Back to normal in Greater Trenton; at least my home was. All facilities fully operational, I was able to actually resume earning a living, so I hopped a train down to our nation’s Capital Tuesday night, for a Wednesday meeting. Having dinner at a DC bar on a Presidential Election Day evening was quite a special treat. Calling it “Super Bowl Tuesday for Dweebs” does an all-around disservice, but that’s the best I can come up with right now. However, when CNN called the extremely important state of Vermont for Obama, the crowd reacted as if the Redskins had just returned an overtime kickoff for a touchdown. Some dude in the john asked me if “they called Ohio” yet (It was only 8:00. The freakin’ polls just closed. Amateur.). I’m just sayin’, if it walks like a duck…
There are few things I enjoy more than getting up before dawn and banging out some miles in DC, starting at my Chinatown hotel, and doing a nice loop that stretches from the Capitol to the Lincoln Monument. It fills me with an energy that I can’t quite put my finger on, but it’s awesome. And when it’s not being done in the dank, fetid heat (yes, even at 5:00 am) of a Washington summer? Well, that’s just gravy.
This set me up for Trenton’s inaugural Double Cross Half Marathon and 10-K on Saturday morning. I really, REALLY wanted to run the half, but my “virtual coaches” forbade it. And really, how could I live with myself if I were to do something to compromise my performance in Philadelphia next week? I donned my 10-K bib with a bit of self-consciousness, and wanted to wear a sign that read “I’m Running a Marathon in Eight Days! Seriously!” To be sure, I informed the few acquaintances I came across that I was indeed “only” doing the 10K for that very reason. Narcissistic jackass.
This first go at a distance race in Trenton was not without its logistical hiccups, from an organizational standpoint. I had the advantage of knowing my way around the city to find parking, and that the staging area was an extremely walkable distance from there; those who did not were likely no end frazzled. On top of that, the race started a half-hour late. For my purposes, this was not a big deal, but the 13.1-ers who timed all their pre-race rituals down to the minute were likely pretty pissed. Still, the 2,500 runners in attendance largely took it in…stride. Ha. Get it?!?
My goal was to run hard, while not trying anything stupid. A few weeks ago, I was hoping to come in at under an hour, but later said “Fuck it; let’s shoot for 55:00.” With only about 600 of us 10K-ers in the chute, I casually settled in with the first third of the pack for the starter’s muskets. Yes, muskets. Three Revolutionary War re-enactors, firing muskets. Crossroads of the Revolution, baby!
Running on Trenton streets and expressways that were cleared of vehicular traffic was super cool, in a “28 Days Later” kind of way. At least partially owing to the small field, most of the course was largely devoid of spectators. Crossing the Delaware via the “Trenton Makes” bridge on a beautifully crisp November morning, I thought to myself that it was moments like this that make all the training worthwhile. I also thought that running on steel deck bridges left something to be desired. The way the course was laid out, we started to pass a lot of 13.1 “roadkill” on the Morrisville (PA) side. On the flip side, I crossed the Calhoun Street bridge and picked up Route 29, only to be continually smoked by the really good runners, well on their way to clocking sub-1:30 times in the half.
My wife and son were waiting for me at the entrance to Waterfront Park, where the course took a trip around the outfield warning track, then down the third base line to the finish line at home plate. I clocked a 54:20, which easily bested my goal. At this point in my running career, I never, ever (well, almost never) compare myself to other runners, but I could not help but notice that I came in 71st out of 591, 32nd among those with y-chromosomes, and 13th in my age group. Armed with those data, I could only conclude that this first-year event drew an exceedingly weak field. Still, I’ll take it.
I’m sure they will probably never see this, yet I must join (what I would hope to be) many others in thanking the organizers of the Trenton Double Cross for staging this race. You took a chance on Trenton – a city that really needs something, anything positive to happen within her confines – and it looks like it paid off. Here’s hoping you laid the cornerstone for what will become a proud and long-lasting tradition.