Race Report: Prospect Park 5M Turkey Trot

I have always wanted to do a turkey trot. Something about running on a holiday makes it feel like more of an accomplishment. On a holiday that is centered around gluttony and sloth, it not only feels like accomplishment, but like a smart life choice. Even so, I went back and forth on whether to add this one to my race schedule. Since I have been struggling with my knee, it seemed silly to add a 5 mile race. But a friend asked if I was registered and said that she and her girlfriend were going to run/walk it. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to mark this race off my bucket list, have a good time with friends, and earn a medal. As a bonus, the race swag was a sweet knit hat instead of a shirt!

 

Turkey trot race swag
Sweet hat!

 

Before the race

The night before the race was low stress since this was going to be a fun run. I did K tape my knee for the first time ever with the help of YouTube. It was horrible weather the entire day before the race, but was supposed to clear up over night so I had no worries when I headed to bed. Race morning was also pretty low stress aside from deciding on my commute. I ended up just taking the subway which was easy enough. I did manage to forget my heart rate monitor which was disappointing, but I wasn’t too concerned. Got the race a half hour early, used the facilities, dropped my bag, and headed to the start. Met up with the ladies a few minutes before the start.

 

K taped knee
K taped my knee the night before the race to add support.
Flat Brandi. Holiday Edition.
Flat Brandi. Holiday Edition. I made the arm warmers from holiday socks!

 

The Race

The start was interesting. There were 2500 runners and walkers, and no corrals. We all just kind of herded in and waited for the gun. The start wasn’t even marked. We only knew we were crossing it because of the timing mat. Just after the start we were at a pretty good jog when all of the sudden the race came to a halt. Runners were all bunched up and no one seemed to be moving. We slowed to a very slow walk. It wasn’t until I saw the huge puddle taking up half the roadway that I understood what was going on. Puddle bottleneck! Once we passed it and turned onto the outer loop of the park, the congestion cleared. As my watch alerted me at mile 1, I looked for a mile marker on the course but couldn’t find one. It wasn’t until mile 2 that we realized that there were small markers, low to the ground on the inside of the loop. This definitely wasn’t an NYRR production!

My friend’s girlfriend hadn’t run in awhile so my expectation was a pretty slow pace with plenty of walking. I was surprised when at mile 2 we were still running and at a pace a little bit faster than my typical easy (Z2) pace. Around mile 2.25 we started walking. For the past quarter mile it seemed like it was starting to rain or snow, but it was so light and sporadic we couldn’t figure it out. As we started walking, it started coming down more heavily and we realized it was a light snow. I really love running in snow, but am typically wearing a water-resistant jacket which I hadn’t worn. So the snow was landing on us and then melting and making our clothes wet. Not ideal in 36º weather, but it was all in good fun. We started running again around mile 2.75 and kept at a good clip until 3.2 and then walked to 3.3. After that brief walk break, the ladies picked up the pace to 10:00mm and continued to speed to 9:15mm to mile 4.1. We took short walk breaks between 4.1-4.3 and 4.5-4.6 then ran the last ~.5 mile around 10:00mm until our finishing kick. My watch clocked my finish at 6:52mm.

 

After the finish
Post-race selfie

 

The race: The stats

Official finish: 58:42
Pace: 11:44/mile

Weather: Cloudy with light snow, 37º, 75% humidity, 4mph wind

-Mile 1: 12:14
-Mile 2: 11:33
-Mile 3: 12:54
-Mile 4: 11:01
-Mile 5: 11:03

Garmin distance: 5.11
Last 5M PR (8/10/2014): 53:36
Difference: +5:06

After the race

After the race, we grabbed a water and took a photo with our medals before the ladies headed off to the train. I picked up my bag, used the facilities, changed out of my wet shirt and put on my warm-ups over my running clothes. I tried to grab a gatorade, but the machines were all sold out. Munched on my KIND bar and headed to the train. I was freezing, it was lightly snowing, it was an outdoor platform, and holiday service so it took awhile for the train to arrive. It was fun to look around the train on the way back and see all the turkey trot hats and medals. I always wonder what non-runners think of these scenes on the subway.

