Race 24* was the Run to Home Plate 5k. The 5k course is part out-and-back and part loop. The out-and-back course takes us through the parking lot and then a left turn out onto the street, past Arthur Ashe tennis stadium and the Queens Museum of Art, turning back into the park grounds where we looped around the Unisphere (left over from the 1964 World’s Fair) and an additional section of the World’s Fair park, then back to the original course around the Unisphere and back onto the street to finish the out-and-back. When we came back into the parking lot, instead of continuing along the course we’d left, we turned right and ran around the stadium, finally entering the stadium just to the right of the bleachers, turning left and following the warning track** clockwise around to finish behind home plate.
Goals: to run between water stations (or possibly skip them to see if I could set a distance PR), to set a course PR (sub 28:42) and to set a distance PR (sub 26:37).
After an unrestful night of strange dreams (I wish I could remember what I’d eaten that might have caused them!), I got up at 5:15 to make my way out to Shea Stadium in Queens by 8. Because of ongoing construction, the journey took 3 trains and a bus ride! I’d given myself too much time and ended up arriving at about 7:20, including the 15-minute walk from the train station to the start. Oh, well – better early, than late. It was quite cold – only 58°F when I got up, so I was pretty confident that I’d make my course PR goal. While wandering around the start area, waiting to go on my warm-up run, I ran into Margot and Mary, of the Nike Central Park Track Club, and we chatted for a bit. Margot and I had the same goal: to set a 5k PR (she set hers with a 21:17!!). I took off on my warm-up and jogged around the parking lot for a little over 20 minutes, then did strides for about 3 minutes. There are Mets signs posted along the fences and I would run alternately fast and slow between the signs. I jogged over to the start and went straight to the 10-minute marker to look for Bonnie. As I stretched and craned my neck to look over the crowd, Bonnie tapped my arm – she was standing right in front of me. D’oh! We chatted a bit, then I moved up to the 8-minute marker. I’d promised myself I was going to give it my all today, so I decided to start with my actual pace group this time. There was a couple standing just outside the tape and she had the coolest socks on. The pattern was puzzle pieces, but one sock was sort of blue and green and the other was red and orange. When she moved into the corral, I complimented her on them and she told me that it’s a set of three and the third one is yellow and orange; they’re meant to be mismatched. I’ll be scouring the shops for them.
A few speeches and the National Anthem and the horn went off. I tried very hard to keep myself at a strong, but steady pace and was happy to see that I was keeping up. Despite the cooler temperatures (we’ve been very lucky with our racing weather this year!!), the humidity was still very high and I was having a little trouble breathing, but holding on. The first water station came and I walked through it in order to catch my breath. As I started to run again, I could see the mile marker and it looked like it said 8 and change. I hustled up and passed it in under 9!! This is the first year that I haven’t seen the front runners pass me on their way back to Shea!! I was looking forward to the run around the Unisphere, but missed it this time, because I was focused on getting to the next water station. I needed a break (was wheezing a bit), but kept going, managing not to stop until I got to the water station, which I walked through, using the break to take a puff on my inhaler. At this point, I almost caught up with Socks and decided to use her as my rabbit when I came out of the water station. Unfortunately, she was walking when I caught up to her, so that plan went out the window. As I passed, I yelled “Come on, Socks, you can do it!!” and then forgot about her as I concentrated on my finish. I was hoping for a nice strong finish, but felt like I was slowing down. In my head, I kept counting down my estimated distance left (less than a mile, half a mile, quarter of a mile) in hopes that I wouldn’t break pace. I came into the stadium, passed the 3-mile marker and then focused on the finish line. I don’t even remember seeing any other runners. I shot across the finish line, breaking my distance PR on the official clock!! As soon as I got past the finish, I proceeded with my usually classy finish – retching violently, then staggering to the medical area for ice. I was swaying and staggering, so the medic checked my breathing and said I wasn’t wheezing too badly and should just use my inhaler. I waited for Bonnie to finish and she came in under 30 (great job, Bonnie!!) We walked out together and got in line for our commemorative towels. Cheesy, but I love the Mets!! I was really disappointed not to get a picture with Mr. Met this year. L In the towel line, I ran into Socks and we chatted a bit. She’d heard me call out as I passed and that helped her get moving again and she finished in 26:30 (officially, that is). She’s going to run the Queens Half Marathon, too, so I might see her there – we’re about the same pace so we might be able to run together.
Bonnie had brought her son and her son’s friend, so we stayed to watch the kid’s races. Some of them were quite exciting, with photo finishes as the kids sprinted to win. Bonnie’s son was just edged out in his race – he hadn’t heard the kid behind him until it was too late to get past him. Next time! Then, my 3 trains and bus ride home.
Official stats: I finished in 25:51 for an average pace of 8:19 over the 3.1 miles – a distance PR by 46 seconds. I was 603 out of 1564 total finishers, putting me in the 61st percentile; I was 114 out of 601 female finisher, putting me in the 81st percentile (!!); and I was 14 out of 63 female finishers between 40 and 44, putting me in the 78th percentile (I love these numbers!!) It was 63°F with 68% humidity. My splits from my watch were: 8:25 (my slowest mile!), 8:15, 8:23 and :53 for the final .1 mile (8:50 pace).
Celebration treats: I had a lovely lunch (French bread, paté, Zamarano cheese, pear salad), with a slushy Dr Pepper, followed by Ben & Jerry’s Crème Brûlée ice-cream and some Chuao Chocolate (http://www.chuaochocolatier.com/) from my friend, Laurie (thanks, Laurie!!).
Next up: Disneyland Half Marathon (9/3), Queens Half Marathon (9/23), Fifth Avenue Mile (9/29), 18-Mile Marathon Tune-Up (9/30).
Thank you for all your support!
*Media Challenge #5 was cancelled because it was too hot and humid to run on Wednesday evening. It may be rescheduled – I’ll keep you posted.
**I learned that’s what it’s called from Bonnie’s husband, Jim. Thanks, Jim!
Pictures from the race and some random pictures from the past week, too (sorry for the quality of the pictures – my new camera is still at the shop): http://new.photos.yahoo.com/album?c=mytripsandraces&aid=576460762405139835&pid=&wtok=rkycXmWu.bhCVJC0FSKRFQ--&ts=1186870822&.src=ph (commentary in the slide show).