Distance vs Speed. Running long vs running fast. Although there are many who believe that it is perfectly reasonable to train simultaneously on both aspects of one’s running game, I believe that endurance training puts such an onus on patience, diligence and persistence, that it is very difficult to switch gears effectively on a daily or a weekly basis to incorporates both pursuits into one single training plan. For the past month or so, during the most intense portions of marathon training, I sacrificed my opportunities to run in the shorter races in favor of much longer ones in hopes that they would lead to a better performance in my target race, the New York City Marathon. But now that the training has been done, the race completed, and the race report to end all race reports has been written, I was eager to return to the short game to see what progress, if any, I’d made in this arena over the course of the summer.
I found myself at the starting line on a cold and windy Sunday morning with about 6000 other crazy neighbors for a four mile race around
We started the race on the 72nd Street Transverse running east. Because I was lined up in the very first corral, I knew the pace of the race would accelerate very quickly right from the gun. Although I recognized a few of my Flyer teammates and some other familiar faces, most of the starting crowd was completely foreign to me. In fact, I could tell from the giddiness of the chatter and heightened level of excitement in their movements, there were more than a few who were just happy to be running and not exactly lined up properly or prepared to race this course. My suspicions were verified when within a few seconds of starting, I saw a female runner who was still busy conversing with her friend slip and fall face first on the ground next to me. I grimaced with pain as I scooted around the accident, afraid to look back to see if there’d be a domino effect.
I raced up Cat Hill and past the first mile marker in . I didn’t necessarily have a strategy planned for this race, so to have completed the tougher portion of the course with this time was more than acceptable to me. As I continued onward on the
I was starting to get sore now, probably more from the lingering effects of my long run from the day before than anything I had done on the previous miles. Having crossed the halfway point of the race at the
I wasn’t sure about the time at first, but I somehow made it through mile 3 at . A lot of runners were passing me now, but I kept my focused at the task at hand as best I can. My lungs were starting to burn and my legs felt as heavy as if they were at mile 20 of the marathon. I remember telling myself that my job today wasn’t to beat all these runners, but to run as best as I can to beat my previous self. It was a good revelation to have at this point because it settled me down and kept me from feeling demoralized as runners steadily streamed by.
After passing the mile 3 marker, I ran the last mile as a dead sprint towards the finish. I didn’t have the mental capacity at that point to calculate if I was ahead or behind my PR pace, but just trusted myself to the running gods and ran as hard as I could down the stretch. Even while I was pumping arms and legs, I saw one of my teammates sprint past me during the last quarter mile which was a bit depressing, but I kept on. As I made the final turn back onto the 72nd Street Transverse, I could hear the public address announcer at the finish call out “and coming in at an even 24:30…” and thought to myself “My PR is 24:44 so I still have a chance”. I found another gear and charged up the hill to the finish faster than in any race I could remember. I wound up crossing the mat at 24:38, setting a PR by 6 seconds! As I struggled to catch my breath again after the finish, I went over and congratulated my teammate for his great race in chasing me down to the finish. Inwardly, I was very tired, very sore, but somewhat proud that even as I lost some battles with others on the road, I ran well enough to claim victory over my former self once again.
Finishing Time – 24:38 (PR by 0:06!)
Pace by Miles - 1: 6:02; 2: 6:02; 3: 6:26; 4: 6:08;
Avg Pace – 6:09; Age Graded % - 69.2
Avg HR – 175; Max HR – 187
Overall Place – 80/5979 (1.3%)
Age Group Place – 11 (best ever in NYRR race)
Flyers Rank (Men) – 4