Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My "Silva"-like Performance
Race Report for the NYC 13.1 (Part II)

Mile 7-8: (Mile 7 - 6:31; Mile 8 - 6:24)

Crossing the mile 6 marker at the top of the overpass leading over to Meadow Lake, I stared at the half dozen or so characters who used my mishap in the previous mile to sneak past me in the race. Back again was Mr. Tri-athlete who was now accompanied by a coach running directly next to him. In front of him was the Mr. Lacrosse Jersey and Mr. Heel Striker whose unorthodox running form made it not only annoying but painful to watch. Way in the distance, I could also see Mr. Baldie leading the pack, about 50 yards in front of everyone else. I wasn't sure how much time I had lost at this point since I didn't bother to check my mile split but judging roughly from the pace of the other racers, I thought 45 seconds was a conservative estimate. As I started on my journey around Meadow Lake with all the others, fueled with a passionate mixture of fury, indignation, annoyance and embarrassment, I couldn't help but think of German Silva and the brief wrong turn he made in the final mile of the New York City Marathon before ultimately claiming victory in 1994.

Although it was quite demoralizing to see the long string of runners who I passed a few miles back now suddenly running in front, I also knew that I had the capacity to pass them right back if I can just maintain my race pace for a little while longer. I used all of mile 7 and half of mile 8 to regain my rightful place in the moving carousel around the park until I found myself once gain behind the leader of my immediate pack. Although I hadn't seen him before then, I could tell he was a serious runner by the matching tank and shorts that adorned his slender body. I allowed him to lead me through Meadow Lake, which was made treacherous by residual water puddles left over from the rainstorm in the weekend prior. As I watched him jump from road to grass and back again to avoid the bigger puddles, I followed suit until towards the end of mile 8 when I was forced to the edge of the grass just as he was about to climb back over the overpass. Coincidentally. that would be the last I would see of him out in the course that day.

Mile 9-10: (Mile 9 - 6:31; Mile 10 - 6:19)

By Mile 9, as we were led back over the bridge for a second loop around the perimeter of the park, I began to fatigue and tire just a little bit. Since the last mile, when I had company to tackle the wet and narrow paths of Meadow Lake, I hadn't encountered anyone else attacking this course in front of me. Although I knew I wouldn't get lost on this second journey around the park, it was extremely difficult to maintain race pace when there are no visible runners in front of me. All I saw were more and more neighbors using the roads as their personal playground and obstructing my view of the race course and its participants. I passed by a water station and everyone clapped and cheered me as I ran across. Since no other racer was within earshot of them, I was sure the applause was a personal gesture for me. I picked up the pace slightly and took a GU at 10. We were now just a 5K away.

Mile 11-12: (Mile 11 - 6:32; Mile 12 - 6:26)

Passing back through the starting line and climbing the same semi-circular incline I did in mile 1, I was now holding onto my effort and pace for dear life. I was tired and with no to chase in front and no one to push me in back, I almost convinced myself not to push as hard. But then I remembered that there were many family and friends who were running and looking for me (albeit figuratively) to do well and represent. What if they saw that I was moseying it in and not giving the absolutely best that I've got? Would that really be the right message for me to send, as the ambassador of the sport I claim to be? Besides...we've now got less than a 5K to go anyway. I force myself to pick up the speed in an effort to give top 10 one more shot. A race official nearby signals that I'm in 11th place but could not tell me how far behind I was.

The park was getting crowded now and it was all I could do to separate the recreational joggers from the possible race participants and volunteers. By the time we completed the loop around the Queens Zoo and back over the overpass nearing the end of mile 12, I had given up trying to find the next racer. The end was now just 2 miles away and I just wanted to get there as soon as I can. Unfortunately, at this point, there wasn't much fuel left in the tank. I poured it on as best as I could.

Mile 13, the last 0.1, and the Finish: (Mile 13 - 6:20; Last 0.1M - 0:38)

Upon reaching the final stretch which started at the entrance to the Queens Museum of Art and ends at the central rotunda, I knew it was time to go. I convinced myself that this is just a one mile interval (or tried to anyway) and sprinted as I could. Spectators were lining up by the dozens to cheer me on. I could see the finish line a half mile away. I sprinted faster once I realize we were just 800m from being done. The cruelest joke was when the course forced us to run a short circular loop around the man made Center Lake when we got close to the finish. I had been sprinting for quite a while and was exhaustedly tired. I held it together the best I could for the final push over the finish line. It was only after I was done did I see my time and realize that my detour at 6M cost me more than 45 seconds. I lost 70 seconds, a PR chance and an age group award all at the same time!

