Yesterday, on a relatively hot and humid Saturday morning, my little brother ran his first race in Central Park! To mark this momentous occasion, he decided to write a race report for me to share with the rest of you. Nice job, little bro. Nice job!
Hey all. My brother tells me that some people are interested in my running story, though I can't imagine why. You guys are all such good runners that showing you what I think would probably either a) make you a worse runner, or b) make you laugh at what a noob I am at running or c) all the above. But I am flattered nonetheless. Anyway, here goes nothing.
So upon getting to central park, I started getting nervous. I can't remember the last time that I was around so many healthy people, most of whom were my physical superiors. I pride myself in lifting/swimming/running (or 2 of the 3) everyday so I am not easily impressed by physiques, but there were a LOT of people that I was impressed with and intimidated by. Crap, I thought, there are so many people here totally ready to see me embarrass myself. The fact that there were more attractive girls there than I have seen in one place in many months did not help either. Thankfully, my brother was there to banter with and take my mind off of my impending ownage. When my brother brought to my attention that I was going to be in the “yellow” corral, explaining that it was only the third from the front. Crap, I thought again, now there are even more people than I thought behind me to see me get embarrassed. I couldn’t help but wonder whether, if I even made it to my goal of an 8 minute pace, if I belonged in the front 3 corrals. I’m just hoping I finish in the top half! Why did they put me here?? I asked myself. My bib number was in the 2300’s, and there were several thousand expected to be running. Could I finish in the top 2300? Thoughts ran to and from my head in every which direction as the butterflies were in full effect.
As I said goodbye to my brother and headed toward my corral, perhaps to seek some sort of validation, I felt compelled to stop a worker and ask if my bib really is yellow, or whether it was just a tinted gold. “You’re in the right place,” she said with a smile. “Heh, I hope so,” was my nervous reply. To add to my nervousness, I saw my friend from college. She was known as a hardcore runner (exemplified by the fact that she just moved in yesterday and already found a run today that starts at 9 am in the morning). I asked her if this was her first run in Central Park. She said: “Naw, I ran a 10k here last week. Don’t know why I am in the yellow corral this time. I was in the blue a week ago.” On that lovely note, I said a quick goodbye and headed toward the back of the yellow corral, lest she see my slow pace and think that I am handicapped. As I was facing the wrong direction, the race started. Way to start the race on the right foot.
So my bro suggested a game plan that I thought sounded good enough. The first mile started the race off with a large hill (Cat Hill is apparently what it’s called). Mile three also had a couple of small hills as well so I figured, let’s take it slower on mile one and three and floor it on mile two and four. As we started the race, I tried not to get carried away with adrenaline and run too fast. And so, I felt like a rock in the middle of a flood of people. People were passing me in every which direction for the first two thirds of the mile. I started making mental notes of those passing me around the 4 minute mark, muttering I'll be passing you in a couple miles. Interestingly enough, the big hill I was so scared of was not too noticeable. In fact, one of my excuses for running below what I expected for this mile is that I did not know when the hill ended. By the time the 8 minute mark rolled around, I realized that I was probably done with it and should kick it into gear. It was then that people stopped passing me and I found people that I would be keeping pace with for a little while. I was expecting to run a 8:20 or so because of the hill, but it was only at 8:30 did I even see the end of the first mile. C’mon man, you’ve been slacking off, I told myself as I contemplated how the hell I let myself be so damn far behind my pace after just one mile.
Time – 8:46.
Time – 8:46.
I tried to step it up a notch to make up the time. I was hoping that I would be able to run a 7:50 to make up for some of the time, and by stepping up a notch, I started passing those who I was keeping pace with. I was just hoping that this little push wouldn’t leave me dead when mile 4 rolled around. I quickly realized that the problem with the strategy of having inconsistent split times was that I would be weaving in and out of traffic. I heard more than my fair share of curses as I tried to squeeze between runners. I tried to convince myself that it was okay if they hated me; if I had my way, they’ll eat my dust and I’ll never see these people again. I smiled to myself as I saw a couple of the people that I had passed me earlier turned out to be the first walkers that I saw, only 12 minutes into the run. I couldn’t let myself feel too good though, I was supposed to be pushing it. As I neared the 2 mile marker, I realized that despite all my efforts and will power, I hadn’t even been running my goal pace for the entire race, let alone the make-up pace that I was hoping for.
