Being injured sucks, but one thing my doctor made very clear, if I can run a couple of miles and my IT band doesn’t hurt, then I should be okay with shorter races. Today was the shortest race of the year for the New York Road Runners, the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile. A race that I had done absolutely nothing to prepare for with the exception of running a mile at a nine minute pace on Thursday to make sure I could do it.
One of the great things about the Fifth Avenue Mile, is that unlike many of the other NYRR races that require me to get up at some horribly early time on a Sunday Morning, this one starts in waves. Yay for “sleeping in” until 7am. I Boarded the train at 8:05am, got off at Harlem/125th and proceeded to do a moderately slow 4.3 miles around Central Park for warmups. Surprisingly my legs felt good and my hip wasn’t hurting. I had set a mental goal of being happy if I was under 8 minutes. I also realized when I got there that I forgot to bring a bag to check the free T-Shirt. I tried checking just the T-Shirt, but I wasn’t surprised when it was gone by the time I made it to the end of the race.
Around 10am I walked onto the closed section of Fifth Avenue in front of the met and started to do some more stretches. I was feeling great, but still lacked confidence about the race. They pushed us up to the starting area and I decided that the race called for something with a bit more a beat than Car Talk from NPR, so I told my iPhone to shuffle the Black Album from Metallica. I set up RunKeeper and started it about 45 seconds before they started the race. The gun went off and I started running.
I took a moderate pace, something that I felt I could keep up for a mile without getting getting injured. Although I tried to start near the back of the pack I was quickly getting passed by some of the speed demons in the group. I settled into a pace with some other folks who weren’t the ultra-skinny runner types around me. At 1/4 mile my split was 1:52, I started a little bit back from the start so I backclocked that to 1:49ish. I was feeling good about running what looked to be around a 7min/mi pace. Unfortunately, my attempt at keeping my pace up with high tempo music was hindered as my iPhone chose “The Unforgiven”, a slower tempo song. Darn you iPhone! As I hit my stride the 1/2 mile marker came up at 3:33. My pace had accelerated a little bit, and I was feeling great. I was passing some people who had gone out too strong, although it was clear that I was pushing myself. 3/4 of a mile was 4:57, still accelerating some. I also failed to hear RunKeeper chirp in my ear about my pace — this meant that something went wrong and I wasn’t being tracked, so I don’t have fine grained results. By this point the winners in my age group were crossing the line and the finish line was in sight, so the lack of RunKeeper didn’t bother me much. As I hit 200m left I give it everything and was able to finish in 6:26. My personal best and far better than I expected.
The best thing though? Even though I had now ran about 5 miles this morning, my legs still felt great. We’ll see how that works for Grete’s Great Gallop next week.