As I was walking towards my car, I felt the cold weather and looked up to the early morning grey sky. “I love this weather,” I thought. The partying undergrads still asleep in alcohol-induced doze, parents probably awakened by their children’s horseplay: I wonder how people could miss racing on such a beautiful Saturday morning.

The race was starting at 9:30 and I planned to get up to Greenfield at least an hour earlier. At the Greenfield Swimming Area, I quickly got the race-tag and met up with few running buddies; Marc was there and so was Patrick — as of today, I am between Marc and Patrick in the SMAC Series. “Let’s warm up,” Marc said, and the three of us and Ashley took off for a quick and easy 2 mile warm-up. The race is flat or as flat as a race can possibly be in Western Mass, winding around Greenfield, just a mile south of Green River Rd, place of many Sunday long runs.

Training has been erratic, and that greatly underestimates it. In September, I averaged a puny 10 mile a week. I know I can finish 5 miles but certainly not very quickly: the plan was to run shy of a 7 minutes a mile and pick up at mile 3. At the gun, hell with the plan, let’s run. I know, not very smart of me.

An average of 6:45 a mile for 5 miles is well within my possibilities, but truly not the 6:20 I clocked as I passed the first mile marker. (But there was this guy I knew I was faster … damn you, competitiveness!) In fact, no surprises, I slowed to a 6:30~6:40 pace for the next 3 miles. Marc, who’s a much smarter runner than I, started at an easier pace and reached me after mile 2. I ran alongside him for a little, chatting through my teeth about the competition or the race; I was curious to know if Ashley was keeping up with Kelsey. At Marc’s remark I quickly glanced back and they were just behind me, neck to neck. As we reached the overpass, Marc and Kelsey took off, I ran next to Ashley cheering each other: Good job!, Keep it up. (Queen’s We are the champion stuck in my head at that point and left me 24 hours later.) Turning back, merging into the walking path, I thought I saw Marc slowing down, his bright yellow singlet seemingly within reach. I tried to bridge the gap during the last mile. The finish line came up quickly, Marc passed it 10 seconds ahead of me and I clocked a nice 32:31 — honestly unexpected given the poor training of late. (Later that day, Marc told me he wasn’t slowing down, rather the opposite …)

As I taxed my legs a bit too much, I took Sunday off running and went for a couple of hours climbing at the local gym. Nothing like cramping shoes to relax after a good run.