This Sunday I ran the 14th Annual Harpoon 5 Miler
The Harpoon 5 Miler has become a local favorite and very difficult to get into. This year the city allowed the race to have 4,500 runners, an increase of 500 over last year. I was fortunate that a friend managed our team and got everyone signed up.
I joined the team when another member had to be away for business. I ran under his name and made a donation to an organization that another friend is running to support. Not exactly like being a bandit but I know some people frown on running under someone else’s name.
The bib was paid for and since I received it for free I paid it forward by supporting another friend and a cause that we care about. I think it’s all good. I’ll take my beating off line if anyone disagrees.
To the race
Four of us car-pooled into South Boston. It’s so much more fun to go in a group and less of a waste of resources. Rowena works in the area and helped us navigate and find a great parking spot on Drydock Ave.
The meters are in operation all week, 6AM to Midnight! You can also only pay for two hours at a time. We were going to be there for five hours easily between pre-race, race and post race festivities. I kicked in for the first two hours and off we went to get our bibs.
To my surprise there was a ship in dry dock being worked on! The crane was moving stuff and I could hear all kinds of equipment running. I was surprised and thrilled. I thought the Boston waterfront was all about condos and the good life. Awesome!
We were way early and quickly picked up our team bag and t-shirts. We walked around and found out where everything was, had one of the new CLIF bars and used the facilities. There was plenty of water and one of the guys was barking out, “Get your water, fresh from the harbor!” Hilarious but no one seemed to get it or care. I thought it was funny.
The schwag bag included a Harpoon bandanna. We all decided to wear it instead of hats. We went more with the pirate style than traditional bandanna style. The tops wouldn’t stay down and when the wind blew we looked like the Pope, or just ridiculous.
We had been there for about an hour watching the crowd and having fun. Peter wanted to go feed the meter, so I suggested that we do a pre-race jog down to the car. It was about one-third of a mile
Most everyone else had a parking tag on the dash, but not everyone. I asked a guy about the deal and he said he was going to risk it. They don’t usually ticket on Sundays and the race would probably help. Peter fed the meter 8 quarters and we jogged back to the Harpoon Brewery parking lot.
The ladies were going to hang back for the race. Peter and I wanted to see what we could do. After agreeing where to meet after the race Peter and I started the move towards the starting line. It probably took 20 minutes but we got into a good spot. We could have gotten closer, but it was good enough.
And they’re off
We only hung out for about 10 minutes before the director started making announcements. The wheel chair racers had the first gun, we would have the second. I don’t recall much of what else was said. I made sure my watch was ready to go, heard the first shot and waited for ours. Here is the map.
The first quarter-mile was very crowded as we ran down Fitzgerald Kennedy Ave and took a right onto Tide Street. Peter and I got split up and didn’t meet up again until the end.
The sun was hot but there was a cooling breeze off the harbor. I weaved my way through the crowd and wondered how long I could keep this up and how many of these folks would end up passing me when I ran out of gas.
We crossed Drydock Ave and took a left onto it. We were now mostly sheltered from the breeze and in the shade. Drydock curved around to meet Black Falcon Ave. We now had tall buildings on both sides of the street, and I headed to the left side of the road to get some shade.
As I ran down Black Falcon Ave I could feel my legs. They didn’t hurt but I could feel them working. I could feel my breathing. I was running this thing.
As Black Falcon curved back to meet Drydock Ave my watch chimed Mile One at 7:44. Considering the restrained start and effort to move through the crowd, I was quite happy with that time. The road narrowed as Drydock curved out to Summer Street.
The bridge over the channel had a slight incline and I tried to use it to my advantage. Summer Street was wide and smooth. We came back into a block of buildings, shade and the first water stop. I hydrated well before the race but knew that a gulp would help me push in this heat.
I pointed to a volunteer, made eye contact and grabbed my cup. I pinched the cup and took a gulp between breathes. I knew it was the right move.
