It was good to be back at the James Joyce Ramble today! This may be the road race I have the longest history with in the Boston area, dating back to when I lived in Dedham, and discovered, quite by chance, that a huge race was setting off not a quarter mile from my house. I believe my casual "run to work and back, 0-quality, rarely race" training plan propelled my to a forty-something-something finish back in 2005 or 6, or whenever it was.
I've tried various things leading up to this race. Two years ago I ran it off no sleep after taking a red-eye train back from Philadelphia, T'd back to my town and speed-walked the 2 miles to my house before piling into my car to the race. Then I went and set my 10K PR of 35:21.
Last year I made the JJR a target race, carefully prepared for it, got a full night's sleep, showed up early, and ran a high 36.
So...this year my morning preparation was to clean my bathroom, then bicycle the 8 miles over to Dedham. The morning activity actually left me feeling pretty good--awake and relaxed. I picked up my number and went and did a warmup with Brian from HFC. When queried about my goal I said "under 36", which seemed plausible even though I haven't been doing much quality lately.
JJR was once again the site of the USATF Master's 10K championship, who started 3 minutes ahead of the main crowd. This makes the event function sort of like a handicap race, with the advance field strung out in decreasing order of grayness. It also makes the general results look waaay better than normal, as we shall see...
I ran the first (downhill) mile in 5:35, having long-ago given up any hope of negative splitting the JJR. Great to see the HFC cheering section at the turn just past Dedham Center. I ran a 17:05 or so through the first 3 miles, feeling consistently strong.
Of course the trick in the JJR is the section of hills through mile 4. In particular, the challenge is to keep enough fuel in the tank so that you can floor it through the flat 5th mile. I didn't quite swing that trick, and started to fall off pace a bit, letting two guys and the lead woman separate.
I kept pulling hard through the 5th and 6th miles, though nobody was around me except a scattering of people in the master's race, finishing with not-much of a kick in 35:52.
I was 10th overall, but really 32nd when the masters runners are included.
Good race! I cooled down with the HFC guys, then hung around for a bit until my legs felt strong enough to bike home (at which point it was time for the traditional post-race nap/comatose stupor).