Race number 7 (5th 2009 marathon-qualifying race) was the Colon Cancer Challenge 15k. The course takes us around the lower 5-mile loop and then the middle 4-mile loop in Central Park. I had 15 miles on my training schedule, so I planned to run the 4-mile loop before the 15k, then the lower 1.7-mile loop after the race.
Goals: to run between water stations, to run under 1:30, and to run each mile under 10-minute/mile pace. I knew it wasn’t likely, given the 4-mile “warm-up,” but I was secretly hoping to run a PR. In order to avoid a foolish attempt that might cause injury, though, I did not look up my 15k PR until I got home from the race (1:26:25).
I got to the Park a little early (the MTA is screwing around with my train-line again, so I left extra time), so I checked out the Colon Cancer booths. There was a giant inflatable colon in one of the booths. You could walk through it, if you wanted (I didn’t). I dropped my bag, then ran the 4-mile warm-up in about 38 minutes (about 9:30 pace). That was probably a little too fast, but it felt comfortable. I only stopped once on the 102nd Street Transverse, for water and a walk break.
I headed to the 15k start line, looking for Roxy and Mark, but didn’t find them. I did see Paul and he crossed over so we could start the race together. Paul is a faster runner than I am, but he hadn’t warmed up yet and I was 4 miles in, so we stayed together for about 3 ½ miles. Mile 2 was pretty comfortable, but turned out to be way too fast (8:22), so I put the brakes on a bit and tried to slow down so I could complete the 15 miles without bonking. At the 3rd water station, I had to stop to walk off some stiffness in my knee, so I told Paul to go on ahead. Throughout the race, I tried to keep an eye on him, but lost him after a couple of water stations. I started feeling tired in the 5th mile (9th overall). I had planned to take a gel after the first loop, but ended up running 6 miles before I could take it. I also needed another hit from my inhaler – it was freezing out! I was wearing 4 shirts (3 of them long-sleeved), but still felt cold. I took a very long walk break there, resulting in a 10+-minute mile. I tried to pick up the pace a bit, but my calf started cramping up and so I had to hold to a steady pace. I made it back around the 102nd Street Transverse and, after hitting the 8-mile marker, I decided to just go for it. Even if I ended up walking part of the final 1.7 mile-loop, I wanted to finish strong. There was no finishing kick, but I got myself across the finish line at 1:27:43, having stopped only at the water stations. Two out of three goals isn’t too bad.
After the race, I picked up my bag and jogged the lower loop in about 20 minutes. I stopped to take a couple of pictures, which slowed me down some. My total mileage for the day is 15 and the total running time was 2:25:43. I did have a couple of breaks in the running (waiting for the race to start and then getting my bag after the finish), but, except for the 5 minutes that I was standing at the start line, I was in constant motion the rest of the time.
Official stats: my official time was 1:27:43 for a 9:25 pace. My splits were 9:27, 8:22, 9:55, 9:09, 9:28, 9:21, 10:14, 9:59, 9:08 and 2:46 for the last three-tenths of a mile. I was 2217 out of 3280 total runners, putting me in the 32nd percentile. It was 30°F, wind-chill of about 20°F, and 20-30 mph winds (gusting to 40 mph).
Consolation treats: Merengue soda, Kopali dried organic pineapple, and Van den Berg Cinnamon Stick cookies.
Next up: Central Park 8k Challenge (3/16), Scotland 10k (3/30)
Pictures are available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7411850@N04/sets/72157604084744091/