Time – 8:05.
Time – 8:05.
My pre-race game plan was to run this at about the same time as mile 1, but since I could not afford that, I told myself to keep try to run a 8:00 and we’ll hope for the best with mile 4. Again, I didn’t really even notice the hills my brother was talking about. That just upset me all the more because I felt like I was letting myself slack off for nothing. The lone noteworthy thing about mile 3 was that around 23 minutes, I approached what I thought was the clock that was above a sign signaling the end of mile 3. I was estatic, because I would probably reach the sign in about another minute, putting me back on pace. As I was contemplating how I made up a full minute without killing myself, I realized that it was just a yellow sign that said that one of the park’s exits was closed. It was then that I saw the real clock above the “Mile 3” sign, and took in the fact that it would take about another minute to reach the real sign. I sighed and decided to burn the last mile. I don’t care if I have to walk across the finish line, I am going to start running at my normal one mile pace, and we’ll see how long I can last, I told myself. At that moment, I reminded myself of the P90x motto – “Do your best, forget the rest,” and put my head down and surged forward.
Time – 8:46.
Time – 8:46.
The day before the race, I put a bunch of songs into my ipod shuffle from a playlist entitled “Work out songs.” Most of the songs are fairly heavy rock, and they usually get me pretty amped up during runs and in the gym. The song I put on to get me into the hardcore-ready-for-some-intense-pain mood was “I Hate Everything About You” by Three Days Grace. Instantly, thoughts of my ex-girlfriend came up, I proceeded to get annoyed and upset and ran harder. Thus began my “beast mode.” Again, I started passing everyone around me. I felt bad because everyone was settled into their nice little niche, and I’m sure that after the initial mile or so they thought that the craziness of people passing and getting passed was done with, and here I am shattering their miserable little dreams. I squeezed and dodged and weaved between runners. I predicted that I passed at least 5 to 10 people for every minute or so, as I tried to kick in the afterburners. I wondered several times whether people would make a mental note of me as I have of them, and I wondered whether they will get the opportunity to pass me in several minutes. Every time these thoughts of negativity and uncertainty came to mind I did my best to shut them out as I glanced at my watch every 45 seconds. 5 minutes left? Can you take 5 minutes of pain? These people can run 7 or 8 minute miles for 26.2 miles and you can’t run an 8 minute pace for 4 measly miles? And you call yourself a healthy individual. There are 60 year olds running this race who are ahead of you. Let’s go! Let’s GO! I would like to say these conversations were all in my head, but I doubt they were as I willed myself forward. Interestingly enough, during this last mile, I decided to employ a new strategy that my brother had mentioned to me once before. I estimate that I ran alternating 7:00 minute pace for a minute, and then 8:00 minute pace for about 30 seconds as I sped to the end. No more than 3 more minutes of pain. Take it like a man. You can want to embarrass yourself in front of a couple thousand people? Keep moving. Pain is weakness leaving the body. Let’s go, let’s go, lets GO! The noise got progressively louder as the minutes ticked by. I knew because I could hear it through my music. I was positive I must be nearing the end. My thoughts were confirmed when I heard someone say “LAST TURN EVERYONE!” And I floored it. I mean I didn’t know I had it in me. I have absolutely no doubt that I ran nearly as fast as I ran for a bus I was late for two days ago. As my headphones flew off, I heard spectators near me go “wow, look at him.” Even the announcer dude at the end said “THERE’S one guy who wants it!” Did I use my kicker too soon? Did I have enough to last me the entire 200 m? I was proud of myself for passing at least 10 people since my kicker started but I was tiring. No letting up now. Take a mental picture of the finish line that is just 50 meters away. Close your eyes. When you open them, you’ll be done. NOW GIVE ME ALL YOU GOT!!! I let out a barbarian’s roar as I crossed the finish line, and everyone around me must have thought I was the biggest noob on the planet, but I finished and, for the last mile at least, I kicked butt in a way I didn’t know I could. Lesson learned – Don’t underestimate myself again. Time - 7:18.
Total Time – 32:24; Overall Place – 1364/5056; AG% – 52%