oh, what a difference 2 months makes…
So yesterday was the much-hyped Club Team Championships. Unlike all the other NYRR races, this one is only limited to members of the local running teams-making for a smaller field, and a cleaner start since this one is yet another split-start race (men race at 8am, women at 9am.) I was sidelined for last year’s race, but my main memory of the ’04 race was hearing our guys cheering like crazy at the end, really helping me finish strong in a race that did not go as well as hoped (after a relatively mild summer, the heat and humidity were on full blast for that one!) Anyway, I was looking forward to using this race as a fitness check, to see where I am with my NYCM training. Thankfully, an easier course this year, eliminating Harlem Hill!!
The morning of, I timed my easy warmup jog up the west drive of Central Park to coincide with the first mile of the men’s race…so I could cheer them on early on, I’m sure spectators were sparse at that time. The Flyer men in their red and white singlets were looking good in the early going. But by the time I was done with my warmup, I realized that I was already sweating a lot, and my heart was pounding-conditions were tough, this could make for a brutal race. Me and a few of our gals watched the end of the men’s race to cheer them on. The first 11 men came in under 25 minutes-insane!! (With the first 2 neck and neck!) The first Flyer man came in at around 29 minutes-yowza, he did awesome!! The rest of the Flyer men started to come in, one by one…and we took note that no one looked happy at all-kind of foreshadowing of what the conditions for our race were gonna be like!! Around 8:45, we headed over to the start on the 102nd Street Transverse-while there, I saw Chelle and then Uptown Girl…chatted for a coupla minutes with each, wished everyone luck…the usual 🙂 Finally, the starting horn sounded and we were off!!
Mile 1-I wanted to be careful here-as the West Side Hills can make for a tough mile and a tough remainder of the race if I rabbit it. I saw a couple of teammates who run around my pace and stuck near them at the beginning, but I eventually did pass them before the mile was up-nevertheless, I didn’t feel like I did this one too hard. The support from the guys cheering on the side was great. Hit this mile in 7:47. Perfecto.
Mile 2-this mile started off with a large downhill, so tried to pick up the pace a little bit there. Saw a big group of our guys running the other direction and cheering (thanks guys!) in addition to Sister Smile over by the 72nd St transverse. Saw a water table right before the mile 2 marker and decided to grab a cup-I had a feeling with the conditions, I’d regret it later if I didn’t. Didn’t lose too much time really, as I drank it “on the fly.” Mile 2 was 7:41-still pretty good, and under goal pace!
Mile 3-this was a pretty mentally challenging mile. As this mile wound around the very bottom of Central Park, this part had the least crowd support. And the heat was starting to get to me a little bit. I made a strategic decision to back off a little bit in this mile-I wanted to save myself for Cat Hill and a strong finish. One of my teammates who was behind me saw that I was slowing a little and shouted encouragement to me to hang in there (she wound up passing me before the mile was up, but said to me afterwards that she “was hoping i’d stick with her.” aww, that was nice.) This mile was 7:52-still good.
Mile 4-yep, you guessed it, Cat Hill. And gotta love our Coach J, he was standing right by the cat!! No seriously, he actually climbed up onto the cat statue. Not surprised, he did that in the Snowflake 4-miler too. He was cheering as I approached and I made a face that pretty much showed I was hurting and he shouted “come on, you’re almost at the top!” Ugh. Glad that climb was over. And I was still feeling affected by the elements…so close to walking but didn’t. Grabbed another cup of water at the end of this mile. Figured all I’d have to do is get through this mile and I’d pretty much be home free. This was my slowest split of the race at 8:12-but I was still passing women during this mile so I think everyone was equally affected.
Mile 5-this mile, especially the last half-mile, is what makes this race so damn worth it. Surprisingly, I still had a little bit left in me, so I picked up the pace. There was quite a bit of cheering for the first part of this mile, especially around Engineer’s Gate at 90th, but nothing like what I’d see once I got past the reservoir around 96th St. This last part of the race is absolutely unreal-I felt like such a rockstar here. It started with a bunch of the Flyer, Reservoir Dog, and Harrier men screaming my name-and even though it was the very end of the race, hearing that just motivated me to run like crazy, and had me on a high and put a smile on my face that lasted til the very end of the race. Though Coach Toby yelled at me to “stop smiling”-hey, what I can say, I totally feed off this!! I also passed a CPTC woman who I had been trading places with throughout the race..I heard her coach yell to her “come on, you can pass one more!” I thought to myself, Sorry, but that one more is not gonna be me!! The remainder of this mile was what was described as “tunnels of cheering.” Every guy, every team, screaming at the top of their lungs-whether it was for me, or their teammates, or whoever else…I forgot about the conditions, I didn’t bother looking at my watch anymore during that mile, the cheers from the men just carried me harder and further. And wouldn’t you know it, that last mile was my fastest split of the race-7:31!
Final result was 39:03, 7:48 pace. (and I would have been happy with 39:59!)
Right after the finish, I congratulated the Rez Dog girl who finished right behind me on a good race (she too, had been trading places with me throughout the race)…then I saw both Chelle and Uptown Girl again, and congratulated them both on their PR’s!! In addition, a writer for NYRR asked me a coupla questions about the race…and woudn’t ya know it, I got quoted 🙂
Afterwards was the annual Flyer bagel brunch and team photo. This year’s photo was also a huge family affair as well…our Flyer toddler contingent had a pretty good appearance as well 🙂 The team festivities were not over yet though!! A coupla hours later, a bunch of us headed to the North Meadow to take on CPTC in softball. Apparently they beat us big time in ’03, time for a rematch? Considering a lot of us hadn’t played softball in quite a while (yours truly hasn’t played in 15 years!) we really, really held our own!! Had a nice lead going on until CPTC rallied back in the last inning. (but the teams weren’t evenly matched…ours was mostly women, theirs all men!) was still a lot of fun though.
Great day!! I can’t wait to run this race again next year. And if the cheers are even a taste of what to expect…November 5th should be a lot of fun 🙂
And as for my race performance, I think I ran well, ran smart, didn’t let the heat defeat me, pulling back was worth it to have such a strong last mile. I think I could have come close to PR’ing if the weather was better-something to look forward to come fall, especially seeing how it plays out over longer distances. I did pretty well in sub-optimal conditions at a distance that isn’t even my best strength, so…dare I dream of sub-1:45 at Grete’s??
now playing: “get together” ~ madonna