NYRR Central Park Conservancy Run, July 16, 2011
8:00 am, 72 degrees, sunny.
I did it! My first New York Road Runners Race!!!! My first 4 mile race! I am so proud of myself. Off to celebrate with my running partner and partner-partner, my hubby!! More later.
Monday, July 18
I am still on a high, and wishing I was out celebrating some more with my hubby. What a feeling! I think the start of Mile 4 was my favorite running moment ever -- I got the "runner's high" and it felt fantastic. But back to the Starting Line.
We start in the corals. My number is in the 7000's -- a long way back to walk from the Starting Line. There are so many people. So many. So so many. The famous NYRR announcer is doing his thing. I think someone is singing the national anthem. In a stylized halting way. It is all starting to become an adrenaline-filled blur. A good blur. I'm working on not having all my sunblock melt off my face before the race. The crowd starts moving forward, walking, then running. I say to my husband, "Wait, we have to start running now? We didn't even get to the Start yet. I only budgeted for 4 miles." My usual anti-running banter fueled by nerves. So I walk, and jog, and walk. And then I cross THE START!
8:06 am. I start running along with the crowds, carried along with the crowds on the rolling hills of Central Park. Was it gleeful? Yes, I could actually say it was gleeful. People are cheering on the sidelines. I am finally not one of them. I am a runner. In this race.
I choose a guy with baggy shorts and tattooed legs to be my pacer. He's a good pacer. I am keeping up with him! This is already better than the Coney Island 5K because my legs are not numb from nerves. They are cooperating. Then a sign to the left reads, "Fueling stations up ahead." What a great race these NYRR people put on. What great signage. I love that they have signage. And then I am pulling over and grabbing a cup and swishing one sip in my mouth and throwing it away in the garbage. And then I am running again in the crowd. Carried along in the crowd. Mile 1! Under 12 minutes! Good pace Elaine. Wow, a lot of women are wearing purple tops just like me. Hey look, the Metropolitan Museum off to the right. This is great! The Guggenheim! More signage about a misting station. That's not a misting station. That's a hose. Stay away. Don't want soggy sneakers. The second fluid station. I grab a cup of water and forget to stop. I drink one gulp, throw the cup in the garbage, and keep charging. Oh, I should have stopped a bit maybe. Oh well, too late now. Mile 2! Just over 12 minutes! My fastest 2 miles ever! And I am doing it in a race!
Lots of people are running this race. Lots of women in purple are passing me. Endless people are passing me, but I really don't mind. They're somehow sweeping me forward. A short kid in a shiny outfit that can't be more than 10 years old passes me. I yell, "Go kid! You are so cool!" And mumble to myself for awhile, "What a cool kid. That kid really is so cool." And then I blurt, "Baseball!" A league is playing baseball in red uniforms in a pastoral field off to the left. Olmstead could really design a park, that is for sure. More rolling hills. A sign that says something about a 102nd Street exit. I just ran from 68th Street to 102nd Street. That's great. We're turning left, making our way crosstown to the West Side. Halfway done! A nice run up the East Side.
A small downhill slope feels good. Running and running and slower and slower and sweating and dripping and slower and something is not working. My legs are so slow. What is going on. Why am I so slow. Am I out of gas? I have a piece of Powerbar (apple cinnamon) in my pouch, but I don't want anything. I need some inspiration. It's hot. More cowbell. Okay Elaine, focus! Focus. Adopt your mantra. "Bread, bread, bread, bread [...]" And then I hear the volunteer say, "Okay runners, it's all downhill from here. It's all downhill from here." I am elated. So that was a hill? So that's why I was so slow. I didn't even notice it was a hill. And to think, I was so worried about the hills.
Fluid Station. I walk to get the cup. I can't run up to it. I drink. I walk to the garbage. I think the walking only lasts 30 seconds. And then I get back to running. There's a traffic light ahead. There's a hill. I run to the light and keep going. West Side! Mile 3. Oh well, that mile took around 15 minutes. Okay, that's okay. Your goal for this 4 miles was 48-60 minutes, 48 being not bloody likely, but why not include it in the realm of possibility. You're okay. You have a buffer from mile 1 & 2. Don't lose your buffer. Keep it slow and steady. There is a white haired man ahead of me who is walking. He's maybe 70. I realize he's been ahead of me walking for some minutes. He's walking. Pass him! Speed up. I think I do it. Or maybe he does. I don't know.
Fluid Station! Mile 4!! I say suddenly, sort of loud, "Okay, that's it. Let's get this thing finished up quickly now. Conditions are perfect. This is a downhill. The weather is nice. Last mile!" I half-share this speech with two women ahead of me who turn around and smile, but it's mostly meant for me. And then I speed up. Mile 4! I speed up! I am speedy. This is amazing. Where did this come from? This is my favorite running moment. I think I keep it up for a quarter mile, and then soon enough another volunteer is saying, "almost done runners!" and I ask him, "Are we close?" And he says another half mile. And I say, "Alright then, I am going for it," or something like that. And then realize, I should wait to "go for it" in another quarter mile. So I keep going. And then I hear cheering in the distance. I think, "There must be a race or something going on today. Oh, I am in a race. Is that the Finish Line? I see it! They're cheering! I'm in a race!"
I just have to turn a corner to the left, and then I am running down a slope towards the finish, past red shirts on the right with cowbells, past purple shirts with wigs -- big curly wigs -- are they in a frat? I don't know -- and they are cheering, and I am remembering to smile for the Brightroom event camera people whom I can't see because it's so sunny in my eyes, and then I see a figure off to the left and he's holding a shiny bag of pretzels, and it's my hubby cheering me on and I am running and I cross the Finish Line! I stomp on it, and I have my arms up, Rocky I-style and a Brightroom photographer is following me across the Finish Line to get the shot. 8:58 am. And I ask my husband where the water is, and give me some room, my heart is pounding, and I get the water right before I check my heart rate which is 160, wow. And I guzzle and guzzle. And get my pear and my salty bag of pretzels. And we walk to warm down and I tell my husband all about my race, and ask him all about his, and we walk and talk and walk and talk all the way to the E near the MoMA and ride home.