I forgot to mention in my last race report that I came home from Vermont with a nasty sore throat and chest cold; I felt it scratching on Sunday morning and by Monday it had bloomed and taken control of my body. As quickly as the symptoms had seized me, they had eased off, so that by Tuesday evening I was rested enough to join my company’s team in the second race in the Media Challenge Series. Granted, I still couldn’t breathe too well; I was definitely congested, but I wasn’t out there to race until I hurt anyway. No, I was there to add to the numbers and to pace my coworker SN, who would be running his first-ever race. I figured that even though he’s 8 years younger than I am, he is a smoker which would cancel out any speed advantage his younth may hold.
Finally, finally, there I was, among my teammates, dressed to run. It felt great to be part of the gang again, and I was gratified that they were happy to see me back at it as well. I gave SN a rundown of the 3.5 mile course–twice around the lower loop of Central Park; it will smell like horse manure; we start and finish on the downhill but it will feel as if we’re running uphill the rest of the way. And then we were off, I started us at a 9:30 pace for the first mile, based on the times SN told me he’d been hitting in his own training. We slowed down a little for Mile 2 (9:50), but then I picked it up for Mile 3 (9:00), and by the time we were in the last half mile I was running as fast as I thought I could sustain for another three or four minutes (7:50 pace), primarily to see if SN could hang with me. While he was breathing hard, he didn’t fall back. I, on the other hand, had a side cramp and could hear myself wheezing from somewhere deep inside, due to the congestion. I let him know that once we passed the traffic light before Tavern on the Green, it was just 100 yards downhill to the finish line. I could sense him working hard next to me, but he still seemed restless. It was strange to be so attuned to someone else’s race, but I felt a small measure of responsibility to pace SN through a good first race so that his experience would be positive; I wanted him to finish as fast and as strong as possible.
As we pounded down the hill, we could hear the woman with the bullhorn shouting out finishing times, “Eight-fifth-three! Eight fifty-eight!” I told SN to go if he felt like he could, and he did, but of course I had to chase him a little. He beat me by one second, with Little G showing me a time of 32:12, for 66th place out of 115 females. Far from my PB on this course last year, but it leaves me (and SN) penty of room for improvement.