An odd-distance race: the 5.5 mile Montague Mug Race starts in Montague, a town I mostly know because of the Bookmill where I’ve spent too many Sunday afternoons, and runs around the countryside to then turn back towards the town center.
It’s a fun, local race I have to run as it is part of the SMAC Series and I need to maintain my second position in the men’s standings: it’s pretty darn important!

credits: xkcd


At the start, I felt the urge of rushing out: it’s hard to resist the strong temptation, the sudden emptiness created by the gun pressures to run a bit too fast. Aaron took the lead with a couple of other guys, followed John and Marc, who looked pretty good for someone who just two weeks ago qualified for Boston running an impressive 3:04 in San Francisco: I followed at a distance knowing too well I can’t keep up with those guys. John H passed me half a mile in, I tried to follow but I couldn’t.
I passed the first mile in 6:20 (or something, the guy was whispering the splits) and then switched to a slower gear for the rolling hills: from the map, or probably for having run Bridge of Flowers last week, I thought the hills were longer and steeper. They weren’t easy, but it wasn’t the continuous steep uphill I thought it would be, rather a much better rolling ground. I got at mile 2 in 13:10, slower than the first mile but it was too fast anyway.
It was then the first time I heard the runners closing to me. I thought it was Ashley, turned around quickly and it was a woman I didn’t know, but it was in that moment, somewhere between mile 2 and mile 3 that I thought: “No way I will be passed by the first woman!” It’s not very chivalrous but it’s a good motivation and it kept me focus on the next 3 miles. Mile 3 passed around slightly below 20:00 and mile 4 somewhere around 27 … I don’t quite remember those splits: I forgot my watch and I was running blind! But I do remember mile 5 which came in 34:00 — slightly faster than a 7 minutes a mile, precisely my goal pace.
I focused on the 800m to the finish line fearing runners would sneak behind me in the last stretch: 37:01, 6:44 a mile — “I love it when a plan comes together.”

And I did finish before the women! (Chivalry is dead anyway …)