After the Finish

Once I finished, collected my breath and got my things, I went back to the finish line to cheer on the other runners as they came in. While I was watching, I was approached by a local paper who wanted to interviewed me as it seemed that I was the first overall local to finish the rest. He asked me why and how I became a runner. As we talked, I realized that it wasn't so important that I came in 11th overall, or 4th in my age group, or the 1st in Flushing. The best part of the story was that I made a mistake mid-race and yet found some inner fortitude to keep running, to keep fighting, and to savage a good performance out of what easily could have been a DNF! No, the final result wasn't indicative of the effort I put forth today, but I got to run, I got to race, and inspire at least those who will read my story that sometimes awesomeness isn't defined by a time on a clock.

Final Statistics
Official Time - 1:24:59
Average Pace - 6:29 min/mile
Overall Place - 11/2103
Age Group Place - 4/177
Age Grade - 70%


NY Wolve said...

That is a great race and better story. That is a wicked pace to keep up. And thanks for the inspiration as always!

Julie said...

Hi Lam,
Awesome job!! I knew that you would do great things:) I agree with NY Wolve, you ran a wicked pace:) You took 11th over all with a race holding more than 2000 people!?! Not to mention 4th place for your age group...you did fantastic!! I am proud of you for hanging in there and finishing like a pro:) Also, I think it is very cool to be interviewed for a paper!! I love the picture of you with your medal:) Do you know this is the first picture of yourself that you have posted since I have been reading your blog:) You look so happy and I love that gorgeous smile:) Congrats to you Lam!!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes awesomeness isn't defined by a time on a clock.

This sentence says it all. RIGHT ON!!!

You did so great at the 13.1 and I am so very proud of you and glad to call you friend!!!

Anne said...

That is what life lessons are made of...
Congrats on pushing on and doing a great job!!

Scott Brown said...

Terrific stuff Lam!

You have some attitude now to balance your Mr. nice guy persona.

You'll go far in this sport. I really enjoy following your progress.


J said...

I am so sorry about this race but honestly you still pulled off a great time. I think I may have quit facing what you did but you continued on and did great! You are a very talented runner!

Running and living said...

Great attitude! I think it is so hard to switch gears and keep fighting in a race after something goes wrong. ANd, that course was poorly marked, my friend!

aron said...

great race report as always and great job out there!!! way to hang on even after going off course, i can imagine the frustration! but you held it together and went on to run a great race - congrats!!

kevin f forde said...

way to hang tough after the cock up mid race,race long enough and you'll encounter just about anything,in running,as is in life there will always be adversity,it's how you deal w/ it,you passed w/ flying colours!!!

Jamie said...

The slight detour makes for a good story. Great job out there and way to push through until the end!

lindsay said...

I love reading your race recaps Lam. Always a good read, sometimes a little heartache, always some suspense. :)

It stinks that the slightest mistake cost you so much! But you are right... in the end it's just an age group award. In my opinion you still ran a strong and fast race (to me anyway) and you "got going" when the "going got tough".

Anonymous said...

I can't say much more than what everyone else has commented...but that is an awesome race, and very cool that you got interviewed by the local paper! :)

I'm sorry the off-course mishap happened, but I guess in a way, there are those bumps in the road to be expected with an inaugural race...give the RD's that feedback to improve the race next year!!

Marathon Maritza said...

You are supah fast!! Congrats on a great race despite being off-course there for a bit. You did awesome and make sure you let us know if the interview appears online anywhere!

I know your next post is about speed confidence and I just wanna say that I know you enjoy pushing yourself and that is always a great thing. But also, don't forget what an inspiration and speedster you are to the rest of us. It's an amazing accomplishment, these paces and races you achieve. Just a little virtual *high five* there :)

Jesse said...

You write some of the best race reports I read (let's be honest, I frequently glaze over after a few paragraphs, but yours keep my attentiont he whole way through). I especially enjoyed the "guy on my left who is obviously a heel striker and then the guy on my right who annoyed me with his triathlete uniform and knee high socks. Seriously, guys? That's why you had to be passed"

Sorry the PR didn't work out, but considering the unexpected detour, I'm incredibly impressed!

The Happy Runner said...

Just caught up on both parts. Wow. I've said it before and I'll say it again: You write great race reports! I can't even get details like that in my 5k reports!

Way to push on and finish strong!

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