This year, I seem to be running the same races I did last year as a novice runner. (In truth, my main criteria for a race is that it starts and ends in Davis Square, which automatically limits my options. ) So that makes this my second time doing the M.O.M.’s Run.
Coming off of the alcohol-fueled insanity of the Ras na hEireann in March, the M.O.M’s Run is a welcome change of pace. The field is significantly smaller, it’s more of a family affair (duh, it takes place on Mother’s Day) and since it has a walkers’ portion, there is also a greater diversity of ability on hand. It’s a race for everyone. On top of everything, it’s for a good cause, inspired by longtime Somerville resident Mary O’Brien, who died of breast cancer in 2002 and proceeds benefiting breast cancer research.
There are a lot of nice things about the race. The race has a ton of sponsors who donate food and drink, so runners have plenty of snacks and water pre- and post-race (and I don’t mean just granola bars — Redbones donated pulls pork, Dunkin’ Donuts brings in boxes of sweet treats, pizza is on hand, yogurt and bananas for the more health-minded… a crazy spread). It’s also headquartered at the Dilboy VFW, which I have a strong affinity for since co-hosting a dance party there a year and a half ago. All in all, it’s a very Somerville race, which is something I can’t say for the Ras or the Jingle Bell Run, which though organized by the Somerville Striders usually end up feeling like a bunch of rowdy out-of-towners are loitering on my lawn.
I ran this year with my friend Chris, who is at a much higher level than I am but is relatively new to racing (not that I am some old pro, but hey). The course is different than the other three Davis Square races I have participated in, all of which use the same course. This one heads way out east before looping back, and it is pretty hilly. Last year, I ran a 37:55, which marked a 3+ minute improvement from the 41:18 I logged in my first 5K ever 2 months previously, though there was a lot of walking going on. I’ve been doing well on my runs — on Wednesday, I ran a continuous 5.5 miles! — though I don’t do a lot of hills, nor do I do a lot of speed work. I was quite curious to see how this race would shape up.
It did not feel easy. The first mile was, well, a first mile — it’s always an effort to get going. But the second mile was absolutely terrible. My legs felt like they were made of lead, the sun and warmth had done a number on me before I made the turn to head back west and the hills were a big challenge. On top of all this, it was windy — 30mph+ gusts! — and my hat blew off twice (luckily, some friendly runners were nice enough to pick it up for me both times).
I did not feel good about how I was doing. I convinced myself I was the pulling up the rear, but was too scared to look behind me and check. I tortured myself with the idea of shifting down to a walk. A bit after the second mile marker, though, as the race began its downhill descent toward the finish line, I got a second wind and was able to make up for some of my sluggishness between miles 1 and 2. As I approached the finish line, I was surprised to see I still had a chance to beat the 35:49 PR I logged at the Ras in March. And I did — by about 14 seconds 🙂
Chris beat me by about 45 minutes, because he’s awesome, and together we indulged in some free food. A half-banana, some macaroni salad, scrambled eggs and a donut — the breakfast of champions. And afterwards, for dessert, we played some catch! (It’s already time to get the old arm ready for softball.)
My only complaint is with the people who brought their jogging strollers. Now, like I said, one of the things I like about this race is how it’s a family-oriented event, and I applaud the moms taking their kids along for the ride. 99 percent of the time, all is well. But at one point, I felt something bump against the back of my ankles — it was the front wheel of one of those jogging strollers! I looked back, and the mom didn’t seem too penitent, and she soon passed me. But that really grated my cheese. What if I had fallen? If you’re going to run in a crowd with those things, watch where your front wheel is. If you can’t, don’t bring it to the race.
The more appalling stroller incident, however, was in the last downhill leg of the race. There was a man who was running with a jogging stroller for two. At one point, he releases his hands from the stroller — to do what, I have no idea — for five or so seconds, letting the stroller barrel on down the hill. Sure, he was inches away, but what if the stroller pitched forward, veered off oddly, or somehow caught speed and escaped his grasp? Maybe, for those who run with jogging strollers, this is no big deal, but it certainly caught my eye.
Overall, though, it was an awesome experience. I’m already excited for the Somerville Homeless Coalition race, which combines some of a perks of the Ras (the thrill of a big crowd, a timing chip, a really cool long-sleeved tee) with a decidedly local feel and the knowledge that I am helping out a worthy cause. Last summer, I didn’t run at all, but this summer, it’s a whole new ballgame.