Injury report

We ran faster than I had assumed and on the way home I noticed my knee was hurting pretty badly. Going down stairs is definitely not my friend. Or up stairs, for that matter. Some yoga seemed to help, but I was definitely feeling my knee for the rest of the evening. Today it is hurting, but more so on the back of my knee than the front. I am wondering if the K tape just shifted the issue. At any rate, I will need to take it easy for a few days again and just try to maintain my fitness for my last two marathon guarantee races.

 

2014 Prospect Park 5M Turkey Trot
2014 Prospect Park 5M Turkey Trot

Race report: Race to Deliver 4M

As I mentioned a few days ago, I am still recovering from my injury. I believe now that what started out as overtraining before my last race turned into an actual injury during the race. As a result I have had to cut back a lot on my training. This week I was only able to get out for an easy 5 miles and took off the 4 days after that lead up to my race this morning.

Race week: Appreciating NY running history

Friday evening I headed to NYRR headquarters to pick up my race packet. It was my 8th trip there since the end of June and it has become quite familiar. There is something about turning on to Fred Lebow Place and then walking into that old (1902-built, Beaux-Art style) townhouse that Fred Lebow bought in 1981 as the first permanent home to the New York Road Runners. It is starting to feel a little empty since they plan to sell it soon, but there is still something magical about walking through the home base for New York running history. Or I was just feeling extra emotional that evening. Whatever it was, I felt a sense of appreciation and a little bit of sadness that NYRR is moving. I was, however, excited to see what color my bib would be since my last race set me in a new pace group! I’ve been rocking the pink bib (or brown for larger races) since 2011. I am now officially aqua corral! (Which totally matches my running gear better. Bonus!) The night before the race was pretty uneventful. Since I was just going to race to finish and try to take it easy because of my injury, it was very low stress. I had some spaghetti and got bed early after setting out everything I needed on race morning.

 

Race bib
New corral/bib color–Aqua!
Fred Lebow Place
Fred Lebow Place

 

Race morning: Preparing for a planned anti-climatic race

The morning of the race I got out of bed 10 minutes later than planned. Showered, dressed, ate, grabbed my bag, and was out the door on time. Stopped by the bodega for a coconut water. Got down to the platform on time, but I guess the train was early because I missed it. The next one was in 20 minutes. I felt a little stressed because I needed to drop my bag ahead of the race, but decided to dismiss it. If I had to, I could always run to bag check and the start. I used the time to finish dressing–putting on my arm warmers, Garmin, and SpiBelt–and to pack my drop bag then slide into my backpack for efficiency in dropping. (NYRR security requires you to use a clear bag and you can’t just slide your backpack into the clear bag. Contents have to be visible.) The commute was pretty smooth after finally getting on a train. I always enjoy the build of runners on the train. Where I get on in Brooklyn I rarely see other runners, but as I get in to Manhattan more and more hop on the train. By the time we get to the Museum of Natural History stop, it is a crowd of runners exiting the train and heading into Central Park. It’s a scene that I never tire of.

I got to the park at 8:00, dropped my bag at 8:10, used the porta-potties and was heading to the start line by 8:13. Side note: I will never understand why people don’t walk to the furthest porta-potties. Not only are they typically cleaner IMHO, but the lines are always shorter. The closest lines were 10 deep and the furthest was only 2. I was literally in and out in 2 minutes. Anywho, got to the start line and did the standard shifting around as girls flicked their ponytails, people flailed around seemingly unaware of those around them, and people stood uncomfortably close to me even though there was plenty of room for personal space. After about 10 minutes, the race was finally starting.

The race: Mile 1 and ditching the plan to run happy

So as I mentioned, my plan was to run super easy so I didn’t aggravate my injury. For the first half mile, I cruised along at 11:45 pace and took in the scenery–the remaining fall leaves, the Obelisk, The Met, The Guggenheim. I even stopped to snap a pic of the Fred Lebow statue. It seemed reasonable that I would I keep my pace around 11:30 for the entire race. Then something happened. I’m not sure what it was, but I just found it really difficult to run that easy. I kept looking down at my watch and I was running around a 10:30. My knee felt fine, but I kept telling myself to think about the long term goal. Run easy, play it safe. I still have two marathon qualifiers to run for my guaranteed entry. But it was a losing battle. Every time I looked down, I was running too fast even when I thought I had slowed down. I was getting frustrated. That’s when I decided to run by feel.

