and it was getting to be that time again…time for another installment of paceleader goodness in NYRR’s Long Training Runs. My mission, should I choose to accept it…lead the 9 minute pace group for 16 miles.
9 minute group? What, what? Yes, I know I previously have been the self-proclaimed “queen of the 9:30 pace group”…but I finally felt I was ready to move up a group. Of course, it also helped that Coach T told me in response to “well I usually lead the 9:30 group”…”no you’re not! 🙂 ”
However, what I didn’t expect for this initial run in the 9 minute group was for it to fall during Heatpocalypse 2011. But then again, I have had experience paceleading during unseasonably hot weather. Remember the 2009 More/Fitness Half-marathon Fun Run? Where actually I didn’t finish too far off the 2:00 target? Plus-and this was truly a blessing-NYRR made it clear that pace restrictions were going to be relaxed, up to as much as 30-60 seconds per mile. Very glad they did that…no need risking training on a run early in the going, right? (in my case, 15 weeks out.)
And how did I prep for this long run? By hydrating at Studio Square with other Flyers…hey sangria is one of the less evil drinks, right? Red wine is good for you!! As is the (alcohol-soaked) fruit in there! But no worries…for each cup of sangria consumed, there was also a big-ass cup of water too…plus sitting outside in 100 degree weather…yeah, I was feeling no effects of the liquor consumption. For realz. Quite a change from the last coupla times I’m indulged in what I have lovingly referred to as “liquid crack” at Studio Square…
Up early, ready to go. Oh but of course the MTA must throw a wrench in things…waiting 20 minutes for a train-not fun. Yep, this was the first LTR I’ve done since moving to midtown…and it was either add on 3 more miles, MTA it, or cab it. (I have a feeling for LTR #2, I’ll be cabbing it…)By the time I got uptown, I hustled over to the staging area, my singlet already ditched. We did get new pretty orange paceleader singlets to wear (yay for no see-through-ness), and I obliged-both so I can look all official-like, and also because I’d scare the whole population of Central Park if I went “topless” for this one.
So me and the other “niners” went to line up…and I think there was a little confusion going on between what group we’re leading, and what we’d actually be running. Were we running 9’s or 9:30s? What was the official 9 minute group? Why are we even doing this? Are we all insane? 🙂 But not enough time to dwell on that, much sooner than I anticipated, we were given the cue to go.
And as always, as the first half-mile is down Harlem Hill, it started off a little quick but we made up for it on the uphill. That first mile was right in the 9-9:30 range as I was thinking “ok perfect.” But for the rest of this loop, the other paceleaders really pulled ahead…and I just let them go (though another Flyer who wasn’t pacing kept me company for this loop-thanks BK!) If NYRR was giving us the blessing to take it a little easier, you can bet I was taking advantage of it. No need to be a hero and say “oh yeah, I kept 9’s even when we were told to go slower!” If it happened, it happened, but I had 16 miles to get through, and I was gonna get through them feeling strong at the end. And with the exception of Cat Hill, looks like I actually wasn’t too far off?
One loop down, hit the transverse to gel, hydrate…and grab a sponge at a sponge station that NYRR provided for this run. GENIUS. I kept mine with me to re-soak at the water stations and that-plus the eventual cloud cover-did a helluva job helping keep me cool for the remaining loops. Maybe loop 2 was a little slower, but still not bad? (Part of it was slowing at the water stations-where I prefer to “grab and go”, a lot of others took a cup and walked with it…understandable given the conditions!)
Another 5 miles down, and as we were at 102nd long before 9:30, we were given the go-ahead to do the 5-mile loop (as the cutoff time was 10 AM, I believe any group who didnt get there before 9:30 either had to do the 4 mile loop, or were stopped from proceeding further.) And going out conservative on that first loop helped, as I was able to finish the last 5 miles pretty strong and I didn’t feel like I was gonna die once…what a difference from the previous weekend!! As we approached the transverse to finish off the 16, “Empire State of Mind” was playing over the loudspeaker…kinda appropriate? 🙂
By the numbers:
So even with relaxing things at the beginning, I wasn’t too far off with the pace, especially at the end…encouraging! (And given that I was dancing around to the music that the DJ was playing in the staging area, some probably felt I didn’t run hard enough 🙂 ) And I survived my first stint in the 9 minute group. I’ll be back next month for LTR #2, let’s hope there isn’t a repeat of Heatpocalypse 2011 for that one! 🙂 Though seriously, given the conditions, I think things went very well…for myself, for my other co-leaders and for everyone involved!! The organizers-both in the NYRR and the NYF camp…outdid themselves as usual 🙂