Sunday, July 27, 2014

Long Runs, Concerts & Pacers, Oh My!

Even though I have no intentions of running my second marathon this year, it is my goal to get in better shape and eventually earn another half-marathon PR, which is almost two years old at this point. So when I saw that NYRR's two long training runs were open for registration, I immediately jumped on board. 

Yesterday was the first of these two runs, and although getting out of bed at 5:50 am has never been ideal, it's something that one learns to deal with when running in the summer. After getting ready, I pinned on my bib and jogged 1.25 miles to the start. 

There were four loops to this run - the first loop was the entire six mile loop of the main drive, the second & third loops were five miles each, and the last loop was four miles. Each runner could run as much or as little as they wished. In addition, the runners split up into self-selected pace groups, and each one had a few volunteer leaders from a local running club.

Since I aimed to run around 13 miles that morning, I decided to run there, complete the first two loops and then jog home as a cool down. I initially planned on running with the 9:30 mm pace group, but then decided to challenge myself and see if I could do the 11 miles at marathon pace, which was 9:00 mm miles. I figured that if I couldn't keep up on the first loop, I would fall back and join the 9:30 group for the second loop. 

Since there were a lot of people lined up at that pace, we were split into two groups. I stayed back and started with the second group, and off we went! The first mile included Harlem Hill, so when my Garmin beeped 9:06, I was fine with that since I knew we would naturally speed up on the downhills. But I quickly realized that even with a couple of water stops, my pace group was going significantly faster than it should have been as miles 2-4 were finished at 15 seconds faster than we were supposed to go, and we were only speeding up from there. 

We slowed down significantly during the fifth mile due to Cat Hill, and finally had another mile close to pace at 8:56, but that did not last as we completed the loop almost 30 seconds too fast. Despite the pace, I was still feeling good, and once I took my GU and sipped some water, I decided to leave with the first nine minute pace group when they headed off. I had hoped that the pacers for this group would stay closer to pace. 

However, despite the fact that I was right on pace, the group was pulling ahead quickly and once I grabbed a sip of water, that was it. I ran quickly after them, but by the time I reached the bottom of the park the second time, the pace group was long gone. I was disappointed, discouraged, and even thought of quitting, but in the end my stubbornness won out. I ended up averaging an 8:52 pace over the 11.21 miles even though my pacers literally ran away from me. I hate to be harsh on the pacers, as they were gracious enough to volunteer their time and efforts, but considering the temperature and humidity, they should have been far more conservative than they were. 

Despite these difficulties, I was proud of my accomplishments. I did a cool-down mile, ate breakfast, then prepared for the next part of my day. While I usually take a mid-morning siesta, I didn't have time for that. 

My boyfriend & I play in a summer wind ensemble, and we had an early afternoon performance in the Bandshell at Central Park. I had played with Columbia Summer Winds five years ago, but business school schedules interfered, and after a long break, I decided to go back. 

As Paul & I walked over to the venue, it had started drizzling, which made me a bit nervous, but the rain eventually stopped and the weather cooperated with us. The theme of our concerts this year was "Americana", and we played several amazing works by Copeland, Ives, and several others. 

I admit that I  have high standards not only for myself, but for any group I play in, but when I realized how much our audiences appreciated our concerts, achieving perfection suddenly wasn't as much of a priority. But that certainly didn't mean our group wasn't up for the challenge. We pulled off an amazing concert, ending with myself and other flute players standing up and playing the famous piccolo solo in Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever. Once the concert was over, I finally gave into my hunger and ate a bunch of sushi thanks to a lovely lunch special at Haru that I enjoyed with Paul. Then, I took a two hour nap and finally started to feel a bit rested. 

Although it was a tiring day, I am continuously grateful to be able to stay active in both the running and the music world. Although I have been a musician far longer than I have been a runner, I can no longer imagine a life without both activities in them. It's a good thing that concerts & rehearsals never take place early in the morning!

That's all for now. Thanks for reading!