On Friday I declared that my goal for today’s 4-mile race was to run sub-8:15 miles the entire time.
So I did that.
And then I PR’d.
I didn’t really have many expectations for the Race to Deliver, which was this morning in Central Park. Yesterday I did my last long training run gearing up for the Las Vegas Half Marathon — 12 miles — and I kept my pace conservative. I didn’t want to push it too hard because even though my plan for today’s race wasn’t to go all out and PR, I also didn’t want to feel like crap.
I ran all 12 miles in Central Park while the Knickerbocker 60K was going on. Those people are crazy. I am not crazy. I kept my run fun.
So that was that. Last long run done.
While my pace was nothing particularly spectacular compared to some of the other long runs I’ve had in the past few weeks, there is one thing I’m beyond pumped about: No bathroom stops!
Yes, that is thrilling to me. As soon as we finished running I was grinning and looked at Brian and said, “I never had to stop!” and he said, “I know! I was going to say something earlier but didn’t want to jinx it.” Thanks for not jinxing it, man. But don’t worry about me. I’ve got the drugs in me. I’m good.
So yeah, that’s cool. The Remicade is working! It was so nice going out for a long run and not freaking out about my stomach being a bitch. The Crohn’s/colitis/dysentery is going away! I’m so, so excited. This makes me want to crush Vegas even more.
That brings us to today’s race: the unexpected PR.
I woke up, felt good, ate some Nutella toast (delicious) and then Brian and I ran a mile warm-up to the corrals.
I wasn’t nervous — a no pressure race for once! — and didn’t really think much about how I felt. I was a little worried for Brian because he said his knee was bothering him and he actually wasn’t sure if he was going to race. (Dude, please don’t injure yourself before Vegas. That would suck.) So we got into our separate corrals (yellow for me, green for him) and I hung out with some running nuns.
Brian and I waved to each other from afar and then we were off.
The first mile was, as always, crowded. We started in the middle of the 72nd Street Transverse and there was some bottle-necking that went down as we turned north on East Drive. I did my best to be Calm Runner Ali and not Angry Get Out Of My Way Run Faster Damnit Ali. It mostly worked.
I cruised up Cat Hill and settled comfortably into an 8-minute pace.
That wasn’t the plan — when I said “sub-8:15” I figured I’d stick right around 8:10s. But I felt good. So I went with it.
Halfway through the second mile, someone came up on my right and smiled at me. It wasn’t these guys:
It was Brian! I was glad he had decided to run and that he was running fast. For the rest of the race, we stayed side-by-side but didn’t talk or really acknowledge each other. I think that’s the new plan for Vegas: run fast, run hard, don’t talk, don’t wave to cameras, don’t smile, just run…fast…and hard.
I felt awesome during the second, gloriously-flat mile. The second mile in Central Park is always my fastest and my favorite.
Then mile three happened: the hilly mile. But it really wasn’t so bad. Running next to Brian kept me motivated, though at one point I started thinking, “I should really just slow down, my plan is not to PR today.” The hills were a little tough on my legs, but I used this as an opportunity to crush my nasty mind games. Brain training! I think that skill will come in handy when things start to hurt in Vegas.
So instead of slowing down, I told myself, “Keep going, Ali, you whiny ho. You’re almost done with the third mile anyway, and you know it’s flat after that. Remember all your friends who advised ‘running the mile you’re in?’ Well, do that. Run this mile, and then you get to run the next one. And the next one is the last one. You’re doing great. And your leg warmers are really cute. Nice outfit choice today, by the way. I dig it.”
My third mile was, in fact, my slowest, but it was still sub-8:15 as planned. It was sub-8:00 even!
And then the last mile came and went quickly. I was smiling the whole time. I loved this race! It wasn’t too crowded, I had a nice friend by my side and I felt like I was pushing hard…the day after a long run!
We blew through the finish line and smiled at each other. I stopped my watch and was happy to see a shiny new PR looking up at me!
I really love the 4-mile race distance. You get to go all out and try to be fast, and then just as you’re finding your groove, you’re done.
I think it’s interesting that I ran a personal record today. I didn’t stress about this race at all. I didn’t go in with a plan. I just woke up and ran. I tried to run fast, and I ended up running faster than I have during an official race before.
Maybe I need to race on-the-fly more often… Plan-less, chilled-out Ali has it in her to run fast. But perhaps planner, must-figure-out-exact-splits-needed-every-time Ali is holding her back.
Just something to think about.
After the race, Brian and I were like, “Hey, it’s fall and it’s 60 degrees. Cool! We should play in the leaves!”
OK, maybe “Brian and I” didn’t come up with that plan together. But it happened one way or another, and also I did a cartwheel…
…and a handstand.
“Handstand” is a term I use loosely.
And then I did something else weird: I baked muffins.
Brian and I spent the rest of the day visiting Coach Cane and Mrs. Coach Cane and baby Simon, who is the cutest 7-pounder ever. Brian didn’t share him, though, which is rude.
Coach Cane and Nicole, good job with that little guy. He’s awesome.
And that is my recap of the New York Road Runners Race to Deliver. It might be my new favorite race.
Congratulations to all the racers today. You’re a bunch of beasts.