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February 5, 2012 / fionarwbl

NYRR Gridiron 4M Race Recap: Spoiler Alert – I PR!

I spent the summer running toward and failing to meet my 4M time goal. I wanted to run at 33:00 race, with an 8:15 min/mile pace. My current pace was 8:33min/mile. Looking back on it now, and knowing what I know about marathon training and everything it does to your body, it does not surprise me I wasn’t able to break through this barrier, as frustrating as it was at the time. I am not proud of this, but it was even more frustrating when my friends were running faster than me, but running less. Of course, hindsight is 20:20, especially when I’ve broken that barrier and had a chance to think about what was holding me back and what made me successful.

I ran over to the park this morning as my warm up.  From my apartment to the runner registration area is about a mile. I felt kind of crappy and unsettled during my warm up.  My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow, and my legs felt heavy. Of course it all did. I tried to put all the negativity out of my mind and keep doubts at bay. Of course I haven’t run enough in the last couple of weeks, but physically, I’ve done this before not so long ago, so I can do this again. Or something.

I was running this race with two of my favorite running buddies – Shaya and Elena. Well, I mean, standing at the start together. I was so determined to run a PR today that I was definitely leaving my friends behind. A cold, cold, woman, I am. We met at the baggage area, decided to pick our t-shirts after the race ( a foolish, foolish mistake!!), and headed over to the corals. Suddenly, it felt very, very cold.

The race seemed to take forever to start between the anthem and the starting whistle. When the whistle went off, it was another 4 minutes or so before we started moving, and the first 300 yards of the race were slow and clogged. This is going to come off as super runner bitchy, but if you want to run five abreast with your friends, can you maybe go into a slower corral, so you aren’t stopping everyone from passing? Maybe? Or is that just me?

I had a split plan in my head that went 7:45, 7:45, 8:00-8:15, 7:45. The first mile was tough to find a steady pace as it was constant passing and weaving. Despite my crappy warm up, my legs suddenly felt good and strong. I have this ridiculous mental approach to running in Central Park which goes Cat Hill – nothing in between – hills around 102-86th st – and you’re done. If this was true, 4M races would of course only be about 1 mile long, and would take 10 minutes, but hey, whatever gets me through the run. So once I had don’t Cat Hill, I of course thought that I was nearly done. Nice. My first mile split was off target by a couple of seconds – 7:50.

The second mile of this course is flat and fast. I found a nice rhythm and really settled down into enjoying running fast. I looked down at my watch and saw I was on course for a 7:22, and started to back away from my pace a little, but not much it turns out, as I finished the next mile in 7:31.

Mile 3 on this course is my bitchin’ nemesis. I hate those hills more than anything. They are gradual and long-ish, with scant recovery. I had already planned on this being my worst mile in the race, but since I was feeling strong, mid-race I forced myself to complete it with a sub 8:00 mile, and snuck it in at 7:59.

There's my uphill sprint at the end in there as well.


By Mile 4 I was getting tired and my breathing was ragged. The nagging doubts started, like “who cares if I don’t PR?”, and “if I slow down now, what’s the big deal?”. My legs didn’t slow down though; they were set and they just kept running for me, despite what my mind was saying. They just kept running. About 200 yards from the end, I was even starting to feel nauseous. As weird as this sounds, I kind of welcomed it – this is what I wanted! I wanted to push myself to the point that I was uncomfortable. This was good! Running up the incline at the end, I was pushing myself to run harder, faster, right through until the end. And then I hit stop on the Garmin, which read a reassuring 31:11. I was exhilarated. I smashed my PR by 3 mins and 50 seconds, and my goal time by 49 seconds. Oh my.

This week I’ll post about how training for the marathon made me a faster runner, but now I’m ready for a well earned post run nap and a slice of banana bread.





Leave a Comment
  1. Theodora / Feb 6 2012 4:36 am

    congrats!! Awesome PR!!!

  2. Stacy Lazar / Feb 6 2012 3:45 pm

    such a good feeling! i’m pretty sure you just described cat hill perfectly. for the manhattan half, i was most afraid of having to face it twice. fortunately there was snow, so it was just comical, which made it fun somehow. congrats on your PR!

  3. Kara / Feb 6 2012 4:31 pm

    Congrats on crushing your PR, that’s awesome!!

  4. Jess / Feb 6 2012 4:43 pm

    Nice job!!

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