Race 28 was the Fifth Avenue Mile. We ran one mile down 5th Avenue from East 80th to East 60th. The race is run in heats by age and gender categories. I ran with women 40-49, in the 8th heat.
Goals: To run between water stations (just kidding – there are no water stations in a 1-mile race); to set a PR (I ran last year’s mile in 7:22); and to break 7:15 (set a really big PR). These aren’t really fast times, but they’re fast for me. According to the McMillan Running Calculator* and my fastest 5k race time, I shouldn’t be running a mile faster than 7:27, and I ran faster than that 2 years ago in my first mile.
I was worried about this race because I haven’t been doing any interval training at all. Last year, I was doing Yasso 800s at 7.5 mph (8:00 pace) and managed a 7:22 for a 2-second PR. This year, I’ve been focusing on tempo intervals, which are a different type of speed work – slower pace (7 mph/8:35 pace) sustained for a longer distance (I’m up to 9 miles in 2.25-mile intervals). I’d already decided that I wanted to race this one and just use the 18-mile Tune-Up (tomorrow) as a training run, so I wasn’t going to hold back at all. I got to the Park early, wandering through an area I’ve never been through before on my way to the start. I dropped my bag and headed out for my warm-up. I ran down the course, but inside the Park (asphalt path), rather than on 5th Avenue (cobblestoned sidewalk). This is also a much more scenic route – I got to run past the boat lake (where you can “sail” remote-controlled miniature boats), the children’s playground, and the Central Park Wildlife Center (I didn’t see any animals). I headed back up to the Start on the sidewalk so I could say hi to Sue and the rest of the Central Park Track Club, which form a “wall of orange” at the ½ Mile Marker, cheering their team members and others (including me). I got back up to the start, took another puff of my inhaler and lined up for the start of my heat. I was amazed to hear the announcer refer to Haile Gebrsalassie as “she,” but shook it off and got ready to head out.
The gun sounded and off I went. I was nervous about going too fast and tried to find rabbits to keep track of on my way up 5th. Technically, we’re running down 5th, because we’re heading south, but the first half is uphill. It’s barely noticeable when walking, but it was daunting while I was trying to maintain my pace in the second quarter! I hit the first quarter mile marker in about 1:40, I think, and panicked that I had gone out too fast. I resigned myself to losing it in the second half and decided to hang onto that first bit as banked time. In the second quarter, my mouth had completely dried out and I could barely breathe. Asthma seriously sucks!! I kept going up, trying to hold pace and passed the half mile marker (and CPTC) at about 3:30 or so. I knew I was slowing down, but was happy to see that the shirts in front of me all looked the same as they had, so I wasn’t necessarily losing ground. Going down into the third quarter, I could feel the downhill and my legs were very happy. They weren’t in any pain and it actually felt really comfortable in the 3rd quarter. Except for the breathing – my chest was on fire. I caught up to the ¾ mile marker at about 5:30 and realized that there was no way I was going to set a PR. But, I kept repeating my mantra (it’s only 1 mile, it’s only 1 mile) and tried to sprint a bit as I counted down the last 5 blocks (20 NYC streets - not avenues - are approximately 1 mile). To my amazement, when I could see the finishing line clock, it was still at 6:40! I had a chance for a PR and not a small one, either. I wasn’t able to get across in under 7, but I did manage to get there in 7:09!!
I wobbled over to the side and retched a bit, then found Margot (a CPTC member) and we started back up to the ½-mile marker. My chest was still on fire and I realized I needed help. I went back over to the medical tent (thank you, Margot, for making sure I got there) and spent about a half hour with them. They told me the burning was due to inhaling cold air while running too fast and that it had triggered the asthma. One of them took my pulse and, after telling the one working on my breathing that it was too low, checked it again. There’s nothing wrong – my heart just has a rapid recovery time. On the treadmill, it drops by 30 bpm within a minute of stopping. So, now, I’m resting and trying to get my breathing under control and to get the coughing to stop so I can get through the 18 miles tomorrow.
Official stats: I finished in 7:09 for a 13-second PR. In my heat (women 40-49), I was 59 out of 195 finishers, putting me in the 70th percentile. Including all heats, I was 1852 out of 3245 total finishers, putting me in the 43rd percentile and 395 out of 1275 female finishers, putting me in the 69th percentile. It was 73° with 32% humidity and 6 mph winds.
Celebration treats: Because of tomorrow’s 18-mile race, I have to take it easy on the treats today, so I’m just having a chocolate-covered pretzel (it was also covered in peanut butter chips) from Whole Foods. The real treat will come after tomorrow’s race, no matter how I do there. Okay, I wasn’t going to do it, but I’m having a slushy Dr Pepper, too. At this point, there’s really nothing I can do to hurt my chances tomorrow – my lungs are taking care of that all by themselves.
Next up: The 18-mile Tune-up (9/30), the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (10/21) and the Tower of Terror 13k (10/27).
Thank you for all your support!
*Of course, if I go by the calculator, I should also be able to run a 4:12 marathon and that hasn’t happened, either. I’m too fast on the short distances and too slow on the long distances. Guess I need to work on my endurance. Or is that stamina?