Harry’s Handicap 2014

Last year, I ran Brooklyn’s New Year’s Eve 5K in Prospect Park.  That was a dumb thing to do, not least because it was an unscored “fun run” (which basically means I paid money to run around in a circle on a public road); it was also a New Year’s Eve run, so it started at 11:15 PM.  I am an old lady and very fond of my sleep.  I am also a total morning runner.  So I’m not quite sure what possessed me to do it, but I definitely wasn’t going to do it again this year!

I was actually wishing that I had the option of a New Year’s Day race instead; apparently these are few and far between since so many people are hungover.  But then I found out about Harry’s Handicap.  Sign me up!

It actually fit into my schedule quite well; I was supposed to run 8 with miles 3-6 at tempo.  Never mind that I “borrowed” two of those w/u and c/d miles for my easy AlterG run on Monday… if I ran the 2.2 miles to the start, the 3.35 mile loop, and the 2.2 miles home, I’d end up pretty close to what I was supposed to be doing.

That would have worked out nicely, except that I timed it so that I’d arrive at the start with a few minutes to spare, and nobody was there yet.  So I ran a bit farther along West Drive, and I knew I had gone too far, but I couldn’t find any start line.  It’s not like it’s so unusual for me to be lost, but for me to be lost in Prospect Park is rather sad.  Thankfully, I found Oren (thanks for wearing the team shirt!) running a pre-race loop, and I tagged along with him so that I wouldn’t get “lost” again.  My 2.2 miles turned into 3.07, but oh well.

By the time we got to the start line, it was actually there.  I had been at the right place, but nobody else had arrived yet at the time.  This is what happens when you show up for everything chronically early!

So, yeah, the race.  It was a handicap race, which meant that instead of everyone starting at once, we were handicapped according to our predicted finish times; it was arranged so that everyone would theoretically finish at the same time.  I like that because that means you aren’t hemmed in at the start, but that might not be such a great thing for someone like me who always heads out too fast!  Although, since this was supposed to be at tempo pace… yeah.  That would mean somewhere between 7:55-8:15 a mile.  My loop PR was 25:59 — that’s a 7:46 pace.  Obviously, I wanted to beat that!  I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to do that, partly due to my shoe choice.  I wore the PureDrifts, which should feel fast since they’re lightweight, but I’ve had a couple of really slow and clunky-feeling runs in them.  My run to the park didn’t feel too speedy either, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if I just didn’t have it today.

I guess I did.

Mile 1, 7:15. My handicap went off at 10:20.  I think there were five or six of us, but Wallis was right next to me, and we didn’t catch up to the previous handicap for about a mile, so I used her as my whatever you do, don’t let her pass you.  We stayed together for a mile and a half or so, which means I can blame her that I went out too fast.  (No, the facts that it was mostly downhill, and that I almost always go out too fast, had absolutely nothing to do with it.)

Mile 2, 7:40.  Typical of my usual 5K pattern, even though this wasn’t a 5K, my second mile was the slowest.  It didn’t help that the last quarter of it was up Zoo Hill, or that I had lost Wallis.  I did, however, catch up to some of the people who had started before me, so at least I had some incentive to keep my ass moving.

Mile 3, 7:31.  I’m so ready to be done with this… especially since my number belt had ridden up and I unzipped my jacket to pull it down again, but I couldn’t zip the jacket back up with my gloves on while I was running unless I slowed down significantly.  I opted against that.  But it was incredibly annoying since I had my phone on the inside pocket of the jacket, and it kept banging against my hip.

Mile .34, [7:03].  While I hadn’t really looked at my watch for time, I had been keeping an eye on it for distance.  I was expecting the Garmin to measure a little long, and the finish line was not much more than a clock and some orange ribbon, so it was difficult to spot unless you were practically right on top of it.  In that sense, it came sooner than I expected.  And my Garmin’s measurement was almost spot-on!

Garmin totals: 3.34 miles in 24:51, 7:24/mi.  Evanora (that’s the name of my 620) informed me that I had also set a 5K PR — 23:07.  That actually is a 5K PR for me, by 13 seconds.  Too bad I can’t count it since it’s not official.

Speaking of official… I don’t know my official time yet (though I think I was the fifth female).  But it can’t be more than a second or two off my Garmin time, which means I PRed by over a minute… and excluding the Fifth Avenue Mile, which doesn’t count for obvious reasons, it was my first-ever race that I ran under a 7:30 pace.

After picking up my medal (thanks, Rhony), I set off for home.  These shoes absolutely mystify me — they ran a fast race, and then I all but plodded home in them.  Of course, I was running rather gingerly at that point because I had run more miles than intended, and oh yeah, as a result I ran over 20 non-AlterG miles this week, which I haven’t done since September 2011… before I fractured my pelvis so spectacularly.  Said pelvis feels battered and tender, which is not unusual, but still freaks me out.

It will be absolutely stupendous to have my own AlterG.

Anyway, Harry’s Handicap — I loved it.  It wasn’t a huge race, it wasn’t in the middle of the night, and I finally got to meet some PPTC members who have been names on a computer screen up until now.  I would absolutely do it again next year.

Or I could, you know, pay to run in a circle at midnight again.

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