I found out I was anemic in the spring, when I got deferred for low iron while trying to give blood – and my iron levels dropped between two attempts. I had thought I was just getting slower with age, but taking iron and B12 turned that around! I started supplements at the very end of April and by October I was back to normal. So my times got better and I even set a half marathon PR.
Holyoke St. Patrick’s Road Race 10K – March 19
1:13:03, pace 11:45 (USATF-certified) – last run in 2015, 1:08:54. This race is always a mob scene; not one I’d do every year. But lots of spectators which is fun! Borderline rainy off and on. I caught part of the Mummers and the Grand Colleen’s Court. I ran with a balloon tied to my arm, now a tradition for me on this race, but I don’t think anyone called me “balloon girl” this time. I saw an adorable big dog in a huge cableknit sweater but couldn’t get a photo in time.
Read, Write, Run 5k – May 1
34:35, pace 11:08. A nice small community run at Maines Field, just a bike ride away, that I’ve run several times now (30:55 in 2019). I trailed everyone except an elderly couple who were walking, then passed a couple of young people who had given up. And I won my age category, because the field was so small! The prize was a really nice Literacy Project mug and a $25 gift certificate from Marathon Sports. I didn’t believe it when they called my name, and waited until the results were posted to absorb it.
Bridge of Flowers Classic 8K – August 13
58:28, pace 11:45 (used to be USATF certified, not sure if it is after the reboot?). Last run in 2019, 56:27. This is a very tough race because it’s usually hot and it has a crazy 13% hill. But this year they also timed the uphill mile, where my pace was 14:47 but I was 194 out of 258 instead of 215! This was a “full race reboot” where lots of things changed, including having the afterparty at the school where parking and registration happen. I loved that those of us over 21 got beer AND ice cream (it used to be ice cream only for the under-21s), but I still miss the (local) Lightlife veggie hot dogs. No bagpipes or vuvuzela, but the house near the finish line that plays “Chariots of Fire” on a loop was still going strong.
Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield 5k – September 10
Here’s when I started getting faster! 29:50, pace 9:36 – but a new course this year which I don’t think is certified, so it might be short. (I may have run this race before on the old course, but I’m not sure – I did a bunch of Westfield races for their 350th anniversary and they all blend together.) I really pushed myself and came in first in my age group (!!!), but it was a very small field so no division awards. On the turn I passed a runner I had noticed at the start and trailed. After she finished, she told me I’d run “a blazing race” and asked me how old I was – she was 65 so she was still first in her group and we were both happy! Food included breakfast sandwiches, a nice treat.
Superhero Run 5K – October 2
29:40 – theoretical pace 9:33 but I think the course is short. In 2018 I finished in 30:42. This is one of my favorite small races, in walking distance from our apartment – a fundraiser for the Cutchins Center that encourages costumes. I have a cheap nylon Superman cape that was a freebie from Six Flags, and weirdly I get compliments on it. They even had cider donuts, and Kelsey Flynn was the MC – no wonder I love this race!
Eversource Hartford Half Marathon – October 14
2:26:45, a PR! Pace 11:12 (USATF-certified). I did the marathon last year in 5:53:28 (finished with a minor injury, not a good race) so this was so so much better. The race is a huge event with 8K participants, and it’s very well-organized, but the scale means it’s very much a zoo for food/beer/portapotties afterwards. I earned my PR by participating in a twelve-week Bird program (perk of the race) and following Coach Shane’s workouts to the letter. Satisfactory!
Happier Valley Half Marathon – October 16
2:29:11, pace 11:23 (USATF-certified). I’ve done the 5K a couple times but last ran the half in 2018 when I was training for New York, 2:26:56. No cider donuts – I actually complained (“that’s what first drew me to this race,” not “this sucks!”) – but great food trucks after. I got my favorite, Holyoke Hummus, and the wait wasn’t even as long as it sometimes is for HH. All the best beer had run out but whatever I had was fine. I rode my bike to and from Look Park, which probably reduces my time a hair but it’s worth it.
Western Mass 10 miler – November 6
2:01:29, pace 12:08. A brand-new point to point race from UMass to the train station in Northampton – just across the street from our apartment. I ValleyBiked to Amherst so I didn’t have to take the shuttle. I probably tired my legs more than was advisable. The course felt very long. Beautiful medal and long-sleeve technical shirt, and Jonathan filmed me finishing, which was fun. Good chili after with the usual beer.
Gorge après Gorge – November 27
34:15, pace 11:01. (36:19 last year!) Not as cold as it’s been some years, and only a bit of ice. I love this race because it’s scenic, it has a wonderful community feel, and there are fire pits, a potluck, and best of all: cookie medals! (I don’t love the sugar cookie itself but I love the idea, and it doesn’t take up room on my doorknob). It’s in and out so you can see all the participants, which I’ve grown to really enjoy. The other delightful aspect is that the prizes are hand-knitted hats – all different, you pick the one you want from the table of what’s left. If I ever placed (very unlikely, lots of good runners) I’d cherish that hat!
Hot Chocolate Run 5K – December 4
31:53, pace 10:15. (33:30 last year!) This is a Northampton tradition I run every year that a) we’re in town and b) it hasn’t sold out before I remember to register. I ran with a dear friend and co-worker – we had never run together before and we were actually perfectly matched, so that was delightful. And they had fresh hot chocolate again, instead of just the packets they handed out last year. A great conclusion to the race year!