After a good weekend of two double digit mileage runs and a rest day, I was ready to go back to fight the dragon that is Central Park. If you remember from last weekend, it was here that I failed in my attempt at a PR in a 4 mile race. It was here that I suffered my first DNF and it was here that I fainted at mile 3.1 when the finish line was just around the bend. To say I was humbled, humiliated, and a bit embarrassed wouldn't begin to describe my sentiments. I knew I needed to go back. I knew I needed to lick my wounds, pick up the pieces and run a hard tempo run around the park just to say I can still do it and to recover what's left of my dignity and confidence after it was so rudely taken away from me. So after work, I changed into a tank and shorts, laced up the Kinvaras and it was ON!
The assignment I gave myself today was to run the upper loop (5 miles) complete with Harlem Hill, the West Hills and Cat Hills, all at a tempo pace. I didn't know what tempo pace is for me is currently, since I haven't done one in about a month, so I pick my half-marathon pace (6:25-6:30 min/mi) as a rough guide. Unfortunately, the sun was out today and it was a little hot (77F), but the humidity was low (43F) so I thought I'd be okay.
I did a reservoir loop as a warmup and then did the 5 mile tempo run as described above. I made sure to run fast, but not so fast that I'd burn myself out before the finish. I'm not going to lie. Harlem Hill was tough and the Western Hills were tougher. But I cruised and ran strong and fought hard to strike a balance between recovery and maintaining good pace through all the hills. At about mile 2, once I realized I was running in the low 6:20s, I even switched off my pace so I can't fixate on it anymore. I just ran via perceived effort while keeping an eye on my HR. I started to tire around 72nd transverse at mile 3.5 but again just kept fighting to maintain deep breaths, a good form, and keeping posture as relaxed as possible. Finally, I got to Cat Hill and gave myself a good pep talk about what happened here last week as I ran. I was so full of adrenaline that I was completely wiped out by the time I got to the top of the hill! I recovered a little bit on the downhill by the Met and then just cruised to the finish. By the time I got to the finish at Engineer's Gate, I was completely spent. Yeah, I had done it! And 31:29 for the upper loop is the fastest I've ever run this particular stretch. How's that for a comeback?! (Don't haunt me no more Central Park!)
After recovering and drinking some water, I did a slow Bridle Path/Reservoir Loop combo to celebrate my success! I know it wasn't much, and maybe I could even get faster with better training, but for where I am right now, having gone through what I did the past month or so, I'm completely ectastic about this run today!
Warmup - 1.58 mi; Time - 11:48; Pace - 7:28
Tempo Run - 4.93 mi; Time - 31:29; Pace - 6:23
Mile Splits - 6:19; 6:24; 6:27; 6:24; 5:53*Cooldown - 2.54 mi; Time - 19:43; Pace - 7:46
*5:53 for 0.93miles is roughly 6:20 min/mi pace