The fact that today’s run was a shorts-and-one-shirt affair at a ludicrous fifty-six degrees in a New England January was notable enough, considering the contrast to yesterday’s thirty-five degrees. But it was entirely absurd compared to only one day prior, when there was a complete lack of degrees. Yes, zero to fifty-six in two days (which oddly is about equivalent to the typical acceleration of my Prius), and we’re going back down close to zero again tomorrow night. I was thinking of that old tune Red Rubber Ball by Cyrkle (seriously, who remembered that band’s name?), trying to come up with an image of something bouncing wildly, until I listened to it again and remembered it’s mostly about recovering from heartbreak. So let’s just stick with a yo-yo.
All of this pales, of course, to what our friends are experiencing in Minnesota, you betcha’, but whatever… Even for them, that's different. (No, not the best interweaving of Minnesotan-speak, but I tried…) I’d say my heart goes out to them, but if it did, it would freeze solid before it reached them. I’ll concede that twenty-below is a good excuse to use the hamster cage.
The yo-yo lens of ups and downs is apt for the tale of a race that frankly has few of them (that being, it's mostly flat save one small hill at the end). For the sixth New Year’s Day of the nine New Year’s Days I’ve been running, I dropped in on my old neighborhood, or at least a mile or so up the road from my old neighborhood, for the Freezer Five. It’s notorious for its in-your-face west wind on the outbound leg that never seems to come back to help on the return trip (no exception this time), and occasionally for its wild weather (this year’s was cold but otherwise well-behaved), but it’s always good for a decent dozen-plus solid competitors among the three-hundred or so brave souls, and a great spread including – yes – donuts afterward to toast in the calendar rollover.
This being my first foray into the world of racing since Boston – yes eight and a half months! – I wasn’t expecting much. Having put in my first run with anything approaching speed only two nights earlier at the pub run, all I really hoped for was to hit that night’s three-mile pace and hold it for five. Baby steps. This was, after all, the first attempt at an up after an exceptionally long down.
Cutting to the spoiler, it was good that I didn’t have high expectations, because no magic appeared. The best assessment would be to say that my expectations were in order. It was an up, but only a slight up. I hit that target pace – ducking under by a whopping two seconds per mile – but there was no engineering involved to end up there, nor was the process pretty. The irony was that being fifty for the first time at this race, this slightly anemic run – in fact the slowest of my six Freezers and almost my slowest five-miler race ever – was still enough to snag the fifties division win as well as the fifties division club five-miler record. That too was an up, but the down was the clear message of how far I’ve got to go, with Hyannis, Boston, and some March event yet to be decided looming soon.
Of course, I could never really keep that yo-yo going when I was a kid. Bad metaphor, I suppose.
Shocker Department: Those of you who know me and don’t already know this may be shocked to know that I’ve finally gone and done it. As of New Year’s Eve, yes, I’m on Facebook. Scary, I know. What’s the world coming to and all that. But it’s true. Relish it.