I was a little tentative to race. I wasn't thrilled about waking up at 6:30 am in the middle of winter (what can I say, I love my sleep!) And in case you didn't notice, NYRR kind of owns my soul this year since I already signed up for their two big ticket races. But I wanted to know where I stood fitness-wise. Between all the easy miles of marathon training and my injury hiatus, I really wasn't sure what to expect. Plus, my friend Dahlia offered me her services as a pacer and a place in the city to crash the night before. What more could I want? My "A" goal was to break 55 minutes, and my "B" goal was to simply PR from last June's New York Mini 10K.
|Shirt and bib. Best part about winter racing is long-sleeved shirts instead of short|
When our alarms went off at 6:30, I was not a happy camper. It was dark. But at least, not cold! The weather was already 42 degrees out - kinda crazy in January. But totally not complaining!
We made our way to the park and the corals with a warm up walk/jog. Dahlia was assigned to the corral ahead of me since her "best pace" is about 30 seconds faster than mine, so she hopped back to mine so we could start together. We heard the usual slew of NYRR announcements (fun fact: NYRR has 12 members going to the Olympic trials next week...very cool!), the anthem, and off we went.
The first mile was fabulous. It was mostly downhill until Harlem Hill, so I had no trouble picking up speed. As I climbed up the hill, my Garmin beeped at me and said I averaged 8:37 for the first mile. I thought "Sweet! If I can keep this up, I should have no problem PRing. I might even pick up a lower bib time!"
And then came the West Side hills in mile 2. Normally, I scoff at these hills. I run much tougher hills here in CT all the time and, I had no trouble with them last June during the mini. Maybe I went out too fast, or maybe it was just the faster pace, but for whatever reason, these hills just zapped me. I ended up averaging 9:01 for the mile. Dahlia told me, "No worries, we are still on target, we can just pick it up a bit the next mile."
I was starting to feel pretty tired, so I was pretty pumped when we spotted a water station. I'm usually fairly decent at grabbing the cup on the run, but the station was so crowded, I felt like I had no choice but to stop to get a hold of a cup. And once you have already stopped, you might as well take the 10 seconds to drink before picking it up back up, right? Even with the wasted time at the water stop, I managed to average 8:54.
|Yay! Happy the race is going well so far. Or, just happy I spotted the camera before it spotted me.|
Then, everything went to hell. I don't know if it was my lack of fitness for the pace I was holding for the first few miles, or if I just wasn't mentally tough enough to push through. Either way, I slowed a ton for the next mile and a half. Dahlia was trying to encourage me to start moving, but I just felt like I couldn't do it. Mile 4 clicked by at 9:20 and I started to feel discouraged. "We can still make 55 minutes, let's go!" Dahlia called out. "I can't!" I said. "What hurts?" "She asked me. "Everything!!"
By the time we got to Cat Hill in mile 5, I was like are you kidding me?! I knew this hill would be tough since it was so close to the end, but I didn't know how tough. At this point I could care less about my pace - I just wanted to get up to the top of the damn hill. But I managed and survived the rest of the mile in 9:16.
|Does this look like the face of someone who is having a good time? I thought not.|
Last mile. The first half was a slug and, I was basically on survival mode. Then about halfway through, something clicked. If I didn't seriously pick it up, not only was my "A" goal out the window, but my "B" goal of simply PRing might be in jeopardy. I started running pretty hard. I finished the mile in 9:04 and continued to run hard until the finish line. Final time? 56:34 with the final .2 mile in 8:24.
Am I happy with the race? I mean, yes, of course I'm happy that I PRed. I'm happy that when I plug my time into the McMillan Running Calculator, it spits out a 2:05 half marathon prediction. Since that is what I ran in the National Half Marathon last March, at the very least I can say I haven't lost any fitness. I'm also happy when I plug my time into Runner's World SmartCoach, it predicts a half marathon of either 2:01 (moderate training) or 1:58 (hard training) after 10 weeks of training. My hopes of going sub-2 for the NYC Half in March are not lost.
|Garmin splits. Of course my watch is off from the official time, and of course I missed the tangents and ran extra.|
But despite all of these positives, I'm still not completely satisfied. I missed my "A" goal of breaking 55 minutes, which makes me feel kinda blahs. I get pretty tough on myself, and I hate missing goals. As I reflect and write this race report, I also start to wonder if I really pushed myself as hard as I could of. When I shouted that "everything hurts!" did I have any muscular pain? Not really. My knee actually was feeling pretty good. I just felt like I couldn't give anymore. But the big difference between racing and just running is learning to push past the pain to really give it everything you got. I think I gave a lot (my legs were pretty sore the next day!) but I'm not so sure I really gave it my all. After all, if I had enough energy for the final sprint to be faster than that first mile, doesn't that say something?
Have you ever PRed a race and still been unhappy with your time? How do you manage to stay strong when the middle miles start to get tough?