Guest Blogger: Brandon Boucher
The familiar noise of my alarm wakes me up from a dead sleep. It’s 6 am on Saturday morning and in two hours I will be racing the Run for Shelter 10K benefiting the Carpenter Shelter in Alexandria, Virginia. The race start is not far so I take my time getting ready. I have a stash of Powerbar gels, sports beans and honey stinger waffles at my desk and a combination of the three is my usual morning snack before a race. I grab some juice and start to get ready. Out the door around 7 and on the way to the race site, find parking with enough time for my fiancée, Jessica, to get Starbucks and walk over to the start. The start of the race is on Eisenhower Ave, in front of the U.S. Patent and Trade office building. It’s only 7:30 am and I have plenty of time for a long warm up with some good stretching. Five minutes to 8 am, I begin to make my way to the starting line. Somehow, I was able to line up at the very front. The race director gives us our final instructions and prepares us for the start. “Runners set,” and then what was supposed to be a horn (it failed), became a muffled squelch. The race director used his megaphone and yelled “GO.” We were off.
I start my GPS watch as I cross the starting line and begin to get up to speed. Despite starting at the front of the pack I was quickly getting passed by faster runners, many of whom were doing the 5K. I check my watch to see my pace; I don’t want to go out too fast and burn out. Every so often my watch decides it’s time to have a hiccup and the screen locks. Of course, it never does this on training runs, only races. Low and behold, the screen isn’t working. I quickly turn it off and turn it back on and wait for it to pick up a satellite signal and start again. I check my pace and it says I’m holding a 7min/mile; perfect, right where I want to be. I have run plenty of times on Eisenhower Avenue for training so I am familiar with the course. We hit the first little hill—the bridge that goes over Telegraph Road. After that, its pan flat for the rest of the course. I pass the water station at 1.5mile and grab some water and keep my pace. There are actually a lot of spectators at Cameron Run Park, after the race I figured out that they were all volunteers at the Carpenter Shelter that came to support the race. At the 3 mile mark I start to see the leaders, who are running around a 5min pace. I start to count them as they pass. As I hit the turnaround, I get passed. “Dang it.” I’m in 21st overall. At this point I check my GPS watch to see my pace. The screen locked up again. I consider leaving it on the side of the road, but again, reset it to start again. At this point the information that it can give me is useless. I have to rely on course markings for distance. As I fumble with my watch, I get passed again. “Blast it!!” I think to myself. There is a slight head wind on the way back to the finish. I fall in right behind the runner in front of me and keep pace with him. At mile 4.5 we come back to the water station. I try to grab one of the cups of water, but the woman handing it to me does something weird with her hands and I end knocking both cups out of her hands. Oops. Oh well, I grab another and press on. During the fiasco at the water station, I had passed the runner that I was following behind. I can hear him keeping up with me. I check my watch and my average, for the past mile and a half is right at 7min/mile. At this point I don’t want to be passed again so I slowly start to increase my speed. We come over the last hill, over the bridge above Telegraph Road. Not far now. I refuse to look behind me to see how far back the runner is, I don’t want to know. He’s back there and the finish is close. That’s all that matters. It’s a long, really long, straight shot to the finish, and it’s slowly getting closer. It’s all I see; I have complete tunnel vision, and it’s all I’m focusing on. I cross the line at 43:20, and look back down the race course. The other runner is 20 seconds behind me. In a mile and half, I put 20 seconds on the other runner. I can live with that.
As I start to look for Jessica, I hear her calling me. She asks “did you see me?” I replied, “nope, I saw the finish and that’s about it, everything else is black and blurry.” She was able to grab a couple of photos and I have up loaded them to my Facebook page. The results would show that I finished at 43:20 with a 6:59min/mile, breaking the record I set last week at the Veterans Day 10K. Woot! I can’t hang around the race finish because I have to work. So we walk to the car and go about our day.
Later that night, I was unpacking my bag and found my race number. I am saving my race numbers on a small towel that hangs off my desk. As I’m safety pinning my number to the towel, I notice that my number is 505. “Odd” I think, “Why does that sound familiar…..OHHHH!” 505 is the area code for New Mexico, where I am from. Kind of cool I guess.