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2009-01-17 - Super Starr

~2 miles @ ~ 11 min/mi + 4 miles @ ~12 min/mi + ~2 miles @ ~10.5 min/mi

"'This can't be right—there must be some mistake!'," Christina Caravoulias tells me a colleague of hers said, when he saw my impossibly-fast result at the New Year's Resolution 5k. We're running together along Sligo Creek at today's MCRRC 4 miler and Chris, editor of the club 'zine, is reporting on recent events as we begin to warm up. Temperatures are still in the single digits, however, so getting warm is a challenging task. Even though we both have a tendency to overheat, we're both wearing tights, gloves, and multiple layers.

But rewind to 5:50am: a last-quarter moon is sailing high as I leave home and trot the ~2 miles down neighborhood streets to Sligo Middle School. The official school song "By the Banks of Bounteous Sligo" comes to mind, as sung for me once by the late Robert Forward. He grew up in this neighborhood and half a century ago attended that very school. It's the staging area this morning for a race, the "Super Starr" held in memory of Jim Starr. I arrive early, sit outside the lunchroom/auditorium on a picnic bench for a few minutes of solitude, then enter. Jim's widow Beth Starr is here, and we chat as we set up.

Cara Marie Manlandro greets me and we get down to business hauling in race supplies, setting up for registration, arranging food and drink, etc. I drop a porcelain water crock and shatter it; George Tarrico says he'll take the price out of my paycheck (but of course volunteers are unpaid). A nice maintenance/supervisor lady from the school lends us a coffee urn and water container from the kitchen. All's well.

Christina Caravoulias arrives and takes photos. Ken Swab is also here, as are Betty Smith, Wayne Carson, Cathy Blessing, Don Libes, and several other comrades. The race begins at 8am about a quarter mile down the road on Sligo Creek Trail itself not far from the Sligo-Dennis Rec Center. Christina and I jog along together and enjoy the frigid day. The temperature is variously reported as between 2°F (= -17°C) and 9°F (= -13°C).

Chris and I cross the starting line 20 seconds after the "GO!" signal and trot upstream as the crowd spreads out before us. Sligo Creek has patches of open water but its surface is largely frozen. Approaching mile 1 we meet Ken Swab, whose toes are feeling frostbitten and who wisely has decided to cut today's run short. Betty Smith tells me after the race that she did likewise. Thankfully there's not much wind. The brilliant sun cheers us as we canter up hills and take occasional walk breaks.

We average under 12 minutes/mile, not bad for Chris since she's had two prior days of hard workouts. In the final half mile Wayne reappears, circling back to encourage us. He finished in a bit less than 32 minutes and reported that CM passed him at mile 1—which I tell him must have awakened him from his sandbagging slumber, since he sprang into action then to pass her. As we near the end Blair Jones is a little ahead. Chris accelerates in the home stretch and zips by Blair just at the finish line. Brava to them both! Icicles on my mustache and beard melt and drip on Christina's finisher card as I fill it out for her.

After the race Wayne and I nosh, then head out to enjoy a final lap of the course. A fellow with a lovely British/Australian/New Zealander accent (Nick) admires my Superman cap so I lend it to him. He wants to get a photo with himself in it, to go along with Superman-theme race medals that he earned. He's in the club's Speed Development Program and promises to return the cap soon; I tell him he can pass it back via Christina, who plans to do the SDP this year. Another runner introduces himself and tells me he used my Jim Henson monument photo in his Xmas newsletter this year.

Wayne and I enjoy ourselves and do another 2+ miles at 10:30ish pace. Then Wayne gives me a ride home. The official weather service reports that the temperature has risen now to ~11°F.

(cf. IceFangs (2005-02-06), 2006-01-21 - Shooting Starr MCRRC race, RacyJetsam (2007-02-04), Icy Half Marathon (2008-01-25), ...) - ^z - 2009-01-21