(Via SI)

Doug Flutie is a bit of a celebrity around here.

Aside from that legendary Hail Mary pass, a Heisman trophy and a spectacular career in the NFL, one of Doug Flutie’s most important legacies has been his work through the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation, focused on raising money and awareness for autism. For my third race this season/ever, I decided to run in the 13th Annual Eastern Bank Flutie 5K to benefit the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism. Here’s my recap:

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Race Day

When I woke up Sunday morning, it was raining, cold, and I felt miserable. My arm and elbow hurt from an hour of handstand practice on Saturday, I had the sniffles, and my thumb was tingling because I had jammed it. I was planning on heading to the race alone, but my lack of planning had made me an anxious wreck. I nearly had a meltdown because I was too tired to make coffee and we were out of bananas.

And this is when a very kind Devon came to my rescue and drove me to the race. I wouldn’t have made it without him.

When we got there I found a banana, and things began to turn around!

{In the background, check out the modernist architecture of the Leonard Morse Hospital. Wet concrete makes this former architecture major giddy! Designed by Marcus, Nocka, and Payette in the late ’60s, this was actually at the cutting edge of high-tech hospital planning when it was designed. It was particularly progressive in its huge windows, generous daylight, and lush wooded environment. Also, carpeting. Not so sure about that one.}

We were early enough to tour around the little expo tents. Wegmans was a lead sponsor, which I was excited about. I was less excited when their main booth was giving out Doritos and Sunchips, and the “lunch provided post race” ended up being roll-up wraps. They did have a little gluten free section set up though, and had provided me with my savior banana, so I was much appreciative!

While I ate my banana, I went over to stare at the free Dunkin Donuts. They were giving out both donuts, including my second favorite chocolate glazed (my favorite being butternut), and pumpkin mocha spice lattes. I wish that they had brought regular coffee, but I can appreciate that most folks quite enjoy their seasonal offerings. Alas, staring was all that I did.

Another vendor I was happy to see was Crescent Ridge, a dairy in Sharon, MA, serving up some cold chocolate milk, along with some literature about chocolate milk as a post workout drink. For folks who can consume dairy, and don’t mind the sugar hit, this stuff is delicious. I seriously contemplated taking a sample. And then remembered that a) I haven’t consumed dairy in over a month, and b) I was about to run a race. Plus, while their chocolate milk is delicious, it isn’t as good as the crack that is their seasonal egg nog. I backed off wistfully and wisely.

5-Hour Energy also had a booth, and people were downing these like dope at the Tour de France. (Too soon?) Now, I’m not one to judge, but… these drinks are not for me. After the race Devon had mentioned that a very small child had run up to the table and grabbed one of these cute pink bottles before being loudly reprimanded by her father: “Don’t you ever put that stuff in your body!!!” Teach ’em young.

Perhaps a better option was the Vita Coco – although I may be one of the only people in the world who doesn’t like coconut water.

Before heading over to the starting line, we watched the STRIVERS Running Club for Girls go through their warm-up. Clearly this worked, because a bunch of these speedy demons surged past me during the race. Seeing these girls thrilled to participate was one of the highlights of this race.

Finally, I headed over to the line-up. Having lined up too far back during my last race, and being nearly run over by jogging strollers, I decided to seed myself more wisely this time, and shuffled closer to the front.

There were still plenty of people in front of me at the starting line, including Joe, from the gym, who came in at a speedy 19:47!

As we waited in the cold, my friend Bets lined up next to me! It was so good to see a familiar face!

Although not so good when she mentioned that the “rolling course” I had briefly glanced at when I signed up was actually full particularly unpleasant hills… It was at that point that my goal went from “maybe I can do better than last time” to… “Oh dear lord, I hope I can do this without dying.”

After a false start which was a ploy to take a photograph, the crowd started moving and off we went!

Here’s my race on Runkeeper:

Mile 1. 10:14/pace: Almost as soon as we started, the rain started coming down. I ran near Bets for the first 3/4 of a mile past rolling green fields and farms, until we hit the first big hill coming around a corner. I had been running at a good clip – between 9:00 and 9:30, but hitting the big hill I literally had to slow down to an unplanned walk.

Mile 2. 9:55/pace: Hoping to make up time in the second mile, I skipped the water break, and ran a little faster, taking a single walk break to get myself up another little hill.

Mile 3. 10:38/pace: By mile three I was sick of the rain, and ready to be done with this already. I had assumed, at this point, that I wasn’t going to make my goal. And then I saw kids passing out oranges – I grabbed one and it was like a little miracle! And then I saw more kids, hands outstretched, and decided to run over to give them all high fives. For my slowest mile of the race, this ended up being the most enjoyable.

The last .1: Like my previous 5k, this race ended on a not so gentle ascent. As I turned the corner into the last .1 mile, I decided to gun it with what I had in me. The second the clock came into view, I saw that I could make it if I ran fast. In a split second, the race went from kind of sucky, to wait, I can do this! I’m doing this! Yes, yes! I’m doing this!

I set my eyes on the clock, knowing that if I beat 32:14, I’d PR.

And boy was it close. Sprinting up the hill, I glanced at the clock and I saw 32:03.

And then I was through, they handed me a water, and I gave a high five to folks from my gym…

Before walking off to avoid puking 🙂

The Result: 31:58 – 529th place, 43/89 in my age group (F 20-29).

Yep, beat my time 16 seconds on a much harder race course!

Never have I been more excited to be middle of the pack!

After I finished, I found my friends to watch more of the race, saw Doug Flutie run to the finish line with his wife (after running a respectable 25:25 himself), and nearly lost my voice cheering for all of the kids running to the finish line.

Here I am, after the race:

Can’t wait for the next one! 

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