Monday, November 17, 2008

Race Report from the God’s Love We Deliver 4M Race

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 Central Park. This particular version, aptly titled God’s Love We Deliver, is very familiar to me; I’d been a participant for three years running. But although I was mentally prepared for a good race, physically, I was feeling somewhat less than 100%. I had caught the flu earlier this week and was still coughing and sneezing a little on the morning of the race. I also ran a little too hard, a little too fast on my twelve miler the day prior due to an impending thunderstorm in the area. My legs were still slightly sore, but eager to run. I had thought about running this race to set a PR, but given the events of the past week, I’d be happy just to come close.

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 6:02. 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 Upper East Side, I tried easing into a good running cadence and breathing rhythm. I was getting passed steadily on this mile, which made me think I was slowing down somewhat. I was pleasantly surprised when I passed the second mile marker at 6:02. Really?

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 102nd Street Transverse, I was preparing but dreading the series of hills I’d have to cross in the critical third mile of the race. In my previous race of this distance during the summer, I remember crossing mile 2 twenty-one seconds ahead of PR pace, but then lost my speed and my mind in mile 3 to finish one second off my PR. How frustrating. So now, having to tackle this treacherous stretch once again, I prepared myself for battle with the memories of the failed mission a few months prior still fresh on my mind.

I wasn’t sure about the time at first, but I somehow made it through mile 3 at 6:26. 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.

Final Statistics
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


J said...

I hate it when you are working so hard in a race all math skills fly out the window! Congrats on the PR - even with the soreness!!

*aron* said...

you are just PRing all over the place aren't you?!? half, full, 4 milers... you rock them all! CONGRATS on another PR :)

LOL i am always doing some sort of math in my head while i run and i have to laugh about how the simple addition can be so hard sometimes!

The Happy Runner said...

Um, are you some kind of bionic man and you just don't want to tell us?

Seriously, that's awesome. To be able to PR in a 4mile race so soon after the terrific PR in the marathon is just really impressive. Congrats!

Brooke said...

Congrats on the PR! Don't get me started on math while's amazing how confused Iget.. at least it passes the time ;)

Anonymous said...

Awesome job. Congratulations on a grat fight for the PR.

I really like these to quotes from you, "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," and "...but just trusted myself to the running gods and ran as hard as I could down the stretch."

JohnnyGo said...

Great run! I'll bet all that marathon training was great for your speed. Here's to many more PRs!

Cowboy Hazel said...

Great job on the P.R.! I totally agree that you have to make the choice between distance and speed while you're training seriously. I'm looking forward to getting back to the short runs myself and can only hope to do it as well as you did.

BeachRunner said...

Great report. Congrats on an excellent PR and super-strong finish. I enjoyed reading about this race from your perspective. I was WAYYYYY behind you (setting my own PR for my second race and first-ever run in the Park). It was very crowded in the middle of the pack, but so much fun.

Nitmos said...

So soon after a a marathon, that is a great race! And a PR!? Jeebus.

Laura said...

Congrats, Lam! I'm really impressed that you PRed right after NYCM.

M*J*C said...

You are wild! Pulling PR's left and right....lookout!!! Great job!

Marie said...

I ran this race too, and could not believe how crowded it was. Congrats on your PR!

sRod said...

Congrats on the great race! Funny how when you're feeling sick you crank out your best runs.

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