As I sulked my way to the subway, I thought, this feels eerily familiar. Then an uptick: that means it will end well.
With no speed training and nary a week over 20 miles this month, I decided I’d be happy to end up a few seconds south of seven minutes in today’s Fifth Avenue Mile. I was okay with that, because I’d also get to see friends today, run 6 with ET, gawk at the elites, and be outside on a gorgeous day.
My race is nothing to brag about. I ran the first quarter mile stupid fast, in 1:25 (or 5:50 pace). Then I hit the hill, and had my slowest split at 1:45. I barely managed to pick it up for the last two quarters. My legs and even my arms were heavy and burning, I could not believe how quickly my body rebelled. 1:42 and 1:41, yes, that seems about right. Once again I was struck with how the shortest distance on paper feels like the longest to my mind. My watch and the mats clocked me at 6:37, just one second slower than my PR of two years ago. Crappity crap–what if I had actually trained? (Thanks to all my Twitter buddies who quickly looked up my PR on my blog for me, since my publishing person’s brain finds numbers too slippery to hold onto.)
Afterwards though I could not stop coughing from the effort. There was a clutch of us sitting at the base of the golden statue, there, at the southeast corner of Central Park, all coughing as if we were some sort of avant-garde musical quartet. One of us quipped, “This must be the smoker’s lounge.”
Once I’d caught my breath, ET and I slowly trotted off to do a loop of the park. It was a seriously perfect day for running, and I was grateful for her company. ET is a Galloway runner, so in a decadent twist of my normal workout, we walked up Cat Hill, Harlem Hill, and that really annoying little hill on the west side.* All in all it took us over an hour to run 6.24 miles, but who’s counting. We were just icing the cake, we’d done the work earlier when we deliberately forced all our bodily functions to go into the red zone for six to nine minutes.
Then we got a quick snack, and watched the elite races with a few other friends. Wow, Erin Donohue really worked hard for that third place finish. She is audacious. And the men’s race, I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be Lagat’s day but I do admire his cheer on the podium. Were Manzano, Webb and Willis even in the field, because I didn’t notice if they zoomed by or not from my vantage point on the sidelines. It’s interesting listening to the little speeches the top athletes give, because they are all so gracious. Truly, runners have to be among the most articulate, friendly and humble athletes out there. But, we couldn’t help but joke about what they would really say if they could be babies about it…
What she said: it was inspiring to run by members of the Steps Foundation and hear them cheer us on at 400 meters.
What she wanted to say: Don’t you people know who my husband is?!
What she said: There is no shame in placing behind Rowbury & Hall.
What she wanted to say: Next time I’m using elbows, and grabbing pony tails. This race is mine, bitches!
What he said: I’m going to keep competing in the Fifth Avenue Mile until I win.
What he wanted to say: Maybe I came in second place, but the fans love me the best.
What he said: I definitely wanted to come back and defend my title this year.
What he wanted to say: I know you all forgot who I was but see? I’m back on the podium.
*You know the one, when you’re running south down the west side, you think the worst is over after Harlem HIll but then there’s that little guy. Does that hill have a name? If not, let’s just call it Ralh Hill, as in “Really Annoying Little Hill” Hill.