Sunday, July 22, 2007

Race for Central Park 4-miler 7.21.07

Hi all,

Race 21 was the Race for Central Park 4-miler – we ran the new 4-mile course of Central Park, starting on the East Drive, just south of the 68th Street, crossing at the 102nd Street Transverse, then down the west side to finish on the 72nd Street Transverse.

Goals: To run between water stations and to finish with a 9:30 pace (38:00).

After staying up ‘til midnight to get my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I got less than 5 hours of sleep, and was sorely tempted to skip the race. It was originally meant to be a training run, because I intended to race the Run for Home Plate 5k, but with the postponement of that event, I had to race this one. I had arranged to meet Lana and Barb at 8 at the baggage check, but ended up at the Park by 7:30. I wandered around, wishing I’d eaten something, and checked out the various sponsors’ tents. I found Lana and Barb and we headed over to the start with plenty of time to stretch. We lined up at the 9-marker, wished Peter Ciacia (as far as I can remember, he has started all of the NYRR races) a happy birthday, then started at a slow walk when the gun went off. Three minutes later, after a false start or two, we were able to pick up the pace and cross the start line. With no warm-up, I knew it would be a slow first mile, so I skipped the water station. We hit the first mile marker at 10:08 and I calculated that I’d have to run 9:20 miles to hit my goal and wasn’t confident I could make it happen. I started pulling away from Lana and Barb, though, so I waved back and just let my legs go. I didn’t push myself and I felt comfortable. After crossing the 102nd Street Tranverse and heading down the rolling hills on the West side, though, my legs started to feel tired. At times, it felt like I was dragging my legs forward. I tried my visualization trick of imagining the world passing beneath me as I lifted my feet, but it didn’t work. I continued to struggle until I hit the water station just before the 3rd mile marker. I walked a bit longer through this water station (about 30 seconds), then took off running again. As I got up to pace, someone passed me and looked back at me. It was my friend, LK, whom I haven’t seen in over a year!! I was so happy to see him, but he told me to go on ahead because I had only 8 minutes to make my goal time. We agreed to meet up at the finish and I started putting on the speed. I wasn’t feeling tired anymore, but I didn’t push myself too much, either. I waited until I caught sight of the 78 lamppost,* which meant that I had about a half mile to go. At that point, I picked up the pace and started picking off the yellow- and orange-shirted runners. I was disappointed to find nothing left for a finishing kick, but was delighted when I stopped my watch with a final mile at 8:16! I don’t mind not having a finishing kick with a mile time like that!!

I walked back to try to watch LK, Lana and Barb finish, but there were so many runners coming through that I only saw Barb finish. I grabbed some plums for Lana (I can’t eat them, but I know she likes them) and headed over to where we’d agreed to meet after the race. We chatted a bit, then I went back to the Bandshell to watch the awards ceremony and to not win the raffle. I also stopped by the Cabot Cheese tent for some samples (there was no way I was going to eat cheese before the race), then headed home.

Official stats: I finished in 36:47 for an average pace of 9:11 over the 4 miles. I was 2427 out of 4038 total finishers, putting me in the 40th percentile. It was 63°F with 70% humidity. My splits from my watch were: 10:08, 8:46, 9:44, and 8:16.

Consolation treats: one of my favorite breakfasts – Golden Syrup-flavored oatmeal with Hotel Chocolat chocolate gems and Chocolate Abyss (hot chocolate that Lisa sent from England) and for lunch, a cheese soufflé with a spinach salad, a slushy Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper, and some Carnival Skittles.

Next up: Media Challenge #4 (7/24) and the NYC Half Marathon (8/5)

Thank you for all your support!

*The lampposts in Central Park are numbered according to the corresponding street number. I use them to count down the blocks as I head towards the finish of my races. For non-New Yorkers, there are about 20 street blocks in a mile.

Pictures from the race and random pictures are available here:

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