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?