There are those “firsts” that you never forget, and in the running world…I guess that would be your first race. April 18, 2004. The Niketown Run For the Parks 4-miler.
I remember picking up my bib and t-shirt at Niketown. I remember carbo-loading the night before on a date with a guy I was really into who was also running the race (though he turned out to be a jerk, oh well!) I remember thinking the weather was beautiful, as it was 70 degrees and sunny. I even remember what I wore…light blue Nike tank top, black Nike Tempo shorts (the old-school version!) and…can you believe it…Nike Shox on my feet. I remember the race being really packed-almost 6,000 finishers (and back then, that was a monster race)…think it may have even been a club points race too? I remember the old-school pace per mile signs. I remember people calling out the time at each mile instead of there being a digital clock. I remember giving that last mile all I got and the excitement of crossing the finish line. I remember having to wait and wait for the results to be posted online-as I didn’t have a sports watch then, and I knew it took a few minutes to cross the start. I remember my jaw dropping when I saw I ran 35:56 and went under 9 minute miles-as I did not expect that.
April 18, 2010. Exactly 6 years later, I toed the line of a different “Run for the Parks”-the City Parks Foundation Run For the Parks 4-miler. OK, it really is the same race-but a different sponsor 🙂 But it felt like a “homecoming” race of sorts. And unlike 6 years ago, I picked up my bib number at NYRR and carbo-loaded solo the nite before. (And actually I was watching the telecast of the 2009 Boston Marathon that was on Universal Sports. I know, oh the irony given my last post. But it’s funny, I was watching the end of the women’s race, and even though I knew how it wound up, I was still hoping that Kara Goucher could have held on to victory 😛 )
And I thought today’s weather was beautiful, just as it was 6 years ago. But in a different way…44 degrees and sunny instead of 70 degrees. Yeah, I’ve learned what is ideal runner weather 🙂 Unlike 6 years ago, I knew the value of a pre-race warmup and ran a little over a mile to loosen the legs up. The attire? Like 6 years ago, there was Nike…but only from the waist up-red Flyers singlet and black arm warmers. It was Adidas from the waist down-black shorts and my beloved Adidas AdiZero Tempos. (I actually hope the Brightroom peeps got pictures, as I really liked this outfit! I kinda felt a little Kara Goucher-esque 🙂 ) And unlike 6 years ago, there were no pace-per-mile signs, yep it was, once again, corral city-this time red for me. And even more unlike 6 years ago-when the starting horn sounded (was it me, or did the race start a few minutes before 8?), it took me around 30 seconds to cross the start line instead of 5 minutes…
Mile 1-Cat Hill, I hate you. But I’m glad to get you over with first. Since I haven’t been doing speedwork, I really have no concept of short distance pace, and especially not when running uphill. Based on the Scotland 10K, I figured 7:30s, give or take a coupla secs, would be a decent goal to shoot for. So I was pleased with my first mile split of 7:35.
Mile 2-was kinda strange. I was trying to pick up the pace a bit and take advantage of the flat/slight downhill, but I felt that my legs weren’t turning over fast enough and that I was moving so slow. I remember thinking to myself that I may still have strength, but have absolutely no speed (or at least, short-distance speed) and maybe it was a good thing I passed on the 5K race today. But I did speed up on this mile-7:20. So just barely under 7:30 pace…wonder if I can finish under 30? That would be a treat. But first I need to contend with…
Mile 3-…the West Side Hills. They were, as always, gonna do damage, it’s just a matter of how much. But I wasn’t really getting passed here and really before I knew it, I was passing by the 93rd street fountain and knew there was only one more hill to go, and saw the water table that’s usually by the mile 3 marker in the distance…and mile 3 was 7:42. Not too too bad.
Mile 4-Looked at the cumulative time and had to do the math…think I may need 7:22…or 7:23 to still sneak in under 30? Could I do it? I know I didn’t have much of a strong closing mile in the Gridiron 4-miler, but maybe things will be different this time? I had to go for it. The mile started off with a lovely downhill, and then time to attack the west drive en route to the 72nd street transverse and the finish line. I thought of this line from the recent Runners World article about Kara Goucher: “Goucher used her inner game—fighter, fighter—to break away from the secondary pack and clinch the bronze.” And that’s what I kept saying to myself for that last half-mile-“fighter, fighter.” And so many times, I wanted to look at my watch but I told myself no-just run. Almost a collision with a coupla dogs running loose across the course (caused a somewhat quiet expletive from me, and I think I heard someone else utter the f-bomb.) I saw runners turning onto 72nd street and knew I was almost home…whew. I made the turn and gave it all I had to the finish line and what’s this…on the clock, it was still 29:xx (though turned to 30 minutes right before I crossed)? OMG, did I really do it, as I started 30 seconds afterwards? And just like 6 years ago, my jaw dropped when I saw a certain time…this time was my last mile-6:58!! Holy.shit. I did not expect that. Oh and my jaw dropped when I saw another time…
…my finish time-29:35, 7:23 pace. A PR by 8 seconds, when I wasn’t even going for one. Which I guess backs up that theory that the best race times are when you’re not even trying…or something like that? 🙂 The Flyer women took 1st place, and I was the 2nd Flyer female…again, I know it was only cuz a lot of the fast women were in Boston, but I’ll take what I can get 🙂
I wish I could have stuck around longer after the race, but had to head home to clean up for my family obligations…but still saw and said hi to Flyer EF (who led the men, as usual 🙂 ) And met fellow blogger A Marathoner and one of his CPTC teammates and chatted for a few minutes.
So definitely looks like I made the right decision, race-wise, today! Good karma for doing so? Perhaps. 🙂