24 November, 2011 – Prospect Park 8k Turkey Trot

Cycling

Executive report: (Skip this if you don’t want a spoiler, read it if you don’t have time to read the words that follow. Skip to the end for pictures) ———————————-

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Total time: 30:52

Age Group Position: 6th

Overall postion: 37th

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A Special thank you to Yehuda Safier for letting me know about this race and to his brother Noam and Noam’s friend Muller for joining us.

Woke up in the AM not sure about how I would do. This past Sunday was an all-out 8k effort on the infamously and treacherously hilly Van Cortlandt trail. After that race, I ran a little over 7 miles in the rain yesterday, and that was it. But I went to the bathroom – my first sign the day wasn’t going to be all bad.

I chose to wear tights and a long sleeve top as it wasn’t 40 degrees yet when we left. The day’s high was an anticipated 54* but it felt closer to 40* during the race.

We drive to Brooklyn, which took us 45 minutes once the windows defrosted – not too bad. We pick up our bibs and balaclavas (complete with Turkey Trot insignias splayed across them) and I make my way to the bathroom. This second trip was more successful than the first. I leave the restrooms feeling confident and ready to go. We milled about inside the wildlife building where the bib pickup was to keep warm.

I drank a half of a cup of coffee for a little caffeine boost, found Bernd said hello to him and stretched a bit. After this, Yehuda and I dropped off our coats, backpacks, wallets and assorted other accouterments in the trunk of the car. I changed into my flats alone, as Yehuda was planning on taking the day easy with his brother.

We warm up for a mile or so, 8:40 pace, just enough to get my armpits and back a little sweaty, then go back into the wildlife room until 5 minutes to start time. The 4 of us make our way over to the 2500-runner strong start line, where we say our goodbyes. I get as close to the front of the pack as I can (2 seconds behind the lead runner) while they mill about at the back.

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I cross the timing mat and hit the start button on my watch. Bernd runs with me for much of the first mile, which I found somewhat unsettling as our goal finishing times were almost 4 minutes apart. I appreciated the company though, and so I said nothing. I took the first mile easy, heeding my coach’s words to “Go out controlled and relaxed, then maintain and pick off the runners.”

Mile 1: 6:22

At the 1 mile mark, I was a little nervous. I was hoping to go a little faster today, but I began to rationalize the slow pace in my head, seeing as how I ran a championship race just the Sunday prior. As I began to rationalize, we hit a downhill. The rationalizations were knocked clean out of my head as I sped down the straightaway, always picking off runners. I was relatively close to the lead, and was able to see them for most of the second mile. I picked up the pace a bit and felt pretty good.

Mile 2: 6:08 (12:30)

As soon as mile 2 was over, my legs began to hurt. Not all fo my legs, mostly just my quads. I attributed this to Sunday’s race, same as the rest. I was making excuses in my head, and I knew it. I told myself if I ever wanted to run a 1:23 half marathon by February, I would have to bite the bullet and ignore the pain in my gut. The pain in my gut. That incessant nagging cramp which was suddenly revisiting me Tuesday night’s (first) wrestling match (the second one was pretty quick and not painful in the enduro-way). So I buckled down, dug my fingers into my cramp as I saw Andreas Raelert do during the 2010 Ironman World Championships in Kona.

Mile 3: 6:22 (18:52)

I tried doing the math as I passed the 3 mile marker. I thought to myself, 13 minutes for 2 miles is a 6:30 and that will land you with a 31:50. Perfect. A PR! I was exuberant and it showed as I picked up the pace. I ran on one runner’s shoulder for a minute, passed him, caught the next runner, ran with him for a minute or so, then he ran on my shoulder. I wasn’t working as hard as any of the runners I passed. I was pacing for a half marathon, but only running 8k. That was a mistake which I hope will play to my favor in Miami at the 2012 ING Half Marathon.

Mile 4: 6:13 (25:05)

About a quarter of a mile into the last mile, two runners passed me on my left at a very fast clip. Behind them came two runners who I had dropped earlier. I wasn’t about to let them pass me, so I grabbed onto the back of the 4 man blob, circled around to the left side, caught up to the two head honchos and sat with them as the other two runners dropped off. I ran with them for about a minute before I looked down at my watch and realized we were at a 5 minute pace. Maybe that’s why I felt as if I were about to die. I drop off  of the pacers, almost collapse, but hold it together as I begin to hear bells.

The finish line is near. I hear cheering. I see a man in a Santa Claus outfit. I see a man in a turkey suit – a woman in a pilgrim suit, they’re all yelling something at me. I can’t make it out. I push a little more and see the clock: 30:45. 30:45!! All this time I hadn’t been looking at my watch for the elapsed time, just my current pace and average pace. I was coming in way ahead of schedule and had the potential to break 31. So I give it my all.

Mile 5: 5:49 (30:54)

Overall: 30:54/30:59 (6:12) (5 second discrepancy between starting gun and time I stepped over the mat)

Overall Position: 37th

Age Group Position: 6th

Primary Goal: Break 32:00 – Shattered.

I set a new personal record today, chipping off a gigantic block – 1:25. I’m in better shape for this half marathon than I thought I was. I ran the race 6 seconds faster than half marathon pace. According to Mcmillan’s Running Calculator, I need to be abotu a minute faster at this distance to hit 1:23 for the half. Give me a pair of shorts and a better paced race, and I’ll be less than a half minute off of my target. Some thoughts:

  • It’s lonely up in the front of the race. There aren’t many people to pace off, as pickings get slim moving up in spots. Hopefully the field will be deeper in Miami.
  • Should have worn shorts and light gloves.
  • Could have paced better, as was indicated by my 5:49 last mile split.
  • I’ll be back next year, hopefully sub 29.

Happy Turkey Day!

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