Sunday, November 22, 2009

Race Report and a Copse of Trees

As I have said, I am kind of a military history nut. I love military history, and one place I have been several times is Gettysburg, which is actually only about a 2 hour or so drive from New York. In Gettysburg, on top of Cemetery Hill, is a "copse of trees." I have never heard that term - copse - used before or since to describe anything. At any rate, it is the furthest that the Confederate Army reached in Pickett's Charge on the final day of the battle. Thus, the copse of trees is referred to as the "high watermark of the Confederacy."

Well, today I ran a four mile race in Central Park. It was a great day for running, and turned out to be a great race. It started when I picked up my race number: 238. Wow! First corral, so I start at the very front. And that's 238 out of probably 5000 or so runners. Starting with the big dogs in the front means several things. First, there are no slower runners to dodge, and almost clear space from the get go. In fact I was worried about being the slowpoke, so I started in middle of the first corral. And they were some serious runners in there, and they start fast. I was worried about keeping pace and going out too fast, in fact.

After a rousing national anthem on a sunny morning with about 50 degree weather in Central Park, we are off! First mile is down some and then up a big hill. I am going fast. First mile: 6:45. That's really quick for me. Second mile is mostly downhill, 6:40. Oh wow, this could be a good day. Heart rate is high, but not crazy high -- like 90%, which is OK in a 4 mile race. Third mile is uphill again. 7:01. Now there is only one flat mile to home, and I was secretly thinking I wanted to be at 28 minutes (7:00 per mile). That was very much in play, absent total disaster. I push pretty hard on the last mile, and ended up running a 6:34. Wow, Wow. My net time was 27:10, with an average pace of 6:47, good enough for 262nd place, out of 4700 runners.

That's my best result ever, by far. That's a good day, a new PR on several levels - time, pace, etc. A new time on my NYRR bib. And this was also my final race to qualify for next year's NY marathon; in other words, I am now in. Awesome day all the way around.

So what does this have to do with that copse of trees at Gettysburg? Well, all day I have been thinking the result is almost too good to be true. I mean, 6:47! 262 place? Holy smokes. But is this as good as it gets? Is this my high watermark? Will I ever reach this point again?

I've been in good shape before, but always lost it. Always slid backwards and then looked back at that achievement with wonder that I ever did it.

So, is today my copse of trees?


  1. I absolutely love Gettysburg. In fact, I was there this past May. It's so beautiful. Great job on the race today! Such a great time, way to surprise yourself and push hard! And already in for NYM 2010, I'm jealous!

  2. NO! This is just the beginning for you! Now you know what you CAN do...go for it! Great race-awesome pace!
    The history of the war in Gettysburg is HUGE, it's amazing to think that such an important event took place right there. Wish I could go sometime!

  3. fantastic result and place. well done on qualifying for ny 2010

  4. Great race, especially just a couple weeks post-marathon, impressive!

  5. Huge congratulations! You are definitely on your way up and got a much deserved PR to show for it. I remember quite clearly a couple years back when I was getting those PRs and I can't wait to get back to that. I am really throwing around the idea of doing NYC next year and have a qualifying time. Hmmm..

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and giving me such positive feedback. It has been a year that didn't really quite turn out the way I hoped. Probably means it is going to be a great '10.

    Congrats again on running well into the 27s for 4 miles.

  6. Wow, what route do you take? I'm 30 miles from Gettysburg and I think of NYC as more like 5 hours. I gotta be doing it wrong!

    I'll go back into lurk mode. I like to read your blog because you're hardcore-- on a different planet from me.

  7. WOW, that is AWESOME! Such fast running! You are getting faster and faster! Congrats!

  8. Great job Wolve! That is awesome! Thanks for sharing the Gettysburg story... so cool!

  9. Congratulations on all your accomplishments! This is certainly not your copse of trees, unless you let it be. Think positive and continue on.

  10. You can't think of it that way. Think of it like tides instead. It might go out for a while, but it will be back.

  11. oh COPSE; i first read it as "corpse"! haha
    well big congrats on your nym qualification!!!! and your great result!


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