Sunday was a 10K in Central Park. I had signed up for this race awhile ago, and kind of forgot about it. I had not run the week before the race for a variety of reasons, and felt a little slow. And the race was at 8 a.m. Sunday morning, the morning after several big college football games,including the SEC Championship. All of which made the odds of me actually doing this race pretty slim.
The alarm went off at 6 a.m. Sunday morning, and it was about 30 degrees outside. I really did not want to get up and go. My wife even said, eh, blow it off. But as I laid there, I rationalized that every time I wake up for a race, I debate blowing it off. And when I don't get up and go, I always regret it. And when I make it up and out to race, I am always, always happy I did. So I got up, bundled up, and made it out the door.
The race itself was chilly. About 33 degrees at race start. I wore only a long sleeve shirt and shorts during the race and nearly froze waiting for the gun to go off. My bib number was again in the 200's, which meant a start in the first corral. I didn't have great ambitions for this race, and just wanted a respectable time so I wasn't disappointed after getting up early. I set my Garmin race buddy at 7:15 pace and hoped for the best.
This course was a counterclockwise loop around Central Park, starting at around E 102nd St. The first half mile has a big downhill, with the next half mile back up that hill. Mile 2 has rolling hills, but is net uphill. Mile 3 was flat or downhill; Mile 4 had a big uphill (Cat Hill); and Miles 5 and 6 were basically downhill coming home.
So, after running to get to the corral, I made my way to the back of first corral to avoid the really fast people at the very start. And then I stood there for a while. And froze. I generally don't like running tights; I am too self conscious in them. I only had on a pair of shorts and a long sleeve running shirt. That worked fine for the race itself, but just standing waiting for the gun was really, really cold. I have to solve that problem and go buy some running tights. No one really cares what I look like at these races, and it sure beats freezing to death. Besides this is going to be the year where I run outside during the winter. I promise.
My super secret goal was to run the race in an overall 7:00 minute per mile pace. That pace would put me in around 43:00, and would be a good time for me. I gave myself maybe a 25% chance of making it. Before the race, I had some good workouts in Florida the previous week, and I ran my last 4 mile race at a 6:47 pace. But I didn't feel great, had not eaten well, not slept well, and had not run in a week. Oh well, I just wanted to see how I did.
The first mile, as expected, had a quick pace down the hill, and coming up was not so bad either. I was just glad to be running. Ended up a 6:52 mile. Not bad. I also looked at my heart rate 200! What?? It stayed north of 195 for about 5 minutes. I sometimes get a spike in HR when I start running and have no idea why. But normally it comes down very quickly. Not today. I decided if it wasn't under control by end of first mile, I would quit and see the medical tent. Anybody out there know why HR spikes like that? And yes, I warmed up some.
And I decided to slow down some, knowing that I would want the strength for the last part of race. The second mile, again net uphill was 7:06. I wanted to slow down, but sheesh, that seemed slow, and I was really working hard. No rhythm at all. The third mile I picked it up some and really pushed hard but only ... 6:57! And I had no rhythm, and this should have been an easy downhill mile. That 7:00 minute pace was looking harder and harder to get. And I was running more than a mile per race mile. My Garmin and the race markers were about 30 yards off; I was not running the tangents, and thus running more than a mile for each "mile" marked on the course. And that extra running had cost me about 15 seconds through 3 miles. Mile 4 was up Cat Hill, and was the hardest mile on the course. Ended Mile 4 with a 7:10 pace. I actually felt strong coming up the hill and felt some rhythm, some smooth motion, and felt like it was going to be OK. And this hill was also where I cracked on other races earlier this spring, so it felt great to charge up the hill at a strong pace. At about Mile 3, I was passed by a woman I had run with in another race, but coming up Cat Hill, I went right by her. But, I knew that to end up with a 7:00 minute pace was going to be real hard. Possible, but not likely. I wanted to push hard on Mile 5, and I felt like I was really cruising. But, I only ended up with a 7:11. What?? But I still think I have a chance at 7:00 per so I push hard in final 1.2 miles. Mile 6 ended up 6:47 and ran the .25 extra at a 6:34 pace. Final time: 43:36.
Final net pace: 7:02 per mile. I missed my secret goal by 15 seconds. But who cares? That time and pace were by any definition, a great race for me, particularly given that I had really wanted to just lay in bed and skip it. I ended up in 490th place, with an age graded time of 66%.
All day yesterday I was sore. My back and shoulders, my quads, my hamstrings. Very unusual for me -- particularly the upper body soreness. Anyway, it sure beat laying in bed!