 

Fred Lebow statue in Central Park
Fred Lebow statue in Central Park

 

The race: Miles 2 and 3

My Garmin is always a little bit off when I race so I can’t really rely on my lap pace when it ticks off a mile because I am typically not at the mile marker yet. So in the miles after the first, I have to do math to figure it out. I decided that was frustrating, too, so I stopped doing it. I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was the perfect weather. Maybe it was that my knee wasn’t bothering me as much as I thought it was going to. Maybe it was that I can’t stand the thought of just finishing a race. Whatever the reason, miles 2 and 3 were around 10:30 pace. I felt good, the pace felt good, and I wasn’t stressed about pace or injury.

The race: The final mile

Around mile 4 I decided to let myself push a little harder. My knee felt okay and there was only a mile left so I figured why not. When I looked down at my Garmin, I was running a sub 9 minute mile. Now I know I probably shouldn’t have done what I did next, but I just couldn’t help myself. I was so excited about how good I felt and my pace that I raced that last mile. At a half mile to go, I was starting to feel it. (Pushing, not my injury.) When I got to the turn for the last .2 or so miles I was hurting, but the finishing chute was in sight and there was no way I was slowing to trot through that thing. I pushed even harder and finished that last mile at a 6:46 minute mile pace according to my Garmin. Final lap time was 8:45!

The race: The stats

Official finish: 41:47
Pace: 10:27/mile

Weather: Cloudy, 45º, 39% humidity, 7mph wind (Perfect!)

-Mile 1: 11:41
-Mile 2: 10:47
-Mile 3: 10:34
-Mile 4: 8:45

Garmin distance: 4.05
Last 4M PR (7/12/2014): 42:02
Improvement: 0:15

 

Race stats. Splits differ because of Garmin drift.
Race stats. Splits differ because of Garmin drift.

 

Post-race: Heading home

After the race I grabbed my bag, changed out of my sweaty shirt and arm warmers, added some layers and then sat for a bit. I was super light headed and hadn’t packed a snack. After about 5 minutes, I headed to the train still with a little bit of race brain. Heading down to the platform I had a funny exchange with some runners who were stretching on the stairs. I got to take the C train which is one of my favorites–they are the oldest still operating–and got to help some very thankful tourists with directions. Came home and made some yummy breakfast, relaxed, stretched, napped, and am feeling pretty good. I am optimistic that my knee may actually be okay, but I never know until the day or two after.

Just two more races now to complete my guaranteed entry to the 2015 NYC Marathon! It’s so crazy that in 20 days this thing I have been working on for 3 months (5 if you count from my first MQ) now will be done.

 

Post-race selfie
Two more qualifiers to go!

Race report: 2014 Dash to the Line 5K

This was my second time running this race. Last year I had a great time and finished in 31:51. This year I was hoping to run an official sub-30 5K. Doing so would be at least an almost 2 minute improvement and would bump me into a faster corral for all NYRR races.

Race week: The best intentions

I planned to lower my mileage this week by 25-30% and to do a 2.5 day taper. I ended up running back-to-backs on Tuesday and Wednesday because I was a bit fatigued from my weekend trip so I skipped my Monday run. Both weekday runs went well–even if I did push more than I had planned on Wednesday’s shakeout run with Bart Yasso–and I felt confident for the race. On Thursday, my right knee was sore and I could tell it wasn’t a muscle or tendon issue it was overtraining. I RICEd and tried to stay off it as much as possible, but commuting into work and back doesn’t make that easy. My commute home ended up being longer than usual and with weight, too. On Friday morning, I was hopeful as my knee seemed okay. But that afternoon as I made my way to the Javits Center for my 6 hour volunteer shift, I knew it was probably going to be an issue. After standing for 6 hours and the long commute back home, I RICEd and headed to bed.

Race morning: This is not how I planned it

Race morning I overslept by 10 minutes which was just enough to throw off my schedule. I got to the train late and ended up getting off a stop early for bag check to try to make up time as I didn’t want to wait for the transfer for one stop. Got to bag check a little before 8, dropped my bag, used the facilities, and started towards the start line which was almost two miles away a little after 8. I had intended to run to the start as a warm-up and had I been able to I would have arrived well before the 8:30 start. However, at this point it was obvious that my knee was pissed. It was painful to walk, much less run. I walked a mile then jogged the last .75 to the start.

