As you may have noticed since it tends to take over the internet for a bit (or maybe just in the NYC-based social media), Saturday was the annual running of the Mini 10K. The Mini 10K was the first all women’s road race back in 1972, a time when women didn’t really run – people didn’t even know if they should be! So the race has some history. I have mixed opinions about women’s only races, which I blogged about two years ago, and that was probably one of my favorite posts. I think the Mini is in a little bit of a different category since it carries the historical aspect with it, but that’s just me.
I haven’t run this race since 2012, which if I recall correctly, was one of my first races back after all the back pain I had that year. Apparently I only run this race injured, so that’s cool. When registration opened earlier this year, I knew I would be off from work since I took vacation for the week. It’s usually a fun (and very hot) race, so I figured why not? I was still running somewhat well at the time that I registered, and it was before my self-imposed no running. When I started running again, I wasn’t even sure if I’d work back up to 10K level by the time of the race, but I built my mileage slowly so race day was a go. Of course, I haven’t been running fast at all, so who knew what the day would bring.
The night before, a bunch of us headed over to the Bakers’ for some carb loading and wine. Lots of wine. Probably too much wine. And cheese. And maybe more wine. Ah, well. With no plans to get anywhere close to a PR the next day, why not?
Super conveniently, I live on the Upper West Side and therefore am very close to the start/finish area. My alarm went off a bit too early for my liking (see “wine” above), but I woke up and had some coffee and a banana. I pinned my bib onto my new Battalion jersey, which I love because it is red. Short shorts which I haven’t worn in forever. Grabbed a water bottle and headed over to Central Park. The weather? Kind of lovely for this race considering it’s usually hot and humid. It was comfortable (not cool) heading over to the park, and it seemed to get a little more humid as the morning went on. I met up with my nurse friend Alyssa and then Betsy. Hit the bathrooms, then off to the corral! I scooted into corral C with about nine minutes to go – found Kelly and chatted away. We were shortly joined by Betsy (again!), Abbe, and Danika. Away we went!
In my mind, this race broke itself up into three different segments, so let’s go from there. I honestly had no idea what my pace would be like for this race or if I’d really even feel okay enough to run six miles, and I even told Betsy the week before that maybe I’d run eight minute miles and that might feel fast. I’ve been running 8:30’s lately and that didn’t exactly feel easy. Stay tuned…
As I’ve always said, when that starting gun goes off in a race, you just GO. Also, when everyone else around you is running, you run. I haven’t really run a race since NYRR new corralling policies, nor do I really run many NYRR races to begin with, so I have no idea what pace ladies around me might be running other than the ladies who I lined up with. The race sent out three corrals at a time, and we were hanging in the back of corral C, so we were off with the first masses. And masses it was. Are these races always this crowded? I have no idea. I mainly kept my pace with the people around me while trying to figure out my game plan. Betsy went ahead – should I go with her? Abbe, Danika, and Kelly are near me – should I stick with them? Should I just go for it and see what happens? I glanced down at my Garmin multiple times to see what the pace was, and it seemed to hover around 7:30-7:40. Unclear how I felt about this other than that was fast and I didn’t know if I could hold it. Definitely letting my mind game take over. Of note, a woman had her keys somewhere in her shirt and they were jingling and I wanted to run fast to get away but couldn’t. Gah.
We passed the male cheering squad at 72nd St, and they nabbed some pictures – you can see how crowded the race was! It was hard to run faster even if you wanted to, and I didn’t really think about slowing down. We hit the mile mark at 7:36, and I forgot how long the course stays on Central Park West! Mile 2 took us into the park with a little downhill, and it was somewhere around here that I lost everyone. Danika was ahead of me, and I think everyone else was behind me. Nothing too notable about this except the start-of-the-race fun was over and I realized we were in it for the long haul. I passed a water stop and wasn’t quite ready for water, but realized I was thirsty. (Silly wine.) Next time. This was a somewhat downhill mile, clipping off at 7:27.
