I only had to blow my nose once!! And considering the amount I had to blow my nose yesterday (about once every other minute) that is a pretty fantastic feat.
I was actually quite nervous about the race for two reasons: 1)The ridiculous congestion I was having yesterday which made yesterday pretty miserable and 2)the high winds that were in the forecast for today. Thankfully, I woke up and my congestion was basically gone (horray!! I can breath!) so that worry was gone. The wind was blowing though, I could hear it gusting outside my window. For some reason, I HATE the wind. It scares me. This might sound kinda odd, but it is my least favorite weather element. I think it stems back to tornado drills from elementary school. Oooo-those were scary. Anyway, before I sidetrack into some ridiculous story about how the sound of tornado drills used to give me nightmares, I’m going to leave it at I HATE the wind. And I hate running in the wind. But, I am not mother nature and had no control over that, so I just had to roll with the punches. Because I had no idea what combination of clothing would work best, I stuck a variety in my bag and would decide when I got to the park and see what others were wearing.
When I arrived, everyone was bundled in their windbreakers, gloves AND hats, so I decided to do the same except switch out the hat for an earwarmer-I only wear a hat when it is below 32 degrees, my head gets too hot. I knew my gloves wouldn’t last the entire race (my hands get too hot too) but I had pockets for those. I was expecting a relatively small crowd-the normal large group for NYRR 4-mile races (NYRR are notoriously crowded) probably wouldn’t be up for a 9.3-miler. However, there was quite a crowd! But a different crowd. Everyone was a runner-not just a recreational runner every few weeks or so. If you were out doing this race, you obviously loved to run and were passionate about it. I could feel that in the mass of people waiting for the race to start and it felt great. I was among fellow runners and I felt at home. It was a wonderful feeling and I’m looking forward to feeling the same way at the half-marathon next month.
The first 3 miles were strong and comfortable. The wind didn’t bother me much which was quite a relief. Sigh! I knew that I needed to stay slow during the beginning, keeping a pace of about 9 minutes/mile. I never have a problem keeping a steady pace when I run by myself, but during races, I always run about 8:30 min/mile or faster which has never been a problem for shorter 4-5 mile races, but I was treating this as a training run, not a race and wanted to stay slow. Amazingly, I was able to stay on pace and that first third was great: I felt like I could go on forever! Well, maybe not forever, but without a doubt 6.3 more miles. The sun was shining, there were people watching, it was a little crowded but a great race so far.
The middle 3 miles were the hardest, but that was expected. I always have the most trouble with the middle third of any run. My legs were feeling tired, my right hip was acting up, I was getting a little concerned. But, it was barely there…for the hardest part of the race, it wasn’t that hard. Most of the hills in the race were in this section and they went pretty well. I didn’t slow down too much running them and didn’t feel spent when I finished them, which was really good. Middle third…yay! Done! By the end of this third, the sea of runners was spread out significantly which made the running much easier and more enjoyable. I stopped getting nervous that I would trip someone if I moved the tadest bit to the side (which I did during my very first race. whoops.)
The last third felt wonderful. And I was enjoying myself, which is really important for me when I run. If I’m going to put this much energy into an activity, I better enjoy it. I was enjoying the weather, I was enjoying the scenary, I was enjoying running alongside my fellow runners. My energy was high and I knew I would have no problem finished. One of my favorite parts of the loop in central park is the 3/4 mile stretch right before the 72nd st. traverse that has beautiful oaks along the right side and the Lake on the left side (not to be confused with the resevoir. I spent an entire summer at an internship in NY staring at a map of Central Park. I know the entire layout of the park like the back of my hand.) which was the last 3/4 miles of the race, and I forced myself to appreciate the surroundings and enjoy myself, which I did! And then the CEO and President of NYRR started running the opposite direction cheering everyone on, which was to motivating! And before I knew it, it was over! It went surprisingly, and I could have kept going! Overall time: 1 hr 24 minutes, which was a 9:02 min/mile pace. Right on target!! Like I said last week, after every long run, I want to feel like I can do a few more miles, which is how I felt this time. So, I’m a little less nervous (which happens after every long run) and my half marathon next month-I think I might be able to do it without passing out.
I finished up the morning with a half a chocolate chip bagel and a well-deserved egg sandwich with my roommate who, at the brunch restaurant, was telling anyone who would listen that I just ran 9.3 miles. Embarrassed, but secreting enjoying the glory. Cause I just ran 9.3 miles, goddammit!