Race 20 was the Naples Park to Park 10k – we ran the 6-mile loop of Central Park, starting on the East Drive, just south of the 102nd Street Transverse, continuing around the Park and finishing on the 102nd Street Transverse. The NYRR has “twinned” itself with the Napoli Road Runners and the first race of the Park of the Park event took place in June at the Royal Woods of Capodimonte in Naples.
Goals: To run between water stations and to finish with 10-minute miles. The tendonitis in my left leg was still bothering me, but one of the PTs who works on my leg suggested that I wrap my foot. I bought an Ace bandage and it really seemed to help. Rather than take the chance, I wrapped my foot for the race, too.
I’m still in recovery from the marathon, so I decided against a warm-up, but I did do some strides. As I lined up by the 9-minute marker, I saw Mark on the other side of the road and gradually worked my way over to him. We chatted a bit, but I knew I was going to go slow and told him to go on ahead. He very nicely ran with me a little longer, then went off to run his race. I struggled up the Harlem Hill, but managed to get to the top without stopping. The rolling downhills on the West Side were a welcome relief, especially because I knew that I’d have to run up Cat Hill on the other side of the park. I walked through the water stations (the first of which didn’t appear until the 3rd mile – not good in this heat, NYRR), but did have to make one extra stop. My top of my left foot was bothering me, so I stopped at just about the 5k point to retie my laces. I needn’t have bothered – it made no difference. I think it was the tendonitis acting up a bit. I thought about stopping quite a bit, but tried to keep myself going to the water stations. At one point, the water station wasn’t quite where I expected and I realized that it was only my perception that made it seem out-of-place. Running through the winter months, I could see quite clearly where the water stations were because the trees and bushes were mostly bare. Now, though, the Park is lush and full and the water stations are hidden around corners. I can’t say which I prefer, but it certainly is prettier now. I made it to Cat Hill and fully expected to have to stop and walk a bit, but I was able to climb the hill at a run, saluting Cat as I passed. As I came up to the flat section of the East Drive, I was able to salute Fred (LeBow – the man who made the NYC Marathon what it is today) and then count down the blocks as I neared the finish. The first 5 miles were really tough, but this last mile seemed to be much easier. I felt like I was flying (and, compared to the pace of the first 5 miles, I almost was) and I tried to push it towards the finish. After the race, I wandered over to the awards area to wait to not win the raffle and Mark found me holding down the fort at the Naples table (no-one was there, so I sat down). We directed a number of runners to the raffle bowl at the next table, then listened to an Italian guitarist sing along to his guitar. A number of runners were given medals, though it wasn’t clear why they were singled out. It’s possible that they ran both events (this one and the one in Naples). We walked back to the subway together and then I headed out to LI to visit my folks.
Official stats: I finished in 1:01:16 for an average pace of 9:52 over the 6.2 miles. I was 3122 out of 4556 total finishers, putting me in the 31st percentile. It was 67°F with 61% humidity. My splits from my watch were: 10:03, 9:40, 9:55, 10:49, 9:40, 9:22, and the final .2 mile split was 1:50 (9:10 pace).
Consolation treats: Dark chocolate mint Cadbury Fingers, which my friend, Lisa, sent me from the UK, and a Blue Woo Hoo Vanilla Squishee from 7-Eleven.
Next up: Run for Central Park (7/21) [the Run to Home Plate, originally scheduled for 7/22, has been postponed]
Thank you for all your support!
Pictures from the race, and from a very special shop here in New York, are available here (these pictures are pretty self-explanatory, so, contrary to my usual practice, the only commentary in the slideshow is a description of the last picture: http://new.photos.yahoo.com/album?c=mytripsandraces&aid=576460762404944364&pid=&wtok=fkVZwJ1F8RXiLnfkHToH8Q--&ts=1184724813&.src=ph