the tortoise and the hare, guess which one i am
Last weekend was the Continental Fifth Avenue Mile – a one-mile race to see how fast you can run from 80th Street to 60th Street down Fifth Ave. Well, for me, it’s not so fast. No, I’m not going to post my time, it’s embarrassing. I run like a snail. I can’t accelerate quickly. I’m not a sprinter in any way, shape or form. I’m simply not a fast runner. Never was, never will be.
The 2009 race for me was a terrible experience. It was my second worst race ever of the 30 or so I’ve done, in terms of how I physically felt during and immediately after (the Brooklyn Half-marathon has been my worst so far). Last year, I woke up super late for it. New York Road Runners organizes it so that you run in heats based on your gender and age. My heat, women 30-39, was scheduled at 10AM. Now how could I not wake up for a race that starts at 10AM when I am used to races starting at 7AM or 8AM? But, I woke up around 9:30AM and had a 15 minute (fast) walk to the start line. I didn’t eat or drink anything before. I didn’t have time.
I lined up with my fellow runners and having never ran this before, I was stupid enough to stand toward the front. Wrong move. All the runners in the front of the pack are the fast runners. I’m used to being in the front of the pack in my corral during regular races where they corral you based on best times. I’m always in the slow-poke corral.
The gun goes off and all of us race out of there like a bat out of hell. I was running without knowing what I was doing. I remember hitting the ¼ mile mark and looking at the time and being like “holy shit!”. I’ve never ran that fast in my life.
The general elevation of 5th Ave spanning 80th to 60th goes like this: slightest uphill from 80th to 75th; decent incline 75th to 70th; decent decline 70th to 65th and then mostly flat 65th to 60th. I hit a wall at the ¼ mile mark at 75th. I felt as though all of the blood drained out of my head and I was going to pass out. Tackling the uphill for the 2nd quarter was pure hell. I felt like I was stumbling just to keep moving.
I finally got to the downhill and then it was just a matter of keeping my feet moving. All I wanted to do was sit down and hang my head between my knees to get the blood flowing again. But I couldn’t give up – it’s only one mile! I was also feeling nauseous, as any of you may know from exerting yourself beyond physical comfort. I also had that feeling that I was going to poop myself (fellow runners may know this feeling or yikes, seen it happen to others and hopefully not themselves). So for the last ¼ mile I’m willing myself not to puke, not to crap myself and to keep moving my legs. Sounds like fun, huh???
I finally cross the finish line, really amazed that I hadn’t keeled over and passed out. I sat on the curb outside of the medical tent and hung my head. An EMT came out and asked if I wanted to come in and lay down on the gurney. I wasn’t in that bad of shape and declined, but I sat there for about 5 minutes before I could move again.
Luckily, for this year, I woke up on time and was able to drink some juice prior. I was ready. The weather was a perfect 65 degrees with overcast skies. This time I got there early. I lined up in the corral, but stayed toward the rear. I wasn’t going to get caught up with the sprinters in front again.
Gun goes off and I’m comfortably running at what I think is a good pace for the first half mile, especially since it’s uphill. I figured I could push myself the last half and sprint to the finish. Hahahahaha.
That was the plan, anyway. What actually happened is I was able to keep a steady pace for the first ¾ of a mile, but being that I had only run like once in the past month, I was tired! Tired after running at a moderate pace (faster than I normally run, but not pushing myself) for only ¾ of a mile. So, needless to say, I did not sprint to the finish. I just ran to it. Oh well, there’s always next year. Oh, and I probably need to mention that I ran 5 seconds SLOWER than last year. The winner of my heat ran it in 5:03.