleeping consistently all week, and I think I've started to pick up the cold my wife has been battling. And then the layout isn't conducive to fast times, as it includes a series of upgrades and finishes with a pretty steep incline. To make it more interesting, much of the race is on Route 124, a narrow state highway that remained open during the race, and which carries significant truck traffic, at least on a Saturday morning.
Still, I hung in there and finished in 30:33, not bad considering how I felt. At least I didn't stop on any of the hills, and I did have a nice burst of energy at the end, after topping the final hill, and was able to finish strong. Ended up as 51 out of 99, with pace of 9:50.
One interesting twist that I'd never seen before was that the timing folks had a large video display set up on which results were posted sort-of-live. (It took a bit for you to appear after finishing, and the results weren't posted in order.) Quite different from the usual print-it-out-and-tape-it-to-the-bandstand method widely in use.