Earlier this summer I discussed my desire to super-PR in the 5th Avenue Mile, as I’d become much speedier since running it in 6:38 six years ago. Of course, at the time I didn’t foresee recovering from a leg injury and having to give up on speedwork for the rest of this round of marathon training. I’m happy to have somewhat salvaged my training over the last few weeks, but I was still feeling pretty “meh” about this race by the time it rolled around.
I left with an hour to spare on Saturday morning, figuring it would be more than enough time considering it had only taken 45 minutes to get up to the Bronx two weeks ago. However, I didn’t realize the F train wouldn’t be running at my stop, which forced me to walk three avenues to catch a D train and then transfer to a 4/5, resulting in an Upper East Side arrival just minutes before the start. Jenny was waiting with my bib and D-Tag, but she passed them on to Beth when it was time to line up for our age group. I found her quickly, then jumped right into my heat without even stretching. The gun immediately went off, and seconds later a girl cut me off as she tried to move diagonally across the tightly packed crowd. I came thisclose to face-planting in the middle of the stampede of sprinting women (Whose idea was it to group ALL the 15- to 29-year-olds together, anyway?). Just like all the other times I’ve taken a spill midrun (Have I mentioned that I became a runner because I’m too uncoordinated for all other sports? Yeah…), I felt myself tripping in slow motion, only this time gravity wasn’t working quite so hard against me, as I managed to throw my hands forward and break my fall. I tried to get back up and running as fast as possible, but I definitely lost more than a few precious seconds in the process, and when I saw my final result, a fairly speedy finish of 6:47, I couldn’t help but feel a little bitter about the likelihood of setting a new personal best had I not experienced a setback in the beginning—especially since it was someone else’s fault instead of my own typical clumsiness! Somebody find me a redemption race, pleaseandthankyou.
After the race, I was happy to be able to find all the friends that had also just run my heat. I’d originally hoped to start with some speed demons to up my chances of a PR, but that plan was a fail thanks to the crowds and my late arrival. Anyway, after catching up with Jenny, Abby, Jocelyn, Meggie, Steph, and Jessica, it was time to replace speed with distance for my last long(ish) run before Chicago.
Jocelyn and I had made plans for a double-digit run after the mile, but I almost bailed to run on my own when she told me she and Meggie planned to cover 15 miles in the form of multiple Central Park loops. I’ve mentioned before that out-and-backs and repeat courses are not my favorites (I JUST climbed this hill. Now I have to do it again?), but I decided to run with them after all, thinking that maybe the route wouldn’t be so tough with friends to distract me. Turns out, I was right! 2.5 repeats of the 5-mile loop (sans Harlem Hill) flew by, and after we parted ways I continued to the Reservoir for a lap to round out a total of 16 miles at an 8:54 pace. Of course, that 2:22:27 finish includes the 6:47 5th Avenue Mile, so I’ll assume that I would have totaled around 2:24 on a normal long run. I felt pretty comfortable at the end of this run—dare I say think I could have easily kept it up for another 4 miles to round out 20 at around 3 hours? I hope so, since that’s around the time I’d need to hit 20 miles in the marathon in order to still be able to finish in under 4 hours even if I have to take it easy during the final 6.
I ran a not-so-great 20-miler a week ago that left me feeling pretty discouraged about the marathon, so I’m glad I made the last-minute choice to up this week’s 12-miler to 16 for one last chance at a confidence boost for the big day. For every time I worry about how low my weekly mileage has been since coming back from the injury, I’m trying to remind myself of runs like this one, which were a little faster than MGP, yet never felt like a struggle. That has to be a good sign, right? I know, I know: To state the obvious, it might mean that MGP should be faster than 9:09, but I honestly feel like throwing out a “real” time goal would be a total shot in the dark since I can’t shake the feeling of being so behind in training. I essentially went straight from building up my mileage to tapering, skipping those crucial peak weeks.
During our run, Jocelyn asked me what “my plan” was (“…in life?” was my response). I’m still going to shoot for 3:59 in Chicago, so I plan to wear a pace tattoo for that. I’ve also considered trying to stick with the 4-hour pace group during the race, but my Houston Half Marathon PR scored me a placement in the third corral of the first wave, so I have a feeling I’ll have a pretty good head start before that pace group gets moving. If they manage to catch up to me, I hope I have enough energy left to stick with them for the rest of the race. But I not-so-secretly hope they won’t catch me.
How’s that for a plan?
UPDATE: Alas, there is no 4-hour pace group in the entire first wave. So now I REALLY hope they don’t catch me with my 30-minute head start!