As previously posted, this race was to serve as the sloppy joe heart of an ambitious sandwich run. So, it was not truly a race. I’d say I ran at about 95% race effort. Which was a shame, because I still ended up with an excellent finishing time (and 7th in my AG). After crossing the finish in 1:07:18, I momentarily regretted that I hadn’t run harder. But then I remembered that I still had to run another six miles and immediately got over that.
I prepared as well as I could for today’s training run plus race. I took care to eat a lot of carbohydrates over the past two days, drank a lot of water, and got a lot of sleep. I also gave myself plenty of time to get to Central Park this morning so I wouldn’t feel rushed. Since the race didn’t start until 10:15AM, this wasn’t difficult to do.
I got to the park at 8:45, picked up my bib and chip, dropped off my bag, and got to work on the first loop. I’d forgotten that there was a four mile race as well this morning, which started at 9:00. So I had lots of company running around the park. I started my loop at the same time the race started, which got my adrenaline going (even though I wasn’t racing this one). Seeing the leaders speed by behind the pace car shot my heart rate up into the lower 80%s. It’s weird how you can get that vicarious race thrill just looking at other runners.
Things settled down about half a mile later and I puttered along, up over the big hills and down around the bottom of the park, averaging a 9:17 pace at 74% max heart rate. This was harder than I’d wanted to work, but when I ran slower I felt like I was crawling. Besides, I felt good and I knew I only had a 15K race and another six miles to run after this, ha ha.
With the foreplay out of the way, I stripped down as close to my underpants as possible, choked down a mini-bagel with honey and dashed over to the race start. Until I can complete a NYRR race with a pace of sub-7:00, I’m stuck in the penultimate corral. I got two seconds closer today, but I’m still stuck in corral number two with my 7:14 best pace time.
As long as I’m in this predicament, I’ve got to learn to move up to the front of that corral, as I started more toward the back — it was packed in like sardines at the start — and as a result ended up in a 7:30 pace mob for the first quarter mile of the race. Once I got clear of the crowd clog, I opened up a bit and was running sub-7:00 to try to get back the lost time.
Today was one of those days when I didn’t trust my watch, but in a good way. It kept telling me I was running 6:49, or 6:57, or 7:04 and I kept thinking, “Well, that can’t be right.” Then I’d pass a mile marker and clock and do the math and figure that the watch was not lying. I felt exceedingly good for the first half of the race, just flying along and not really feeling the effort. At one point early in the race I peeked at my heart rate, saw it was 85% and thought, “Well, I need to start running faster than this.”
I really started to feel the effort just before mile eight, which coincided with a decision to try to pick up the pace. Just beyond the mile marker, I ran past NYRR president Mary Wittenberg, who gave me an “attagirl” in the form of a hale and hearty, “All right! Good job!” I know nothing about Wittenberg, but I’m always delighted by the fact that she runs so many of her own races, and impressed that she’s no slouch either. It turns out she beat me by two seconds despite the fact that I came in ahead of her, which means she must have started after me, passed me at some point, then got passed by me again. Where would we be without racing chips?
I motored along for the last mile plus, clocking a 6:35 for mile nine (assisted by a significant downhill grade) and 6:47 for the last bit. There were three women, of which I was one, coming to the finish very close, with me in third. About 30m from the finish I thought I’d see if I could pick off one of them, and, lo, I did, passing her with about 10 feet to go, while momentarily ignoring the fact that I still had some running to do after this foolhardy move. I didn’t care. Oh, I’m at 94% mhr? A temporary annoyance! It was fun to outkick someone on whose heels I’d been running for the last nine+ miles.
With my momentary victory in hand, I jogged back over to baggage to down some food before the last leg. The third loop wasn’t notable in any way. I ran a shortened loop, just under six miles at 8:42 pace, 75% mhr. Surprisingly, I didn’t experience the anticipated relief at having gotten those miles over with. I still had energy and experienced what I can best describe as a pleasant, satisfied exhaustion, not the other, look-what-the-fucking-cat-dragged-in kind that I’m all too familiar with.
Today’s race was a success. Not only did I better my time from last year, but I did so with much less effort (avg 87% mhr vs. avg 90% a year ago), and with an obvious handicap going in (not to mention already having 78 miles on my legs for the week). My pacing was a lot more even too.
I’m really itching to run next Sunday’s 30K now. I’ll be better rested (with just 52 miles on my legs), plus it’s a flat course that I’ll be actually racing all out.