Race Report: Fred Lebow 5-Mile Classic
I know…I know. It’s been quite a while since I wrote a post. So sue me. New goal for the massive list: write a post, no matter how short, at least 3 times a week. Get ready for some posts that just say stuff like “I ran 5 miles today, bitch,” just so get I my 3 posts a week.
Well then…next. Yesterday was the Fred Lebow 5 Mile Classic. This is actually one of my favorite races because if it’s significance. You see, without good ‘ol Freddie’s existence, I wouldn’t be running any races in New York. He was the co-founder of NYRR and put New York running on the map, making the NYC Marathon the thing it is. There’s a great statue of Lebow at Engineer’s Gate, beard and all, looking down at his stopwatch. Every time I pass it while running, I give him a nod. Thanks Fred.
I was particularly nervous about this race because I have been having problems with my left leg, especially my shin, as you may know if you follow my twitter. What started as a consistent shin splint about a month and a half ago manifested itself into pain everywhere throughout my lower leg. Ick. I hadn’t run since last Sunday to let it rest, but come Friday night, it still hurt (although MUCH less) and I wasn’t sure if I was going to run. Running could really mess it up. I went into this race feeling like it was a very real possibility that I would drop out early, the same feeling that I went into the NYC Half this past August with (more on that race another time), not a desirable feeling.
I woke up nervous…and cold. I think we’ve all been feeling this cold snap, and New York is no exception. I layered up best I could, took some Advil, ate a Z-bar, drank some coffee and headed to the subway in the dark to meet my friend Abigail. She’s one of my friends who always runs the Race to Deliver in November every year, but not seriously. She just signed up for NYRR and this is her first as a member. She was incredibly excited, which got me excited too, something I was missing. It was nice to have someone to chit chat with on the ride up to the race; I’m always half-reading a New Yorker while people watching in silence. We also ran into my old roommate Talia who I had no idea was running! She ran a few races with me two years ago and is doing Team in Training and just started racing again. It’s actually pretty funny—I introduced Talia to Abigail and they just looked at me. My brain had failed for a minute—the three of us actually lived together for a year. Ohhhhh Betsy. Talia and Ab were both nervous about the cold while I was nervous about my leg. Excited nerves were flying all around.
Once we got to 103rd, exodus! I love the exodus of runners at the subway before races. A few days earlier, Ab had asked me how to get to the race from the subway stop in case I didn’t run. I just told her follow the masses of other crazy runners and you’ll find your way. We all went our various ways once we got to the race site—I went to find my new running team! Yup, that was fast. I’m officially on a team, Dashing Whippets! And this was my first race as a member. Once I found the group, all of us were very reluctant to shed our outer layers. It was crazy cold. However, it was sunny and there was very little wind: two major plusses. Eventually I decided it was time to strip down to my skivvies (well, not that far down), and head to the start. Sad news: once I got into my corrall, I realized I had dropped a glove somewhere. So I had to run with only one glove and the other hand with my sleeve pulled over it. I looked like I had one hand. I.e. I looked so awesome.
I went into this race with a goal to finish. And stop if I was hurting too much. If the pain is hindering my running, I would stop. I had no goal time—well, I wouldn’t have been happy if I ran over 40 minutes, but this day I knew I had limits. The crowd was small this day. The cold kept a lot of people (smartly?) in their cozy beds. There were only 3370 runners, out of 5000 that had registered (well, I think. They said it was close to registration capacity, and 5000 is the limit). There was room to breathe and move and stretch. It was noticeably smaller. Once the gun went off we got moving fairly fast because of the size. I had decided to stay with my pace group and not weave in and out to get with faster runners which is what I normally do, because of my leg; just go with the flow. That feeling lasted about a hundred yards. I might be just a weeee bit too competitive for my own good. Outta my way suckas! For the first mile I tend to run on the outside so I have to do as little weaving as possible; I’ve jumped over my fair share of cones. And my leg? It hurt, but not to a point where it was hindering anything. And my pace? I was running, but not killing myself; I wanted to finish, not PR. I was there to enjoy the day, my surroundings and my being among my people! Mile 1: 8:09. I wasn’t thrilled, but I was fine with it, considering I wasn’t pushing myself.
Mile 2 I ran into two other Whippets, Scott and Patrick. Poor Patrick was running with a backpack that he didn’t have time to drop off, and Scott whipped right past me after a quick hello. It was during this mile that I fell into a state of consistent runner’s high, that lasted throughout the entire race. I didn’t feel like I was killing myself; I felt great. Strong…and happy! I was so ecstatic (really) that I was there at that moment running in a race, doing my thing. I loved it. Even though I was still hurting, it didn’t hurt my mood. Man, I love doing races. Mile 2: 7:30. A lot faster than I was expecting.
Miles 3 & 4 were uneventful. Still running; still totally into it. Except for the plethora of horse crap along the road. It still smells on cold days. It’s stomach churning running on hot days. Least favorite thing about running in Central Park by far. Ugh. Mile 3: 7:44; Mile 4: 8:08 (Cat Hill).
I was excited to hit the final mile. It’s mostly downhill or flat, up along the east side of the park. I wish I could really describe how honestly excited and euphoric I was to be running there. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else at that moment. It was a true runner’s high. It was a great moment. Finishing up, I couldn’t figure out where the finish line was, because the race started back a little further than 5 milers normally do. I looked down at my watch and saw it said 6:33…ooo, the finish better be soon but I don’t see it. All of a sudden, I turned the corner and there it was, totally sudden and unexpected. A nice downhill to a strong finish. Mile 5: 7:42. I finished with juice left which was fine with me because I wasn’t pushing myself to save myself from some career-ending leg injury. Final time: 39:15 for a 7:51 pace. I was pleased but I didn’t think anything of it.
Now that’s an ugly post-race pic. My apologies. Neck gator: get one when it’s crazy cold and you’re running. You will be a happier person. This is from when I used to ski like a maniac when I was younger. And yes Mom–I wore a hat. Just took it off at the end.
And my leg: it hurt the entire time. The pain never went away, but it never got worse; maybe a little better throughout. It didn’t bother me though. I’m pretty good at running through pain by now, I’d say that’s an admirable quality ;). And throughout the day it didn’t get worse or stiff when I would get up after sitting for a while. Even when I wore crazy tall boots that night (definitely not the easiest things to walk in, but I’m one sacrifice comfort for style all the time), it didn’t hurt. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think I’m on the mend! Huzzah!
I finished the morning cheering in a few Whippets, having brunch with the team, and knocking over an apple pie at Trader Joes during my grocery stop on my way home. That was embarrassing.
When I got home, as an afterthought, I decided to look at my previous 5 mile times. And I realized I had set a PR! Not by much: 5 seconds, but a PR nonetheless. I ran faster at the Alexandria Turkey Trot this past November, but that course was soooo fast, I can’t compare it to the Central Park times. On a day I was not pushing myself, was hurting, in FREEZING temps, I set a PR!?! Whoa. That was incredibly surprising, and satisfying. Just wait till I’m in top form! Watch out red corrall…I’m coming for ya!!