Miles 3-4 – The Hill Miles
Mile 3 doesn’t look so bad because it includes the downhill of Harlem Hill, which by the numbers negates going up Harlem Hill, but certainly doesn’t feel like it. We entered mile 3 and got into the crunch of hill climbing. A woman next to me was exhaling really, really loud (yoga style), and I looked over to make sure she wasn’t dying. She wasn’t, so that was a plus. The minus being she was next to me for the entire climb. We all made it up Harlem Hill (round one) and a few people cheered at the top, which made me smile. I focused on striding out the downhill in preparation for Harlem Hill (round two), which is far longer than round one. Clicked off mile 3 at 7:36, not too shabby.
The 5k obviously came next, and I passed by in somewhere round 23:37, which is the time I ran a 5K in Prospect Park a couple weeks ago. Cue panic because I felt pretty spent after that 5K, and I have to repeat?? Well, the only way out is through, so let’s keep going. I passed Danika, who had stopped to tie her shoe, right around here as well. Grabbed a cup of water at the water stop, remembered how hard it is to drink while running, but managed to throw the cup out in a trash can, so we’re good.
As good as you can be with Harlem Hill (round two) looming. We started the climb. It’s such a long, never-ending climb. If I didn’t know the course, I’d be so angry that when you turn a corner, the road keeps going up. Luckily I’ve run this once or twice or eight million times, so I know what’s coming. But even once you get up the big climb, it’s still uphill until about 90th St. The course was also pretty sparse from a spectator perspective – a few solid people were out, but for some reason I remember this course being packed with men from all the teams. Definitely could have used some cheers up that hill! I told myself to keep pushing and get it back once the course evens out. Mile 4: 7:50.
Right around the start of mile 5 is where the NYC Marathon enters the park (90th St, Engineer’s Gate). As I passed this spot, I thought back to November when I was struggling so, so much at that point in the race. I thought about how different Central Park looked, how different I felt. I was getting a little tired, but I remembered how I slowly, slowly pushed through the marathon. I wish I could say I got some extra energy from all those memories, but the truth is around mile 4.5, I gave in to a walk break. Promised myself thirty seconds, then back to it. I felt silly walking in a 10K, but I’m so far from being in any sort of good shape that it really doesn’t matter, and I’ve barely run the race distance in the last three months let alone raced it. I picked it right back up and opened my stride down Cat Hill. The cheer squad was right in front of the Boathouse, and Eric (who is already tall) was standing on the fence, so he was super easy to spot. A great spot for photography, of course! Hit mile 5 in 7:50 and told myself to keep all my miles under 8. One more to go.
I was counting down the minutes until I finished and enjoyed the downhills of the east side. I got tired one more time and promised myself a walk break, just after the start of mile 6. Thirty more seconds, then no stopping to the finish. A little refreshed, I kicked it off around the south side of Central Park, passing some people on the way. Nothing too exciting here other than pushing to the finish. Mile 6 was done in 7:45 (under 8!), then the final 0.2. It’s an uphill 0.2 and the same as the marathon – oof. Pushed it back down to 7:26 pace, and life is good.
6.2 miles in 47:44, avg pace of 7:41
Not too shabby! I definitely thought my time would be closer to 50 minutes, and I’m fairly impressed with all the sub-8 miles given my running lately. My butt and hamstrings have been a little sore after the race, which I’m taking as a testament to the increased time and pace. I’m not taking this as a baseline fitness test or anything since I’m scheduled for surgery in August, but it did feel good to MOVE. My hip was slightly cranky – not really painful, but I could feel a few twitches later in the day after the race and on Sunday. It makes me torn about having surgery, but I can tell my hip isn’t moving correctly/freely even if I’m not having a lot of pain. Ah.
Back to the race! Walked through the chute, got my medal (some people hate them, I love them, although I don’t need one for a 10K), grabbed some water, Gatorade, pretzels, and a pink bagel. A PINK BAGEL. I want to dare a women’s only race to have blue be the color of the day. Just try it. I mean, it was a cranberry bagel (I think…I gave it to Eric), but that’s just overkill.
Our little start group regrouped at the finish area and then we headed over to meet with the rest of the team. Snapped some team photos in our gear before showering and spending a lovely afternoon over at the 79th St Boat Basin, where I got to finally meet a bunch of the Chicago crew (Chanthana, Jenny, Liz) who came in for the race weekend. A success all around!