Sunday, July 26, 2009

07/25: New Milford Eight-Mile Road Race

I screwed up the goddamn alarm again. (Digression: Bruce Springsteen used to say that his dad was always bitching about his goddamn guitar, his goddamn stereo, his goddamn records. He said that his dad apparently thought everything in his room came from the same company.) The sad thing is, it made no difference - I am now a person capable of waking up his ownself at 6:13 in the morning. I think they call those people adults.

The silver lining in this cloud of burgeoning maturity was that I did not oversleep the New Milford Eight-Mile Road Race, which the organizers claim is the third-oldest, or maybe it was the third longest-running, race in Connecticut. I'm guessing the Manchester Thanksgiving day race (good guess!) and the Tarzan Brown Road Race (bad guess!) are older. Since this race is 42 years old, so am I. Older, that is. Not 42.

New Milford is in far west Connecticut, maybe seven miles from New York, and maybe twenty miles north of Danbury and while I don't know much about the topography of Connecticut, I know enough to expect hills in this neighborhood. In that, I was correct. I also know that the southern border of the state is at sea level - "an almost entirely notional concept," according to Bill Bryson - but that's hardly relevant. Talking to some dudes before the race, they said the hills start halfway through the second mile with a killer, then give way to rolling hills until about halfway through mile seven, when we'd have to run up the meanest, ugliest, toughest, cussingest hill in the western hemisphere or turn around and go back the way we came. In which case we wouldn't be included in the results. The last mile was all downhill, maybe a little too downhill, to the finish. One guy said he ran the course earlier in the week and that's why he opted for to run the 5K. I found their course description more accurate the further into the race we got - they neglected to mention how much downhill there was in the first mile and a half and when the uphill did start, it was with a little half-mile roller coaster. The tough hill was basically mile three and it was disturbingly reminiscent of the tough early hill at Pictured Rocks, except I didn't feel totally spent at the top and I ran that mile in 8:33, so I guess it wasn't that bad. Or I was unusually pathetic in Michigan, either way. After that we got back on the roller coaster, at least until mile six.

Mile six started out nondescript, then we started going uphill just past the 10K marker, which incidentally I don't recall seeing a 5K marker. I thought if this is the Mongo hill they were talking about, they set a world record for exaggeration - a bit of hubris that caught up to me and bit me in the ass when, at about 6.5 miles, we turned a corner and shifted from running to mountain-climbing. I took one look at Little K2 and folded my hand. It was a nice day for a stroll by then, after all. I still had enough energy to run downhill the last mile, into the final results.

Immediately after the race, I sprinted - using the term loosely - back to my car. I was parked in a three-hour zone and what with climbing the Connecticut Himalayas, I was worried I wouldn't get back in time. No sweat - I made it with seconds to spare.

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