I ran the CVS Downtown 5K (known, in past years, as the Harvard-Pilgrim Health 5K -- and then, after the sponsoring HMO went bankrupt, briefly as the Providence Downtown 5k until they brought the CVS Pharmacy chain on as corporate sponsor). [Uh, everybody knows that 5k is five kilometers which equals three point one miles, right?]
I've wanted to run in this race since I moved to Rhode Island. (In fact, this used to be an October race and I think the 1995 race was in the sports pages right around when I moved to here.) One thing or another always kept me from running it, but this year I was determined that I was going to enter. Nancy was going to enter also, but she was going to walk the women's 5k. Most 5k races seem to run men and women at the same time, although with separate scoring and awards for male and female top finishers. The Downtown 5k ran two races (for adults, that is; there had been a number of sprints for kids earlier). Given the large number of participants (more than seven hundred women and almost a thousand men) it probably made for a better race to have them separated, less crowding, less confusion. (It took me almost 18 seconds of shuffling along after the official start before I reached the starting line.) As it turned out, when it came time to drive up to Providence Nancy decided that she had just too much work (grading papers, making lesson plans, etc.) to spare the time to drive to Providence, take part in her 5k and then wait for the men's 5k, etc... probably would have taken a minimum of four (possibly five) hours out of her day. So I went up alone (but I did pick up her race t-shirt).
It was a beautiful blue sky day, nice and sunny but not too hot, probably in mid to upper sixties. Downtown Providence was quite crowded... 1700 runners plus spouses and children and race voluteers and radio stations doing promotions and rock bands playing and people who just came to watch. (No, not the entire downtown area, but certainly the area around Kennedy Plaza, Waterplace Park, etc. had a lot of people.) The competition (both men's and women's) was dominated by runners from Kenya.
Of the top twenty male finishers, there were two Americans, one Morrocan and one Ethiopian, the rest were all from Kenya. And look at those times! Awesome. Even the seventh place runner did it in fourteen minutes flat.
Me? Uh... I was a little further back. Okay, my official time was 25:49 (662nd place) but based on the stopwatch function on my watch (which I set when I actually got to pass the start line) I ran it in 25:30 -- which is about an 8:12 per mile pace -- so I am quite pleased. If I keep up with training this fall and do a little more speed work I think could get my pace down to eight minutes per mile. That would be a nice target to shoot for in October, to try to run a 5k in 24:52 or better. I started off slowly in this race (no choice about it given the number of runners) but after a minute or so I was beginning to be able to run the kind of pace I wanted. We ran around downtown a bit and then crossed the river and ran around the RISD campus (uh, that's Rhode Island School of Design) a noted art school, an uban campus, not acres of green, but very pleasant nevertheless, fits in very nicely with Providence. There are a lot of seedy areas in Providence, but other parts (like downtown and the RISD/Brown areas) are every bit as attractive as it looks in the background shots on that silly Providence weekly tv soap opera. There was a rock band playing in the middle of RISD, the third rock band we passed during our race. Then we crossed over the river again and came around to the finish by Kennedy Plaza. I did pick up my pace a little during the last block or two but never tried to really kick it home. Fifteen years ago I would have gone all out in a charge to the finish. Back then my attitude was I don't care if it hurts, I want to shave every possible second off my time; now my attitude is that although I'd like to have a fast race it's more important to have fun and avoid getting hurt.
I really enjoyed myself... had fun and got some exercise.
And that's it for today's sports report.