Friday, June 1, 2012

Runners Occupy Wall Street: the AHA 3M RR

Short Version
Distance: 3 Miles
Time: 24:34 @ 8:11mm 
Overall Place: 1572 / 5540
Gender Place: 360 / 2693
Age Place: 126 / 804
AG Gender Place: 476 / 2693
AG Percent: 56.51%

Long Version

   I ran my first 40 mile week in 2012 last week, and this week, and I didn't do any sort of taper, so I knew that I was not heading into this race with fresh legs.
   Last night was the American Heart Association Wall Street Run, which is a 3 mile race held on the streets of downtown NYC. I had wanted to do this race last year, but couldn't due to my school schedule, so this was my first opportunity to do so. On Tuesday, I went to pick up the t-shirt and bib.

Another "small" oversized t-shirt
to add to my collection
   Getting to Wall St would have normally been a semi-pain since the green subway line was a long walk from my office, but I happened to have jury duty that day. It was an easy walk from the Courthouse to the start area.
   My friend / running buddy Abbey lives right at the start of the race, so I met up with her and her daughter Kayleigh beforehand. Abbey was nice enough to let me and my friend Zahava drop off our stuff at her apartment before the race. Our other friend Nicole came over as well, and we took a few pictures before leaving for the race. Kayleigh and her babysitter would come out briefly to see us start the race. 

Nicole, me, Zahava and Abbey
Me, Abbey and Kayleigh
We walked out of Abbey's building and the start was literally right there. Usually, in NYRR races, there are several different corrals differentiated by various color and number groups on people's bib times, but in this race, only the runners and walkers were distinguished, and the walkers had a separate start area (but a few of them managed to sneak in with the runners). There were small pace per mile signs suggesting where people should line up, but they were very ineffective due to most people ignoring them (or not even being aware that they existed).
   I didn't have my Garmin this time around mostly because it wasn't charged, but also because I had no real expectations of myself. I knew that the course would be hot and crowded, and that there was a good chance that I wouldn't perform up to my potential. Not the best idea on my part.
   The National Anthem was sung, but after that, the race was delayed by about 10 minutes for some reason. Once the race started, it took me about 2 1/2 minutes to cross the start line. I thought that I didn't care about my time, but the moment I crossed the line, it was like a switch went off and the competitive side of me took over. Immediately, I started dreaming of getting sub-24 minutes. My latest 4 mile race was sub-32, so theoretically, this should be a reasonable goal. 
   However, It did not take me long to realize that I felt completely lost without my Garmin, so I focused on trying to find my groove and getting around the crowds. Early on, I saw Zahava pass me, and at the time, I panicked and thought that I was starting out too easy, so I pushed it and blew past her and continued along the course. I didn't realize it at the time, but Abbey was right behind me for almost the entire race. 

Photo Courtesy of NYRR - I'm not in this one -
there were no photos of me on the course
   At the mile 1 marker, I saw that my split was 7:51, which was on pace for what I wanted, but early on in the race I could tell that it wasn't going to be my day. The streets were completely unfamiliar to me as a runner, and the pollution and smog made it very difficult for me to breathe. My mouth felt really dry at that point, and I was really tempted to stop at the one water station on the course, but ultimately I kept going. However, I didn't realize how far off pace I had fallen until I crossed the mile 2 marker and saw that my split was 8:19. Help
   By this time, it was painfully obvious that several people were using the sidewalks to cut the course short. The picture below displays this - some people ran in a curve along the building instead of running on the street to the corner before turning. To be fair, it's possible that some people didn't realize how much they were cutting the course, but there were definitely people who should have known better. I made sure not to do that - the few seconds wouldn't have been worth it to me. 

Courtesy of NYRR
   I knew that I would have to really push it in the last mile in order to have a shot at sub-24, so I went all in and ran as fast as I could. Mid-mile, some a$$hole decided to cross right in front of me with his dog and a collision almost ensued. Close to the end, everyone had to step up onto some sort of curb, which the course marshalls warned us about as we approached. 
   We finished along the waterfront, and although by that point I knew sub-24 wasn't going to happen, I was determined to finish strong and get sub-25. It was hard to have a fast finishing kick at the end due to the crowded, narrow finish, but I pushed as hard as I could. My final split was 8:24 and my official time ended up being 24:34. I ended up finding all of my friends within a few minutes after finishing, and I also said hello to my other friend Barbara as I was waiting. 

Courtesy of NYRR - Brightroom did not attend this race
so there were no finishing pictures for me personally
Overall, I had a fun experience, and although I know that I am capable of getting a sub-24 minute 3 mile race, today was just not my day. Would I do the race again? The jury is still out on that one. If the timing worked out I would consider it because I appreciated the change of scenery, but if it didn't work out, I wouldn't be crushed. If I do it again, my garmin will most certainly be there this time around. 

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