It’s just one of those races that I do every Labor Day with a few friends.  Some friends have come and gone over the years. Some we were glad to see go and others not so much.  Our core group has remained the same and so has our race day routine.  Meet at 6am.  On the hour plus ride there we talk about past races, kids, money, drinking, other people, drinking…you get the idea. When we arrive at the New Haven green we use the port-o-potties early so they’re somewhat tolerable.  And then we chat some more until the gun goes off and we start our 12.5 mile adventure.

Most people think of Yale University when they think of New Haven, CT.  Well, there’s a lot more, um undesirable neighborhoods in and around Yale and the race route exploits some of the local color.  I have heard many things from spectators and other runners throughout the years on this course.  Here’s a sampling from this year:

A fat guy sitting on a bench clapping: I could do what you’re doing, I just can’t do it right now.

A little boy handing out water: Get your water here…get it while it’s cold…y’all look hot!

A woman at the 8 mile mark (of a 12.5 mile race!): You’re almost there!

We all agree that the “you’re almost there” comment should be used only when you’re about 5 steps away from the finish line.  At mile 8 it’s just insane!

This year the race day was 70+ degrees with 85% humidity.  God I love the Northeast.  Needless to say I was  dripping wet by mile 3.  I felt really strong most of the way and was able to knock off a few flat 7 min miles in the final two or three.  I just enjoy picking off people in front of me and using my mantras.  A favorite for this day was “keep your pace, run your race.”  It keeps my mind busy.  There were no PRs (personal records) to be had but I did finish about a minute faster then last year (1:32:33).  For those non-runners, a minute is a pretty good chunk of time.  Running is a game of seconds.

It was tricky finding a spot to pin my bib!

We would be transformed into three drowned rats in about 30 minutes!

Some of the running stars were out.  The race draws elite athletes because of the prize money.  They get their own tent but there was still a line of them in front of their private port-o’s 15 minutes or so before race time. If you’re one of very few people who follow running then you may know Matt Tegenkamp – he won the race in 1 hour and Megan Peyton (even I don’t know who this is?) won it for the women in 1:09.  Yep, that’s fast!

Because of the crappy weather there weren’t as many spectators, and therefore not a lot of good signs.  The only good ones we saw were:

MAY THE COURSE BE WITH YOU!

WTF? WHERE’S THE FINISH?

Actually, they were the only signs we saw.

The best part of the race (always!) is the finish.  At this particular race there is beer and giant loaves of bread in the park just waiting for you!  Despite the fact that I felt like I had on an adult diaper that had been repeatedly soiled, I got my Red Hook beer and my bread and sat with my friends to give our race re-cap.  There were tales of woe, of seeing things that shouldn’t be seen (peeing, puking, snot rocketing) and finally reaching the finish.  We are usually entertained by the meth heads, homeless people and perhaps a wandering clown at this point but alas, the weather seemed to keep them away as well. Booooo!  We did have the pleasure of seeing a woman smoking.  With a race bib number on.  In a park filled with people who just ran a race! I wanted to throat punch her…or take her picture but I didn’t have my phone on me.  Missed opportunity.

Newspaper in wet shoes works!

Newspaper in wet shoes works!

This is the sixth year I’ve done this race.  I missed one year when I was pregnant with the twins and instead cried my eyes out at my kitchen table because I couldn’t be there.  This race is so ingrained in my life, it’s just a given that I’ll be doing it each Labor Day.  It’s as scheduled of an event as my summer vacation and just as important.  I feel really lucky that I have running friends who race with me year after year.  I feel lucky that my hubs stays home with the boys so I can have my time away.  I feel lucky that I can run, and I’ll do it for as long as I can… which may be about as long as it takes for the funk to clear out of my running shoes!  Yikes!

Do you have an annual race you do?  What did you do this Labor Day weekend?