RACE REPORT: NYRR Long Training Run
DATE: Saturday, August 28, 2010
DISTANCE: 20.5 Miles
WEATHER: 71F, Medium Humidity, Sunny
LOCATION: Central Park, NY
Today was the New York Road Runner’s 2nd Long Training Run. Not a race, but rather a challenge to see how many miles one can endure before one says “Uncle” (or Aunt, depending on your preference). I had a tough time sleeping last night, partially because my new MP3 player took forever to sync all of the songs it had (and I’ll get to that later on), but as always any running event of significance to me, keeps me up.
This was significant because time is running out. 43 days to go until the Chicago Marathon presents itself before my very feet, legs, lungs and heart (oh, and brain…I think!) The class Karen forced me to sign up for has proven to be very worthwhile. My times are improving. I can feel it. Fatigue is taking longer to usher itself into my soul. This is a good thing.
But have I improved enough, and do I have enough time to improve to where I need to be in Chicago to get to Boston?
Rather than bore you with the split times, let me start by saying that we were late to the starting line. I had no choice but to start jogging from the house to the park, and ditch Karen behind. I hated to do this, but if I’ve learned anything from my running class, it is that running with your “pack” is very, very important. They help keep your pace and your rhythm going, and helps delay the onset of fatigue. Going forward, I may have to start leaving the house even before Karen does. Again, leaving her behind makes me feel awful, but I have to do what I must not to be stressed so much before a run. Although, I will tell you that I was running late myself today. This time I was just as much to blame for getting there late, as she was (poor thing).
Well, I did run pretty fast to the baggage area, and literally sprinted to the start (not wise when facing a 20 mile run!!!). I got there in time to leave with the 8:30 pace group which was not good because I was shooting for an 8:00 flat per mile. Turns out, that it was okay because the group leaders were going faster than 8:30.
The course consist of 4 loops going counter-clockwise around the park, with the first loop, at 6 miles, being the longest one. Essentially, the 6 mile loop is the full loop that incorporates the never-ending, always-winding Harlem Hill. It’s good that they get this out of the way in the beginning…I’d hate to see doing this at mile 17 or so!
The goal was to break 8 minutes flat, but I flat out blew the goal. Blew it in a bad way that is. I started off around an 8:20 pace and was never able to sustain enough of a comeback to make up enough time.
The one thing I did though, for which I KNOW that very few people did, was that I never stopped running. Like I said, this “training” run consisted of 4 loops. The first is 6 miles, followed by 2 more 5 milers that make use of the 102nd Street Transverse (eliminating the Harlem Hill Loop altogether), and the last loop is 4 miles, which makes use of the 72nd Street transverse, that eliminates the Central Park South loop.
And in this “run”, you basically are supposed to stop at the end of each loop (which is at the 102nd street transverse) to get some Gatorade, go to the bathroom, eat pretzels, etal, and take a 3 minute break until they re-congregate and announce your re-launch (by pace group) for your next loop.
I never did anything of the sort.
I just ran.
And kept on running.
If you consider that I started running from Lexington and 102nd street, I basically never stopped after that …. Until I finished the entire run. Between the 1.25 mile to the starting line, and the extra .5 mile I did throughout the course, today’s run was closer to 22 miles than it was to 20 or even 21.
And here is the most encouraging point of all….I never was in pain….I never cramped up, and I even have an extra power gel, and several Endurolyte capsules leftover that I didn’t even need to use.
When all was said and done, it took me 2 hours 48 minutes and 38 seconds to do 20 ½ miles exactly. Not good enough for Boston (yet), but but good enough for an 8 minute 16 second pace, and easily the best speed I’ve ever maintained for any distance over 13.1 miles. And even though it was a 20 mile run, and I didn’t handle the tangents too well (which is why I went over by a full ½ mile) that gave me a real pace of 8:29, I had a lot of other obstacles, that I will not be facing in Chicago. For one, Chicago is flat, Central Park is nothing but non-stop rolling hills. Try doing Cat Hill. Four times. For another thing, remember the MP3 player? Well it took 2 hours to sync last night, and as a result, the player died on me after mile 12! I, Mr. Music, wound up running the last 8 miles with no sounds other than the tramplings of our feet and the heavy breathing, which by the last loop, seemed like an endless obscene phone call. However, with this class that I’ve been taking, where music players are not allowed, I actually did better than expected.
Lastly, this was after all a “training run”, lacking all of the hoopla one can come to expect from a major marathon.
All I can say is this folks. Before today, I thought I had no chance in doing an 8:02 pace for Chicago. But now, I’m not so sure. My legs are feeling good right now and I’m only about an hour-and-a-half removed from having crossed the finish line. Time is tight and I’m not sure about my abilities to improve over the next month but I will tell you this…If I want this as bad as a person wants to breathe when their head is under water, then I will succeed (credit to that goes to my friend Ivanhoe, who sent me a link to a very inspirational video on Facebook the other night).
Before leaving, I saw Karen finishing her third loop and going for her fourth (way to go, girl!) I actually passed her when I hit mile 17 and she, mile 12. She cheered me on. It’s stuff like that that makes all of this worthwhile to be sure. Right now I am enjoying my life immensely, and am grateful to God that I still have special abilities. Well, I won’t be wasting them.
Chicago and New York City Marathons….Here I Come!!!