Last year was my first time racing (or even running) the Forest Avenue Mile. It’s a local one-mile race that takes place immediately before the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day parade – a hugely popular parade the runs along Forest Avenue in Staten Island and attracts 50,000 spectators each year.
I ran a 5:42 last year in less-than-ideal racing weather. Headwind and almost-blizzard like conditions – but it was an automatic PR since it was the first time I had ever truly raced a mile.
Initially, we had planned on doing a long run this week – likely Thursday – and then a quick recovery in time for Sunday. But, after a successful cycle so far, coach and I decided to skip the long run and use this as a cut-back week in mileage. I had a 3×3 killer workout on the schedule anyway, so we upped the warmup and cooldown a bit to make it a touch longer in lieu of a long run.
I can’t predict the future, but I feel like this was the best decision we could have made. I didn’t need a cutback week (yet) BUT it’s a good way to stay ahead of peaking too soon or overtraining. I still have 6 weeks until Boston, so plenty of time to make some more gains in fitness before race day.
Back to the race. I knew that I wanted to make this race fit into my calendar after last year’s awesome experience. Totally outside my comfort zone but so much fun and exhilarating to run as hard as you can for one mile.
With a 12:10pm scheduled start time, I was able to sleep in and have a relaxing morning. Coffee on the couch, some “go fish”, laundry, cleaning and prepping (my family came over Sunday afternoon for dinner!).
By 10am, it was time to get ready for the race and by 10:40am, I was out the door. I drove the 25 min to the finish area, parked and ran about 1.5 miles to the bib pickup location.
At around 11:40, I started to do a bit more of a warmup – some easy running with some strides thrown in to get my legs moving. Then some stretching and then back to the start area to wait for the race to start.
Unfortunately, we were delayed about 45 minutes due to a suspicious package on the route (about 1/4 mile in). I think all the runners understood and were grateful that there was such a high police presence – and obviously safety comes first. But, in terms of impacts on racing – it was not ideal. We were already all striped down to our racing gear. It was in the low 40s with a light breeze. I felt like I had completely cooled down after 10-15 min of waiting around. I don’t think any of us knew what to do. You don’t want to run too much and tire yourself out before the race. But how much is necessary to keep you warmed up?
I was pretty close to bailing – my sons had a birthday party and I was meeting them there (and my husband would then go home to prep the BBQ for our company). There was just too many moving pieces yesterday to allow me to wait around for much longer. But before I made any decision, they announced that the route was clear and the race would begin shortly.
How do you describe a one mile race? It is nothing but pain. You go out as hard as you can and then just keep pushing until you finish.
The Forest Avenue mile route is great. It’s a bit of downhill to start, then some rolling hills for the next 1/4 mile, then mostly flat through the 3/4 mile mark and then downhill to end.
And then it was time to start!
“The best pace is a suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die.”
The first 1/4 mile was super fast and I started to panic that I wouldn’t be able to recover from it. Splits: 1:16 – 5:04 pace.
The next 1/4 mile was slower but I felt okay. Tired, but still pushing along. Split: 2:40; 1:24 – 5:36 pace.
The next 1/4 mile was pure torture. Still too far to kick but far enough into race where lungs are burning and legs are screaming to stop. You quickly enter the pain tunnel – and just want it to end. Split: 4:10; 1:30 – 6:00 pace.
But with a 1/4 mile left, something clicked and I fought. I pushed with every ounce of energy and strength left. My goal was to PR but I could see the finish clock getting close to 5:30 and decided to try to squeak in under. Finish: 5:28; 1:18 – 5:12 pace.
Official time: 5:28
14 sec PR
4th female (overall)
I highly recommend this race to anyone who is local – or even a bit of a drive away. Here are some of the highlights:
- If you have family, it’s a great race to bring your kids to – you can throw on warm clothes after and spend some time watching a fantastic hometown parade!
- The route is blocked off and there are literally thousands of spectators along the route cheering you on (while they wait for the parade to start).
- Great, fast course
- Timers at the 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 mark yelling official splits as you pass (this is helpful so you don’t have to look at your watch!)
- Organized start and finish lines
- Child-friendly – there were a ton of younger runners!
The best part of these local races is getting the chance to see other local runners who I know or follow on social media. I wish I could participate in more events or group runs on a regular basis, but my schedule, unfortunately, does not allow that right now.
And, of course, getting to see my girls Jen and Danielle =)
Hope you had a wonderful weekend! <3