I signed up for the NYRR 4 Mile Race to Deliver race with one goal in mind — to run a sub 9 minute mile so I can move up in an NYRR corral for future races. I knew I could do it based on some of my other runs — namely the fact that I tend to bust out the first mile of EVERY run with an 8:30ish minute mile — but the main obstacle was my left knee, which acts up when I run fast for too long.
I met up with my friend Melissa before the race. I really should have thought to take some pictures before and after the race to spice up the post (no Brightroom photogs at this one) but I didn’t think about blogging at all that day. Since I won’t be able to break this post up with pictures from the race, I will instead insert pictures from the day before the race, when I MET TINA FEY.
When the gun went off it took a full seven minutes to get to the start line. NYRR races usually start much more smoothly than this, but it was very narrow at the start and hard to get going. Also, the corral system was a little weird and didn’t seem to be organized well by pace. Melissa and I both ran our fastest race at a similar pace but we were split into separate corrals, and there were many walkers in my corral even though it was not in the back. I started my Garmin .07 miles before we got to the start because I was overwhelmed and anxious with so many people so close all around me. I didn’t want to deal with my Garmin when I needed to focus on getting moving.
You can see the crowded start in this picture from nyrr.org:
It was very hard to start out running at first because of these crowds, and we weaved like crazy. I know this is not the best race strategy but I knew that if I didn’t start running at my goal pace I would not be able to get into it. My thing is this: if I start my run fast, even when it gets hard and I slow down, I am not actually running slowly. I feel slow because I am slower than I started, but I am actually still running fast. But when I start slower it is harder for me to speed up enough. Does that make sense? Does that happen to you too?
I turned my music on, but I missed my favorite part of my first song — and the reason I made this song first. Girl Talk released a new album earlier in the week and as soon as I heard Triple Double I knew it had to be my first song. It starts with 1901, one of my favorite running songs! It also incorporates Paint it Black and that is just awesome. But I missed the entire song pretty much because of the weaving game. Melissa pushed me this first mile. She would pull ahead of me and it was hard to keep up but I was able to. We would both weave and meet back up. She got me through that first mile in less than 9 minutes. And I was able to enjoy my second song, Stereo Love, which made me very happy. I learned this one at Core Fusion and identified it at the eyebrow threading place using my V Cast Song ID app on my BlackBerry. That song got me into a really nice groove and I was able to smile.
At the beginning of the second mile I found my own comfortable pace. Even though I was running around 8:30 I felt great and I didn’t feel like I was trying to keep up with Melissa anymore; the speed felt natural. We stayed near each other but ran very much on our own, with our music playing. About a quarter through this mile my stomach started hurting on my lower left side. It was not a cramp, it was just pain. The pain was so bad I considered stopping. I considered some scenarios:
- I leave the race
- I leave the race, rest for a minute, come back
- I slow down — pain might get better, but it might just mean I run with pain for a longer amount of time
- I push through — if I stay on this pace, I will be finished soon anyway
I went with option 4. Good thing I did.
I started mile 3 and my stomach calmed down as we climbed up hills. I think the climbing stopped all my bouncing and helped. That mile zipped by! I felt great the entire time. I was able to smile again at my speed. I lost Melissa during this mile but I knew she was doing great would finish strong.
Mile 4, almost done! I started feeling nauseous from pushing myself so hard but I was so close to the end. I knew I could slow down in this mile and still achieve my goal of sub 9, so I ran through the nausea with every intention of slowing down a little. But since it was my last mile, my body decided to run it fast anyway. My mind had zero control. I looked down at my Garmin and saw I only had half a mile left. Unconsciously again, I sped up. I didn’t mean to but when I looked down my pace was at 8:00. I saw the runners ahead of me turning the final corner to finish the race and I felt jealous — I wanted to be there! I wasn’t feeling so hot at all and I just needed to be done. I was so nauseous! I had nothing in me to sprint so I figured I’d just shuffle my legs through the finish because I already knew I met my goal. But when I looked down at my watch I was at a 7:00 pace! I guess the adrenaline at seeing the finish and knowing I was almost done caused me to sprint without realizing I was sprinting.
So anyway, I had Girl Talk’s new song Every Day during this last mile. I love how this song uses John Lennon’s Imagine -- but I realized after the race that I didn’t even notice this song or even Imagine playing. I must have really been either in the zone, feeling beat or both. I did notice the final song Steady Shock begin, but that is the last thing I remember thinking about my music.
One thing I noticed during this race is that when I push myself, I become attuned to my body rather than my thoughts. The biggest difference between running for speed and running for enjoyment (not so imply that speed does not = enjoyment, it is just a very different type of enjoyment). I didn’t notice my songs because my mind was inside, focused on my body, how I was feeling, and there were no resources left to think about anything else.
Perhaps as I focus more on speed and my body gets used to it, I will be able to run fast and be with my thoughts.
That said, my music did push me. I was vaguely aware of it at some times. I was thankful I chose such good, fast songs. The words might have lost their meaning but the music did not.
Hm. As I look back at this list I realized I didn’t include Oh No from Girl Talk’s new album. I meant to. I even emailed myself to remind myself to specifically use this one. That song would have been perfect for that first weaving mile (move b*tch, get out the way, get out the way b*tch, get out the way) and contains this, like, one second tease of Paper Planes that every time I hear it makes me feel what could only be the female equivalent of blue balls.
As I approached the finish, I was feeling shitty but I knew my friend Ben was somewhere so I made a half assed attempt to look around, but I was so nauseous and out of it by this time, it was just too hard. I couldn’t even smile as I crossed the finish because I felt so spent. But as soon as I was done and could stop running, my nausea dissipated and my strength came back and I smiled nonstop for the rest of the day. And the next.
Official time: 33:55
Official pace: 8:28
Not only did I reach my goal, I killed it!
Mile 1 – 8:59 (includes .07 walking before the start)
Mile 2 – 8:23
Mile 3 – 8:23
Mile 4 – 8:02
Mile 4.07 – 7:12
I am so happy! I don’t even realize I CAN run this fast, so I just don’t do it. I think it is time to start pushing myself more and seeing what I am really capable of. The best part — my knee was 100% this entire race! I don’t know why sometimes it hurts and sometimes it doesn’t, but I actually didn’t think about my knee at all during the race. I was worried about how it would hold up before I started running, but once I was running I forgot I even had a problem with it.
And what a difference a year makes. I ran this same race last year in 40:00.