Posts Tagged ‘ny mini 10k’

I was disappointed, but the NYRR Mini 10k did not disappoint me. Even though I felt crushed over my performance, how delighted was I with every other aspect of this race? VERY.

The NYRR Mini 10k is a historic race. Spearheaded 40 years ago by one of my personal heroes, Kathy Switzer, the first running of this race had only 75 participants. This year, it had more than 7,000. Today, no one questions a woman’s right and ability to run for pleasure, exercise, and competition, but 40 years ago it was still considered a radical, unfeminine, outlandish activity. I can blog (and pout, crow, muse, and navel-gaze) about my running with such abandon today because of to work done by female runners such as Switzer, Benoit, and Waitz decades ago. Speaking of Waitz–this year’s Mini was run in her honor, and I was proud to be participating in the memorial, and in the larger tradition of the race. Apart from everything that Grete did for women’s running worldwide, and her importance to the New York City Marathon, she raced in pigtails–what’s not to love about that?

After spectating last year, I decided I would not let another year go by without racing this one. As I’ve said before, I generally pass on most New York Road Runner races because I am not interested in paying to run around Central Park. But the Mini, with its start at Columbus Circle and course that takes us up Central Park West and clockwise around the big loop in the park, is an exception. BUT if they’re closing a major thoroughfare, giving me the chance to run down Harlem and Cat Hills, and setting up the finish in front of Tavern on the Green?–then hell yeah, I’m in!

As I walked to bag watch, I imagined that I knew all of the women headed that way, too. I strolled and reflected (since I was in no hurry for the race to start) that at one point or another, I was or will be one of these women. I have or will race: skinny, fat, hungover, well-rested, slow, fast, for fun, a PB, to test my fitness, to be among friends, injured, peaking, PMSing, to heal a broken heart, to burn off lust, to actualize myself, to get guaranteed NYCM entry, to prove something, to set an example, to support another woman, to burn 700 calories, to believe in myself, to remember who I am.

When I got to bag watch, I realized that I actually did know dozens of the women on the course that day. I had met then through my blogging, tweeting, racing; through my family, work, racing, Team in Training and Team Fox. Women runners pervade every segment of my life–and there are few comments on who I am and who I hope to be that are more beautiful than that. How lucky am I? VERY.

Among the runners I know, I was able to see these women before or after the race: @raceslikeagirl, @mdwstrnNYer, @sugarpop, @ericasara, @nycbklyngirl, @BklynRunner, @susanruns, @Running_Fox, @EvaTEsq, @kbruning and others I am sure I’m forgetting. When I pushed into my corral (the second corral! A red bib!), I ended up right behind a woman I know from work. I saw my old TNT Coach Nancy by the raffle table. I know there were many other women racing who I knew were there but didn’t catch up with–plus the other women I know but didn’t realize were racing. How cool is that? VERY.

I was agog with the calibre of professional competition in the race, as well. As we raced, I would follow behind athletes such as Deena Kastor, Magdalena Lewy Boulet, last year’s victor Linet Masai, Kim Smith, and many others. How many amateur runners in this country get to tread directly behind such talent? A small percentage, yet there I was! How rare is that opportunity? VERY.

Now for the race itself. It wasn’t until the Chacha man shot off the Go gun that the competitor within me woke up and said a quick prayer, Please let me have a good race. I enjoyed the course immensely, even though I had my eyes cast down nearly the entire time. My mood was subdued, to say the least. I erroneously thought the conditions hospitable–skies were overcast and there was a light breeze, but I learned afterwards that humidity was 96%. My legs, my legs, people! They haven’t felt kicky in nearly a month. During the race, I kept expecting some sort of grit to push its way to the surface through the pudding. Usually that race mentality picks up on the cues: What are these hoardes of people, timing chips, bibs, racing flats doing here? Oh, okay! Nope, pudding all the way. I felt like a pile of damp leaves and kindling. No spark was going to set me on fire. This was my thought pattern the entire race: Q: Can I sustain this speed? [look at Little G] A: It reads slow but it feels dangerous.

At Mile 3, I broke out in a huge grin despite myself. The Front Runners were cheering as if their lives depended on it. NYRR had set up cheering stations, assigned to various clubs (whose male members were wearing shirts emblazoned with “This one’s for Grete.”). Their shouts were amazing, and gave me a boost like I’ve never experienced in any race previously. They made me feel special, like I was doing something remarkable, and for that I was grateful (because I didn’t believe I was remarkable at the time).

