June 29, 2011

NYRR Mini 10k Race Recap

If a picture is in fact worth a thousand words, then this one says it all and I probably don't have to write this race recap. But since this race was so much more than just 6.2 miles, I'm going to write one anyway. So here goes...

On June 11th, I joined thousands of incredible women to honor the late Grete Waitz by running the 40th Mini 10K in NYC. I ran this race for the first time last year (read about it here), with my parents cheering me on and although I didn't reach my goal, knew I tried as best as I could and was ok with that. When I signed up for this year's race, it was going to be different. I've been consistently running at a sub 9 minute mile pace now and have been PRing like crazy. I figured this race would be no different, I'd kick some major ass, and have an awesome time doing it. Um, or maybe not.

I was also extremely excited for this race because I would be hosting Vee, a wonderful woman I met through this crazy running world. I ran both a half marathon and the Philadelphia Marathon with Vee last year and we instantly clicked. When I heard that her dream was to run a race in Central Park, and that she'd never even run in Central Park, I jumped at the chance to invite her to crash at my pad so she could take part in this historic race. Vee excitedly agreed and for the next few weeks, we exchanged messages back and forth getting ready for the big weekend.

I picked Vee up at Penn Station on Friday afternoon, we dropped of her stuff at my apartment, and then I took her for a quick tour of Central Park, making sure to show her where we'd be running parts of the race and filling her head with useless NYC facts. She was so excited and happy to be there- it totally made my day just seeing her loving every moment of it. We then met up with Abbe and Melissa at Josie's on the UWS for some pre-race dinner and girl chat. This was the first time any of these ladies had met but everyone got along really well and became fast friends. I love connecting people! We sent a very tired Abbe home to bed, picked up our race stuff from my friend Dani who had graciously offered to pick it up for us, and then Vee & I headed back to my place to get some sleep before the big day.

Sunday morning was like any other race morning. I woke up having no idea how on earth I would do but hoped for the best and started getting ready. Drank some coffee, ate a quick banana, hydrated, shower, bathroom, and headed out with Vee to meet Melissa for the walk to Central Park. As I've mentioned before, for me, one of the best parts of racing is the excitement in the air on the way to the park. I love living so close to the start lines and watching everyone emerge from their apartments, the subway or their cabs with great energy and anticipation. That morning was made even better by the fact that Vee got to experience the excitement too. It was so awesome. Except for the 100% humidity. That was not awesome.

We got to CP and immediately bumped into the crowd that Baker so affectionately loves to call the Runner Army. There was quite a bunch of us, too many to list. But I will note that when I ran this race a year ago, I think I only knew one person running it. This year, I can't even count the number of people I knew there, both running and cheering. I realize that I'm now part of this incredible and diverse running community; it's a great feeling. Anyway, checked in my bag, headed to the start with some of the ladies, and got ready to rock it.

Mile 1, 8:54 pace: The gun went off and I cruised up Central Park West, pleasantly surprised that the street was mostly car-less as opposed to last year when I spent the first mile getting slammed by rear view windows. As a result, the first mile wasn't as congested as I'd expected. I focused on keeping a steady pace and not wasting energy weaving in and out of people. I just wanted to enter the park feeling strong. Also happy that I drank water at the water stop because I usually don't during the first mile, expecting there to be another stop at mile 2. In this race, there wasn't another stop until 2.5 and with the crazy humidity, I would've been in trouble. Happy with my pace but not feeling as awesome as I would like.

Miles 2 & 3, 8:57 pace: Humidity started getting the best of me and my legs felt heavy. As I headed north toward Harlem Hills, I struggled to maintain a sub-9 pace. Was beginning to get the idea that this race was not going to go as I'd hoped and a sub-9 10k might not be possible.

Mile 4, 9:43 pace: Struggled up the last of Harlem Hills as I entered the fourth mile and took my first of many walk breaks. Pain in my right butt cheek (piriformis syndrome?) and bursitis in my right hip made this hill a killer and I couldn't breathe through it. Realized that my goal was out of reach and was disappointed for a moment but kept on keepin on. Considered DNFing but told myself to suck it up and keep running as best as I could.

Mile 5, 8:46 pace: Was able to pick my pace up again even with a walk break here & there. I lost count of how many I had to take. Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do Is Have Some Fun" came on during this mile and my mood immediately lifted. I took the pressure off, reminded myself why I was running the race, and just allowed myself to have some fun.

Mile 6, 9:33 pace: More walk breaks, and now that the pressure was off, lots of thinking about learnings for my next 10k.

                                                                  .29 Miles, 8:50 pace: Was relieved that the Finish Line was in sight. Saw Claire on the phone chatting away and screamed her name, which she returned with a wonderful cheer for me. This last bit is uphill passing Tavern on the Green and it's typically the part of the race where I try to haul ass. This time, I tried for a second before realizing I had nothing left to give so I just tried to maintain my pace so I could cross the finish and finally stop running.

Can you find me crossing the finish line in this picture? I'm the girl on the left in pink shorts and and orange top with a "OMG kill me now!" expression on my face. Yep, that's me.

When I crossed the finish line, I made my way through the other runners, grabbed some water and got my medal (a medal for a 10k? yay!) and looked up to see Glenn and Dani standing with their teammates. I walked over and was excited to find out that Dani had a great race & PRd! Yay Dani! And although I had hoped to make it back to the finish line to cheer on Vee as she crossed, I felt so completely drained and dehydrated and just didn't have it in me to move. Sorry Vee!

Even though I didn't run my best and struggled for more than half of the course, I still finished with a respectable time (57:17, 9:14 pace) and the race wasn't all torture; there were some highlights, like all the awesome organized teams that came out to cheer along the course. I thought it was a great touch and definitely added to the spirit of the day. And I loved seeing and hearing Glenn cheer for me at miles 1 & 5; I definitely needed the boost and the friendly face!

Here's a picture of just some of the women I'm honored to considered my friends post race. So awesome, right?!?

So yes, the race didn't go as planned but I the weekend and overall experience still rocked. My next 10k is on July 9th and despite some health challenges this week which have prevented me from running as much as I would've liked, I'm still hoping for a good race. Stay tuned....

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