Tuesday, January 21, 2014

No Injury, No Cry: The NYCRuns CP Hot Chocolate 10 Miler

A year ago, I was in the process of training for the D.C. Marathon, and in a moment of hubris, I took what was supposed to be a marathon pace run and turned it into a shiny 10 Mile PR. I was elated at the time, but only days later, my hamstring started hurting. We all know how that turned out

When I signed up for this year's race as a training run for the New York City Half, I knew that repeating last year's race strategy was not an option. I told myself that I would stick to my plan, and that I wouldn't let the adrenaline of the race or my pride get to me. 

I didn't have the greatest of starts to race week. I had a bad cold for most of the week, and wasn't able to run until that Friday. Although I was disappointed that I would not hit my mileage goal, I was relieved that I felt better by the time race day rolled around. 

Leiba and I agreed to meet up beforehand to run three miles to hit our goal mileage for the day. I ended up walking to the start, which was close to a two mile walk from my apartment. As I walked up the park drive, I noticed a girl running towards the start frantically with a green NYRR bib pinned to her leg. Unfortunately, I would be the bearer of bad news - that the NYRR race she was heading to actually took place yesterday. Awkward...

Anyway, Leiba and I ran down the west side on the horse-path, then turned around and ran back to the start. My paces for the warm-up miles were 9:41, 9:23 and 8:54, and even though I started out slow, I felt like I hit my stride by the time we got back to the race start. I had the brilliant idea of using a real bathroom close to the Great Lawn to avoid the porta-potties, but it was closed, so we ended up standing on a long line anyway.  As we headed towards the line, we were stopped by a photographer who snapped a picture of us. 

After the oh-so-fun bathroom line, we headed towards the start. As we positioned ourselves towards the middle of the pack, we agreed to meet up at baggage if we were separated. A few minutes later, the horn sounded, and we were off! I could barely hear it, but I got the hint when the people in front of me started moving. 

I lost sight of Leiba pretty quickly, but I knew that I had to run my own race, or lack of. I had taken a GU shortly before I started, and so far, felt good. I looked at my watch a couple of times, but it soon drove me crazy, so I resolved to cover it with my sleeve and run by feel, and check in once every mile or so. 

The first loop felt pretty easy. My paces were 9:01, 8:51, 8:57, 9:04 and 8:41. I don't know why mile 5 was that much faster - perhaps it was the excitement of finishing the first loop. As I passed the finish line, I got cheers from several NYCRuns people, including Wallis, who cheered me on through her bullhorn. That, along with the delightful music of Katy Perry, made me momentarily feel like a superstar. 

Finishing up the first loop

After that, I felt slightly deflated and jealous as I passed by those who had finished the five miler, but soon I felt my stubborn tendencies kick in. Only five miles left. Suck it up, Buttercup!

I didn't pay enough attention to where the water stops were, and took the GU a little earlier than I should have, but waiting a little longer for the water stop didn't do any damage in the long run. As each mile passed, I kept track of how close I was to desired pace. Miles 6-8 were 8:57, 9:03 and 9:01. Although I seemed to be on pace, I knew that my Garmin registered each mile before the actual mile marker on the race course, so I was still concerned.  Even if I had no intention of racing it, I didn't want to finish over an hour and a half either. 

Although my ninth Garmin mile was 8:33, I was still concerned, plus the knowledge that I conquered Cat Hill for the second and last time gave me a surge of energy. Although I wasn't exhausted, I was psychologically ready for this run to be over, and I looked forward to finishing. As I approached the camera person on the second loop, I realized that I had to do something different in these pictures to differentiate, so I gave her a thumbs up. 

Moments later, I crossed the finish line after completing my last mile in 8:17, and the last 0.07 miles were done at an 8:39mm pace. My Garmin time was 1:29 exactly, and my official time was 1:28:55 @ 8:54mm pace. Mission Accomplished. 

I officially placed 210/501 overall and 40/120 in the 20-29 AG, but those results didn't really matter to me. The important thing was that I redeemed myself, and avoided making the same mistake two years ago. I am uninjured, and hopefully on my way to running a decent half marathon in a couple of months. 

Overall, I am happy with how training is progressing. However, I am not used to training for a spring race. Since I was injured last year at this time, I had a ready excuse for not running outside all winter. Because of that, I'm not used to waking up early in the morning to run in the freezing temperatures, and my mileage is a little short of where I want it to be. But I hope to rectify that over the next couple of weeks once the next snowstorm blows over. 

Thanks for reading!!!!