When I got to the start, they were already collapsing corrals. Since I knew there would be a lot of walkers, I tried to get as close to the front as possible. I ended up next to a very tall Norwegian gentleman during the wait for the gun. He gave me updates about what was happening at the start as I happily answered questions about the race for him. At this point it had started to rain and without moving, it felt very cold in the 45º. We were all ready to get this thing started.

The Race: Mile 1

As I crossed through the start, my plan was to still try for my sub-30, but to be okay with letting it go if I needed to. The start was very, very congested so staying conservative wasn’t an issue. There were already many people walking and lots of slower runners. There were plenty of faster runners trying to cut around everyone and being a little dickish. I tried to stay to the outside and pass without cutting off too many people. By the time we were heading under the Grand Central viaduct, I was running as “free” as I would the entire race. My Garmin was clocking me right around 9:35mm which was on pace for sub-30. My knee hurt, but I felt like I was okay to push through.

It wasn’t until my Garmin buzzed with my mile 1 time that I realized how off it was from the course. I thought it strange that my pace had jumped to 8:41mm, but figured it was just because of the downhill. It was actually because the watch was off by about .2 miles. When I looked at my time when I hit the mile 1 course marker, I was just over a 10mm pace. Time to pick it up.

The Race: Mile 2

By this point I had started playing some pretty serious frogger with walkers, slower runners, and people stopped in the middle of the course to take selfies. Many runners were running five and six abreast and some were carrying flags stretched across multiple people. My shoes were pretty much soaked at this point, not because of me running through puddles, but from nearby runners tromping and splashing through them. I hoped my wool socks would protect me from blisters. By this point, I wasn’t noticing my knee as I was too busy trying to get around people and keep my pace while playing frogger. Around mile 1.25, I made my way around some flag runners and one had an untied shoe. I tapped him and let him know. As I turned back to the course, I literally hit a wall. It was a pedestrian wall. Some jerk had actually walked across the course and I ran right into him, full body, at ~9mm pace. I was having a hard time navigating the course while running with the flow, I am not sure how he got across it walking. I rolled off him, thought about yelling something obscene, but turned my focus back to the course.

As I got to the park, the crowd really started to thicken. I was racing with my NBR jersey so I was very aware of my behavior and tried not to bump anyone. Inevitably people would drift over into me as I passed, though. My Garmin ticked off two miles and another sub-9mm, but mile 2 was still a ways off. I glanced at my watch just passed the mile 2 course marker and it was 19 something. I couldn’t do the math to figure out my actual pace as I tried to focus on frogger, but I knew I would have to pick up the pace through the park–through the hills. As I turned the corner into the park, I got tangled up with a few runners and when I finally got clearance I was almost elbowed in the face. “Turn Down for What” started to play as I hit the Central Park loop and got some space. Game face engaged.

The Race: Mile 3 and The Finish

The Central Park portion was tough. By this time my heart rate was in zone 5 (+90% of max) and my knee was starting to hurt pretty badly again because of the hills and my speed. My legs were also becoming heavy because I was running in zone 5. I just kept pushing. By the time I got to the mile 26 marathon marker, I knew I only had .2 miles to go to the finish. But I was in pain. So much pain that I was fighting tears. I pushed. At some point I looked at my Garmin and it said 29 something. I looked at the finish. I looked at my watch. 29:49. Just 10 seconds to make my goal. It hurt. There were people in the way. I couldn’t just let it go, though. I pushed harder. I felt like crying, but didn’t let myself. I sucked it up. I finally crossed the finish. I checked my watch. 29:55. It was going to be close.

The Race: Statistics

Official finish: 29:49

Pace: 9:36/mile
Weather: Light rain, 45º, 76% humidity, 6mph wind
Unofficial splits (based on comparing course map to Garmin):
-Mile 1: 10:07
-Mile 2: 8:50
-Mile 3: 8:57
-Last .11: 8:10
Garmin distance: 3.37
2013 Official Finish: 31:51
2014 Improvement: 2:02!

