Sunday, August 14, 2011

Getting ready for Falmouth

It’s not often that something good comes from a bar bet, but the Falmouth Road Race I am running this morning is an exception to the rule.
The mastermind behind this race was a bartender and avid runner named Tommy Leonard. He decided it would be fun to run from the Captain Kidd bar in Woods Hole to the Brother’s Four bar in Falmouth Heights on the Cape of Massachusetts. The distance was roughly seven miles along the ocean with some rolling hills and flat roads ending on the streets of Falmouth. Ninety two runners 92 runners toed the line for the first race in 1972. It has since grown to 10,000 strong attracting every one from Olympic champions (Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers have run) to weekend warriors.
In the time I was living in Boston I always managed to work it into my racing schedule. I have run it many times. Looking back though, I have a love-hate relationship with this race and have decided it’s a bit like childbirth. You look forward to it, plan and prepare, but as race day approaches you start to wonder, “What was I thinking.” It’s not that the race is that bad or painful, it’s that August weather on the Cape can be unpredictable. It seems to be either hot and humid or cold with sideways rain and wind.
Most years, while I'm waiting to warm up I find myself sweating . . . and it's only 7 a.m. The residents along the course usually have their hoses and sprinklers on to douse the runners, but often the water is way too hot to provide any refreshment. There is a good size hill near the end of the race and a deceptively long stretch after that to the finish line. It makes you wonder if you will ever get there. The finish is under the largest American flag I have ever seen. But, just like childbirth, as soon as it’s over you forget you were in agony and want to do it all over again. I guess that's why the race sells out year after year.
The last time I ran this race was in 2007 as I was getting over a broken bone in my foot. I was not feeling great in the first place, but as I ran down the first steep hill in the opening mile I hyper-extended one of my toes. I was pretty sure I had broken something, but since it was a point to point race, I managed to finish. Apparently football players are not the only ones who get turf toe. Man, did that hurt. I couldn't walk for three weeks afterward.
Luckily, I am going into this race with no aches or pains and am excited to race. I did a long, hard workout last weekend and felt really good. Afterward my coach, Bob Sevene, said with a stern tone, “Now, let me tell you something.” I thought I was in trouble for running too fast, and was getting ready to defend myself when he said, “You’re in better shape than I thought you were.” Oh, I was pleasantly surprised because he has not said that before.

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