CVS Downtown 5k-- 09/30/06

Before I talk about the race, I just wanted to comment about how cool I thought Anousheh Ansari's trip into space was -- the first woman private space traveler returned to Earth this week. (She even blogged from space.)

Here she is -- intelligent, well-educated, successful, wealthy, attractive, dynamic, bold, adventurous -- not to mention an example of someone who was born in Iran and found success in the U.S. -- and she got little notice in the moronic mainstream media which prefers to trumpet the adventures of the likes of talentless airheads like Paris and Brittany and Beyonce. Yeah, I know, what ever will sell more adult diapers...

Anyway... the annual CVS Downtown 5k was two weeks ago (well, technically, two weeks ago tomorrow) in the heart of Providence, RI.

This is a big race in multiple ways: it serves as U.S. Men's and Women's 5k Championship race; it has significant prize money and thus attracts an internationally talented field; and with more than three thousand entrants, it is the largest race in Rhode Island. In addition to the 5k, there is an entire morning's worth of races for children, and the 5k is followed by a 3k for high school students. Once you add in family and friends and and random spectators, you have a huge number of people in downtown Providence.

There are so many runners that it can take several minutes after the start of the race for many of the runners to even get to the starting line. Fortunately, they use timing chips, tiny RFID chips that are assigned to the runners to fasten to their shoes. The chip's signal lets the timing computer know when you cross the starting line and when you cross the finish line, giving an accurate measurement of exactly how long you took to run the five kilometer course. This year they also introduced the idea of starting in waves -- runners were divided into four waves, based on their estimated finish time. The first wave started at the official start time. Once they were out of the way, the second wave was told to walk up into the area where the first wave had been standing, and then the second wave was given its starting signal (although it still took me more than half a minute after our start to actually cross the starting line. (Then the third wave was called forward, etc.) Since timing was based on the chips, everything was fair -- and there was less crowding, less danger of collisions or people tripping and falling, and and you weren't stuck in a frustrating half-jog/half-shuffle for the first three or four blocks.

This is one of my favorite races, and they keep improving it each year. CVS sponsors the whole thing and all of the proceeds go to charity. (Yes, as a matter of fact, the CVS chain began in Rhode Island and is still headquartered here.)

Besides the typical souvenir t-shirt, each runner gets a goody bag filled with various little gifts and trinkets. This race being sponsored by one of the largest drugstore chains in the country, the goodies include various samples of sun-block, lip balm, etc. There was also one of those single-use cameras.

Well, I took that free camera as meaning an opportunity to take pictures during the race.
The above picture was taken near the start -- I had just passed underneath the start/finish banner when I snapped this picture. It isn't apparent here, but just ahead the road goes downhill -- yeah, that means an uphill run to the finish.

There are a number of fire dept. and police dept. teams entered in the race. Those people in the yellow shirts are rookie cops from the Providence police academy. They are running in unison while calling out cadence military boot camp style ("I don't know but I've been told, Providence cops are mighty bold")

The tallest building in the background of that picture (Bank of America Tower, originally the Industrial Trust Tower) is known locally as "The Superman Building" because of its resemblance to the Daily Planet Building in the Superman Comics and in the old TV show. (Local legend insists that this building was the very model for the comic book and/or was filmed for the TV show, but I understand that in actuality it was based on a similar building in Cleveland.)
As usual, there have been bands scattered about the course, playing music to entertain the runners (and spectators). There were probably seven groups of performers -- folk, jazz, blues, rock -- who were often applauded by the passing runners.

It had been cooler earlier in the morning but the clear skies and bright sun had really warmed things up by the 11:15 start time... and was probably close to 80 degrees as we reached the very welcome water stations.

(This is approaching the RISD campus; behind these buildings on the right is a steep hill -- College Hill -- the home of both RISD and of Brown University.)

After the race there seemed to be literally tons of food, including incredible quantities of donuts and bagels and pizzas, as well as juice and soft drinks and fruit and water...

Ah, water... that was what I craved... although I did also eat a small sample of ice cream.

Here we are after the race.

(Yes, her hair is currently green and yellow.)

Jill finished almost three hundred places ahead of me (about three and a half minutes) but I was pleased to have run the distance (oh, okay, so I walked for about a hundred feet on the uphill finish -- but that was partly due to concerns I had over "exercise-induced hypertension" and I won't feel comfortable about pushing things until after my next treadmill stress test -- which is coming up in a couple of weeks). I had a nephew and a niece also running (usually their father runs with us too, but he had to work) so Jill also was able to claim to be the fastest in the family.

Oh... recall how I mentioned this race attracted a talented field. It is not until you get to the 42nd place finisher that the average per-mile pace slows to "only" five minutes per mile (and 5 kilometers is about three and one tenth miles). The winner finished in 13:49. Second place was 13:50. (The very fastest time that I ever ran in a 5k race -- which was almost fifteen years [and probably that many pounds] ago -- would have put me around 315th place in this race.)

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