May 3, 2012

Race Week Sandwich

I'm sandwiched between two races this week and this first half of the sandwich tasted like crap. Last weekend, I ran the Run as One 4 miler in Central Park and it sucked. This weekend, I'll be running the LI Half which is my first half in over a year and a race for which I had high hopes. But after last weekends race, I'm not so sure those hopes should still be high. I'm doing my best to ignore those doubts & think positive but I can't get the 4 mile race out of my mind.

I went into the Run As One feeling confident. I ate well all week, got as much rest as I could fit in given that Mother's Day is coming up and it's one of my busy seasons. I drank little alcohol last week, didn't party too much, and stretched and hydrated. I planned on running 1.3 miles to the race, completing the 4 miler, and then running home to get about 6 miles in for the day. Nothing I haven't done before.

The race was set to begin at 8:30 and due to a few bathroom visits, I didn't leave my apartment until 8:10 which still gave me enough time to get there for the start. When I reached the park, I realized that the rumor that 12k folks were running this race and another 10k+ were walking it, was probably not a rumor. The park was insanely packed. I tried to make it to my corral, which was purple (I haven't been that far back since I started running and I've since trimmed 2 minutes per mile off my pace), but couldn't get there. So I did my best to squeeze in with the rest of the sardines runners and waited for the start.

The first half a mile was beyond frustrating. I was aiming for an 8:40 pace and couldn't get faster than 10:00 because I was completely boxed in. We approached Cat Hill and I did my best to weave through people to pick up some speed, which I know probably wasted energy, but I really didn't have a choice. I've never run in a more packed race and it was really frustrating.  The path opened up a bit and I pushed myself to try to make up time, which again was a mistake, because I entered mile 2 at a 7:26 pace which is way too fast for me. And after that, it all fell apart. I tried to slow down, I got a pretty bad side stitch that I couldn't breathe thru. Figured I would walk it out for 30 seconds since at this point, a PR was highly unlikely, but that didn't help. I started up again, then stopped again. This continued and I got more and more frustrated. I'd never wanted to DNF a 4 mile race until that day.

I hate to place blame on anyone other than myself and up until this point, I've stayed out of the anti-NYRR conversations. But I do have to say that this race was just way too packed. Yes, I could've handled my pacing differently. But I got elbowed in the face twice and was even hit in the face with a balloon attached to someone running by. Running with balloons tied to you back just shouldn't be allowed during a race and if you do it, please stay in the back of the pack so you don't mess with the other runners.
That's me in the background. Can you tell I'm not happy? And yes, I planned that ugly outfit on purpose. Also, it was the only clean(ish) running clothing I had.
So why didn't I DNF? My friend Dani stopped by the day before to pick up a necklace I made for her and we got to talking about Boston. Just as many of the other Boston runners did, Dani had a difficult race in the heat and considered DNFing but she said to herself "I've never DNFed a race and I'm not going to start now." So I told myself the same thing and kept pushing along. I also knew Dani was waiting for me at 86th street on the west side which was just before the mile 3 marker and decided I would do my best to make it to her and then would ask her to join me to for the rest of the race. I walked (noticed I didn't write ran) up to her, she asked if I was ok, I responded "nope. I need you to run with me" and she hopped in. Our conversation during the last mile of the race went something like this:

Dani: "Come on E. You're strong. You can do this. You got this. One more mile to go."
Erica: "Thanks D"
Dani: "You're strong. You know you can do this."
Erica: "Tell me I'm sexy"
Dani: "You're sexy"
Erica: "Tell me you like my pink socks"
Dani: "You're sexy & I like your pink socks"
Erica: "Thanks. This race sucks."

Dani ducked out just as I was about to approach the finish line and then met me after to console me and get me some ice to help with the shooting pain going thru my shoulder from my fall a few weeks back. I completed the race in 37:55 which is a 9:30 pace and way slower than my fastest time & I what I am capable of, and it's messing with my head for this weekend's race.

My goal for this weekend was is to run a sub 2 half marathon, which would be a PR for me. Like I said, I haven't run a half in over a year and even though I'm coming back from an injury, I'm faster and stronger and know I can do it. As long as everything goes as planned.... and I'm not sure what that means because the only thing I can control is how I handle this race. So I'm hoping the corrals aren't packed or I don't get caged in by slower runners, I'm praying it doesn't rain, I've asked my stomach to cooperate, and I'm going to do my best to stay focused on Sunday morning. I'm hoping the second half of this sandwich tastes much better than the first.

1 comment :

  1. What a crappy half sandwich. May the second half be delicious with a side of sub-2 PR. Good luck!