Sunday, February 6, 2011

Do You Believe In...

This week I was good, I ran Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Monday I stayed on the path and did a five-miler. Wednesday I did the crazy bridle path in the ice for 4 1/2, and Friday I did five going clockwise, stopping at NYRR to pick up my race number. They all actually felt good. I bought a face mask from Harriet Carter (that's right, people. Harriet Carter) that helps me breathe better in the colder air, but makes me look even more ridiculous than I already look when I run (thanks to my beloved, but admittedly goofy-looking, VFFs). So I was looking forward to this morning's outing.

Today was the Gridiron Four-Miler in Central Park. The first actual race I would be running since July. The Midnight Run wasn't a race, and the Fred Lebow 5-Miler was called due to weather. So much for getting my nine races in without actually running any of them.

I was also weirdly scared. I really want to get back to the joy of running, and one of the ways I've been doing that is by not wearing a watch. The times I've been on the treadmill, the clock is unavoidable, but I'm really not wanting to see how fast -- or in my case, how slow I'm going. I just want to put the miles in and enjoy them. And I get crazy competitive when I race, in my own mind, at least. So today was going to be both a test of my ability to run my own race, and also to see what my time is for the first time since June or July, really.

37 degrees, a brilliant temperature. Ducked into the third-to-last corral -- I have no delusions. NYRR does, though -- they calculate your corral based on your fastest mile in a race over four miles, but they don't update that every year. It's your fastest mile ever with NYRR. For me, that's a 7:58 from 2007. Ha ha! Like I'll be reaching THAT again any time soon. I have enough good sense to not go near my own corral. Even when I could run that pace, I want to start slow and build up, so I start in a slower corral to hold myself back for the first few miles.

And we're off. So far back we didn't hear the starting horn. Took over eight minutes to get to the starting line. Chug-a-lug with the pack up Cat Hill and up the East Drive. Thinking I'd like to be at a 10:00 pace, that I'd happy with a finish between 40 and 41. Much happier to be slightly under, of course. But I didn't want to push. Just wanted to run.

As I passed the mile 1 marker I tried not to look at my watch, but did and saw the split -- 9:58. Really? Normally my first mile is closer to 10:30 because of the crowding.

Up East Drive heading to the transverse. Ran into Teammate Maureen. She's also been out of the game for a while with injuries. She's taking it easy, too. We separated on the transverse. Got water. A woman next to me told me she thought the race started at 102nd, not 72nd, had to run back to the start line and just barely made it across before they took it up. Mile 2 -- 9:41. Didn't feel like it, but then again, I'm not sure what running at a certain time feels like anymore.

Fun thing -- NYRR split the transverse into Packers side and Steelers side. Run on the side you're rooting for. They used the D-Tags to track the results (results not posted as of my writing this.)

Down the west side. Mile 3 is mostly uphill, but I saw the Natural Living guy doing his usual speedwalk against the traffic, shouting encouragement. Ah, yes. NOW we're feeling good! I was hoping to see him. It doesn't feel like a race when he's not there. Mile 3, again, somewhere around 9:46.

Mile 4 is mainly downhill. Very crowded, thanks to people and a narrower roadway thanks to show pile-up on the sides. I see the finish line and I try to push the last few hundred feet. Crowd notwithstanding, just before I cross the line I hit my watch...
Miracles do happen, I suppose.
Of course, my time is not official. But it doesn't matter. The point is, I didn't get caught up in the racing. I came out to have a good run, and hopefully post a decent time. And I did both.
This makes me feel a lot better about the training to come. I want so badly to do well during the marathon, and in Liam's honor, I'm not going to slack off. Even if I'm running 15-minute miles, they'll be the best 15-minute miles I can squeeze out. But it's nice to see at this stage that I am capable of more, and I intend to deliver.

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