Sunday, November 04, 2007

NYC was not to be, BUT...

Because I was so close to NYC I thought it would be nice to spend the weekend there. I was bumming a ride from a fellow soldier; I had previously changed my flight from Sat morning to Monday evening. The logistics were not simple as I was to ride the train on my way back from Penn Station to as close to the Philly airport as possible. I tried priceline hoping to land a decent price and no luck. So I decided to visit NYC another time and re-schedule my flight back to Sat (one nice thing of having a govt ticket - as you're allowed to make changes sans any fee).

As I was browsing the web at the USO, I went to the United site to input my frequent flier account and choose my seat. While there I decided to try to upgrade to first class using miles.

It was nice to fly first class. Breakfast was pretty good and I probably drank a bottle of wine... the result of not being allowed to drink while on CBS. Suffice it to say that the flight was quite pleasant.

At 10 AM I was back in lala land. My feet were itching to run but I felt nauseous, part of it was jetlag and part of it was all that drinking I did. The week had been low in volume (25), my last run having taken place on Wednesday, where running four of the seven miles at 7:30 pace felt fast, but obviously not so. This 'forced' taper had my legs feeling fresh. I knew about a local half and full taking place today, so I checked their website and saw no race day registration, so I drove there - registered for the half and my itchy feet would get to race after all.

Many moons ago, seven years to be more accurate, I bought what i think are the best flats ever made, or Adidas RATS. These shoes fit my feet like gloves. I like them so much I only wear them for shorter races. I wanted to race the half wearing them but I could not find them. I had to run in brand new flats. I was not too happy about it so I kept on looking. You see, I have more than 10 pairs of running shoes (new in their boxes) and had to go through each box. Finally i found them. Things were looking up. Now it was time to repair the damage I had caused by drinking all that wine. I began to aggressively hydrate. Being that I was in EST I felt sleepy but could not fall asleep with the anticipation of my upcoming race. I ended up sleeping about four hours... not too bad.

Jumped in the shower and got dressed. Drove for 40-45 minutes to Santa Clarita and made it with half an hour to spare. It was surprisingly chilly and did a two mile warm up with some accelerations thrown in. McMillian's calculator predicted me running the half in 1:29:28... hmmm, sounds doable. So that was the goal, to break 1:30. To make it easy on my foggy brain, I figured 6:50s would be a slam dunk to keep track.

I line up in front and, as in many races, I see people who should not be there, but I really don't care, I just want to run well. A woman sings the anthem and sings it rather well.

The director counts down and we're off. I start at what feels like tempo pace. I look at my garmin and it reads 6:24 pace. It's okay, my breathing is not labored so I keep the effort. A nice incline is just ahead of us and I climb it strongly, the legs are fresh indeed. First mile is 6:40, right on target.

The next mile is downhill and I expect a faster split, and sure enough - 6:35. I am pleased to be banking some seconds. A few runners pass me. They're better runners; that is just the way it is. I don't worry about it. I am here to race the clock, not them. Third mile seems to be downhill and the thought of having to run uphill in the latter miles does not appeal to me at all. I did glance at the elevation and it seemed fairly flat. Fourth mile seems to be downhill and I keep on banking time. We are now running on a paved bike trail. The course has several turns that force me to slow down and turn my feet in awkward angles. My right foot begins to hurt on the outside. My stomach is protesting; jetlag? I feel nauseous. Will I be able to keep what to this point has been a really good race? 33:19, hmm, too good to be true. I'll take it.

I am still feeling strong in spite of the stomach issues. I do not lose my placing. Next mile is right on target 6:50. Then I get all demoralized as the next split is 7:15, WTF? I try to increase the effort while paying close attention to my breathing. 6:57?? And I am getting really tired and I am already hurting. 7:05, and I am really, really disappointed. It's just not in the cards today - or is it? Then we exit the bike trail and hit the road for about 30 meters, the we enter the other side of the river where, to my delight, I see that we had been going up and now it is time to hit mild downhills. This split brings a smile to my tired face, 6:44 -(34:51 for the second five - 1:08:10 cumulative). I am hurting but I try to hit 6:50s.

At nine this man who I was about to pass stays with me. It's good to have company. We give each other strength. We're both struggling. He is 50 years old and his stride is short but quick. His goal is also to break 1:30. I point out that all we need to do to break 1:30 is run 7s for the remainder of the race. We hit the next mile in 6:50 and pass a struggling runner. We continue and my legs feel weak, 6:47 and I am so glad we're still on a mild decline. The next and final mile would have one of those underpasses and I lengthen my stride on the short decline, and climb 'strongly', the short incline. I drop my partner, he struggles through the incline. I want to pull him but I have to run my own race. There are two bridges with minor uphills, but at this stage they feel like mountains. When I crest the short hills my legs feel wobbly and my pace feels soooo slow, 6:52. I am still holding pace... hard to believe. I now know I will break 1:30. I enter the final stretch. I make one last turn. I see the finish mats. The announcer says my name and my hometown. I open my arms as a sign of triumph. My legs don't feel tired anymore. Each stride I take is taken with conviction, with confidence; my legs feel stronger than ever. I cross the finish and I pump my right fist a-la tiger woods. 1:29:25 chip time, 1:29:26 clock time.

How about that McMillian calculator? The predicted time was within three seconds!!!

The Final Turn


Fran said...

Wow. That's quick. Nice job considering the jet lag and hangover.

E-Speed said...

nicely done! And hung over to boot!

Uptown Girl said...

Awesome, Mcmillian has magical powers doesn't he?

Emma said...

Amazing. Who can run hungover? Most of us can barely tie our shoes or remember our names, or, indeed, hold a conversation.