I didn’t think I’d PR, though it remained a wispy hope in the corner of my heart.
(Truth: all my race reports from this year could have started with the above sentence.)
I did think I could improve over my last 5k, which was the BAA 5k the Sunday before the Boston Marathon (24:47, a 7:58 pace). For reference, ran my 5k PR a year ago at the Get to the ‘Point! 5k Run in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (23:15, a 7:30 pace).
All this talk of time reminds me: I didn’t have a lot to spare on Saturday. I was booked the entire day with this race, brunch for a friend’s birthday, various phone calls to support my friends, errands (the bank, dry cleaners, grocery store), tasks (making ice cream for a friend and coop board meeting, unpacking and shelving my books), and making dinner for yet another friend. My Blackberry chimed at me at least ten times through the day with prompts that it was time to move onto the next activity or chore. Every evening before I go to bed, I ask myself if I packed everything I could into the stream of life. Last Saturday, I was paddling Class IV rapids.
This is all to say: NYCRUNS started the Roosevelt Island 5k 20 minutes late due to problems getting everyone registered and bibbed. That delay truncated my morning. Remember that as it’s relevant later in the race report. (For a one-man operation, NYCRUNS adds much to the local racing scene, but it’s still a young organization that will get better at staging these events as it does more of them. What it lacks in promptness or slickness, it makes up for in heart and libertarian spirit.)
I promise you, I will return to race this course again. Why? 1. IT HAS THE BEST FUCKING STARTING LINE IN THE HISTORY OF ALL RACES: right under the footings of the Queensboro Bridge!! I was inspired by this start. We toed up beneath the belly of my bridge, so whichever way I looked the view was filled with my best training partner ever. Oh, joy! Why else? 2. THE UBIQUITOUS VA-VA-VIEWS. Most of the course provided up-close sights of the 59th Street Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. And let’s not forget, 3. F IS FOR FLAT. ‘Nuff said. Lastly… 4. EASY-PEASY ARRIVAL. Roosevelt Island is actually quick to get to from Queens, and for that I was grateful. Q32/Q60 bus to Queensboro Plaza, jog 1/3 of a mile to the Queensbridge F stop, go one station and exit at Roosevelt Island.
As far as the race itself goes, I thought the field might be small enough that I could place in my age group. Also, I wanted to set another standard for myself, and see how far my fitness had progressed since April. My time would be a little handicapped by the fact that I’d just taken 8 days off training to recover from a pernicious head and chest cold–so pernicious, in fact, that I was still congested on race day and could feel that my lungs couldn’t pull maximum oxygen (surely that slowed me down).
I ran as hard as I could. I know I did, because my legs felt weary and a little trashed for the rest of the week. I tried to pass as many people as I could. Usually I am able to reel most of the women (and some of the men) I can see ahead of me in the final mile, but this time most of the chicks who’d passed me earlier (maybe half a dozen?) stayed ahead. This is why I finished with the idea that I’d be lucky to be in the top ten of my age group. (Many of the women who passed me had these perky, little fit asses. My butt hasn’t looked that good since I ran the New York City Marathon in 2008. If asses were a predictor of finishing times, I’d have been lucky to be in the top 50.)
The runners were assisted by a thoughtful tailwind as we ran the entire, subtly downhill, west side of Roosevelt Island. This made up a little over half the race, so I pushed as hard as I could while I had those two advantages to maximize my speed.
My splits show that I am still mastering the 5k, as I went out about 15 seconds too fast. Mile 1 = 7:24, Mile 2 – 7:52, Mile 3 = 7:51. The last 0.1 was run at a 7:08 pace, because I instigated a nice little competition with some dude as we headed towards the chute (I beat him). My official time is 23:53, for a 7:41 pace. I wish I’d finished closer to my PR performance, which is a slight bummer. But at least I’ve shown improvement over the past six months. This year, I’ve learned that the single most important thing I can do in my training is remain consistent. It’s impossible to progress if I’m constantly hedging a workout schedule due to exhaustion, demoralization, or injury.
Here is where that 20-minute delay in the race start becomes a relevant part of the story. Because my schedule was pushed back, I had to jet immediately so I could get home, shower and change in order to spin back around and get to dell’anima in time for brunch. This means I missed Steve’s gracious preamble to my First Place in Age Group Award! Whaa?? At 38 years of age, I came in first in the 30-39 age group, by a whopping 1:24 margin?? To me, this begs the question: what on earth are all those younger thirty-somethings doing wrong in their training that I can beat them? But hey, I’ll take it! PS I was also the eighth woman overall. PPS I am aware that my finishing time wouldn’t place for shit in a NYRR race.
Oh and–the rest of my day was full, but highly productive. Here is a visual of just one of the fruits of my labors.