This past week was a cutback week for me, so I was only supposed to do a total of about 26 miles with a "long run" of about 5 miles. But that weekend I saw that Grete's Great Gallop was going on in Central Park. I figured that it would be fun to do it as a long training run with friends. Also, the race was the second one this year that honored the late Grete Waitz, who died of cancer this year.
Since it was a cutback week, I had no tempo runs or speed work scheduled. To compensate for the added distance in my long run, I cut down to running four days instead of five. I had a few easy 4-5 milers that went pretty well.
After celebrating Rosh Hashanah on Thursday and Friday, I was all ready to go on Saturday. Rachel had stayed over that night and planned on doing an extra 7 miles beforehand. As she was about to leave, she realized that her garmin didn't properly charge and was dead. Or so she says. I'm convinced she did it on purpose so that I wouldn't be able to speed ahead ;)
I run a warm up mile down to the race, check the baggage, and wait in Rachel's corral for her and Wallis. Since it was a club points race, we were almost in the nose bleed section even though all three of us had bib times under nine minute miles. Supposedly, there were really nice words said about Grete but I couldn't hear what was going on up front. While I was waiting, I ended up meeting a girl who went to my school and had a couple of mutual friends. Small world, huh?
I found Rachel and Wallis, and after a few minutes, the race began. I had my stopwatch on, but I didn't bother using it. This was my first time using a half marathon as a training run, and I found it very difficult to keep a slow and steady pace, especially since I wasn't wearing my garmin. Had I been on my own, I probably would have taken it too fast and ended up racing it. To my credit though, I only needed to be told a few times to slow down. Running slow is much more difficult than it looks!
My parents and grandparents were waiting for us shortly after mile two, and snapped a few pictures of us. I gave a thumbs up as I passed to indicate that I was feeling pretty good so far. In fact, I felt good the entire time, which made sense since it was a training run and not a race for me. My hamstring was slightly sore but it was nothing stretching couldn't cure. In fact, my only real issue was that I had to use the restroom for most of the race, but not badly enough to stop.
We were lapped by the male leaders on our first loop, and I think I heard the female leader approaching the finish line as we were running past it heading into our second loop. I almost am never lapped on a loop course in Central Park, so it was a real treat to see the elite athletes run past us. They make running look easy!
Our splits were pretty consistent. It's Rachel's 20 miler - I didn't do the first 7 miles and my last mile was slightly faster since I pulled ahead, but I think you'll get the idea.
Over the last couple of months, I learned that one has to be patient and keep their eyes on the prize. As much as my ego is bruised to have a time of 2:16:53 as a half marathon time on record, I just have to keep telling myself that I can't let all of my hard work towards the Cape Cod Half go to waste.
The next couple of weeks are my hardest weeks yet - I have 36 and 37 miles on the schedule respectively. In addition, I have to fast the day before the Staten Island half, so I've been drinking Gatorade every day to compensate for the loss of nutrition/electrolytes I will surely have on Saturday. If I weren't trying for the 4/5 I wouldn't have bothered signing up for a race the day after Yom Kippur, but there you have it. If I'm smart, I won't finish SI much under 2:10 or so but we'll see what actually happens.
After a rough start of feeling under the weather and not running yesterday, I had a nice easy 5 miler today. I was able to adjust my schedule for the rest of the week, and hopefully all will go according to plan.