The Feaster Five is a 5K/5M race hosted annually by the Merrimack Valley YMCA and MV Striders in Andover, MA on Thanksgiving Day. This year I decided I would run the 5 miler with 10,000 of my closest friends. I had run the 5K distance last year as my first road race, so logically I thought that I should give five miles a try. Well, logic, you got me on that one. It was going to be a “measly” five miles for all those experienced runners out there, but it was the longest distance run in a race for me, and I was definitely not looking forward to it.
I felt a tiny twinge of regret as soon as I pressed the submit button on my registration form, and it never seemed to go away. I had only gotten back a few weeks ago from a long vacation that involved little to no running, and I’d only run twice in the three weeks between when I got back and race day. To say that I was feeling under-prepared was an understatement.
A couple of days before race day, I stumbled upon the race route online that somewhat set my nerves at ease. There would be a light at the end of the tunnel… the tunnel also known as the longest low-grade hill ever, the same hill that almost killed me before I had even started my first race last year. I remember it well.
If I could make it up the first hill (alive), then the hardest part of the run would be over. It was too bad the hill lasted about a mile. I could already tell that this run was going to be a challenge in every aspect.
On Thanksgiving, the day had finally come to run the race that I had been dreading for the last two months. It was time to don the tights and long sleeve shirts and get out there to face the music (and the cold). As soon as we left the house, the strangest thing happened. We started our half mile warm-up from my parent’s house to the start line, and as soon as we got into a slow jog, my nerves were gone. I guess the combination of slow jogging plus not caring much about the results did wonders for me. I may be on to something…
I had made plans to meet up with Tracey of Stride & Joy fame and run this race together. Given her recent IT band issues and my lack of enthusiasm for my first 5 miler, we thought it might be a good idea to be there for one another in case one of us a) hurt ourselves or b) wanted to give up all together. Besides, it’s so much more fun when you have a friend by your side, and running with Tracey really is fun especially when we both curse so much whilst running.
Our game plan for this run was simple: Don’t worry too much about speed, and please please please don’t die/hurt yourself/anything of the like. Sounded do-able.
We started off slow and steady, which is really the only way to start at the Feaster Five due to the sheer number of people at the event. This is when you get to practice and perfect your human weaving technique, up a huge hill none the less. I remember last year I was ready to cark it about a quarter the way up that hill, but Tracey and I trudged through it and made it to the top without stopping. Victory!The first couple of miles were slow, maybe a little more than I had wanted, but we needed to pace ourselves to prevent injury so slow was the way to go. We would make up some time once the uphills were over. We even chatted a little along the way, which is an anomaly for me since I rarely have time to breath and talk at the same time while running. (Ask Rich. I get angry at him when he tries.)
The next two miles unexpectedly flew by as we kept ourselves entertained with the occasional chit-chat and various musical numbers along the race route. We were getting faster by the minute, and we still hadn’t stopped at this point. Crazy. Just after the 5M and 5K course route joined, Tracey gave me the heads up that we had hit mile 4 and that it was time to kick it up a couple notch. Well, as high a notch as we could kick it without our lungs collapsing. I knew today was going to be the day I conquered those negative splits I’d been working on (and failing at) for the last six months.
It wasn’t till the end that I had some doubt that I wouldn’t finish strong. There was another pesky hill at the end, right where it hurts the most, and I did think for a moment… just a second… that maybe I would just walk the rest of the way. Well, I didn’t. I just let my lungs set on fire and sprinted to the finish, where our respective husbands were waiting for us with water and pies in tow.
It was a great race. It wasn’t my fastest, but it was my furthest. My goal was to finish under 55:00, and I met that by the skin of my teeth. It was the perfect end to a great race season, and it was just the thing I needed to get the runner’s high back again.
The event: Feaster Five
The location: Andover, MA
The date: November 22, 2012
My time: 54:49 (11.02 pace)
The cause: Merrimack Valley YMCA, Ironstone Farm, MV Striders
The swag: White, long-sleeved tech-tee
The grub: Bananas, potato chips, granola bars, apple pie