Race number 6 (4th 2009 marathon-qualifying race) was the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5k. This race is in my neighborhood, so I got to sleep in this morning! Well, I woke up early, but stayed in bed longer. We run along Fort Washington Avenue from 168th Street until we enter Fort Tryon Park, skirting a big rock formation until we are in the open again and can see not only the Cloisters, but also the Hudson River and the Palisades on the New Jersey side of the river. The turnaround is in the park and then we run the first half in reverse. This is generally a fun course to run – it’s close to home, there are usually a lot of spectators, and bands and cheerleaders are there to cheer us on.
Goals: to run between water stations, to set a course PR (sub 26:37) and to set a distance PR (sub 25:51).
I prepared for a PR for this race, to the extent I could. When I walked outside, though, I knew the PR was in jeopardy – it was really cold and really windy. The MTA pulled a last minute schedule change, running only a shuttle train at my end of the line (resulting in only 2 trains per hour) so I took the bus down instead. A girl and her mother were going to the bus, too, because the girl’s band (she plays electric bass) was playing at the start/finish of the race. Her mom told me that she used to run, too, and I tried to encourage her to start again. When I got to 168th Street, I was a little early, so I wandered around the Armory until it was time for my two-mile warm-up, which took me about 21 minutes. I had spent the entire week visualizing how I was going to run a PR, but, suddenly, when I was on the start line, I started thinking that I couldn’t remember how to run. Luckily the horn sounded and I had to get going or be run over. I lost the distance PR opportunity in the first quarter mile. First, there was the usual jockeying for position, not to mention dodging the walkers,* and then, suddenly, we’re all veering to the right. Three cars somehow got past the cops and were trying to drive down the course towards the start. I don’t know how they got them off the course, but they were gone when I finished.
It seemed to get colder and windier as we ran and I was struggling to breathe. I hit the first mile marker 20 seconds off pace and hoped I could make up the difference. We’d already hit one hill and had another to tackle before hitting that first one on the way to the finish. I stopped for water at the water station, but tried to keep it short. I felt great running down the hill into the park and then chugged back up, passing Rachel (we’ve run a couple of other races together) and then stopping at the water station when I got to the top of the hill again. I kept losing ground as I headed back to the start, but I did manage a good finishing sprint.
Official stats: my official time was 28:18 for a 9:07 pace. My splits were 8:40, 9:26, 9:32 and :45 for the last tenth of a mile. I was 1704 out of 3259 total runners, putting me in the 48th percentile. It was 30°F with 48% humidity and 21 mph winds (gusting to 38 mph).
Consolation treats: An Orangina and some Dale & Thomas Troy Aikman’s Halftime Chili & Sour Cream Popcorn (which isn’t as good as I expected – tastes too much like sour cream, which I don’t like)
Next up: Colon Cancer Challenge 15k (3/9), Central Park 8k Challenge (3/16), Scotland 10k (3/30)
Pictures are available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7411850@N04/sets/72157604025144122/ and there’s a video of the cool tea brewer my sister gave me at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LozT9awPvL8
*Starting with the Adidas Run for the Parks on April 20th, all runners will be corralled at the starts, according to their recorded pace times, so walkers will no longer be able to start forward of their estimated pace.