Post Race: Sub-30 meetup and heading home

After the race, I headed straight to bag check. Grabbed my bag and changed out of my wet singlet and arm warmers. My socks were so wet that they were going squish squish when I walked, but I didn’t want to change into dry socks until I got out of the park. Two of my teammates a few minutes to make it over so I stretched. We waited awhile for a third, but didn’t hear anything. He had crossed the finish just before me so not hearing from him was strange. We wondered if maybe he decided to just head home. We were cold and it was raining so we decided to start walking to find food. He ended up texting and caught up with us in the park. I slipped on my warm-ups over my tights, but was still cold. We ended up at a diner at 55th and Broadway. I finally got to use the bathroom and change into dry socks. Steak and eggs and home fries and coffee. NOM NOM NOM. It was great catching up with my online teammates. After breakfast we headed down to the train together. I was limping along and ended up slipping on some stairs down to the train. Luckily I caught myself and just ended up in a pistol squat. The commute home was slow, but brightened by all of the supportive posts on FB that I finally got a chance to read. It is incredible to me just how supportive my friends are of my running. I know many runners who deal with lots of friends being annoyed by their running. I feel truly blessed.

My first half marathon

Two weeks after running my first 10 mile race, my first half marathon was on deck and I wasn’t looking forward to it. When I decided to do my 9+1 guaranteed entry, I had left this one off the list because I didn’t think I would be trained enough for it. But after the whole qualifier debacle, I ended up needing it for my 9. And after the 10 miler, I was nervous.

Getting to the start

Two of my running pals were running the half and one offered to pick me up on race morning and give me a ride to the start line. This was a major solid as the only way to get to the start other than driving is by ferry. Without a ride, I would have to leave my apartment by 5:45am and do bag check which because of NYRR’s security standards can be a hassle. So she swung by around 7am, we grabbed coffee, and headed out on the expressway towards Staten Island. Once we were on Staten Island, we found parking fairly easily and pretty close to the start. It was chilly and little windy. I was wearing shorts, a singlet, arm warmers, and calf compression sleeves and was hopping around to keep warm. We made a quick pit stop in the Staten Island Yankees Stadium then headed to the corrals.

Corral the herd

The start seemed to take forever. It took so long for us to get moving and once we finally did, we had quite the shuffle to the start. I was just glad to get moving. Not only was I cold, but a girl standing in front of me had a crazy out of control pony tail that she kept flicking all over me and people had been pushing their way through the corrals instead of walking up the sides and stepping in. Once we got to the start, it wasn’t much better. It was crowded and people were aggressively passing. This always amazes me, by the way. I feel like for the first two miles of every race I am dealing with people fighting to pass and somehow during the last two miles I am always trying dodge zombies. The corral system is supposed to ensure runners of similar speeds are grouped together, but I think at my pace there are bunch of people that go out too fast and end up hurting in the end. Anywho, the first two miles of the race were much like those of all the rest and I spent a lot of time sticking to the side of the course and dodging people.

Keeping it conservative

My pace was on point at mile 3 and I was feeling good. I planned to race conservatively for the first 10 miles then really push the last 5k if I had it in me. I could tell already though that I was feeling better than I did in the 10 miler. Of course, I had prepared for the race two days in advance and the night before I made sure to get a good carb filled dinner in (GF cornbread and veggie chili! NOM!) and a fair amount of sleep. Still, I was surprised at how good I felt especially since after my 10 miler I had spent a week in Florida and fell of my training (and nutrition plan) a bit. Maybe the vacation helped or my two days of preparation were paying off. No matter what it was, I was no longer nervous.

I ran into a teammate on the course. We had never met in person so I introduced myself. We proceeded to slingshot each other for the rest of the race. This race was an out and back like the 10 miler so we got to see all the people ahead of us heading to the finish starting around mile 3 or 4. Once again I enjoyed cheering the super speedy runners as they headed towards a race win or placement. Around mile 4 I noticed some portapotties without a long line so I took the opportunity. Since I was just trying to finish I didn’t feel rushed, but I still wanted to try my best to reduce time stopped. I also took my first gel around mile 4.

Staten Island is a little bit of hilly course, but it gives you some relief between miles 5.5 and 9 when the course is relatively flat. By the time we hit the flat part of the course, I felt it was going to be a good day for me but still wanted to be cautious since I had never run longer than 10 miles. Around mile 7 I started looking for my friends who were also running and would be doubling back passed me. My friend who had driven me saw me and ran across to give me a high five. It was awesome to see a familiar face mid-run. I clicked off mile 7 then around mile 8 we passed an ambulance. Not long after that I saw the sweeper van on the other side of the course picking up those who were falling behind the 3 hour limit. Around mile 8 I took my second and last gel and was feeling strong. I really wanted to start pushing, but decided sticking with my plan was the best way to go. Besides, we were still on the flat part of the course and there were hills coming back up. It was around this time that I had the thought, “I can run a marathon.

