I guess it is about time that I say something about the race last Sunday.
The race started early at 8am, which meant that I had to leave my apartment by 6am to be sure that I would make the start with enough time to find Chelly, check in baggage and try to get a little warmup.
It was a beautiful morning. Not too cold and the subway ride was fairly uneventful. I got to the park entrance exactly on time and watched as runners started to trickle into the area. Chelly arrived a couple of minutes later and we headed toward the finish line to drop our bags and divest ourselves of our excess clothing.
I felt good. I wasn't planning on going all out, but it was a dry day and an unusual course. The race planners had put in a turn around, which was a new one for me, and I was interested to see how this would play out. Even a small Sunday morning race in Central Park attracts over 2000 runners and the park roads usually have many other people using them, so the plan to have the race field double back on itself ought to prove complicated.
We lined up at the start. I tried to push us up a bit so we could be up past anyone planning to walk, but the start was pretty congested and I found myself back in the area of those running slowly/walking quickly. The horn sounded and we shuffled toward the start line. After about a minute and a half, we crossed the starting mat.
I started to pick up speed and weave through the racers. I felt really good and kind of antsy being held back by the mass of runners. After about a half mile I noticed that the roadway to our right was cleared and the volunteers were yelling at us to stay to our left. The leaders were coming back from the turn around. I started hooting for the guys as the sped past us. I still can't imagine running that fast. The field cheered the first dozen or so runners that passed us. At about the mile marker, the entire field swept to our right. I let myself get carried to the outside of the turn where it was clear of other runners and used the opportunity to pass a chunk of the race. I gradually worked over to the inside, hoping to catch a glimpse of Chelly when we passed each other. This was probably the slowest portion of the race as I was scanning the pack for her turquoise top. You ever notice that everyone seems to be wearing the same color as the person you are looking for? After about ten minutes I gave up figuring I missed her. She told me later that she saw me, but I never found her.
Now more than two thirds into the race, I realize that I've been using up a lot of energy and am going to the bottom of the tank to continue. I've been trying to work on keeping a more consistent pace throughout my races, instead of saving it for a sprint at the end. My times have been getting faster because of this. I was saving too much of myself and then trying to make up for it at the end. Because I have more confidence in my ability I've been running faster in the first half of the race. Right now, this means I don't have a big kick for the end.
I crossed the finish line in 28:40. I remember to stop my watch a couple of seconds later and get a time of 27:10. Later, I would find out that my chip time was 26:58. Not including the Revlon run last week, this is a personal best for the 5K distance.
I wandered to the support tables and grabbed some water. After downing that, I got a cup of Gatorade and started back toward the finish line to watch for Chelly. I couldn't get too close since there were photographers at this race and they were keeping the spectators back so as to not ruin their sight lines. A large contigent of Polish runners come across and I'm worried that she has gotten stuck behind them. I look down the course and see what I think is her coming up to the finish area. I start to look for a way to get closer so she can hear me when she gets closer. She runs with headphones, so I have to be loud or close for her to hear me. I scream as she crosses, but I can tell she doesn't hear me. I run up the course to get past the photographers and come back down and catch her. She's also run a personal best time and can barely talk. I tell her that they've set up a finish line photo area and as soon as she has cooled down a bit we can go get our photo taken. This turns out to be the only picture that they got of me during the whole race.
After scarfing down a couple of Krispie Kremes (do-nuts!!!) We head out of the park to grab a real breakfast. There is a women's only half marathon being held after the 5k and we have to cross the start of that to get out of the park. I find a fellow Strider who, unknown to me, had run the 5K, as well. He informs me that one of our members is in the half. I found out later that she did a 1:45 which means I just missed her when we came back through the park.
This weekend I have a 4 mile race closer to home. I will try and be quicker with the report on that one.