Sunday, September 30, 2012

On the Road...Again- Jack Kerouac 5k race report

For the 2nd straight year, I decided to run in the Jack Kerouac 5k in my hometown…the Big City…DTL…the Mill City…Lowell, MA! 

It was an exciting day scattered with some showers and a few race faux pas by yours truly.  I thought the weather would clear up by racetime but the light rain would be constant all race.  Editor’s note-now that I’m home watching football, it has turned into a beautiful fall day with plenty of sunshine and colorful foliage is lighting up all over the place!

The first negative sign of the day was at registration when I got the bad news that no more race shirts were available.  I’m all about the race gear and getting denied some race bling was not cool!  Things started looking up when I bumped into a couple of old friends while stretching out. Jeff and Becky are a couple I got to know after working with Jeff’s brother for about a decade. They have two children the same age as my own and our oldest both went to preschool together.

After saying hello, we all made our way to the start line and as usual, I queued up my ‘80’s tunes. Because it was a bit cool, I made the gametime decision to run with a long sleeve tee. This would be an irritation all race long. Another minor pain was noticing that one of my earphones lost their bubble piece thingy that helped them stay in my ear. Oh well….

                                                          Pic from the 2011 Kerouac race website-i'm the green guy!
At the start, it became clear that this would be no ordinary 5k. There were about 1000 numbered runners! Last year, there were about 150! It seemed that every racing club in the state had a crew racing! With 1000 people at the start, one unfortunate driver tried to make her way through the entire field waiting for the gun. There were some light moments from the would-be run rioters,joking about tipping the car and I found that runners jokes weren’t too funny- I fit right in!!!!

Once the gun went off, I got off to a decent start. Crossing the Merrimack River and to mile one in about 7 minutes. This was one of the funniest parts of the day.  At the one mile mark, there was a gigantic sign with the race time on it. You couldn’t miss it! Right in front of the clock, a race volunteer was yelling out the time: second-by-second. Being a wise guy, I had to yell on the way by “hey buddy, turn around!” This  produced a few chuckles from the handful of runners around me and we kept trekking away. As I mentioned in previous blog entries, I believe racers are way to quiet on the course. Whether it is in triathlons or 5k’s, we need to talk it up people! Have some fun out there and take your minds off the pain!

The long straight away in this race was parallel to the mile of mills in the city and provided for some great sights along the run. I am, of course, a little biased being from the city but this race brought you through all the mills and historic areas of the city. Good times.

                                                  Another '11 race pic. Today was wetter!
Over the last mile, I picked up the pace by the Lowell Auditorium at a nice downhill stretch and was moving quickly over the cobblestoned streets of DownTown Lowell (DTL). The last half mile brought us by City Hall and the Tsongas Arena before running parallel along the Suffolk Canal to the eventual finish at the Lowell Beer Works.

My final time was about my average: 23:37. I was happy about a couple of things: 1-I hadn’t run since my triathlon 1 week earlier so under 24minutes was nice. 2- I had checked my time from last year’s Kerouac race(different course) and it was 24:17 so some improvement.  I still feel like I have lots of room for improvement if I can ever get serious about my run training…
Where else in the world do you find two graves in front of City Hall???? No- we aren't crazy here...they are two of the first victims of the Civil War...
The race organizers did a great job of putting together some food and snack options at the finish line. They also had a PA guy giving shout-outs so props for that.

After the race, I caught up with Jeff and Becky. We had some sociables in the Beer Works with some of their friends and we were able to catch up on lost time while watching the Pats on the big-big screen.

All-in-all, it was a quality race with the biggest sized field I have been a part of. The next biggest field that I’ve raced in was about 500. The weather was a drizzle but nice to run in. The layout of the course was probably the most scenic that could be offered in the Mill City. This race definitely fit into my requirements of taking part in races of either great scenery or great post-parties! I give this run a thumbs up for both of these categories.

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