Mile 9-9.5 is the major hill of the course. Once you get passed it, there are some rolling hills but that one is the beast. It was tough, but since I had been running conservatively I was able to run the entire way up while most everyone else was walking. I felt great. Around mile 10 I saw another set of portapotties without a line and decided to stop before my final push. I was running out the door before I had even gotten myself entirely straightened. I was ready to rock this course!

20141012-sihalf-06
All smiles, somewhere mid-race. Don’t worry, I am purchasing the photos. 😉

The last 5K

Around 10.5 miles there is an overpass you run under and they had a DJ playing. As we approached, I removed my earbuds and was totally pumped when he started playing “Blitzkreig Bop” by the Ramones. Fist in the air, I ran under the overpass singing along. I couldn’t believe how awesome I felt! Less than a 5K to go and I was feeling strong!

Miles 11 and 12 were interesting. I was feeling awesome and running at an impressive clip (for me), but I was surrounded by zombies. People were walking 3 and 4 people wide so I was having to play a lot of frogger. It was a little frustrating. During the last mile I lost my bearings a bit. I kept thinking I saw where we turned for the finish, but then would realize it was further up. It was probably around mile 12.5 that I started feeling it. I knew I had a little left in me, but didn’t want to push until I was sure where the finish line was exactly. Then finally I saw the turn… here we go… game face engaged.

Turning down the street to the stadium, I got crossed by a pedestrian who I almost took out. Luckily they had a quick enough reflex when yelled “WATCH OUT!” After that almost catastrophe, I continued down the street to what I thought was the entrance of the stadium. I was pushing. I turned the corner and no stadium entrance. WHERE THE HELL IS THE FINISH? At this point I had to be running a sub-8:00mm and I was just trying to keep it together. Finally, FINALLY we turned into the stadium and I could see the finishing chute. It was just a short stretch through the field. I checked my form, I checked my breathing. Mentally I slowed down while pushing my body even harder. And finally I crossed the finish line. I had just finished my first half marathon.

sihalf-animation
My friend took a bunch of photos of me running to the finish so I made an animated gif.

Ready for another 5K… or brunch

Right off the finish, my friend flagged me down. I was feeling a bit nauseous so we walked to get gatorade then to stretch and wait for our other friend. I couldn’t believe how fast I had run that last 5k! I felt great. I had my medal and I was proud, but it was different from the 10 miler. I didn’t feel like I had just gone through something really rough, I felt like I had conquered something with a smile. I had done it right. And I knew I could do it better.

After meeting up with our other friend we headed back to the car. I had registered for another race that day, a neighborhood 5k, before having to register for the half marathon. It didn’t start for another hour and a half I was seriously contemplating running it. In the end, the traffic too long and by the time we got back to the apartment we were all ready for brunch. I celebrated my accomplishment with a real beer, fries, and a burger with egg and bacon.

Later that night I discovered that I had run my fastest 5k ever at the end of the half marathon.

468672309940064
After the Staten Island half marathon.

10 miles to a half marathon

After my successful training for the 5 mile race in June, I turned my focus to a 10 miler at the end of September–the NYRR Five-Borough Series: Bronx 10-Mile.  On race day for the 5 miler I had never even ran that far before–my longest training run for it was 4.5 miles. My weekly mileage had peaked at 10 miles with the last few weeks hovering around 9 miles. For 10 miler training, my longest run would be 9 miles and weekly mileage would peak at 18 miles. But I had a full 13 weeks to train from 5 miles to 10 so I was confident.

Training for the 10 miler went well. I especially enjoyed the longer runs. It went so well that 8 weeks in I decided to shoot for 9+1 guaranteed entry for the marathon. Then, just a week and half before the 10 miler, the whole guaranteed entry debacle happened and I had to add a half marathon just 2 weeks after my 10 mile race. Most of the beginner training plans I found for the half marathon peaked at 10 miles so while I was nervous, I was still confident. That is until I actually ran the 10 miler.

