Chill nite Friday nite…carbo-loading (and yes I did have another Blue Moon…lol) and watching the Yanks vs. Sox game…hey didn’t the Yanks win 2 years ago the night before this race? Saturday I did all my usual pre-race preps and headed to the subway…just in time to see the door of a C train close just as I got there. Doh!! My hope was to get to da park in time to see the guys in their first mile, but it was in the hands of the MTA now.
Luckily, another C train came shortly…and I got off the train uptown and headed to 90th street to watch the guys pass by before I warmed up a little bit. Perfect timing-the lead bikes/truck came by just as I got to 90th. As it was early, everyone pretty much passed by in a matter of minutes, but I was able to spot some Flyers here and there and cheer. I then continued warming up, headed to the spot that the Flyers staked out on the east side near the finish for our post-race festivities. A few minutes later, the leaders approached…the usual suspects were in front (WSX, NYAC, etc) all running ridiculous times. And of course we were anxiously awaiting our first male and BK said that we should just all cheer like crazy when he runs by. Sure enough, Lam runs by and the (Flyer female) crowd goes insane. Strong finish to what was apparently a great race for him! he was followed shortly by JD, and then Crazy Bandanahead who looked like he was passing lotsa guyz in the final stretch. But man, the looks on these guys faces…they did not look happy at all. And I couldn’t tell if it was because of the conditions (it was in the mid-70s and quite humid…probably the toughest conditions we’ve had for this particular race in awhile) or if it’s just the normal “pushing hard at the end” discomfort…
At around 8:35ish, I headed over towards the transverse and the corrals for the women’s start. So Flyer LH says to me that he “expects me to finish top 10 for the team”-as this time around, the open women’s scoring for this race went 10 deep (like the men’s usually is.) And of course that expectation is based on my performance on the 4-miler last month…and honestly, this wasn’t what I wanted to hear before the race! One of the good things about the 4-miler was the fact that there was no pressure beforehand…just ran. And also this time, there were quite a few fast Flyer ladies who would most definitely finish ahead of me. Our “master blaster” CM, who always leads the team whenever she toes the line. Our ultra-chick DC, this would be just a sprint for her. JR, another quick chick who consistently runs sub-7 pace for these races. EG, who’s been on a PR-setting tear this year. And of course EA, AK and NPT, the ladies I do speedwork with…I’ve never beaten them in a workout or a race before. So there I counted 7 Flyer women that would most likely finish ahead of me and I’m sure there were others I hadn’t seen yet. Thankfully my Flyer friend JW put her hands over my ears as a sort of sign to tell me to block it out. Thanks JW-I needed that 🙂 And soon enough it was time to start…took some deep breaths to calm myself further before the starting horn.
Mile 1 (7:18)-so despite the whole “bibgate”, my starting position was actually fine (and in fact, supposedly I missed a pile-up that happened in the first corral!) Me and EG stuck together for a good part of this mile, weaving our way through the West Side Hills. And I was pretty pleased with this mile split, showed that last month definitely was not a fluke! That said, given the warmer and more humid conditions, did I go out too hard?
Mile 2 (7:08)-Down the hill, still running at a good clip. I felt that I was still keeping it together, in the heat and humidity, and the mile split did reflect that. I knew that this race was definitely legit and was just gonna go for it from here…
Mile 3 (7:17)-what is usually the most mentally tough mile of the race with the least crowd support. I had several women to pace off of…a Harrier, a fast woman from Moving Comfort or Running Divas or whatever they are called now, a coupla PPTC women, and I had NPT in my sights up ahead-in fact I have had her in my sights the entire way. But I really tried to not worry about what they were doing, or where I was place-wise…I said to myself just the fact that I was sticking with these women means I was having a good day. I was here to run for time, not place. But the fact I was running with them may have helped a little-I usually lose a little bit of time in this mile and this time, I didn’t.
Mile 4 (7:32)-Cat Hill time. Just a hill repeat and you’re done with the tough part. I’ve seen peeps actually climb up onto the cat statue to cheer, today was no exception. This time it was Flyer TD, encouraging me up that last part of the hill, and it definitely was a relief to be done. Cat Hill does its usual damage to this mile, though possibly a tiny bit less than before? Quick check of the watch says I’m at 29:1x though 4 miles (my 2nd best 4-mile time ever!), so all I need to do is kill it on the last mile.
Mile 5 (6:45)-So after keeping NPT in my sights throughout the race, I caught up to her. “Come on, N,” I said to her as I pulled alongside. “Let’s work together.” We did run side by side for a little bit until I edged ahead for good around Engineer’s Gate. And here was time to crank it up a gear. And give it everything. I passed by several other women in the stretch from Engineer’s Gate to the top of the reservoir…and then the real fun part begins, with all the guys from all the teams cheering. And of course I gotta look good and fast for them 🙂 I wasn’t letting up, no smiles, total game face. Even when I passed the Flyers’ contingent with around a quarter-mile to go…I heard the cheering, but I couldn’t even tell you exactly who was there, I was so focused. I saw the orange tape lining the finishing chute and I felt it calling me home. Rounded the corner…and surprisingly, the woman in front of me stopped after crossing the mat a little before the finish (which I believe gives name/bib numbers to the announcers at the finish)…but I wasn’t falling for that!! No stopping for me til I hit both mats at the finish!! And I did hear the announcers call my name as I finished! And finished up with my fastest mile split ever in a race…like whoa!!
Final time was 36:00, 7:12 pace. Wow-had I known I was so close, could I have given that little something extra to get that second to get me under 36? But still-cannot complain at all about a 49-second PR, an 8th-place finish for the open women (who finished 8th overall) AND redemption from last year’s underwhelming race!
So afterwards was the usual mingling, picnic, photo-taking, catching up with Flyers old and new…and oh yes, a certain baby Flyer girl made her Flyer event debut 🙂
So this race, I think, was a huge weight off my shoulders. For several reasons. 1-the 4-miler definitely was not a fluke, and in fact even surpassed that one. 2-finally able to pull out a good race time in non-ideal conditions. Though I think partially that was due to getting through that 5K last month in 90-degree weather and my long run during Heatpocalypse 2011…I mean if I could get through those…I could get through this. 3-McMillan predicts a 3:31 marathon from this race, and I wasn’t really tapered for this one. Therefore, training appears to be on track so far. Which is why for the next 6 weeks, I’m putting the racing shoes away and just concentrating on continuing the NYCM buildup, and STAYING UNINJURED.
Some pictures from the day, thanks to our fabulous team photographers 🙂