Nope, I’m not racing this one. Just running it, just taking it easy. This was my plan all day, as I have been suffering from some strange illness since Sunday night. It felt like some mix between jet lag, chronic fatigue syndrome, and extreme dehydration. I was sluggish, woozy, and (perhaps worst of all) thinking very slowly. I even called in sick to work on Monday. I have been feeling incrementally better, but still today everyone was telling me I looked “glassy” and “sleepy.” I went to Pilates at lunch, which is not a cake class since our instructor gets our heart rates up and instructs us to do everything “from the belly.” Nevertheless, I love these media challenges (remember last year I went to the first one just to cheer?) and refused to miss it. I’d run with my iPod, I decided, and have it be just another workout towards my 30 day running streak (Day 17 for those of you keeping count at home).
Unexpectedly, I felt a lot better after Pilates, as it seemed to improve both my mood and my energy level. By the time I got to the benches outside Tavern on the Green, I felt ready to run (not race, just run). I wore my funny little running dress. It’s such an unlikely item in my drawer of workout gear, yet it is helpful as a strategic tool. Who thinks the girl in the dress and cutie pie pigtails could be competitive? I look silly, so people underestimate me. Then I pass them. Or at least, I pass some of them.
If you aren’t savvy about it, this course can really kill you. It starts just north of Tavern on the Green with a long downhill, nearly half a mile long–we run down what I call the “Hill of Spite” (it is part of the last .2 miles of the New York City Marathon, except marathoners run up it). The course continues counterclockwise around the lower loop of the park, over lots of rollers which, on the second go-around, can really hurt if you haven’t paced yourself well. I really held myself back the first loop, strictly pacing myself (Mile 1=8:41; Mile 2=8:16). My split for that loop, which is a little bit longer than 1.75 miles because we start about 100 yards back from the finish line, was called out at 15:13. Okay, now break 30 minutes. It was a little after the 2-mile mark when I decided to start picking people off, and in fact, everyone I passed stayed passed. Well, everyone except for this one guy, who first passed me, then I passed him, then he passed me finally in the home stretch. I passed my colleague’s husband, SJ, who told me at the start that he would hang back with me and let me pace him since he ran Ragnar this weekend. Except he took off down that hill with all the other runners who get sucked in to the slope, and clearly tuckered himself out. I was surprised since he knows the course as well as I do. In the last half mile I even passed KD, a much younger runner who was one of my mentees in Team in Training for the Disney World Marathon in 2008 and who I’ve never beaten before. Mile 3=7:27, and the last 0.47 miles took me 3:12 (or a 7:29 pace).
My official finishing time doesn’t correspond with my Garmin because I was so chilled out at the beginning of the race I forgot to hook up Little G with his satellite buddies and my watch got started late. My race time is 28:08, as the 22nd woman to finish (my personal best for this course is 27:10). I probably could have pushed harder, too, especially in the first mile, but hey: not bad for not racing!
After the race, I was able to chat with DT, a friend, colleague and Twitter buddy, and I met DG, who races with Brenn for MgGraw-Hill, and who has been reading my blog for over a year! I was touched when he told me he still reads PF. I’ve just added his blog, The Long Rush, to my blogroll now that I’ve met him (that’s the rule, I have to know you in the actual world, for your blog to make it onto my blogroll). The guy who passed me in the home stretch came over and shook my hand and said “Good race.” We introduced ourselfs and I recognized his name–the guy who passed me is an occasional reader of my blog who originally found PF by googling the Media Challenge two years ago! All in all, this was a great start to the Media Challenge series, and I look forward to improving my time from this race, as well as over my PB.