5:30 wakeup. I use the restroom (just once) and barely anything comes out. I eat some dried fruit and nuts. Then I pray.
I stretch and head out @ 6:20.
6:30 I meet Coach Ben and the other 5 contestants where we take a 2 mile warmup jog to Yankee Stadium track. Yes, this run will be on a track, not a trail (my strength). I’m nervous heading into tryouts as I hear there are two other runners who’ve laid down ~31:30’s and the fastest I’ve ran until today was a 33:47 – on a treadmill. But that’s all about to change.
We warm up, get to the track, i take 400 easy, then do 100 strides.
Ready, set, go!
We settle in and I’m third behind two other runners. First mile is a 6:15.
Lap 5 – The lead runner drops off (and by off, I mean out of the race) and I’m now second. Coach Ben yells at us to pick it up from the side. I tell the leader to take it easy, we’ve got all day.
Lap 6 – Coach Ben yells again, I tell him not to worry; to ignore him, there’s no rush. It works. He slows down and I pull abreast. He picks it up again.
Lap 7 – I continue to speak to him softly, saying don’t worry, you’re not racing the clock. He slows down, and I make my move right after the turn. I turn to see if anyone has followed and it looks like the leader is attempting to close the gap. I focus on the road ahead of me.
Lap 8 – I give another kick, turn around, and see that they’re fading. Perfect. My strategy was to launch attacks every two laps until they were too tired to chase. Fortunately, it worked after the second attack as I’m not sure I would have had enough for many subsequent attacks.
Laps 9 – 13 – I lengthen the gap to over 30 seconds. The previous race leader has also dropped out of the race ( see him standing on the side) although I’m not sure when. I guess since there’s only one spot, if you’re mentally beat, why even bother continuing?
Lap 14 – I catch up to the last racer in front of me who picks up the pace. I estimate a 5:55. Coach Ben yells at me, “You’ve already made the team! Now lap him! Break 32!” I yell to him that I will.
Lap 15 – Coach Ben is getting worked up, it seems. “Lap him now!” I heed his advice, thinking it’s a mistake as soon as I go. I’ve never run off the front of a race before, and I had no clue how I would pace myself. I pass him too fast and am winded the remainder of the lap.
Lap 16 – I am 6:30 shy of a 32. It’s now or never.
Laps 17 – 19 – I’m gassed but giving it my all.
Lap 20 – I push hard. The rain has made my flats (Saucony Type A4’s) feel like bricks but I push on relentlessly. I’m 1:25 out of 32. Last 100 meters comes around and I give it my all. As I approach the finish line, Coach yells, “56, 57, 58, 59…” 31:59.97. Average pace of 6:26.2. Just under my threshold pace of 6:29. Perfect.
I made it.
I’m on the team.
I broke 32.
Second place was 32:46
From my coach: