In elementary school, when we ran the timed mile, I was always embarrassed of my time, which typically was somewhere between 8 and 9 minutes. I remember envying the kids who seemed to breeze through the race in 6 or 7 minutes. I felt like I was moving in slow motion by comparison. Sunday morning, I could tell I was nervous for this race because I felt it in my stomach. Unlike many adult runners, I never ran cross-country or track growing up. In fact, I despised running for the sake of running. And, outside of the timed mile in elementary school, I have absolutely no experiencing running any races shorter than a 5k. This was likely the root of my nervousness. How would I know how much to exert myself for a 1 miler? How would I manage on tired legs from my long run yesterday? My coach told me to take it easy, but what did that mean?
I quizzed Michael, my SO, nervously Saturday night about how I should warm up and what my effort level should be. It is nice to have someone to collaborate with on race strategy. We decided I should warm up for 1-2 miles, picking up the pace for short bursts to get a feel for my form and breathing at my target speed, which I guessed was somewhere between a 6 and 7 minute per mile pace.
The race start was bustling with people running up and down 5th Avenue, like me, to warm up. Some racers were ‘in the zone’, executing wild-looking dynamic stretches. Others, who I presume were taking the race a bit less seriously, were chatting with friends. A few minutes before the heat ahead of mine entered their corral, women my age, 30-34, started lining up. After 10 minutes or so, we entered the corral and waited another 10 minutes to be sent off. I find the nervous energy in the corral both interesting and annoying. People are hopping, jumping, stretching, sizing up the competition, while others are nervously chatting with friends or strangers, and still more are taking selfies so they can update their Facebook / instagram / twitter / blogs ;] – you name it. I managed to wriggle my way up to the front of the corral so I was about 3 rows from the starting line. Good position. Historically, I would have avoided this, knowing I’m not the fastest in the pack, but I’ve been burned too many times by starting in the middle or back and getting stuck behind people far slower than I am. Now I plant myself as far forward as possible. Most racers around me were the hopping, jumping, stretching variety. Good, I thought to myself – they were taking this seriously.
We received a 1 minute warming from the MCs, shortly followed by “take your marks” and the sound of the starting gun. After a few quick steps, I was able to open up my stride. I felt good, but I was going a little too fast. I adjusted my pace and tried to settle in. Then my arms started to feel sort of numb. Soon after that I hear my SO shouting my name. And I see the twins. They were supposed to be at the half way point, but here they are just 200 meters in. As silly as this sounds, seeing them in an unexpected place (far too early) threw me off. I felt anger bubbling up. I was supposed to see them as I crested the hill at the half way point. It would literally all be downhill from there. Instead, I was about to go up a little hill and still had more than 75% of the race in front of me. I tried to clear my frustration from my head. It took a minute. Then I was able to focus again. My arms weren’t numb anymore, but people were beginning to overtake my by the midpoint, which was a little demoralizing. My quads are heavy and tired. Then I hear my name. My mom is cheering for me! A little boost. Soon I could see the finish line. My SO warned me not to kick it up a notch until I was very close so I waited until I was less than 2 blocks away and then gave it all I had. The race clock read 6:31 as I sputtered through.
My mouth was dry. Even my lungs felt dry. Coughing and hacking, I grabbed some water and made my way back uptown to reunite with my crew. Due to typical toddler antics, which almost always involve poop (right??), my SO and the twins barely made it out of the apartment in time to see me race, which is why they appeared on the course earlier than expected. All’s well that ends well.
We watched my SO race – he did well. Then we stuck around for the 60-69 year olds and 70+ age group. These are my favorites to watch. There are some seriously fit people in their 60s, 70s and 80s. Since this race is one of the few I spectate that has heats going off by age, I really enjoy watching each age group. I aspire to be one of those active 70+ year olds one day.
I hoped to see the pros race at 1pm, but the twins needed a nap so we walked my mom to her apartment and then jogged home so the twins could take a nap. My SO headed back out to watch the pros and I followed on social media. Their times are insane – sub 4 for the top men and sub 4:30 for the top women. I cannot fathom it & I love it.