It’s August!! This is a very exciting month for me, as it includes wrapping up my first semester of grad school, a little vacation back to Chicago, and hip surgery! Still trying to not wish time away, but I’m ready for all of this to move forward.
To wrap up July, I made a last minute decision to run the New York Road Runners Team Championship race, which was on Saturday, July 30. I initially didn’t sign up because Eric and I were possibly heading up to Maine for the weekend, but work schedules, etc, led to us not heading north. Having never really been eligible to run Team Champs since I wasn’t on a team, I was excited to sign up for my first year for The Battalion. Pretty sure I’ve ran through Central Park on the day of team champs and loved the team atmosphere. Despite having plenty of people to run with, I haven’t been on a true team since high school – putting on a uniform is pretty fun and inspiring.
I signed up late last week and tried to keep my running easy since five miles is kind of far for my hips these days, and I’m trying to not cause too much trouble. I wasn’t even going to run on Friday, but I realized it was four weeks until surgery. Not running for months after surgery is going to be mentally challenging, so I decided to run while I can – 20 minutes, easy. 8:36 pace, hooray. As an Upper West Sider, I love that NYRR moved their offices over here, so I picked up many bibs for my team. Woo!
Friday night, a bunch of us headed up to the Cloisters for a Final Friday event of honey and jazz at the Cloisters. It was nothing short of a disaster, as the line to get in was crazy long, and inside was super crowded. We bailed after dodging people left and right. We had dinner up in Inwood at Indian Road Cafe, which had delicious risotto, but didn’t seem to well equipped for our group of nine. Ah well, the wine was delicious! We got home around midnight, which maybe wasn’t the best set up for an early morning…
I suppose the women’s race usually starts at 8:30, but it was bumped back to 7:30 because it’s been really hot and humid here in NYC lately. I woke up at 6am to drink some coffee and water and eat a banana. Bathroom stuff, check, bib pinned on singlet, check. The race started on 102nd on the east side, and the team met up at 96th and 5th prior to the race. I rode CitiBike as close as I could get, then jogged the rest of the way. The morning initially seemed relatively cool while on the bike, but once I started jogging to the meeting point, I realized how moist the air was. Yikes.
I met up with Abbe, Baker, and Kelly before heading to the starting area, where we found teammate Jen. We were all in the same corral, so that was pretty nice to have people to hang with. I didn’t really have a plan for the race, as it’s not like I’ve been doing any speed work, and I’ve limited my running to four miles max. (In full disclosure, I thought this was a four mile race up until I registered, oops.) My slightest of plans included just running 8:30’s, which is what I’ve been doing for my recent runs anyway. It’s a pretty easy pace, but I’m just trying to enjoy running.
Of course, the gun went off, and like normal, off I went at not-8:30 pace. I looked down at my watch and was running around 7:15 pace, but basically everyone else was way out ahead of me. (I believe Abbe said she was pushing close to 6 at the start!) I hung back since 7:15 pace probably wouldn’t be in the cards for me anyway. The first mile is mostly downhill with a little uphill as you start climbing Harlem Hill. I saw my pace peel back as we settled into something a little more manageable, and my first mile beeped off in 7:39. (Garmin splits because I forgot to turn off auto lap.)
Mile 2 included Harlem Hill and the west side rollers. My least favorite part of the Central Park loop isn’t Cat Hill or Harlem Hill, but the west side rollers that seem like they should be easy, but they actually really get to you after hitting Harlem Hill. Baker and Noah were cheering before their race, hooray team! I finally realized how sweaty the race was – oof, this was not going to be a fun race! It was a little like running through a swamp. I grabbed a cup of water at a water station and realized how hard it is to drink on the run. Got a few sips down before dropping the cup. Major highlight of the second mile was seeing Pian (blog reader who just got back from an amazing trip to Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia – check her Instagram!) cheering and volunteering – thanks for the cheers! mile finished in little more reasonable 7:46.
The reward for the mile 2 hills is a nice downhill in mile 3, not to mention being halfway done. I enjoyed the downhill, which is where I finish most of my runs in Central Park, so that’s a nice mental boost. Otherwise, I spotted Abbe about ten seconds ahead of me and concentrated on slowly catching up to her. I thought about sprinting up to catch her, but that sounded like a good way to catch her and the fall behind, so I did the slow approach. At this point, I was really tired of carrying my phone in my hand, and I secretly hoped Eric would show up to cheer so I could hand off my phone. He was sleeping soundly in bed, but a girl can dream! Mile 3 was a faster 7:26 pace before turning left onto the 72nd Transverse.
Just as we made the left turn, I caught up to Abbe who said she was losing steam and her leg hurt. I moved along, riding the speed of the last mile and grabbing more water. Just around the corner and up the road, then done! Only two miles to go. I wasn’t looking forward to Cat Hill, but I knew the worst would be over once I got there. I pushed myself up the hill without going too crazy (I mean, not really setting any records here), and I apparently caught up to Kelly somewhere around here as well. One more water stop where I pondered walking through, then off to the last mile. Mile 4 was 7:49 – thank you, Cat Hill.
Mile 5 was all about getting this race over with. With the hills done, I picked up the pace a bit and just focused on the finish line. As we neared the starting area, the announcer kept saying, “This is not the finish. 200 meters to go. This is not the finish.” Either ladies thought it was the finish, or they have a fairly long kick. I just kept my legs moving and picked it up a bit right at the end. Mile 5 in 7:26, woo.
I walked through the finish and grabbed some water. All the ladies finished fairly close together, so we found each other quickly and said hello to the men before they headed off for their start. We also saw people with bags of ice, so we hunted those down from the medical tent to cool us off. It was hot. Whew. We wrapped up the day by cheering for the men’s race (my goodness, there are some fast men in this city) and getting crepes. My only disappointment is that we didn’t get a team picture!
Overall, I had a fun time at the race, and I think it’s my first five mile race, so I guess that’s an automatic PR. A little bit of a wimpy PR, but oh well. I used to tempo at a minute per mile faster than this race, but oh well. I’ll get back there someday. One of the reasons I signed up for this race was because it would most likely be my last race before surgery and therefore my last race for awhile! Bittersweet, I suppose.
In the days after, my legs definitely felt like they haven’t been pushed in awhile. My shins hurt like I was 14 and doing my first serious mileage as a runner. (I have no idea what we ran in freshman year cross country, but it was enough for shin aches!) My left hip felt the usual aches, while my right hip felt fine during the race…but not so fine after the race. What else is new? haha.
Looking forward to (hopefully!) being able to run this race next year – it’ll be about a year post-op so we’ll see what a year will bring.
Any one else run Team Champs? Do you run for a team? Tell me about it!