Let us go back for a moment to a post written in October 2014, in which a younger Kurt Blumenau recounts some of the races he has run:
Turkey Classic 3.5-Mile Road Race, Framingham, Mass., Nov. 22, 2001: The race went OK. I mention it here mainly b/c I’m a little ashamed to admit I still have the long-sleeve T-shirt, 13 years later. It escaped being rounded up for the quilt [EDIT: my mom made me a quilt from a bunch of old race T-shirts] and is still on my shelf. (In fairness to me, I always seem to have a whole bunch of T-shirts, and I tend to keep some in regular rotation, so it’s not impossible for one to land on the bottom of the stack and stay there … for 13 years.)
This was also the last race I ran in Massachusetts before moving to Pennsylvania the following spring. Perhaps someday I will return to Massachusetts, and I will sign up for some tiny local 5K in the fall, and I will toe the line wearing this shirt like a real townie.
A man can dream.
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Well, sheeeeeee-yit, sons and daughters, guess what I went out and did this morning?
Yup. I ran the Framingham Turkey Classic for the first time in 18 years — wearing my 2001 race shirt, no less, which survived the ensuing years since my 2014 blog post and moved back to Massachusetts with me last year.
(Did I keep the shirt — and keep it in good shape, rarely worn — because I knew I would come back, or because I just really, really hoped I would come back? I’m not sure. Hope is not a plan, and when it fails, it fails bitterly. But it came through this time.)
Not only that, I ran the race significantly faster than I did in 2001, despite overcast and drizzly conditions.
The comparison is not apples-to-apples because the 2001 race was the unusual distance of 3.5 miles, whereas today’s race was the more conventional 5K distance (3.1 miles). Apparently at some point between 2001 and now, there was construction on a bridge along the original course, and they rolled the distance back to 5K and decided they liked it better that way.
But I can compare my pace per mile, and that tells a story.
In 2001, it was precisely 8 minutes per mile, good for 27:59 total and 203rd place out of 761 finishers. (Searchable results posted here.)
In 2019, it was 7:11 per mile, good for 22:18 total and 72nd place out of 983 finishers. (Searchable results posted here. The shot below is from an iPad they had for runners to look up their results.)
This wasn’t my fastest 5K of recent years, but it was pretty good, and it also comes in well under my familiar goal of running less than half my age.
In fact, between you, me and Pie Traynor, I almost kinda suspect the race was a couple steps short of 5K. But I’m not going to crab about it.
So right now, I am almost impossibly jazzed and, as the cool kids say, thankful AF.
I am back where I want to be; I am reasonably healthy and in good shape; I have a job and a nice little place to live and my family around me; and I’m even lucky enough to check off little errands I never thought I’d come back to, like running the wet streets of Framingham on Thanksgiving morning.
I am so happy, in fact, that I am starting to mentally prepare for the pendulum to swing radically backward and for karma to put the hurt on me, Dick “Night Train” Lane-style. You can only be so happy for so long before nature corrects its own imbalances, after all.
Indeed, the cosmic clothesline tackle might come as soon as this afternoon, and I might even already know what it is.
But, whenever it comes, it’s not here yet. So I will savor the moment.
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Everything has to have a soundtrack … and the one for this adventure also comes from Framingham.
I lived a couple towns over from the ‘Ham during my first stint in Massachusetts. At the time, I took advantage of eastern Mass.’s sprawling Minuteman Library Network to raid the Framingham Public Library — which had a much larger CD collection than my hometown library — and burn a pile of mix CDs.
My technology was so primitive then, I had to record the songs I wanted onto cassette tape and then plug my cassette deck into the computer. A little absurd, in retrospect.
But my Framingham Public Library mixes still work, almost 20 years later, and I brought several of them as my pre- and post-race driving soundtrack. (It seemed like another little karmic smile when I ran past Lincoln Street near the end of the race, glanced right, and there was the library.)
Mix Two is mostly made up of highlights from the Nuggets box set. And the song I locked into on my drive in, and repeated as my pre-race hype music, was on it: “Journey to the Center of the Mind” by the Amboy Dukes.
Now, the pre-race music they tend to play over the PA system nowadays is either recent pop-country (the Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried” is inescapable) or recent pop, like the equally omnipresent “Shut Up and Dance With Me.”
But being who I am, I tend to prefer my get-up music to run on more classic fuel. At one or two events I have heard “Immigrant Song” pre-race, and while it made me smile ironically, it also made me want to go sack some churches. (I don’t encounter “Barracuda” very often, but it seems to me that would have a similar effect.)
Anyway, I probably owe my performance today to a bunch of miles run in the dark. “Journey”‘s pre-Hetfield rhythm-guitar gallop and ferocious Ted Nugent guitar leads — which feature feedback, intense sustain, and more bends than the guys who dug the Brooklyn Bridge — probably had nothing to do with it.
I do have to say it got me in the mood, though.
And the trip home was just as fun, maybe even more. Tooling through dead-leaves-and-cranberry-sauce New England with a great race in my back pocket and Ted Nugent rattling my little roller-skate Honda Fit is a pleasure I didn’t know I was waiting for.
Or maybe, for 18 years, I did.