Saturday, September 09, 2006

my first race. (this is a long post, consider yourself warned)

how was it? you ask. it was fun.

getting up wasn't fun, and even running before hand wasn't that fun, but overall, i have to was fun.

the day started at 6:30 am because i needed to shower and be on the train by 7:15. i was meeting charlotte around 8:00 at 72nd and the east side of the park. it was a pretty morning, although threatening to be a little warm. as soon as i got off the 6 at 68th street you began to see runners. for some reason, i had thought this was a little race, there'd be a few hundred people there, but not a big deal. it was, after all, only 4 miles. i was wrong - a lot of people use this as one of their qualifying races to be assured entry into the ny marathon for 2007. yeah, the one next year.

the way it works is: if you join ny road runners by january 31 (let's use 2006 as an example), 2006 and you participate in 9 qualifying runs during that calendar year, you are guaranteed entry to the nyc marathon for the following year, 2007. with me? so since i just joined nyrr, i won't be eligible for the nyc marathon until 2008, because i didn't join before the cut off (i can still try to get in during the lottery, or i could run with tnt, but let's just get through the first one, shall we?). so one of the reasons this race is so big is because there are not that many races left for the year and everyone's trying to get their 9 in.

so i met up with charlotte, her starbucks in hand (i was a little jealous, i admit), and we made it over to the registration. we picked up our gift bags first (lays baked chips, a fancy girls' razor, and a variety of "sporty" snack bars), registered where we got our numbers, tracking chips & souvenir tee shirts, grabbed safety pins and found a spot to get situated. pin the number to shirt. attach the tracking chip to shoe - nyrr supplies these, times are recorded and you return them at the end of the race. check bag. meet other team in training folks. i was going to run with my camera...until the [insert expletive of your choice] thing died on me. of course. so sorry, no pics today. we were going to run a lower loop - 1.7 miles - before starting the race at 9:30.

the lower loop was fine but i was feeling a little creaky. i told myself to get over it, and i think we did the whole thing in about 20 minutes, i wasn't keeping track of that one. we met back up with the team, and after a little pep talk, we could go on over to the starting line.

we had about 10 minutes and i started to get excited. there were so many runners of all sorts of ages, shapes and colors. a feast for the people-watcher in me. we stretched to keep warm, and stayed outside of the corral until just after the starting horn blew (!!) and then jumped in around the 10-minute mile group.

we trotted towards the official starting line, starting and stopping because of all the people, but the closer we got, the bigger the smile on my face. the biggest, dorkiest smile i could possibly imagine. it was unstoppable. and then...we crossed and the time started a ticking. there were water stops at each mile, but i had hydrated so much, i didn't really feel like i needed to stop. plus one of the only things i was afraid of was having to pee in the middle of the race. not that it really would have mattered because my "time" wasn't going to matter to anyone but me, but of course i still cared.

"racing" is very animalistic. i alternated between feeling like i was an antelope and someone in a video game. you are constantly weaving in and out between people who are changing pace, or deciding to walk or passing someone themselves. i felt like a little kid because it was an experience that was entirely new. i've never raced before. sure, when you were little and "i'll race you to the swings/to the end of the driveway/big tree" sort of races but those were usually in small groups and many many many years ago. running with faster people kept the pace up, there were little boosts of speed when you needed around someone slower and the energy of the crowd kind of pushed you along whether you liked it or not.

the first mile was crowded and i think we covered it in about 11 minutes. the 2nd mile thinned out, which was nice, and when we saw the clock...we think we ran that mile in 10 or under! exciting! charlotte and i were running well and we knew it and that was also encouraging. i was definitely pushing myself a little harder - but was trying to be mindful that this is still a saturday run, and these runs are not about speed. i wanted a good time, but i didn't want to get it because i sprinted the last two miles. i wanted to get a good sense of what my real time per mile is.

during the third mile, on the uphills you began to see runners who lost steam and started to walk. i was definitely more winded than usual, but still felt strong. there was a lot of passing going on during mile three which was fun. i felt fast and strong. mile four too. i won't lie - by the time we got to 79th or so i was ready to be done - but there was no question over whether or not i could do it.

at 72nd charlotte decided to run as fast as she could to the end, and i decided to not sprint, but just to push a little harder. i lengthened my arm movement, which like we learned in training, lengthened my stride, took deep breaths just went. there was a tnt training cheering section, and our coach was at the finish, and the little crowd was cheering as i finished strong. it was fanTASTic.

afterwards, we went to an event called connection to the cause, which basically reinforces why you are running and what it does for the society and is very inspirational. i'll write about that some other time, simply because this post is already way way too long. then it was back here to check my time as soon as i walked in the door...and oh yes! i averaged less than an 11 minute mile! i figured we were around 11 but i didn't think we'd be under. a very pleasant's the clip from the website. look at the net time (basically, that starts recording when my chip goes over the start, vs. when the horn blows). congratulations to me!!

today's mileage: 5.7
average time/mile: 10.47
total mileage: 65.47

1 comment:

Demps said...

Congrats. I'm proud of you and excited for you. Sorry that I missed it. Good work, and props to Charlotte too.