Saturday, March 24, 2012

13.1 NYC Race Recap

~3 minute w/u
Target: Win and run sub-1:17
Actual: First place, 1:17:19, $1000
Total: 14 miles

The Karhu Bear at the start of the 5k. Will he get a new bear record??

One of these days, I'm going to run a race like a normal person. I'll arrive to the destination city a day or two before, spend plenty of time relaxing off my feet, then enjoy a delicious pre-race dinner and a restful night of sleep. On race morning I'll arrive to the event site an hour or so early with plenty of time to get in a proper leisurely warmup. I'll make my way to the starting line feeling fresh, rested and incredibly confident in my preparation.

Of course, today was not that day. I spent the majority of the previous 48 hours walking up and down the labyrinthine stairways and back corridors of Paragon Sports working packet pickup. The night before the race, Jordan and I undertook a well-orchestrated four-part transportation sequence that included walking a mile back to our friend's place from Paragon, taking a taxi to Grand Central Station, hopping a train to Pleasantville to retrieve our car, then driving 45 minutes to scenic Queens so we could pass out for a few hours at a hotel near the race site. (It goes without saying that the takeout meal I snagged at Grand Central was less than ideal.) Fortunately, the New York edition of the 13.1 race series boasted the latest start time of them all, a blissful 9am, which meant that we didn't need to arrive to Flushing Meadows for setup until 6:30. (In stark contrast, the Miami 13.1 race a few weeks ago was already a few miles underway at this time.) That said, with plenty of setup necessary before gun time, I barely had a chance to say hello to Jay and Billy and haphazardly pin on my number before frantically sprinting over to the start line.

A few minutes later, aft
er a particularly ear-piercing taped rendition of the national anthem, we were off. Luckily for me, "we" included an entourage I have since dubbed "the three J's," consisting of Jay, his Urban Athletics teammate Josh, and a surprise late-entering JSK. For the next hour-plus, these three gentlemen made it their mission to keep me on pace, block the wind during some particularly drafty sections, offer me water and Gatorade when necessary, and provide plenty of verbal encouragement. During the later stages, when the course criss-crossed over itself several times and we found ourselves doubling over some straggling runners and walkers (and generally unaware park visitors), the three J's expended plenty of their own energy shouting at people to get out of the way and blazing me a clear path (albeit one that several times included dodging shrubbery and hopping over unfortunately placed curbs). At one point, an errant soccer ball from a hotly contested Mini Mexico tournament strayed directly in front of our path, but one of the J's deftly kicked it out of the way without even breaking stride. What more could a girl ask for?? These guys were a huge help, both mentally and physically, and I undoubtedly would've missed my time goal by an even wider margin had they not been there to act as my queenmakers. I think this finish line shot says it all:

The three J's bow out gracefully to the right so I can
get the glory. What class acts!

Of course, as soon as I broke the tape, I immediately began calculating where I could've gained back the 20 seconds that cost me a sub-1:17 showing. Though almost perfectly flat save for a few short overpasses, the course had about 100 turns that often slowed my momentum and broke my mental rhythm. Along the back section of the park around mile 8, we inexplicably encountered a wet, slippery, disgusting muddy section about 25 meters long. Gingerly tip-toeing through it definitely didn't do me any favors--not to mention also didn't prevent my entire backside from the waist down from being completely splattered with mud--and resulted in what was probably my slowest mile of the day. But even taking these things into account still can't explain why my legs felt flat and heavy from the gun. By mile eight my energy and optimism was flagging and I could feel every muscle in my hips and hamstrings vehemently protesting what I was asking of them. Regardless, I'm happy to have persevered and set a new PR even if it wasn't quite what I was hoping for. I also just discovered from Jay's blog that our sub-5:40 final mile was the fastest of the day, which is promising. (Jordan took my watch at the starting line and recent experience has taught me to distrust my math skills based on the race clock, so this was news to me.) My training is going well and I just have to trust that the incremental fitness I'm gaining from each race and workout will all culminate in a breakthrough performance soon enough.

It's also worth noting that our Karhu Bear absolutely dominated the 5k, finishing 5th overall and shattering the previous bear record of 18:47, set at the Los Angeles 13.1
in 2011. If you haven't seen or felt this bear costume in person, you can't truly understand what an impressive feat this is. We might need to drug test his honey pot!


jayholder8k said...

You ran great considering the conditions and I had a blast being involved. Two of the Js are in the early planning stages of a Boston day trip Saturday to run the course. I will keep you posted.

Suzanne said...

Ii really liked reading about this experience, and all the support you had. I personally think you are an amazing runner! Even though I am completely biased. Shall I tell you that my current favorite song is, "What If the Race Was Over (and we all automatically won), by Daniel Nahmod?