no sleep till brooklyn
At the beginning of the year, St. Elmo registered for a bunch of NYRR races. He intends to fulfill the 9+1 requirement to gain automatic entry into the 2012 NYC Marathon. NYRR has a program in place for their members to get this Marathon automatic entry for the following year: 1) be a member as of end of January current year; 2) complete 9 of their *qualifying* races in current year; and 3) volunteer once. It’s actually a really good and easy way for local runners to gain entry into a Marathon that fills up with 40K+ runners from all over the country and world. Believe it or not, if I wanted to run the 2011 NYC Marathon, I could sign up, as I completed all necessary requirements last year. But I am not running it. I’ll likely just volunteer again with the Red Cross.
But anyhoo, St. Elmo had signed up to do the 4-mile Al Gordon Classic on February 26th. What he didn’t realize was that the race was in Brooklyn. I purposely didn’t register for it because getting to Brooklyn, while not difficult, is a good one-hour trip by subway, with one transfer, early in the morning. I’m used to all but rolling out of bed and spending 15 minutes walking to Central Park. My initial (but very fleeting) thought was that I would go with him and cheer him on. Bwahahahaha. The race is in Brooklyn at 8AM and it’s still pretty cold out. If I wasn’t running it, I’d wish him a very good race from the comfort of home.
At the last minute, I decided that what the hell, I’d sign up for the race, too. Why not get a qualifying race under my belt? Why not get my ass out there and run? Why not head out to Brooklyn and get some practice running the dreaded hill in Prospect Park in preparation for the Brooklyn Half? All of these “why nots?”
So, we dragged our sorry, sleepy asses out of bed at 5:45AM on Saturday morning. We ate some toast with peanut butter for fuel. We pulled on our cold weather running gear. We stepped outside at 6:30AM. Thank god the sun was coming up and it was light outside, as it was still pretty cold out and all I wanted to do was go home and crawl back into a warm bed.
We get to Prospect Park a little bit early. We have time to get a pre-race coffee. Well, the subway stop we got off at had nothing within eye sight, except for a *interesting* looking bodega. I used my handy dandy Starbucks app to locate the nearest one. Fail. Nothing for BLOCKS. Of course, when I left the apartment, I grabbed my ID, my MetroCard, my ATM card and my Starbucks card. What I failed to grab is a few dollars cash. I’ve gone for runs before near home in Central Park without cash. There were a few times when I was kicking myself for not having cash. Why would I head to another borough without having cash on me??? I suppose my reasoning at 6AM was that “hey, I have my Starbucks card, I don’t need cash.” That works very well when there’s a Starbucks every other block in Manhattan. I suppose not so much in the other boroughs. We go into the bodega. Since neither one of us had the smarts to remember to bring cash, I have to now use my ATM card in one of those sketchy ATMs that probably is fitted with all kinds of devices to steal my ATM card number and pin. Umm great. Perfect. But my need for coffee quickly outweighed my concern over my checking account being wiped clean.
Coffee in hand we head into Prospect Park and towards the start line and baggage check. St. Elmo, being a much faster runner than me, is put into a corral closer to the start line. I’m in one of slow-pokey corrals in back. If I were a total bitch I would have made him start with me in the slow-poke corral, but I actually don’t like running with people. I like running on my own, at my own pace. And more importantly, I would never want to hold someone back from doing their best during a race.
Race starts, I don’t actually cross the start line until 4 minutes in. The first mile of this race was all uphill. It was the hateful, evil hill of Prospect Park. It’s not a particularly steep hill. There are much steeper hills in Central Park. But it’s long. It feels like it goes on forever. You’re padding uphill and trudging along cursing it. After what seems like eons, you make a turn at the north end of the park and you realize, Hallelujah, the hill is done!
After that first mile of uphill climb, I look down and see my shoelace is untied. I pull over to the side and some old geezer yells “Suuuure, annnnny excuse!” I know he said it jokingly, but I got all defensive and yelled back “but my shoe came untied!!” Now people could see that my shoe came untied, it was really obvious, but I got a little flustered being called out for “taking a break” after only one mile of running.
With my shoe re-tied and double-knotted, I continued on my way. The second mile wasn’t so easy, even if it was relatively flat compared to mile one. The 3rd mile… ahh, the 3rd mile. A good long downhill and then flat. It was a good, fast mile for me. The 4th mile wasn’t as good, but I was able to finish strong and speed up and sprint past people at the finish line. I usually never do that, but for some reason I felt like *picking off* my fellow runners at the end. I ran my best average pace/mile since last May. That felt great. I met up with St. Elmo by the last food table, both of us happy to have had a good 4-mile run to start off our day.
Next weekend will be a 5K up in Washington Heights. Again, there will be more travel getting up to the very top of Manhattan, but at least the race doesn’t start until 9AM. So, we’ll be able to sleep in until 7AM