"I always run alone, away from phones and stress. Running is a major part of my life because it keeps me sane." MICHAEL ROUX, JR., Executive Chef, Le Gavroche, London
Waking up this morning with the cold brisk air, I did not want to run, especially since I had been really exhausted lately. Knowing I had to get out of bed and just go to the race because the only reason I was doing this race was because it was a teams race. Our team was so close to win it all, and by speculation, we only needed to get ahead of the Reservoir Dogs to claim the prize. But we are in a friendly competition with the Res Dogs, we practically are very similar in clubs when it comes down to choosing between running clubs. Not many clubs can really say the same...many are totally different in style, running ability and personality. But yes, it’s very friendly competition since I got to know a few of them from Reach the Beach.
Anyways, get out of the apartment and move on to central park. It slowly feels like I am warming up to the weather due to the many layers that I have on. I was prepared to wear sleeves, although it felt warmer as I stripped down to my running gear. Ate my 2 banana’s, bagel and drank Gatorade, should be all set. I see PBJ as he was running extra before the race. I huddle around some other flyers like AP, who is super psyched about points races. He of course is one of the magnificent runners on our team and I am amazed.
I stretch, converse with both Res Dog members and NY Flyer members...then head to baggage with CM, who I always looked up to when I as a beginner distance runner along with NC. Both I would try to catch up to at half marathons and would always start behind them and try to catch up to them. That was two years ago and I have matured as a distance runner, but still they are not far behind. I make my way toward the blue start, although side tracked by some ravishing Flyers - Runner 26, CC (a good high school friend of mine who joined up with the Flyers), DG & LG and JT. Runner 26 was concerned about me and asked me why I was out running (probably reading from my last entry of injury) but I had told her that I was out here because I needed to run for the team. I would try to do what I can to be the last guy in scoring, but we shall see what happens.
I was not too far away from the starting line. Geez, I don’t want to get sucked into running too fast out of the gate. I see PD, SK, JE, JD and JM...All fast guys where I will try to keep up with them. The gun went off and I was off, this was the first time I had ran since my last half marathon last Sunday and I had been off the whole week. Running injured is not the greatest thing in the world, but you just have to stretch it out and keep on going.
The beginning miles were difficult, I had to get myself into a rhythm and stay with my stride. I calculated in my mind how I would be able to keep pace with people and just settle in. A half marathon is a long race and I needed to cover myself and just get though it. Mentally I needed to be at a comfortable point where I can just trudge through it. I needed to get ready for my next marathon and a half marathon is a good way to judge, but not a week before. I saw J at the bottom of Central Park and was not at all expecting him. I really showed my emotions that I did not want to be in the race, which he had told me later on that I looked like crap. I moved on, it has been a while since I had raced in the park and this was a whole lot different from last week’s Newport run which was flat as hell.
I stay behind JE, who was in my age group but has been off for the summer due to triathlon training. He had been a great addition to our team and it’s really good to see that my age group has some great members within it. Of course CD, who I run with on my Monday group runs, is a huge competitor of mine and so now DF, who is a cousin of SH and is a great addition to our team (he is the one that I have to watch out for later on since he is so young and has such a natural talent). Anyways, back to the race…
I had set my strides and got use to the hills once again. They had been a bit painful at first, since I was not use to hills as much as I wanted to be, but I knew I needed to save myself for the next loop…I make my ways toward JE at mile 5, as I pass him right at Engineers Gate. I tell him to keep his sride and pace, not go any faster than he wanted to and expend his energy. I offered to get him water and if he needed anything at the water station since we worked together. But I knew how he raced, he goes out fast and settles in, but sometimes a little too fast. We raced together in Austin, where he had really gone out quickly for his half marathon and I had caught up to him as I was doing my full….but anyways, I quickly made my way up and left him as I needed to focus on the second loop at hand.
There was a constant runner that I had been running with, a female, of course (it just so happens to be that way all the time) but she was a great competitor as we swapped leads about every half a lap. She pummeled the hills as I slepped up them. My achiness started a little, as I can feel my legs a little worn down but had to keep going as what I thought my team needed me, but later on I find that the BIG 5 were there and really I could have rested this one out.
I see BC taking pictures and I thank him for that, because we usually take pictures together (he usually takes the top portion of Central Park and I usually go down to 72nd Street and do my thing over there)…but it’s always good to see him or any Flyer out there cheering another teammate on.
I look at my time and really bear down to my grips on just finishing the race. I have points where I surge and try to keep my surge at a pace where I wanted to be at…Sub 7’s is what I needed to not really prove, but to just see if I can withhold. I see the portion of the bottom half where at a certain point and a certain light post I will really surge, then when I find myself at the opening of the park, I will surge another time to finish up at Tavern on the Green…famous for the end of the New York City Marathon. I finish up and see already the Big 5 already done, and I was glad that I didn’t have to score for the team with such a par race of mine (which was a good race in the end for me not at 100% and feeling more like 60-70% of my abilities)
In the end, I see SR, who I had bumped into just yesterday getting my race bib at the NYRR. It was quite a coincidence lately to see her at races and she had told me the most ridiculous stories of her race, WHICH SHE GOT A PR by the way…I was amazed. She was hilarious where she had told me that she passed RB and as she did, he was like: “SR what are you doing up here? I never see you up here?” and also, “SR watch out, I’m going to be talking a whole lot and spitting a lot as well!” I think that made my morning!
But yes, she told everyone about her PR as she had every right and deserved to do so. I was amazed as we saw a bunch of other Flyers and she was rolling and wanted to spread the word about her great accomplishment. It got really cold and started to rain a bit as we made our way out of the park and caught up…in all it was a good race and a good day. I just have to watch out for SR now, she’s gunning after me!