I still got it in me!
I’m turning 29 next week (which is far closer to 30 than I’m really ready for), so I really wanted to get a good PR in before my birthday.
And I did!
Since my running as of late has been sort of half-assed, I was hoping for a PR but not really thinking it was going to happen. I’d signed up for the Gridiron Classic a few weeks ago because I’d heard it was a fun one–you pick your Super Bowl team, and at one point, you run through separate chutes to “vote” for your team. I cabbed up to NYRR this morning to get my number and then jogged down to the start at 68th Street to warm up.
Former Coworker Abby was also racing, and she announced her arrival by slapping me on the ass. Thanks, friend.
And yes, that is a Giants shirt you see. I just spent a good half hour searching for a photo on Facebook from Super Bowl 2008 in my Giants shirt, but I think I deleted it after I lost weight. Why, I’m not sure. I haven’t deleted many of my before pictures, because I’m really not ashamed of them–I’m proud of my progress. Anyway, picture me 50 pounds heavier in a blue Giants shirt with Bailey at my feet.
That last time the Giants were in the Super Bowl was just before I decided to move back here from DC. I’d come up to celebrate my birthday with my family, and I remember that I went to my college roomie Jen’s boyfriend’s Super Bowl party. We’d bought matching Giants shirts, and I was sooo self-conscious of how I looked in mine. I didn’t know any of her boyfriend’s friends, and I sat really quietly in the corner with a pillow over my stomach.
It pays off to be an all-the-time fan of the Giants, not just a Super Bowl fan of the Giants, because I had a hard time finding a good Giants shirt yesterday to wear today. I ended up getting this one at Macy’s because it was one of the few shirts left in smaller sizes. Clearly all the hardcore fans wear shirts that say Love on them, right?
Like most other NYRR races, it was super-crowded at the start, and I questioned just what the hell I was doing there. I was in the green corral–the third corral–which made me really happy! Moving up in the world.
My general strategy for four-mile races is this: run the first and second miles hard to get my body used to the pace, dial it back a tiny bit for the third mile, and go all out for the last mile.
The first mile of NYRR races usually sucks. There’s way too many people around, no matter which corral you’re in. I’m pretty disciplined about not going out too fast for long races, but for short races, I’m all about going out fast and getting away from the thick crowds, and today was no different. By about 3/4 of a mile in, I’d hit a bit of a groove and the crowds thinned enough for me to not want to elbow someone to get them out of my way. Mile 1 split: 8:31. (This mile also included a big-ass hill.)
By the second mile, I could feel that this wasn’t going to be an easy race, but I was so determined to PR. The second mile felt like it went absolutely forever, and I was so happy to see the second mile marker. Mile 2 split: 8:06. I got faster this mile, so I guess that’s why it felt so long. I remember looking at my watch at mile 2 and seeing around 16 minutes and thinking, worst case scenario, I have 20 minutes left. I can do anything for 20 minutes. This was around the 102nd Street transverse, where I ran through the NY Giants chute, along with 99.5 percent of the other runners. There was a DJ booth and they were playing a Giants rap which got stuck in my head for the rest of the race.
Between miles two and three, I started thinking how I really enjoy longer races so much better than shorter races. I’d rather sustain a slightly slower pace for a longer time than a really difficult pace for a short time. I slowed back down for this mile–mile 3 split: 8:35.
Once I saw that third mile marker, IT WAS ON. There’d been a girl in a gold top who’d passed me in the first mile, and it was my mission to find her and take her down. I never actually found her again, but I’m just going to assume that I must have passed her again at some point. I ran my heart out in this last mile, and kept peeking at my watch to see how I was doing with beating my PR of 33:28.
I looked at my watch right around the 30-minute mark, and I was at 3.7 miles, and I knew I had it. I’d have to slow down to a 10-minute mile pace at that point to NOT PR, and there was no way in hell I was slowing down. As I ran past the lake in the park, I got a little disoriented and thought the finish was still a long way away and started to get really frustrated, but then I started seeing the NYRR signs and knew I was almost there and picked it up. At this point, my watch was at 31:50-something, and I wanted to aim for under 33 to give myself a cushion.
AND…done! I crossed the finish line at 32:54, for an average pace of 8:14 (!!!) and a last mile at 7:32! Not only was it an amazing PR, but that’s definitely the fastest pace I’ve ever run a race! It’s also my highest AG%–58.48 (age-graded performance level percent, which, according to NYRR is: Ratio of the world-class time for an individual’s age and gender divided by the individual’s actual time. A performance level of 100% is approximately the world-record level, 90% equates to world class, 80% is national class, and 70% is regional class.)
I’ve already made approximately 4200 goals for 2012, but it’s never too late to add another one, right? I’d love to run a race at under an 8:00 pace by the end of this year and get a 60% AG. As a new-ish runner who’s not getting any younger, I know there will come a day when I plateau (and I am NOT looking forward to that), but until then, I’m going to keep pushing for more speed.
But that day was not today.
LET’S GO GMEN!