Sunday, February 25, 2007

not just running, but racing

yesterday's practice was to go out and run the al gordon 4-mile in central park. the night before, i didn't exactly behave (as ramon would say). i intended to behave, but as sometimes happens, one whisky to kick the cold turned into a few whisky's and a burger. i'm going to blame the bartender who liked us and wanted to buy a round or two. how can you say no?

but i was still in bed by 10:30 pm which was good because we were leaving at 7:15. the sleep and a few middle of the night chugs of water saved me from a bad hangover, but between that and the cold, i wasn't exactly 100%. the boys' race was at 8, the girls' at 9 so i didn't really have to be there until 8:15 but, one of the mentors has a car and has been spoiling us with rides. i opted to go early and get the ride, which, in retrospect, was dumb because it was soooooo cold, but ah well.

when i got up at 6:45 it sounded cold. the wind was rattling the windows, and i was horrified to find that it was 21 degrees out. ug. i got all bundled like a little kid who gets all puffed up to go play in the snow. and headed out to meet the boys. we had quite a crew. (i'm still working on the nicknames so if you're reading this and you don't like yours, don't panic, they have a way of evolving) taurus (referensing the car, not horoscope) was driving, cap was riding shot gun, and in the back was me, the rookie and his roommate T.

for 7:15 we were all pretty awake. taurus dropped us off at 96th and 5th and we headed into the part to meet the rest of the tnt crew near the bag check. there were probably 10 or 12 guys, which apparently is a bit of a record for the marathon crew. ladies, you can thank me for continuing to try to recruit boys. we found ramon who gave me a hug and asked if i had decided to run with the mens. har har. he and the rookie started chatting in the ole espanol (the rookie is not yet convinced) and from what i could pick out from my rudementary spanish, ramon was combating the rookie's thinking that he wouldn't be ready for june.

the boys headed over to the start about 5 to 8. the object of the game when it's cold is to stay as warm as possible for as long as possible. this is why it is not a good idea to stand outside for oh, about and hour and a half before one's own race, but i'll stop complaining about that now. anyway, we saw the boys off, and i hung out with the coaches until the gals started showing up. poor sk8 went to our usual meeting space by accident and so had to hoof the extra 20+ blocks up to the meeting spot. the boys started trickling back in from their races and finally it was time to line up.

i was so cold. so freaking cold. when we started, i literally could not feel my toes. they were all numb. and the wind was kickin'...i wondered how long i had to be out there to get frostbite on my nose. wah wah wah.

i had gotten in line between the 8 and 9 minute miles. all i was hoping for is to finish around a 10 minute mile, which would be much faster than any other race i had run. i had previously had some good shorter runs last season at about that pace but i didn't know how the month off had treated me. to the relief of my toes we finally started.

mile 1 - moo

the first mile always sucks. it's so crowded. everyone's anxious to get out of the gate. there are people (like me) who start around a faster pace than they really will be running. there are walkers that start at the front that you need to manuver around. people just cut you off without looking. one particularly agressive walking woman actually elbowed me in the ribs. ow. my goal for the first mile is to not get swept up by the crowd, run my own pace, and to not step on nor be stepped on. got to the 1 mile and i was running around a 9:36. holy crap. i decided to try to keep it up.

mile 2 - feeling strong

as far as race strategy this mile and the 4th should have been my fastest. by that point you're warmed up (i started feeling my toes) and the crowd thins out. this is the hilly-ish west side though and so i focused on not expending extra energy up the hills but keeping my effort steady. i was definitely breathing hard, but not uncomfortably so. for the first time, i realized i was not just running or jogging a race, but rather racing it. how about that. we saw a group of tnt coaches and boys, and this of course put the dorkly "i'm-a-runner" smile on my face.

mile 3 - i hate cat hill
as we crossed the 72nd street transverse, my breathing got bad. for the first time ever, i felt like i couldn't catch a deep breath, like someone was sitting on my chest (as sk8 said after - maybe it was jack daniels?) i slowed down a bit, but stubbornnes took over because i really wanted to keep on pace. and then there it was. cat hill. i don't know what it is about this hill, but i really really despise it. it's not very steep, and it's not too long but it pains me. pains me!! i approached it like a good girl, smaller, quicker strides & arm movements and it was over in due course, but then when i got over it...

mile 4 - side stitch?
i had a side stich. now, i've had those cramps before, but usually lower. this one was in my ribs, and it hurt. ~grimmace~ i told myself i only had a mile just and to suck it up. that was probably my slowest and most painful. but at 90th st, i caught a glimps of newbie and t waiting to cheer me on. i waved because i didn't have the breath to shout, and t saw me and elbowed the rookie who hollered "yeaaaah g-rocks!" or something to that effect. only 9 blocks to go. tnt folks on the right...big dorky grin back on my face...wave, smile, cheer, cap yell "finish strong!" there's the finish line! can't help but pick up the pace and holy...the clock says 38! yeaaaaah.

so my official time was 37:47 which is a 9:26 average mile. CRAZY. i was telling coach steve and he's like is that a pr? (pr=personal record) and yes it is. now, i know that's 4 miles and not 26.2 but that gives me a little bit of confidence going in to the season - i really want to break 4:30 for san diego, and if i can keep improving...that looks to be possible!

yesterday's mileage: 4.0
season mileage to date: 19.0

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