Race 4 was the Gridiron Classic 4-Miler (my 3rd marathon qualifier). The course was altered a bit, because of construction, so we started on the East Drive at about 68th Street, crossed on the 102nd Street Transverse, and finish at about 68th Street (or thereabouts).
Goals: to keep running between water stations and to finally set a new PR (under 35:48). I set it back in April 2005 and have been trying to get there ever since. The closest I’ve come so far has been 36:45 back in September ’06.
I made a deal with Roderick to go all out today to set a PR, but I will tell you now that I was scared. It was so cold that I was afraid I’d hurt myself without knowing it. I had bought new gloves just the night before in anticipation of the cold, but even with the hood over my fingers, I thought I was going to end up with frostbite. In spite of this, believe it or not, there were runners in shorts!! I was so cold that I didn't even take my coat off for the football throw and managed a meager 10 yards. The NYRR is experimenting with wave starts this year and today, of all days, was their first attempt. The elite/fast local runners started in the first corral and had special stickers to identify them. Then, it seemed to be a free-for-all for getting into the next corrals (500-750 runners per corral). I was in the second, luckily. We started 3 minutes after the 1st corral and each successive corral started 3 minutes after the corral ahead of them. There were at least 6 corrals, so you can imagine how cold the people at the back of the pack must have been. NYRR has a bit more work to do on this format. I decided to skip my warm-up, because I was afraid of getting sweaty, then cold, while I waited to start the race. When the horn sounded, I took off, hoping I could hold my pace through the 4 miles. I was pretty sure I was moving well, but not quite sure where I was. I did stop at each water station and warmed up pretty well about a mile into the race, but I had a lot of trouble breathing. In the third mile, I blew my first goal. I could not move another step, because I couldn’t breathe. I stepped off the course and fumbled my inhaler out of my jersey pocket (I was wearing a cycling jersey, so the pockets were across the small of my back). It took me more time getting the thing out of, and back into, my pocket than it did to use it! As soon as I had it secured again, I took off running and felt better, but I’d waited too long and struggled for the rest of the race. Just as I was approaching the 72nd Street Transverse, I heard a cowbell and was convinced that Denzil was about to pass me. It wasn’t he, but this guy takes the cowbell seriously – he was dressed as a cow, udder and all! That gave me a giggle and then, spying the finish line just past the Transverse, I poured on what little I had left in me and came across the finish line in 38:30. As soon as I stopped, I started heaving. Luckily, I hadn’t had anything since before I left home, so it was just retching and not all-out vomiting. I was directed to the medical tent, but was fine by the time I got there, so I just got my chip clipped, drank some water, grabbed my bag and headed home to begin treating myself!
Official stats: my net time was 35:02 for an 8:45 pace over the 4 miles – I set a new PR by 46 seconds! I was 1981 out of 4474 total runners, putting me in the 56th percentile. It was 14°F (-10°C) with 29% humidity and 16 mph winds, putting the wind chill at just below 0 (-18°C). My mile splits from my watch were: 8:54, 8:34, 9:08, and 8:30.
Celebratory treats: I’ve been working for this PR for almost 2 years now, so I definitely indulged today! I started with my last packet of Golden Syrup Oatso Simple with Lyle’s Golden Syrup and the last of my Hotel Chocolat Chocolate Gems, with Twinings hot chocolate and Williams-Sonoma chocolate marshmallows. I’m drinking my slushy Dr Pepper and have been snacking on Whole Foods Truffled Walnuts (mmm). Later, I’m having the last piece of my birthday cake (my mom’s home-made Tunnel of Fudge), which I’ve saved in the freezer for a special occasion. Hopefully, I’ll be eating that while the Colts are winning the SuperBowl!! Rest assured – if I had failed in my quest, I would still have treated myself, but would have limited myself to the hot chocolate with marshmallows, the slushy Dr Pepper and the Truffled Walnuts. I would still have expected the Colts to win!
Next up: The Bronx Half Marathon on February 11th and the Al Gordon Snowflake 4-Miler on February 24th.
Thank you for all your support!
Here is a link to some random pictures, including my Cooper Hewitt visit, the Millrose Games, and today’s pictures: http://new.photos.yahoo.com/album?c=mytripsandraces&aid=576460762388328629&pid=&wtok=KjUSB3kk0QguU5KpfPGMtg--&ts=1170633412&.src=ph. I've also got some videos on YouTube from the Millrose Games (search for user RunnerNYNY).