Manchester Road Race Report--A "Fantasy" Race
I'm actually a little embarrassed about it, but I had a "fantasy day" race at Manchester on Thanksgiving Day, running 30:47 and winning my age-group, the 60+ division. Before the race, I had been expecting something in the mid-31:00s and had said that anything under 31:00 would amount to a fantasy race. I'm chagrined about my effort, because I think I ought to be able to come closer to predicting my times. And when I run something faster than predicted, I feel that I sandbagged a little. In this case, however, I'll take the result; it was certainly hard earned.
After popping a couple of caffeine pills 40 minutes before the start, I went out in 6:00 flat for the mile. Too fast. My 27-yr-old nephew Jeff went around me at the 800, noting, "Either I'm running too slow or you're running too fast." It was the latter. After the mile, I basically suffered all the way to the finish, but apparently I managed to hold together reasonably well.
I've been thinking about winning an age-group award at Manchester for a long, long time. When I was a high schooler in CT, I won the high school division at Manchester, and I won the open division a bunch of times, but I never came remotely close to winning an age-group award. My friend Ray Crothers did achieve the one-race Triple Crown at Manchester, winning in the high school, open, and masters divisions. My victory Thursday in the 60+ division wasn't the equivalent of winning a 40+ masters title, which Ray did, but I'm going to consider it my own little mini Triple Crown just the same.
Don't get the wrong impression. I didn't do anything very special. The Manchester course record for 60+ is the 27:58 that Joe Fernandez ran in 1991. My time was almost 3 minutes slower. Fernandez came back 8 years later in 1999, when he was apparently 70, and set the record for 70+ at Manchester with an amazing 31:44. When you look at the top level of age-group records, you can only shake your head in astonishment.
I'll never be as fast as Fernandez and many others, but at least I can hope to keep on keeping on. I've run 44 Manchesters in a row now, so I'm still inching my way along to the 50-straight mark. That's how many Charlie "Doc" Robbins ran consecutively before he retired from racing. Speaking of Doc, we had a great "Barefoot Warmup" in his honor at Manchester, despite the cold, wet roads. And his daughter Barrie finished third in her 60+ age-group. Here's a link to the Hartford Courant story about the Warmup.