Preparation is key

Ahead of and directly after the race, there was a lot of coordination that needed to be done with several running friends and non-runners who were not only coming to the race, but would be gathering for brunch after. I also had an old friend in town and a dear friend was having a one night only art showing the night before the race. So my day before the race veered from the typical plan a bit. I ended up being up later than planned, didn’t get in a proper dinner, and even had a couple of drinks. I started my race day with just 5 hours of sleep. Luckily, commuting to the race went pretty smoothly. I met a runner friend at my transfer and we made the long trek to the Bronx together. I had fundraced for Back on My Feet and planned to meet the team before the race. After a few hellos and a pit stop, we met up with our running pals in the corrals. I had a perchance meeting with one of my online teammates in the corrals, too. Even with all of the good coordination though, I ended up racing alone. Not a huge deal since I do most of my running alone.

I was amazed by the support of my friends, family, and colleagues in my fundracing for Back on My Feet. <3
I was amazed by the support of my friends, family, and colleagues in my fundracing for Back on My Feet. ❤

Hills technically make it longer, right?

For the first couple of miles, I felt good and confident. Around mile 2, I felt a little misty-eyed with pride that I was taking on such a distance. There were actually people out and cheering which was really nice. I have only been to the Bronx once so the view was interesting, too. This course was an out-and-back which to some can be hard on the ego when you see the front of the pack heading to the finish before you even hit mile 3, but for me it was great. Hollering for fast teammates was fun and kept me energized. My only complaint would be Mr. Stinky. This guy smelled bad at mile 2 so I know it wasn’t from running. Evidently we were shooting for the same finish time though because I would encounter him several times on the course, always smelling him before I saw him. PU!

The Bronx is hilly. I knew this was a hilly course so I made sure to include plenty of bridge running in my training. But, after a few good hills, by mile 3 I was starting to feel it. Maybe it wasn’t all about the hills. After all, I had a few drinks the night before and hadn’t had a proper dinner then only got 5 hours of sleep. It was also a little warm. Whatever it was, I ended up taking my gel a little early around mile 3.5. I figured it was better to be proactive with the fuel and hydration than risk bonking later.

The next mile of the course was pretty flat and the mile after that was mostly downhill. By mile 6 we were circling back to retrace our steps to the start/finish. It was around the 10K mark that I really started to feel like it was a struggle. My body was tired and I knew what lie ahead in terms of hills because I had already run over them once on my way out. I decided to take my second and last gel and just try to stay as positive as possible. By mile 7, I was really surprised by how difficult this race seemed to be. I had trained well including bridges to account for the hilly course, the weather was good even if it was a little warm, and my hydration and fueling had been proactive. No matter, by mile 7 I was hitting a mental wall brought on by my fatigue. I knew I wouldn’t be able to push much harder in the last couple of miles of this race like I had planned and that bummed me out. I tried not to think about the fact that I had a half marathon looming in just two short weeks.

Friends can change everything

I had no idea where anyone would be on the course so I just tried to keep my eyes peeled as I got into mile 8. I ended up getting see friends in three different places which was awesome. Seeing my friends definitely gave me a boost and having them spread across the last mile and a half is exactly what I needed to turn my mental game around. As the finishing chute came in focus and I saw a dear (fast!) friend calling my name, my mental game completely refocused and I pushed for a strong finishing kick. Just after crossing the finish, I got my medal. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.

Bronx 10 mile
Seeing my friend just before the finish gave me an extra boost of energy.
Bronx 10 mile finish
Heading into the finish of the Bronx 10 mile

I’ll spare the details of the post-race shenanigans. Suffice it to say that trying to organize 10 people from 10 different locations on a course, half of which are runners in desperate need of different things, is much like wrangling a herd of kittens. After a brief stop at my friend’s place for a quick change of clothes, we all made it to our final destination–an all you can eat brunch buffet. Oh yes, we ate and we drank and we celebrated a successful race. Non-running friends got to experience many delightful and gross running tales. Running friends dined in their race medals and got to be encouraged to drink more mimosas and reminded to not talk about running, in the best way possible. We also happened to be celebrating my 38th birthday and I have to say that this was hands-down one of my top 5 birthdays. But I didn’t have long to bask in the accomplishment. In just two short weeks I would be tackling something even bigger. My first half marathon. The Staten Island Half.

Truly blessed to have such awesome friends. One of my best birthdays EVAR!
Truly blessed to have such awesome friends. One of my best birthdays EVAR!
Happy runners after the Bronx 10 mile (and an all you can eat buffet brunch!)
Happy runners after the Bronx 10 mile (and an all you can eat buffet brunch!)