James Joyce Ramble -- 04/23/05

Jill and I ran the James Joyce Ramble 10k race this morning.

It was raining on and off during our drive up there (Dedham, Mass.) -- or, rather, sometimes it was raining very hard, absolutely pouring down for a few minutes, and then it would slack off to a mild drizzle, so that I would have the windshield wipers set to the slowest intermittent setting... and then the rain would come down so hard that I'd have to flip the wipers up to high speed.

It was not a bad ride up there (except for the rain), only took about an hour and a half to get to Dedham. We parked, walked several blocks to the race venue (the Endicott Estate), got signed in, bought t-shirts (yes, with most races they are included as part of the entry fee, but here they were sold separately), went back to the car, sat around for a few minutes, killing time where it was dry because there was still some very light rain coming down, then got dressed (or, rather, undressed for the race). I ran in running shorts and a t-shirt and a nylon rain top (not water-proof, but I figured it might block the wind a bit and it had a pocket that could hold a single-use camera I had brought along) and Jill wore running shorts and a t-shirt (with her hair in a bandanna).

The weather reduced the usual crowd but there were still more than two thousand runners. The rain had been just a light mist until just before the start of the race. As we got lined up for the start the light mist turned into rain, not heavy rain, but still it was definitely raining.

I had been expecting actors reading from Joyce at each of the mile points in the race, but in fact they had them positioned all along the race course. I'm not sure how many, but it must have been at least fifteen people, mostly alone, but paired in a few places, wearing period costumes, most with an umbrella in one hand and one of Joyce's works in the other. The passing runners frequently applauded them.

Jill and I went through the first mile in about 9:50 -- which meant that we had actually been running faster than that once you allow for how slowly you start given the mob of runners packed together at the start. (They used computer timing chips you fastened around your ankle with a velcro strap to record the moment you crossed the starting line and when you crossed the finish line. The CVS Downtown 5k in Providence also uses computer chips, although they use ones that you tie to your shoelaces -- which seems a little more secure to me -- I added a safety-pin to hold the velcro strap to my sock this morning, just to be safe)

We did the second mile at around the same pace, but then came a series of hills and our third mile had slowed to about 10:35 -- mostly due to my slowness on the hills. Jill went on ahead at that point -- when I was only thirty feet back I was able to catch up on the next down grade, but fell behind going up hill and by the time we were over that hill, she was too far ahead for me to see with rain-splattered eyeglasses. Yes, it rained, slacked off a bit, then rained some more. I couldn't believe how many hills there were along the third, fourth, and fifth miles of that course (or maybe it was the same hill and we just kept zig-zagging up and down it?) If I am going to run this race next year, I definitely need to do a lot of hill work in preparation.

The official results have not yet been put online -- I think I ran it around 1:05:30 and Jill thinks she did it in just about an hour. Okay, so we weren't very fast, but neither of us had really prepared for it. Ah, but it was fun. And it was my last chance to run a race at age 61 (going to be 62 in a few days).

The rain stopped and the sky brightened as I was approaching the finish line... by the time we were heading south on I-95, the clouds were breaking up, and by the time we reached Rhode Island the sun was shining.

Oh -- that camera. Yes, I took pictures -- even during the race -- but I was using one of those cheap disposable cameras (and it still has a few shots left) -- so sometime this week I will get them processed and if any came out okay (taking pictures in the rain while running does not bode well for non-blurred images) I'll post it in an entry later in the week.

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