We took a left onto East 1st Street. Another wide road and our first elevation gain of note. We peaked at 30 feet above sea level. I could hear people breathing around me. My mouth wasn’t dry. I didn’t have gooey spit hanging out of the corner of my mouth, so I pushed.
Mile two came in at 7:38. I was hoping for a 40 minute 5 miler, but this was getting interesting. At the end of East 1st Street we took a right onto Farragut Road. We could feel the foggy harbor breeze blow across the park into our shirts.
We looped the park and headed back down East 1st Street. About half way down East 1st Street we hit mile three and my pace was 7:32. I was getting faster, but how long could I hold up?
Just before the three-mile marker I made the second water stop. The first volunteer wasn’t paying attention and I lost the cup. The second guy was spot on. I pinched the cup, took a gulp and pushed on.
The way back down East 1st to Summer Street seemed longer than the way out. I was getting tired.
There was nothing to want. I set a goal of being in the top 1K runners but that was it. I had no idea how close I was to that goal. Nothing hurt, I was not thirsty and I felt pretty good for running three miles hard.
We took a right onto Summer Street and I began to look for mile four. A few people passed me as we approached the bridge, but I passed a few also. Some people were walking.
I cruised over the bridge and used the decline to pass more people. We were now less than 1.5 miles to the finish so it was time to let it all go.
What ever I wanted, now was the time to take it. I had hoped for 8 minute miles, but crushed that goal. I started to think of a 37 minute finish. That would put me in reach of running a 45 minute 10K.
With my new goal in mind I took the right onto Drydock Ave and negotiated the turns back out to Black Falcon Avenue. Soon after we negotiated Black Falcon my watch chimed Mile 4. I had just run mile 4 at 7:29! I was getting faster!
Black Falcon is a long ass road late in the race. I don’t recall ever looking very far down the road. I kept looking out for pot holes and other runners.
I was at least holding my own. At the end of Black Falcon we took the left onto Drydock Avenue. I knew there were a few more turns and could not hear the finish line announcer. Our car was still parked there and did not seem to have a ticket. Relief.
It was time to kick.
I began to put more force into each push-off and lengthen my stride just a little. My left Achilles hurt a little, but not much. Everyone seemed to be pushing just a little bit harder.
I negotiated the right onto Tide Street and moved across the street to get into position for the next turn. A clean execution. I still could not hear the announcer but I could see the next and probably last turn.
As the turn onto Kennedy came into place I moved close to the curb and maintained my speed. No one was crowding me. As I made the turn, the finish came into view.
I kicked on top of kick. Somehow I passed a few people. My breath was short but I felt strong. I knew I could do this.
I charged for the finish line. Mile four pace was 7:15! I had progressively accelerated throughout the entire race. My last mile was 29 seconds faster than my first.
I measured the race at 4.89 but Garmin and the race had my finish time at 36:49. I had pretty much hit my 37 minute goal. Wow, where did that come from?
I was so spent I tried to jog in the finish area but it was too crowded. I grabbed a 500ml bottle and inhaled it. As I walked along I picked up my Harpoon pint glass and headed for the beer and the gathering area. I had a UFO.
I found Peter and we walked over to the food tent. We just walked in and loaded up. The place was empty, the food was okay. We went back to the main area and found the ladies.
Everyone finished un-injured and happy. The beer was cold, the sun was hot and the tunes were blasting. The ladies went to get their food and brought more food for Peter and I! We didn’t even ask.
We hung out for an hour or so and the crowd began to thin. It was hot and no one needed more beer, so we decided to head for home.
Goals, satisfaction and appreciation
My goal was top 1,000 and 40 minutes. My result was 500th over all and 36:48 net time! I crushed my goals by running a well executed race. It’s too soon to say that my track workouts have propelled me to these last two unexpected finishes. Something is going on.
It’s hard to say what I could have done better or differently. I think I’m good with this finish.
Many thanks to Erin for thinking of me when a member of her team had to drop out. I got to experience an amazing race performance that I otherwise would have missed. I got to hang out with friends and have a good time. Much gratitude to Erin.
Run well my friends,