On Saturday I found myself closer to running the 2011 NYC Marathon as I completed my final qualifying race in my 9+1 with the Central Park Conservatory Run for Central Park 4 Mile. For those who don’t know, if you run nine New York Road Runners races and volunteer at one, you are guaranteed entry to the following year’s marathon. I actually ran 8 NYRR races this year, but the Run for Haiti counts twice because it was more expensive. All I have to do now is volunteer!
As good as it feels to be done with my racing component, I did find myself wishing during the race that I was volunteering rather than running. That is because this race was tough. So many small things went wrong! I still came out on top though.
The night before the race, well past my self appointed bedtime of 10 pm, I realized that I forgot to make a race playlist — this happened to be before my last race too. What is wrong with me these days! I quickly worked off my last 3 mile playlist and put something together quickly. I woke up before my alarm on race day and took my sweet time getting ready. I fixed up my playlist for a good 10-15 minutes. I don’t have a screenshot of my playlist because, again, I am forgetful lately, but here is a typewritten (is that a word?) list:
Why I Am (Dave Matthews Band) <– went to his concert THAT NIGHT at Citi Field!
@LaurenConrad Get Us On The Hills! (Super Mash Bros)
Shooting Stars (Bag Raiders) <– new favorite running song
Livin The Dream (Super Mash Bros)
Mr. Boom Boom Jones (The Knocks)
Hey Girl (OAR)
United State of Pop 2009(DJ Earworm)
Say Hey [I Love You](Michael Franti)
Cosmic Love (Florence + The Machine)
This Is Definitely Not the 405 (Super Mash Bros)
Lord of Tranz – Sanctificum (DJ Tiesto)
I stretched, got dressed, put on my hat, took off my hat, put on my hat, took off my hat and put on my hat, and then I was out the door!
I was a few blocks from home when I realized that I forgot my Garmin! My brand new Garmin that I was so excited to race with, to use as a guide, to have an understanding of my own pace, to push me and pace me. As I was laying my gear out the night before, I saw the Garmin on the dresser and decided to leave it there since it was in the charger. The charger wasn’t plugged in, yet I wanted to leave it there? Why? So of course it was not with my other stuff and then I just forgot it.
I was pretty upset at myself but decided I would run a great race anyway and try not to let this setback get me down. It turned out the Garmin wouldn’t have helped me anyway. . .
I got to my corral and while lots of people were complaining about how hot it was, I was loving it. I have been at so many races where I am freezing waiting for them to start, I really enjoy not being cold and not having layers to think about. I couldn’t hear any of the pre-race speeches or the national anthem which was very strange, because I’ve heard those from much further back before. I did hear the starting horn and three minutes later crossed the start line.
And then I knew I was in for a very difficult race.
My legs were like lead. I partly blame myself for taking Core Fusion Yoga the day before the race. While yoga sounds like it would be a nice pre-race stretch, this class (especially with the teacher I had) was heavy on the quad strengthening. It was the opposite of a rest for my legs, so I did not go into this race with fresh legs at all. I only partly blame myself, because sometimes heavy legs just happens. So I am considering this a mix of my fault and not my fault.
Right away I knew that my Garmin would have been pretty pointless. I couldn’t run any faster than I was running, and I felt like I was moving pretty slowly. The race was counterclockwise around part of the Central Park loop, which I find to be the MUCH hillier route. There were so many uphills it was crazy! All I could do was keep moving. It was hard not only on my legs but on my chest, too. I hadn’t run at all since my 3 mile race on June 24, which was obviously not the smartest thing to do. I felt very out of shape in the running department. I quickly abandoned any ideas of running nine minute miles for a third race in a row.
To make matters worse, my right shoe felt too tight on the laces! I wanted so much to stop on the side and loosen it. I did that during my second half marathon, but I didn’t want to stop during a four mile race. I could push through. It only hurt sometimes. Other times I didn’t even notice it.
More! More ailments! I had ribcage pain. I practiced my breathing (breathe in on the right foot, out on the left). Also, I had to pee! I didn’t get to the race early enough to use the portapotties, and even though needing to pee during a race is usually nerves and not real, it still felt like a nuisance for the first mile. I even considered stopping at the portapotties before mile 1 was even over but decided I could push through. I knew deep down that it was not real! And while I thrive in hot weather, I do think the humidity affecting me as well. It just all kind of sucked.
There is more. When I started running last year I got this sharp pain in my right hip. Once I learned the right stretches to do before I ran, the pain disappeared. Even if I forgot to stretch, the pain never happened again — not through my half marathon training, not through my half marathons, not through my super fast 10K. But on this day, that pain came back. OH NO. I really hope this isn’t something I will have to seriously deal with or a real injury. Yoga yoga yoga. I have another half to train for! Why is this happening now?
All these things were working against me. I didn’t feel awesome. I just wanted the race to be over. I considered quitting but it was only four miles (I say this not because four miles isn’t an accomplishment or is easy, but only in comparison to the 10Ks I recently ran, and the half marathons before that) and I knew I could push through. Soon enough it would be over.
My music was great, but it wasn’t motivating me. I just kept going because it was all I could do. I tried hard not to get myself crazy about my time, but I couldn’t help but be happy when I passed each mile marker and almost exactly 10 minutes had passed each time. That meant I was still maintaining a good pace despite the less than ideal conditions. I was trying not to focus on time because I just wanted to finish without feeling like death, but I am so competitive with myself and couldn’t help hoping to finish in less than 40 minutes.
When we got to the last mile I was so happy to see it was all downhill. I had some energy left in me since I just couldn’t push hard through the first three miles, so I was able to use the downhills to my advantage. I sped up and started passing people. Down down downhill. I smiled because I finally felt more like myself. Eventually that energy ran out too and I was thinking I still had a ways to go to to the finish line and I was SO ready for this to be over. And then I saw the finish line — much closer than I thought it would be! That last mile felt fast! Also, I was in the middle of the last song of my playlist. I always seem to time these so well.
I crossed the finish line and was just as happy to be done as at my very difficult second half marathon. I saw a few photographers during the race, but they were either fiddling with their cameras or I noticed them too late. We all know how I love hamming it up for the race paparazzi. I did get a couple finish line pictures!
My official time was 39:06, for an average pace of 9:46. So happy with this time! I thought I was moving so slowly, but I was doing just fine! This goes to show that my running has improved so much that what used to be a comfortable pace for me now feels slow. I love this! My time made the entire not-so-great race experience pretty . . . great!
Now I plan to get back into a regular running routine. And very soon I will start training for my next half marathon. I am so excited!
Have you ever had a difficult run and it turned out you were much faster than you realized?