Sunday, August 12, 2007

Race Report: Falmouth

There are big races, like any one of the Rock 'N Roll marathons. There are small races taking place in any given town each week. And then there are the big small races, which is where the Falmouth Road Race fits in. My goal was to drink enough water, run the whole distance, keep a decent pace amongst the jockeying for space, and have fun. Using that as a measuring stick, all goals were accomplished.

The race is in its 35th year, and attracts an elite field as well as the rest of us schlubs. Thanks to P for standing on the sidelines and getting the following shots of the elites:

She got a few schlubs, too... And cheered me on at just the right time. Seeing her on the sideline around mile 5 provided more energy than a GU packet, for sure.
The course runs 7 miles, shifting between an oceanside and inland route. Before the gun went off, the requisite patriotic tunes were sung. In Falmouth, there a little extra special something when they sing "America the Beautiful," though, as the author was born in the town. Made me love New England a little more somehow.

The field was packed - 9,000 - 10,000 runners all headed the same way on a two lane road. It was generally 10 across at any given moment, so when I'd find myself between packs (is it just instinctual that people group together?) I'd shift the pace to try and stay there. Inevitably, though I'd want to push ahead and poke my way forward through the next group. I passed a lot of people, a lot of people passed me.

Miles 1-3 went fast, with rolling hills and a mix of sun and shade. Then the shade parts became fewer and far between, making the "this is fun!" part harder to remember... I considered talking a break at mile 5, but didn't want to lose momentum. Shade returned, and I regained my stride. By the time I got to mile 6 I was speeding up, and rather sad that it would soon be done. Mile 7 came too soon.

I saw more kids in this race than I anticipated. Pairs of siblings, parents and kids... Clearly this is a race that people choose as their one race a year, and the tradition is passed along in their family. One sign I saw along the way was cheering on over 6 family members.

Another sign on route simply read, "Good job, mom! Can we please keep our txt messaging?" Well done, kids.

I'd like to publicly thank all the local residents who pointed their garden hoses into the street, thus providing a brief respite from the heat. You'd know when one was coming as the entire field of runners would shift to one side of the street in the hopes of getting hit with a few drops. And thanks to the kids who made up their own water stations along the way. Far less congested than the official water stations (although thank heavens for those as well). All totaled I'd say I poured more water over my head than into my mouth. Hooray for the people who shared ice from their coolers with whomever needed a cube.

I can see why people come again and again to this race. Well organized, local feel, nice peeps, a mix of everyday Joe and world class runners. Falmouth, I'll see you next year!

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