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September 24, 2012 / fionarwbl

The Short and Long of It (Fifth Ave Mile Race Recap and Long Running It)

While I have about 4209857 things to blog about (hi, Ragnar!) but I’m going to work backwards from this weekend or else we’ll be stuck in some sort of time warp. Ragnar posts will happen this week for sure, I promise.
The heat finally broke in New York this week, and I finally got that confidence boosting run I have been waiting for: a 5 mile tempo run that I was supposed to run in 8:00s, but I snuck my pace down to 7:45. Talk about an ass kicking! Admittedly, it was on the pure flat West Side Highway, but I’ll take it anyway. Its actually faster than my current 4M PR that determines my NYRR bib time, so I’m totally ecstatic. I’ve struggled through all of my runs all summer, have felt like a terrible, miserable runner all summer. The burst of cool weather and a markedly faster run than I’ve had in months. I immediately put my new 5M time into the McMillan Race Calculator, and saw that my marathon pace dropped from 3:49 to 3:47. AWESOME. It also predicted my mile race pace to be 6:42. I’ve never actually run a mile before, and I was going to on Saturday morning at the NYRR Fifth Avenue mile race.
Having been a member of NYRR for a couple of years, I’ve run almost all of the NYRR races, but for some reason I’ve never raced the mile before. It seemed like a short way to make up the 9+1 race requirement, so I thought, why not? What’s 7 minutes of pain anyway? How bad could it be?
Right at the start I saw Steph who found me through my shoes. It was great to see her especially since I hate being alone in corrals – it feels like everyone round me knows each other but me. Weird, I know. I queued up my Call Me Maybe on my iPhone, and we waited for the starting horn. Here’s how it went down:

Mile 0.17 – I look at my watch and see two things: I have only done 0.17 (my legs are already feeling it!), and I am running a 5:45 pace. I have never seen 5:45 on my watch ever, even if it didn’t last. I dialled back the pace for fear of not making it to 0.25, never mind the full mile. The second 400m is slightly uphill and my legs were feeling a combination of lead and fire. Like the middle ages, really. While running the 3rd 400 the finish line came into view, which was almost worse – it’s still so far away. My chest was heaving at this point, and my pace time just kept getting slower. Okay, realistically, it was probably pretty steady apart from my insane start. I passed the last 400 sign and just kept pumping my legs. I really wanted to pass this girl in a blue tank top, but she kept creeping away from me – so frustrating!! She beat me out in the end. The last ten yards were jelly legs and burning throat, and then 6:38 minutes later, and we were done.
6:38 minutes of running, and 15 minutes of recovering on the sidewalk. My legs and heart rate were fine within minutes, but I got this crazy throat burning, maybe from the cold I’ve had all week, that seemed to take forever to return to normal. Which it had to, because I had plans with my nemesis this weekend: repeats of the Queensboro Bridge.

Which, anti-climatically, were really not that bad. I ran over and back twice, before realizing that I was going to run far too many miles on Saturday if I went over a third time. Oh, and my leg were tired. The hill repeats really didn’t feel too bad, and in hindsight I should have been pushing my pace way harder than I was, but at least I’m getting familiar with the bridge. No surprises this marathon!

I started to run home through the park, when the sprint and hills caught up with me, and by mile 9 my legs were completely tuckered out. And slightly concerned that I had screwed myself out of a redemption long run the next day. Yikes.

So, long run Sunday. Let’s recap on my long run history this summer: there was the 18 that turned into a 16, twice, and the 20 that turned into an 18. So, basically, multiple failures. So, understandably, it was with some trepidation that I woke up on Sunday morning to run 20. I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it, and if I couldn’t do it, could I ever do it? Should I just give up?

Of course, it was also one of those mornings that went wrong. I woke up late, I couldn’t find things, I couldn’t find Steph – ugh. She’d already run 7 by the time I met her, which was also more than a little intimidating. We were going to run up the West Side Highway, over the George Washington Bridge, and around the Palisades. I’d never run this route before, which was extremely exciting. Luckily Steph knew how to get onto the bridge, because I would never have figured it out. Running over the bridge was exhilarating, although my hands were shaking taking photos because I was so scared of dropping it. I also did this weird thing that was vertigo-inducing but addictive: staring up at the cables while running. It made me literally think I was going to fall off the bridge, but I just couldn’t stop! Freak, I know.

Very huge bridge. With mesmerizing cables.

My whole self is shaking in this photo. That smile is a grimace of fear that any any point I will fall off the bridge.

The Palisades was a gorgeous, 100% downhill run down to a marina, where we split an iced tea and I had some Gu, and then start back up that hill again. It was super-pretty – mostly cyclists and runner with the occasional car along the tree-lined road. Turning around to head back up that hill was not a pleasant feeling, but, somehow, not only did we power up it, but we reached the top about a mile and half before I thought we would – when does that ever happen? When you don’t really know a route, that’s when.

The bridge is still so far above us. Waaaaah!

Back over the bridge, where my tired legs kept me from playing vertigo, and Steph and I split at mile 16 for me. 4 miles to go! I did a quick check-in: legs fine, breathing fine, head mostly still in it. I was going to do this!

Evidencing my 20 miles. If you don’t take a picture of it, did it really happen?

I ended up not just doing it; I ended up running the last 4 miles at a 9 min/mile pace, which was a more than healthy clip for someone with 16 miles already and yesterday’s sprints and hills. Okay, so I was powered along by Fun., Call Me Maybe, and Taylor Swift on repeat, but I did it. I more than did it, I actually ran 20.38 miles. Because I am that hardcore. Or because I was still a mile from home. Whatever.

After 20 plus miles. I thought that this shirt was going to be my marathon shirt. Now I’m not so sure thanks to the highly evident boob sweat.

As soon as I got home, I hit the shower, had a protein shake, and then headed out to the UWS Fall Block Party, with lots of beer and 80s dancing. Somehow I didn’t think that Pure Yoga would appreciate a buzzed person in their restoratives class, so instead we went to Firehouse for more beers. Good running decisions, no?

This weekend I ran 30 miles. Last weekend I ran 32 miles. Who am I?



Leave a Comment
  1. Dori / Sep 24 2012 2:57 pm

    So many things I want to say! First – I am jealous you have energy and lack-of-headache for drinking after all your running this weekend. I was KNOCKED OUT after my half yesterday. I couldn’t sleep but I also couldn’t do anything, and my head was pounding.

    OK next – the 5th Avenue Mile. I did this race in 2009, just a couple of months after I started running. I treated it like a sprint too and the way you had the throat burning, I had it in my EARS. Along with the chest burning! It was my most painful and brutal race to date, even more than my even faster-paced 5K race this past June. After it, I felt too sick to even get the race favor, which was a stainless steel branded water bottle. Instead, I found the nearest bench and collapsed onto it while I waited to feel OK. I also nibbled on a chocolate chip bagel (remember when they used to give those out? so good). Eventually, I felt OK and walked home and felt better. But man, that mile is KILLER! I signed up to do it this year because I want to see how much I’ve improved since then but I wasn’t able to go because I had wedding planning things scheduled.

    Amazing job on your 20! I love running brand new routes, it’s always so much less tedious. I never ran to the GW before, I hope I do one day!

  2. Mindy @Road Runner Girl / Sep 28 2012 10:12 pm

    Sounds like you had an amazing run!!! And gorgeous!!! Good luck with the rest of your training!!!

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