A hot race full of hot women. And I’m not talking about Playboy Bunnies.*
I knew it was going to be hot today. It’s funny — I didn’t consider not running it, even as each day’s weather forecast predicted mercury soaring ever higher. I was curious to see how I’d do in the heat, since, aside from last weekend’s hot and humid Sunday long run (debacle), I haven’t done any training or racing in the heat since last summer.
I did about as well as I thought I would. Under normal circumstances, I’d expect to be able to run a 10K in Central Park around 43:30 at my current level of fitness. Today I ran it in 45:54.
I console myself with something Deena Kastor said at a pre-race press conference:
“Although I am not peaked or peaked for this race, I’m actually just beginning to launch into my marathon‑specific training, it was a weekend I could not pass up as being past competitors of Magdalena Lewy‑Boulet and Blake Russell, to now being teammates has a really different feel. I really wanted to come together this weekend to celebrate women’s distance running here in New York City, a race that is really truly incredible for 5,000 women to take on the streets of New York and Central Park itself. It’s an incredible celebration of distance running.”
Yes. What Deena said. About not having trained for a 10K and just being at the beginning of marathon training. That. What she said.
I picked up my number and, once I got to the start, was delighted to discover that I was seeded in the first corral, right behind the elites. What a treat!
We spent a few minutes listening to opening remarks from Mary Wittenberg, got a very brief oral history of the race from co-founders Kathrine Switzer and Nina Kuscsik, and were introduced to some of the elites running. One of them, Hilda Kibet, won with a time of 32:49. Not bad in hot, humid weather, and over a hilly course. Did I mention that Kibet is Lornah Kiplagat’s cousin?
The horn honked and 4,104 of us were off.
The race was a challenge, as all races in the park are. We started just above Columbus Circle, heading up Central Park West to 90th Street, at which point we turned into the park. My first three miles went very well. In fact, I ran a 6:30 pace for mile 1, which shocked me to no end. I didn’t even know I could run that fast. But I knew it wasn’t sustainable. For miles 2 and 3 I ran 6:59 and 6:57 respectively.
Then came the big hills. The first one wasn’t too bad, but the second one that rounds the north end over to the East side was very difficult. It seemed much steeper and longer than last time I’d run it. I wonder why.
By the 4 mile mark, my legs felt like jelly and everyone was running noticeably slower. The time for that split was 7:38; ouch. Still, I managed to pick the pace up again on Cat Hill, running mile 5 in 7:10. Mile 6 was very slow, even with the 100 foot elevation drop: 7:25. That one surprised me. I must have done something earlier that I couldn’t recover from, because although my lungs were fine, I couldn’t make my legs go faster, even on the downgrades. Might that first 6:30 mile have had something to do with that?
Rounding the bottom of the park for the last .2 miles, a woman ran with me and said cheerfully, “Come on, don’t slow down now.” We ran together for most of the rest of the race. Nice person, whoever she was. She pulled me along and I managed a 7:13 pace for the last bit.
- Finishing time: 45:54
- 169th place overall
- 28th place in women 40-44
- Age graded ranking: 70.0%
- Top 4% of all finishers
- Top 6% of women 40-44
The race was well organized. There were well-stocked water tables approximately every mile or so (although they really should have had a table right after the big hills; having to run all the way to the boat house before getting a drink seemed way too far). People with misting hoses were stationed along the course, which most of the runners took advantage of. Volunteers were enthusiastic, friendly and knowledgeable. They ran out of small shirts, unfortunately, which was too bad, but no biggie.
The prize (besides being able to stop running) was a lovely, understated medal and a single pink carnation. Classy race. I’ll probably run it again next year.
Next up: The Stratton Faxon Fairfield half in two weeks…
*Follow the oral history link for further explanation of this wisecrack.