My NYRR 9+1 quest continued this past weekend when I ran in the “Run as One” 4-mile race in Central Park. (2+1 down, 7 races to go!)
The weather was gorgeous and spirits were definitely high when I entered the park around 7:45AM. This is the first running race that my mom has ever attended and it was pretty cool having her there to support me (and hold all of my stuff – much easier than dropping things off at bag check haha).
After a short warm-up jog, I did a bit of stretching, including the infamous Couch Stretch we do quite often at CrossFit (see above). I couldn’t find a wall so made do with this oak tree. More than a few dogs were a bit peeved that I was invading their territory. While comical at the time, the more I think about it the more I realize that maybe I shouldn’t use trees to couch stretch in the future…(ick).
One valuable lesson I learned from the Run as One 4-miler is to get to my pace corral nice and early. I always seem to squeeze into the crowd about 5 minutes before the start and unfortunately this weekend I was too late to get with my correct pace group. Speaking of crowds, there were about 7,000 runners in the race. That’s a lot of people!
My mom was having some fun with my camera while she was trying to pick me out in the crowd running by. The guy above is one of the most legit runners I’ve ever seen. He puts all of us to shame – what a champ.
I had bit of a slow start since there were so many people running shoulder-to-shoulder for the first 2 minutes of the race. Thankfully I went into the run with the goal of feeling things out and trying to find my natural pace without stressing over my splits and average pace. So while typically I would have been very frustrated that I was stuck behind some slower runners, I just let it roll of my shoulder and instead focused on finding a comfortable rhythm while enjoying the racing atmosphere.
Despite relaxing my competitive spirit a bit on this run, I always make a point to give it my all and sprint through to the finish of the race. There’s always a little bit of gas left to burn in the tank at the end of the race, and I know I’m always happier after tapping that last energy reserve no matter how badly I’m hurting. Plus it’s pretty fun to pass people in the last 10 seconds, not gonna lie.
Overall, I’d say the race was a success in terms of finding a solid rhythm and gathering a few race day learnings prior to my half marathon on May 18th. I finished with an average pace of 7:51/mile which is historically a bit slower for me, but heck – I’ll take it!
The “Run as One” 4-miler was a great way to spend a sunny Sunday morning in Central Park with my mom, especially since everything is green and in bloom. I’m sure I’ll miss this type of weather when the humid summer months roll around. I better start hydrating now….
I successfully completed my first 10K run this past Saturday – it was my my first official race since finals at the NCAA Rowing Championships in 2010. Talk about a long hiatus! The race was a lot of fun and I’m pretty happy with my results. I finished the 10K in 47:25 with an average pace of 7:38/mile. Based on my training this is about the pace I was expecting, however there were a heck of a lot more hills in Prospect Park than I anticipated. I probably should have checked out the course beforehand…but hey, it all worked out.
Here is a recap of the race:
5:20AM: I woke up to the sweet, sweet sounds of Nicki Minaj’s “Pound the Alarm”, a song that is aptly named.
5:30AM: Ate a small breakfast, chugged some coffee, showered, and ineptly pinned my bib# onto my shirt. Also did some jumping jacks because…why not?
6:10AM: Took the 6 train to Union Square and switched to the Q train, which took forever to arrive before inexplicably stopping halfway in between Manhattan and Brooklyn. The only reason I didn’t get too nervous about being late is that the entire subway was filled with 10K runners heading to the race. They couldn’t start the race without ALL of us…right?
7:10AM: Arrived at Prospect Park, Brooklyn and merged into the sea of runners all walking towards the starting line. I did a short, light jog to wake up my muscles and get them warm (it was pretty chilly out despite the sunny weather). I also nervously fumbled a bit with my Garmin watch to get satellite connection.
7:25 AM: The race start was delayed by 5 minutes so I did a bit more stretching on the grass next to Corral #2. It’s a good thing too, because I had the opportunity to meet a nationally-acclaimed celebrity:
7:30AM: I made my way to Corral #2 to ready myself for the start. The announcer asked if this was anyone’s first time racing a 10K – I tentatively raised my hand along with the rest of the newbies. At this point, the girl next to me started talking:
Random girl: “Have you ever run in Prospect Park before?”
Me: “No…but I heard there were a few hills?”