Ultimately, I finished more than a minute thirty off my PR, which left me feeling pretty crushed and wondering if I am a fool to think I can run a sub-3:45 in my marathon this October. Friends reminded me I raced on only five weeks of consistent training, the humidity was killer, and I have been exhausting myself through BEA, moving house, and unpacking. All of that is physical, and can leave a body in need of recovery the same way a long run or speed workout does (so they told me). I am grudgingly meeting them half way. I am also considering this: I ran a 35-second negative split, my fastest mile was my last, and I lost one pound this week (I am attempting to get back to race weight by August). While those facts aren’t VERY encouraging, for right now, they are encouraging enough.

6.2 miles raced in 52:07. Fastest mile 8:09 (Mile 6); slowest mile 8:33 (Mile 1); average pace 8:24.

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When I heard Paula and Kara would be running the NYRR New York Mini 10k, there was no way I was going to miss it. The plan was to see them at the start, then mosey to the finish, leaving enough time to hang around and maybe shake their hands and get a picture with them. I was also hoping to bump into Kathryn Switzer (who I have been saving a hug of thanks for ever since I read her autobiography Marathon Woman), and to watch the awards ceremony. Of course, life loves to squeeze me like a vise and so I was stuck getting up at 5 AM for my 10-miler to fit it in before the Mini, and then jetting from the race as soon as possible to come out to Long Island to take care of my Nana (to give Mom a break).  As luck would have it (since I don’t believe in luck, I always get the bad kind), there were all sorts of public transportation issues this morning so Iarrived at the 50th Street and Eighth Avenue station 5 minutes before the starting horn. I ended up jogging the 10 blocks north to the start of the race, in front of Trump Towers at Columbus Circle and Central Park West (smart thing I wore my sports bra and running shoes).

I arrived there just in time to snap some photos of the fillies all lined up at the starting line, and to hear Paula Radcliffe give her remarks to the crowd. I was flustered because I’d been rushing so my camera was on the wrong setting, thus my photo of the first strides came out blurry rather than clear.

Hello, abs!


Linet Masai's legs are all the way over on the right. They won.

After the start of the race, my intention was to walk to the finish line and observe from there. I am nothing if not a soul with good intentions, which is a gentle way of saying I nevertheless usually screw things up; as a result I am either a clod or erroneous. This morning, I was erroneous as I walked over towards where the finish line would be for the Fifth Avenue Mile.  Who knows why I had it in my head to go east–I even had a print-out of the course map in my backpack but neglected to check it, that’s how sure I was that I knew what I was doing. The finish line (which I will never forget now) is the same as the New York City Marathon, in front of the soon-to-perish Tavern on the Green. By the time I reoriented myself, I was too far from the finish line to beat the elites there, so I camped out instead along the southeastern curve of Park Drive, somewhere around 5.75 miles, and decided to cheer from there.

No matter how many times I spectate in Central Park, I will always be amazed at how fast the elites zoom by. I stood right on the edge of the road, and was able to see the strain in their faces, see the rise and fall of their chests as they breathed heavily, and hear their pants and footfalls. I even caught a bit of their tailwind. It was visceral and after a while I gave up on taking pictures.

Mary Wittenberg was running on my side of the street, and her form is so distinctive (lots of arm work and frowning), so I spotted her before I saw Paula. But then I copped on quick enough to offer a casual, “Hey Paula, how’s it going?” And she actually half-turned around, gave a tiny wave and said, “Hi!” That’s exactly what any normal person who runs past a friend would do! Cool. Paula is preggers so she was just running this Mini for fun, and Kara sat it out altogether.

Soon the fast locals started pounding by, which is when I saw Julie. A quick masters runner, a blogger, and a Green Mountain Relay teammate, I was thrilled to spot her. She’s had a few chances lately to interview a bunch of elites; if you’re interested, you should visit her blog and read about the men, the comeback, and the women. It’s good reading, and good vicarious living.

I stood there for about another 20 minutes or so, waiting for other runners I know to trot by, but I failed to pick them out. I was a little disheartened as I was really hoping to give them a boost. Instead I stood there and did my best to cheer on the ladies, shouting things like, “Race it strong” and “Your hair looks fabulous.” You know, the important things.

Now that I know the course, maybe I’ll even race the Mini one year.

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