4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Brrrrrooklyn Hot Chocolate 10k Race Report

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Been awhile since I wrote a genuine race report.  Was absolutely necessary this time, because it turned out that I TIED MY 10K PR, which had been set 4/1/2007.

PR’s are really great, and should be savored.  They are just not easy to come by.  My running career is 18 years, and I’ve run dozens of races at the common distances.  To PR, it means I have to be better today than I have *ever* been at that distance in the past.  This is just harder and harder to do as time goes by.  Don’t get me wrong, my PR’s are all still “attainable,” as I don’t feel I have ever been so well trained as to not be able to get to that level of fitness again.  The surprise to me was that I have already reached the level of fitness where my PR’s are in reach again, only 6 months removed from injuries, and only focusing on speed in the last month.

With NYC Runs entry to the race scene, I’ve been reinvigorated to run races here in the city, as NYRR races are unwieldy big.  Yesterday’s race was the first of their Freeze and Fuhgeddeboudit winter series, a 10k in Prospect Park.  With the promise of hot chocolate after the race, and souvenir mugs, I’ve had it on my radar for a few weeks.

Based on recent training runs, and the success I’ve had so far in the three speed sessions done in January, I thought I could realistically run under 9 pace for the race.  I’m very familiar with Prospect Park, and the hills there don’t scare me very much.  With that understanding, my goal was 55 minutes.  Prior to the race, I casually checked my race results page, and saw that this would be my 28th 10k race, and that my PR was set in 2007.  I did not have a PR on my mind at all, and it barely registered with me that my PR was in the 52:xx range.

Pre race was definitely a chill scene.  First, race organizers emailed us to let us know the Q train had service changes this weekend, so I knew to get up a little earlier to take a different train.  I arrived at the race site around 35 minutes before race time, which was plenty of time to pick up my number, change my clothes, drop off my bag, and walk the half mile to the start.

The only problem of the day is that it was announced that the race would be untimed, due to problems with the new timing equipment that was to be used.  I was a little bummed, but didn’t really mind.  NYC Runs will certainly show some growing pains as they get bigger, and we’ll just have to be patient with them.

Crossing the start line, I had a hard time pressing the start button on my Runmeter, and so I estimate that I started it about 1-2 seconds late.  The start was about half way up the hill leading to Grand Army Plaza.  This was nice because it meant on the 2-loop course, we’d only have to run that hill 1.5 times, and the first being right at the start.  I worked hard up the hill and was noticing that I was having a hard time getting loose in the 2nd half of the mile.  I realized that I started out too hard and was running a pace I could never keep up.

I crossed mile 1 in 8:16, too fast.  I backed off the pace a bit and just focused on a good steady effort.  I was really surprised to see 8:24 in mile 2, almost the same pace as mile 1.  I backed off even more and hit 8:37 in mile 3.  By then I felt completely warmed up and loose.  Mile 4 would be the hardest mile in the race, for me, as it included the uphill into Grand Army Plaza, with then rolling ups and downs afterwards.  When I hit that mile in 8:37, I knew I had 2 mostly downhill miles to go and thought I would be able to average 8:30 pace for the entire race.

At that point, I started to do the math in my head and figured that an 8:30 pace would be 53 minutes, give or take.  I was hopeful I’d be able to finish strong and beat 53 minutes.  I thought my PR was close to 52 minutes, so again had no thoughts of a PR.  I stayed focused and was able to finish the last 2 miles in 8:31 and 8:25, with 1:49 rounding out the last .2 (Note that I think the 6 mile sign placement was short due to its placement in the middle of a construction zone, and the very slow time I manually clocked for the last .2).

I stopped my watch right at the finish and was super happy with the 52:41 it showed.  I knew I had to add 1 or 2 seconds to compensate for the trouble I had at the start.  First thing I did was check my race results page, and was beyond surprised to see that my old PR was 52:43.  Since I was slow getting my clock started, and the race was not officially timed, I just called it even and am saying that I tied my PR.

Was beyond elated.  Beyond the obvious of knowing that my training is in a great place right now, and has me in a position where my PR’s are within reach, this very strong and consistent effort on a hilly 6+ mile course gives me a lot of confidence in my ability, and gives me hope that it will be a great running year.  My last great stretch of running was in early 2009 when I set PR’s at the 5m, 5k and marathon distances over the first 3 months.  I’m optimistic that I’ve got another great stretch coming up, hopefully culminating in a strong Georgia Marathon on March 18…

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Written by SCL

January 29, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Posted in Race Report

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