Today’s my first New York Road Runners event and it’s part of my 9+1 goal for guaranteed entry into the 2015 New York Marathon. I’ve been running a mile each day since the Dust Bowl Series, but I’ve felt like I could run another marathon immediately one day and felt like the mile was going to kill me the next.
I think I’ve injured something in the back of my left thigh; whatever it is seems like a wooden dowel. I don’t think it’s a muscle thing, but what do I know. Dr. Internet didn’t help. I don’t follow the conventional wisdom of seeing a doctor since I know what they are going say: “Stop running”. That’s not part of this year’s goal. And, I think my left ankle is sprained again. I’ve been wrapping it this week, but I’m still running.
That was my week leading up to this run, so I wasn’t expecting much and wasn’t planning on getting crazy. I figured I would take a leisurely jog around Central Park.
The day started well. It was a little bit chilly but not that bad (now that I have acclimated to winter). I needed some tights, which I had to look now that I’ve started to move to my spring clothes. It was sunny and clear, which is just about right for a short run in the Park.
Most of the NYRR runs have same-morning packet pickup, but all I really need it the bib. I don’t want the t-shirt or all the junk advertisement. Once I had my bib, I had to wait around 45 minutes for the start (pickup ends a half hour before the gun), so I walked around the park for a bit. My corral lines up opposite the Balto statue, memorializing one of the sled dogs who dragged serum to Nome from Anchorage during a bad breakup diphtheria outbreak in 1925. It’s a bit of an interesting story because Balto was the lead dog in the anchor leg of the relay, but he gets all the credit, movies, and children’s books since he was the first dog across the line. Still, props to him.
As I was waiting, I thought I saw Malcolm Gladwell. Seriosuly. He’s a runner and a really good one at that. He ran a 5:03 at the same Fifth Avenue One Miler I ran last year where I surprised myself with a sub-7 time. What’s worse is that he told Runner’s World that he barely runs.
Not Malcolm Gladwell
As I waited, I had to listen to the banter of the hosts who plugged other events between reminders about security. I’m a bit annoyed that the NYPD is conducting “enhanced security” for this event. People have to use the clear bags the race provides, go through crazy security to drop off bags, and can’t use camelbaks or backpacks during the event.
None of these measures make the race safer. They haven’t closed the park, so restricting the behavior of just the runners doesn’t make anyone safer. Security is like a waterbed; push in one area and the threats move to another but don’t disappear. The trick is to push them to more difficult areas, but it’s easier to not register already. I don’t see how their risk analysis focuses on people who paid to be here and have identified themselves with a credit card while they ignore the tourists, spectators, and possible race bandits.
The hosts keep bringing up Boston, but that threat didn’t come from registered runners. Unfortunately, living in New York means that the security theater (read more about that from Bruce Schneier) is the norm. At some point, runners are going to have to call bullshit on this sort of stuff.
Today’s run is 4 miles because that happens to be the length of the loop that starts at 68th St., goes north to the 102nd St. transverse, and comes back down to the 72nd St. transverse. This is a new event distance for me, so no matter what I do, I have a personal best time. If I take it slowly, that means I can easily get a personal best the next time too.
Once I start running, I’m a bit quick just to find some room to run. I feel okay, but I always do for the first mile when my blood is still full of sugar. With all the endurance running I’ve been doing, I know I have the legs but I don’t know if I have the lungs. I haven’t gone anaerobic in a long time (not counting just the lack of oxygen a mile high in New Mexico).
At the Mile 1 marker, I was running an 8:30 average pace, just trying to get away from the people who couldn’t run in a straight line. At Mile 2 that had dropped to 8:05 average pace. I gave up on laps a long time ago. I was feeling fine and I was halfway done. All those long runs and marathons means that two miles are virtually nothing.
Mile 2 is just after the turn onto the 102nd St. transverse, which is downhill to the west side of the park. I normally don’t run hard downhill since I like to save my quads, but I decided at that point that I wanted a sub-8 average time. I haven’t run this fast in an event for a long time because I’ve been focusing on marathons. Looking back at my records, the last time I’ve run something shorter was almost a year ago, the 2013 Race to Wrigley 5k or the 2013 Indy Mini Marathon, both of which were right after Boston and had even crazier security. That Indianapolis run had SWAT and working dogs walking the course.
After the transverse, there’s a short uphill, but for the most it’s downhill. I maintained my pace on the uphills and sped it up on the downhills. By the time I was at Mile 3, after a lot of downhill, I was below an 8 minute average and still feeling really good. I wasn’t putting myself in the red yet, but I had been thinking that I had to run to the bottom of the Park and back up the other side. I was saving a little for that but I was running out of distance for that.
At Daniel Webster the course took a left turn and that was the finish, where I still felt really good and think I could have gone harder. That’s easy to say at the end, though!
I’m registered for more of these NYRR runs. I’ll have a chance to do better next time—even if I didn’t leave much room for improvement.