Race 13 was the Draft Day 5k. This is the 5th running of the race and it’s part of the Giants’ Draft Day party at the stadium. People can pay money to come watch the draft together and pay even more money for stadium food while they’re there. The course looped around the parking lots of the Meadowlands, passing the Meadowlands Raceway, Giants Stadium, and Continental Airlines Arena. It was supposed to be a fast, flat course, finishing on the field at Giants Stadium, followed by a raffle and entry to the Draft Day party.
Goals: My knees are still cranky and the bruise and lump from the cortisone shot are still there, though the lump is smaller and the bruise is a bit greenish now, though still mostly purple. I took time off again, running fewer than 16 miles in the week before the race. I wanted to run between all water stations, not blow out my knees, run sub-9 miles every split and, hopefully, set a new 5k PR on the flat course (my previous 5k PR was set on a very hilly course).
Because of construction, the subways are running funny, so I got up at 5:15 for an 8:30 race. When I got to the subway, I could hear a train in the station, so I ran down the steps, startling a rat on his way up. He turned and ran back down stairs. I caught up with him and we ran along the passage together until he slipped into a crack in the wall. Luckily, at that time of day, the conductors are nice about holding the doors and I managed to catch the train, which, despite running local all the way to 42nd Street, got me to Port Authority with over a half hour to spare. I wandered around a bit, then headed up to the gate to read. The bus arrives and I was happy to see that I wasn’t the only one going to the race. When I saw the stadium in the distance, I packed up my book and got ready to disembark. The driver all of a sudden burst out with “Oh, man!” He’d missed the turn into the stadium. By the time he got himself turned around, he’d passed two other stops (allowing those passengers to disembark, of course). We finally got back to Giants Stadium and I headed over to the Bubble (an indoor practice area outside the stadium). This was a homecoming of sorts for me. I worked as a volunteer for World Cup ’94 and then was invited to work for the MetroStars, which I did for many years. I was really looking forward to being back in the stadium again. The first thing I learned when I picked up my bib was that the course had been changed and we would not be finishing on the field. I was sooo disappointed!! I can’t imagine what “emergency” provoked the construction – I’m unaware of anything happening at the Stadium for at least a few weeks, but apparently, they needed to dig up the field on Draft Day, despite the Giants’ party. I’m not sure why they couldn’t wait until 10, when everyone would have been finished with the race. Okay – I’m over it. Not really. As I’m picking up my bib, I notice that someone has scratched off the F next to my name on the official list and written an M in. Grrr As if I don’t know which I am? The volunteer helpfully pointed out that the person who had done it must have thought it was wrong because the registered name was George. Was I George? As much as I can understand some confusion, it’s still very rude – I’m asking them to change the gender, so I’m clearly not picking up for some guy named George!! I’m not very impressed with how the day’s going so far. I saw a couple of girls from the bus and we chatted a bit, then called over a volunteer to ask where the baggage claim was. He told us there wasn’t one – they had expected people to drive. I told him that I’d asked the RD and been told there would be baggage claim. He came back in 5 minutes and said it would be outside. Sure enough, they’d set it up. Color me impressed. Lou arrived about then and, after he checked in, we headed over to the start, then ran the first mile of the course as a warm-up. After a couple of minutes, I started wheezing and realized I’d forgotten to use my inhaler, even after going back to put sunblock on. D’oh! We continued around the parking lots and when we got back to the Bubble, I split off to go get my inhaler. For the second time, the guy manning the bags cheerfully handed me my bag. I took a hit and was good to go. I ran another loop to finish my 2-mile warm-up, then headed over to the start. Lou and I lined up together (no pace markers, so we had to guess) and, after not being able to hear the starting announcements, headed off when the horn blew. I headed off feeling pretty good, knowing that my knee had already managed 2 miles and was okay. The actual first mile loop was in the opposite direction of my warm-up runs, so I didn’t have a gauge of how I was doing. I felt like I was moving a little slowly, so I tried to move up a little. We ran past the stables (I knew from the smell), then ran around the Bubble and around the back of Giants Stadium. Then came the course change. As we approached the Continental Airlines Arena, we had to go up and down a pretty good hill. I wasn’t expecting it, but had plenty of time to prepare myself. I just told myself that the flat-running muscles were going to be getting a break and that I’d get to run a nice downhill after the uphill. I reminded myself that I like running uphills (whatever works, right?) and managed to get up and down the hill with no trouble. I could see the finish off in the distance, but the twists and turns to get there meant that I didn’t know how long I had to go and didn’t know if I could put on a finishing sprint. I decided against it, assuming I couldn’t set a PR anyway. As I rounded the turn to the finishing chute (no chips), I saw that I was actually closer to a PR than I’d expected. I missed it by 3 seconds on my watch! This was the first race this year where I didn’t set a PR. No celebratory treats for me. I went back to cheer Lou in (he made his time goal – congrats, Lou) and then we wandered around getting food and taking pictures while waiting for the raffle. I saw the results pages up, but there were just for the top 10 in each age category. As I turned away, I realized that the bottom person for my age group had finished in 30 minutes. I’d finished in 26:32. I was in the top 10!! I’d heard a rumor that they’d be raffling off Giants tickets, so I was definitely staying for that. There were no tickets in the raffle, but I didn’t win the signed helmet, the signed football (the 2006 team signed, so there were the last footballs signed by Tiki), the Giants chair, the sweatshirt, the t-shirt or the hat (there were several of each). And I was too old for the beachbag (only under 20s got those). Lou drove me to Hoboken so I wouldn’t have to wait for a bus and I saw some gorgeous buildings, so I took a short walk and took some pictures before heading back to the City.
Official stats: I finished in 26:32 for an 8:32 pace over the 3.1 miles (my official time was 26:44 for an 8:44 pace). I was 345 out of 1013 finishers, putting me in the 66th percentile. I also came in 8th out of 45 in my age group (82nd percentile), 57th out of 330 female runners (82nd percentile) and 12th out of 104 masters (88th percentile). It was about 56°F (13°C). My splits from my watch were: 8:41, 8:58, and 8:54 for the final 1.1 miles (8:05 pace).
Consolation treats: I stopped at Magnolia and picked up a red velvet cupcake and a Sweet Leaf Mint & Honey iced-tea. Later, I had a cheese soufflé and chocolate cinnamon cookies from Trader Joe’s (I highly recommend them!).
Next up: I’m still reluctant to overrun my knees, so I’m not scheduling a race until the Healthy Kidney 10k on May 19th. And just wait until you hear about the treats I have lined up for that one!!!
Thank you for all your support!
Here is a link to some random pictures, including pictures from the race: http://new.photos.yahoo.com/album?c=mytripsandraces&aid=576460762399870836&pid=&wtok=6.fZrTgE1JupP9RTByJG1g--&ts=1177882603&.src=ph (as always, there’s commentary in the slideshow).