This recap is a bit delayed…my blogging always goes hand in hand with how busy I am at work and with life! It’s been a great, but busy couple of weeks, and so finding the time to write about this race was at the bottom of the priority list!
Last Sunday was the Air France Run in Central Park organized by NYRR. In an effort to get out of my comfort zone and race shorter distances more often, I signed up for the 8k several weeks ago – knowing full well that the 5 mile course included all the lovely hills of Central Park. And by “lovely”, I mean “why do I do this to myself?”. By mile 3, I was cursing my decision and swearing off short races in Central Park once again. It’s hard enough to race hard for 5 miles. When you throw in the Harlem hills, it becomes a major sufferfest.
When I lived in the city, I ran in Central Park almost every day. Shorts runs, long runs, speed workouts. Those hills were part of my routine. As much as I try to run hills these days, I’m limited. The route that is safest for me to run is rolling – but nothing like the hills in the park. The hills I would love to run daily are part of a stretch of road that is more desolate – no homes and the woods on both sides. So I won’t venture there until it’s getting light out – which means no time to run them in the AM. Now that I’m so removed from the park, I am reminded each time I race there that it’s no joke.
Before I get into the race, here’s how the morning went:
It was an early start (8am) so my husband, boys and I left the house just past 6:30am. By 7:15am, they had dropped me off by Tavern on the Green and I met up with Ashley for some company for our warmup miles.
Two miles later, we were on the east side by the race start line. Ashley ran to the bathroom and I made my way to my corral. I was in corral A which was virtually female-free. Corral A has an identical pace range for males and females. However, there is also Corral AA for the elites which has different ranges for males and females. The female range almost completely covers the pace range for Coral A – so almost all the females who fall into A qualify for AA.
The race began promptly at 8am. My pre-race fueling consisted of a large cup of coffee, 2 scoops of Gen Ucan mixed with 12 oz of water (from 90->60 min before) and a bag of chomps (15 min before the race).
I had no pace goals for this race. I ran long the previous Friday (16 miles) and 6 miles on Saturday, so I wasn’t rested or tapered. This race wasn’t about going all out and running as fast as I possibly could. It was about pushing hard and running as fast as I could on tired legs. Good training for marathons
I also didn’t really have goals for this race because I’ve never raced an 8k. I don’t know what the effort for an 8k should feel like. I’ve only raced 2x 5ks and 2x 10ks – ever – in my life. So I don’t even know what those should feel like. For the first 2 miles, I had a constant battle in my mind.
Is this too fast?
Am I going out way too fast?
It shouldn’t be too hard. But harder than a tempo.
The first two miles were fairly consistent: 6:24, 6:30 – and that was with some of the hills on the east side. During the 2nd mile, the skies opened up and it was a torrential downpour. At first, I was relieved. It was incredibly warm and muggy (upper 70s with 100% humidity) and I hoped the rain would stifle some of that. It definitely cooled me off a bit but after the 2nd downpour (closer to mile 4), it became more of an annoyance.
Then we hit the Harlem hills. I fought hard for the next mile. Mentally, I wanted to give up. I ran these same hills for the NYC half – and remember feel tired but strong and in control. Sunday I felt like I was already hanging on by this point in the race (granted, my first two miles were 20 sec/mile faster and it was 80+ degrees). Mile 3: 6:55
Mile 4 was not much of a difference from mile 3. It’s not the one big, long hill but it’s a series (3 or 4?) of steep hills that never seem to end. I just kept telling myself to get to 86th street. That’s where you get a bit of a break with some downhill running. Mile 4: 6:55
When I got to that section, I tried to pick up the pace – but there wasn’t much gas left. The last mile was pure pain – thinking about seeing my little guys by the finish line. And the quicker I finish, the quicker it’s over. Mile 5: 6:45
11th woman OA
1st in AG (30-34w)
After my race, we hung around in the post-race festivities. The boys had their faces painted, we got to taste some French treats and we walked around by the Bethesda Fountain.
Then the boys raced – my youngest raced about 1/8 of mile; oldest was about 1/6 mile. While it was a blast for them, the process was just very long – NYRR separates the races into ages and sex – so there is a boys 4 year old race, then girls 5, then boys 5, etc. The whole process took almost 90 minutes! Lesson learned for the future!
Have you ever raced an 8k?
Central Park – love it or hate it for racing?