This morning we ran the Colon Cancer Challenge 15K in Central Park, yet another of the approximately 50 races that New York Road Runners is hosting this year. I will again extoll the virtues of racing in the park: challenging course, good competition, excellent race management and — on Sundays at least — free parking nearby.
I’m over the moon about this race because it’s the last race before the marathon in a month. The last chance to evaluate my fitness in order to pick a goal time and pacing strategy for The Big One. The reason I’m so happy is that I exceeded my expectations for today.
I wanted to see if I could again (after last weekend’s race) run a pace equivalent to a 3:24 marathon. That alone is a challenge for me since it’s only in the past month or so that I’ve been training for that faster pace (down from 3:30 paces). Today there were 20 mph winds, and I was actually excited about that. Yes, I must hate myself. I was happy that it was going to be ridiculously windy because it was another chance to test my mettle in less-than-ideal race conditions.
My goal was to sustain an average 7:14 pace, the 15K performance equivalent of the 3:24 marathon. Instead, I managed a 7:07 pace. The race results say 7:16 (my finishing time was 1:07:35), but I was actually running faster than that because, due to the crowd, I couldn’t hit all the tangents and ended up running 9.49 miles rather than 9.3.
But who cares?! I ran 7:07 for over 9 miles and lived to tell the tale. I was trying for a 1:07:22 or under time. What I got was close enough for jazz and government work. One interesting aspect of the race is that I also ran a dead even set of 5Ks: three each at exactly 22:11. This tells me that I am able to balance banking time on the downhills and taking it easy on the uphills in a consistent way.
In terms of race standings…these days I rely on people not showing up to races in order to “do well” from a competitive standpoint. (I hope to change that in the next year.) Had we turned the clock back a year to 2007 last night rather than forward an hour, I would have come in second in my age group. This year, the faster fortysomething ladies came out and I ended up in ninth place. But that’s a number that nevertheless delights me.
Jonathan, continuing his streak, took third in his age group (he would have won his age group by five minutes last year) for a lovely plastic award.
Normally I would be nervous about looking at two race results for shorter races (15K and 25K) and basing a marathon pacing plan on those. But I’ve done my homework on the endurance end of things, so I’m feeling very confident about going for a 3:24ish time in April. I also got some great data today regarding pacing and heart rate changes along different parts of the course. I’ve got a month to construct a pacing strategy based on all of this. And that’s a lot more fun than doing taxes.