Lynn, Lynn, the City of Win!
I was the 1st place man at the Pine Hill Little League 5K in Lynn, Mass!
Holy smokes and laugh like a little kid! When they came up to me, said congratulations and placed a trophy on the bar I was stunned.
I’ve been 2nd or 3rd in my age group a few times over the past three years. I never dreamed I’d ever be first! I’m a 50-year old middle of the pack runner. I don’t win races.
The roads to victory
The race started at 9:30 and I am somewhat familiar with Lynn. After a few wrong turns and u-turns I found Rolly’s Tavern on the Square. I parked across the street in the bank lot and went into the bar to get my number.
There was a small group of people in the bar, but definitely not a crowd. It was about 45 minutes before the race and I didn’t see a lot of people outside either.
In no time I had my bag with shirt and bib. I asked about parking since I didn’t want to get towed from the bank parking lot while I was running.
As I pulled into a spot in the lot behind the bar, I could see the Little League field down the hill right in front of me. There were a few kids on the field and I felt good knowing we were helping to support their program.
To my surprise I pulled bib number 1 out of the bag! I found out later the numbers were given out in chronological order, and I had signed up three months ago. So I was Number 1. It was a LOL moment.
I know that low numbers don’t mean a thing at 99% of races. But when I wear a low number bib I always feel self conscious. I must be “The Guy”, if I’m wearing #1.
As I milled around, I got plenty of looks from the kids. It was totally weird. I tried to forget about it, do my thing and avoid eye contact. Usually at a race I can do anything in public and not even think about it. Think baseball players.
When I did make eye contact with other runners they would give me a smile.
I ate my PowerBar and drank my Gatorade in the bar, used the facilities and went outside.
I went for my pre-race jog and felt totally conspicuous. Only a few of us did a pre-race warm up, but I had that number on my shirt.
At the start
We walked a few hundred yards down the street to a church parking lot for the start. The race director gave us directions, told us about the cones and police support and “have a great race.” She gave a verbal count down and we were off.
We had one lane of Broadway and the crowd thinned in about 100 yards. By the time we took our first turn there were only about 10 people in front of me. Lots of dark hair.
About a quarter-mile into the race we turned right onto Euclid Ave. I could still see the police car leading us and about six runners in front of me. As we approached mile one there were four people in front of me. Two ladies in front and two young guys in front of me.
As the guy in fourth moved on the guy in third, I tucked in behind him. We were now 3rd and 4th. My watched chimed 6:52 as we crested a small hill, and I was right behind this guy.
On the down hill I opened my gate and passed number three. The two women were pretty close now and for a while I was close to number two.
As we turned onto Maple Street, I actually thought I might pass her. We cut off of Maple to Gage Street for two short blocks and #2 put some distance between us on the turns. When we came back out to Maple I could still see the police car but it was further away now.
As we turned back onto Broadway I could feel my legs getting tired. The track work out on Thursday had an impact on them. I began to think of how my legs felt going around the track. I had run some 7 minute pace splits.
The track workout wasn’t the first time I’d run that pace but it was the first time I had consciously tried to run that pace. I knew how my body felt when I was beyond 7. It did not feel like Marathon Cruise Gear.
We hit mile two back on Broadway and I was at 7:18. A 22 minute 5K was mine if I wanted it.
As I passed spectators I began to listen for them cheering the person behind me. I wasn’t hearing anything, at least not close. The two girls moved further ahead, but I began to feel that 3rd place or first in my age group was possible.
I couldn’t let that slip away. As we turned off of Broadway onto Magnolia Ave I tried to keep my speed and cross the street efficiently. After a quarter mile we turned left onto Euclid Ave.
I felt tired, but strong. I knew I could hold onto this pace to the end. The question remained, was there some young buck back there with a strong kick?
As I ran along Euclid a little girl walking with her mother was picking up the course marker cones. Some jumble came out of my mouth in protest to no effect.
At the next intersection a lady came to a rolling stop, looked in the opposite direction and tried to proceed into the intersection.
I pushed off of her hood with my left hand, dropped a few F-bombs and kept on going. I only saw her face for a second, as she was looking for traffic in the opposite direction. I think I flipped her out. Maybe she drove slowly down the street after that and gave everyone else a break.
As we turned onto Broadway a guy was there directing and I told him about the little girl. He said something about they should be coming along shortly. What the hell was that supposed to mean?
The director mentioned that there were several turns before the end. So I knew there was another turn as Broadway turned at Wyoma Square. I didn’t hear anyone behind me being cheered on, but I still kept pushing. Mile three came in at 7:17 and the last few feet to the finish were at a 6:54 pace.
There wasn’t a clock and the ladies had finished well ahead of me. This race was old school with a stop watch and paper tally of runners and times. I stopped my watch at 21:35. Wow.
I walked for a bit and came back for a water and walked some more. The people behind me were only 5 and 15 seconds back. After the top 10 runners there was a minute and a half gap to the 11th runner. I cheered on the next twenty or so runners and went inside for some coffee, food and warmth.
Pine Hill Little League 5K Winners
Since all of my race pictures have me holding a beer I had someone take my picture with a cup of coffee, just for the record.
As I nursed my second coffee the assistant race director put a trophy on the bar and said congratulations Andy. After a second I realized it was for me. It seemed big for a 3rd place or age group finish. She told me I was first place Male! The trophy was for me.
I told her I had never won a trophy and she called the race director over. She seemed pretty excited that it was my first trophy also. I was just in shock. I thanked them both several times and totally loved the crazy idea of being the winner. WTF! Crazy I tell you, just crazy!
While I had both of them there I showed them my First 5K medal and did my best to explain how it worked in 100 words or less. They liked the idea and we’ll be talking for next year.
After a few minutes they asked me to step outside for a photo with the female winner, Dawn McGrath. She finished at 18:47 and Lacey Hebert finished at 20:34. My official time was 21:38. I was almost three minutes behind the top female, but I got a trophy!
I didn’t feel so funny wearing bib #1 anymore.
The field was small, 75 runners, and I was over a minute behind Lacey. But they only gave awards to the top male and female runner. This time a 39 year old lady and a 50 year old dude finished first. It doesn’t always work that way, but we play by the rules as they are set out.
I picked this race while looking for local 5Ks. There were several to choose from this weekend, but something about this race caught my attention. The race was small but the top three runners all ran under a 7 minute pace and Dawn McGrath ran a 6:03 pace. Not too shabby.
I’ll add a photo with the trophy when the race director sends me the file or posts it online. Full race results HERE.
Run well my friends,