Random girl: “Ooh yeah. They make you run the big hill twice too when the course loops around. Good luck”
I couldn’t tell if she was genuinely concerned or just scoffing at my newbie running status, but either way I figured I’d beat her ass, hills or not.
7:35AM: The elite runners in Corral #1 were off! All of us in Corral #2 shuffled up closer to the starting line. I was excited, a little nervous, and definitely in race mode. After about a minute, the announcer spoke again into the microphone – “3-2-1 GO!” I started my Garmin and trotted past the line.
You may be wondering at this point who the heck is taking all of these pictures? Thankfully my rockstar-of-a-sister Mary decided to cheer me on and she’s pretty handy with a camera too. Mary’s boyfriend, Zach, competes in a ton of triathlons, so she is very adept at navigating race courses. I saw her 5 times during my entire race, it was awesome!
Ok, now back to the race (I’m switching to recapping based on mileage now because that’s how I was thinking).
Mile 0.0-0.5: With the adrenaline pumping and the crowd of runners all around me I was feeling good – a little bit too good maybe. I glanced down at my watch and saw that I was running at a sub-7 min/mile pace. I pulled in the reins and tried to fall into a more natural rhythm because I knew I had a long road ahead of me until I crossed the finish line.
Mile 0.5-1.0: “Oh well hello there Mr. Hill – nice to meet you… psych.” I encountered the first hill a little bit after the start. Since my legs were still fresh I had little problem scaling the incline but I could see how this was going to be killer the second time around. But you know the great thing about hills, right? Once you reach the top, you get to run DOWNHILL. I really tried to take advantage of any of the downhill portions of the race to pick up some speed without exerting as much energy.
Mile 1.0: A little before the 1 mile mark the runners were directed to exit the park and follow the course around Grand Army Plaza for a nice change of scenery. Tres jolie, non?
Miles 1.0-2.0: At this point I was still going strong and was hovering between a 7:30 and 7:45 min/mile split. It was a straight shot down Flatbush Avenue and I kept a steady pace. I saw Mary for the second time getting her photography on. Apparently she looked uber-professional because a ton of the runners around me smiled for her too.
Miles 2.0-3.0: I was still feeling good at this point but knew that fatigue would be setting in shortly. My pace was jumping around a bit between 7:10-7:40/mile.
As you can see, inadvertent photobombing abounded. Round #1 went to me. Round #2 went to two guys who apparently love to flash gang signs/rock out.
Mile 3.0-4.0: At this point I was thinking about how thankful I was to be halfway done however I knew that my quick pace was going to be a bit difficult to maintain during the next few miles. Meanwhile, Mary decided to document a few of the more eccentric 10K participants:
Mile 4.0: I officially arrived in STRUGGLETOWN. My pace was frequently jumping up to around 8:10/mile, but I fought hard to keep it closer to 7:45/mile. Right after mile 4, I ran past the starting line for the second time. This could only mean one thing – the Hills were fast approaching.
Miles 4.0-5.0: “Legs. So. Heavy.” This was the hardest part of the race for me. I had to get through one more set of hills until I reached the last part of the race and it was tough. I saw my pace jump up to 8:40/mile while trudging up the incline, but I stayed positive and finally reached the summit.
Miles 5.0-6.0: At this point I switched my brain onto auto-pilot and just let my body take over. A little over a mile was left and I had enough energy to push my pace and finish strong.
6.0-6.2: The last stretch of the race was awesome. There was a tiny hill I had to climb, but then I flew down it and sprinted to the finish. I was done!!! I knew I finished with a pretty solid time but forgot to stop my watch when I crossed the finish line so did not know my final results until I checked online later. I collected my hardcore medal, grabbed as much free food as I could carry, and hobbled off the course – out of breath, pretty sweaty, but beaming from ear to ear. Racing – how I’ve missed thee!
I gave my sister a hug and we walked a bit so I could cool down and stretch out. We then checked out all of the vendors and grabbed some free swag. The headliner band was just warming up on the big stage and some of the runners were already drinking their complimentary beer. I just stuck with some complimentary chocolate milk.
Overall, the 10K was a great experience and the perfect way to get back into racing mode. It was much easier for me to commit to working out with a longterm goal in mind and the electric atmosphere of the 10K race made it all worth while. I will definitely be looking to run a few more races in the coming months.
While I haven’t caught the full-on running bug yet, I hear that it’s going around this Fall and it may be pretty tough to avoid. Darn it.