Brooklyn Greenway 5K — DNS ∞

Two years ago, I missed this race because of a calcaneal stress fracture.

This year, when the temperature will be what I consider ideal for racing, I predict that the first-place female will probably run 23:xx or some other time I could easily beat… because why should something be merely painful when it could be excruciating?  No, it isn’t enough for me to miss another race.  I need to miss a race I could have won, this year due to what I suspect is a tibial stress fracture.  And it’s going to remain a suspicion, because I am hanging on by the thinnest of possible threads, and confirmation of my worst nightmare is going to make that snap.

Tolstoy had it right: everyone is unique in their own unhappiness.  So no, unless you’ve already been through a dozen stress fractures, and you face the prospect of having a huge part of the foundation of your world being pulled out from under you for the third year in a row, you don’t actually know what it’s like.  Believe me when I say that the poison of my own existence is far more troublesome to me than it is to anyone else, because I can never, ever get away from it.

It is impossible for me to conceive of a reality in which I am glad to be alive.  The horror of it fills me with a despair so all-encompassing that it feels physical — there is just no room in me for anything else.

Does it help the situation if I don’t eat?  Probably not.

Do I care?  Also not.

Caring is what got me into trouble in the first place.  Caring is what makes things hurt.

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Paine to Pain… OH WAIT

Never mind that this race hasn’t happened yet; for me it may as well have done. Because I dared have the audacity to look forward to it, and as happens again and again and again, my expectations are only met with crushing disappointment.

The constant failure of my body is of interest to nobody but me. I am perfectly well aware of the fact that nobody cares, as much as I am aware how stupid it is for me to twist a knife in an open wound and stick around on social media to see how many people get to do the one thing I most want to do and rarely can. Which is why I stay away from it.

But apparently that does me no good, because when any attempts to medicate myself to sleep fail and my head turns itself into an Instagram feed of photos of an event that hasn’t even happened yet, but that will happen without me… I’m not sure why I bother.

I’m not the type of person who generally runs for bling. But the Paine to Pain medal this year is just lovely, and I really want one. Running when it hurts to walk, just because I want a medal, is probably not a wise choice.

Not that making wise choices has ever helped me. It doesn’t seem to matter whether or not I am conservative and make “sensible training decisions” — my stupid fat shit of a body reliably lets me down. And every single time, it breaks my fucking heart.

NYRR Bronx 10 Mile 2017

After my terrible performance at the Brooklyn R-U-N 5K, I had no choice but to run this in an attempt to avoid being dropped back a corral.  The situation could have been worse, I guess — I last ran this in 2015 and stunned myself by having a great race.  I like this course.

Even though it’s not exactly the same as it was two years ago.

And it was twenty degrees warmer this time.

And this is the longest race I’ve run since the marathon last November.  Not for lack of trying… I had to DNS a few half marathons because my body is prone to being a total shit.

I no longer remember my original calculation, but to keep my B bib, I needed an extrapolated 10K pace of 7:04 or faster.  Whatever that calculation was, I arrived at the conclusion using McMillan, and it led me to believe I needed to run something around 7:20/mi.  Which really means 7:15 or so on the Garmin, to allow for GPS error.

I barely made it to the corral before the gun, thanks to a massive bathroom line.  The MTA was pulling its usual shenanigans, and there were a bunch of delays on the D train, so NYRR was going to leave the start open for longer, but I didn’t want to be scrambling to play catch-up — I wanted to start in my corral.

The plan was to set out conservatively.  And I really thought I was doing that.  Except my watch said I was running faster than I wanted to be running, because we started on a downhill, which meant mile 9 would be uphill, and that is not very nice.

It was hot.  And sunny.  This course has little to no shade.  My poor heart rate.

At the halfway point, I started calculating how much I could slow down and still make it under 1:13:20 (because I thought that was what I needed to run).  It didn’t help that mile 6 was an uphill slog.  And, surprise, surprise, so was mile 9!  I liked it better two years ago, when the last two miles were the fastest ones.

The last mile was still nice, though.  Especially after we made the turn to the finish — we were treated to a speedy downhill.  Almost too speedy — the road is not exactly in great shape, and I’m all for a dramatic finish, but not one that includes landing on my face.

I looked at my watch right after the turn, when I figured I had about a minute to go.  The elapsed time was right around 1:12, and even if I didn’t “need” to run under 1:13… there was this lovely descent to help me, and I wasn’t going to turn it down!

Wow.  I mean, wow.  I know I was struggling a bit in the second half, but I didn’t think I had positive split that badly!  I definitely did not run the first half that fast, either.  See my splits above — and my watch was measuring ahead of the course clocks!

Garmin: 10.07 miles in 1:12:47, 7:14/mi.

The official results got it right:

Still a positive split, albeit only by one second.  That’s not so bad, I guess.

10 miles in 1:12:41, 7:17/mi.  964/14964 OA, 123/7214 F, 32/1495 F30-34.  That’s a PR by exactly one minute, yet slower than my HM PR pace… but that race was on a cool overcast day, so it’s not surprising.  And all I really wanted was to avoid being dropped back a corral, right?  Which I did with plenty of time to spare, since McMillan’s equivalent 10K pace for my result today is 7:00.

Except that NYRR doesn’t use McMillan’s calculator; they use this one.  According to which an equivalent 10K finish time for a 1:12:41 10-mile race is 43:54… a 7:04 pace.

I am so, so, so glad that in those steamy later miles, I didn’t decide to just go with oh well, that’s good enough … because it would not have been.

(And no, I am not any less terrified of breaking than I was a week ago.)

Prospect Park 10K 2017

Let’s assume, for the moment, that I was ever in possession of a healthy dose of self-confidence.  Any trace of that would have disappeared after last weekend, so the obvious reaction would be to run a race distance at which I know I suck.

Except I didn’t register until race day.  Because my foot decided to hurt, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to run at all, never mind race.

The goal was never to PR (see: I am terrible at 10Ks), but to best last year’s winning time, I wouldn’t have to.  And all I really wanted was to win this race, because it’s been nearly a year since that’s happened, and as it isn’t an everyday occurrence for me, I kind of miss it.

It was my third time running this race, and the course hasn’t repeated once.  This year, we ran up Zoo Hill only one time, but up the hill in Center Drive twice.  I do adore when a race ends on an uphill.  Not.

I ran the two miles to the park, which told me that it was disgustingly humid, and also that I’d be okay if I ran the race, but trying to run what I am “supposed” to be able to run would be stupid… so I decided to run for place instead of time.  As in, if I was in position to finish first, I’d work harder to maintain that than if I dropped into second.

Unsurprisingly, I went out fast.  I’m talking sub-6:00 fast.  It took me a couple of minutes to rein that in, but then, we did start on a downhill.  Two women passed me almost immediately, one of whom dropped back after less than a quarter of a mile.  The other one seemed so far ahead of me that I thought I’d never be able to catch her, so I figured I’d lost out on first place anyway, which meant my pace didn’t really matter all that much.

Which is just as well, because the pace I was running felt difficult enough.  There was a woman hanging off my shoulder for the first four miles or so, and it was driving me insane.  I kept slowing down a little and willing her to pass me, but she just wouldn’t do it.  I eventually dropped her (through no particular effort on my part, it just happened).

This race is difficult because it is run on the open roadway in the park, and you can’t really tell from behind whether a runner is a race participant or not.  It didn’t make much of a difference, I guess, since there was only one woman ahead of me and I knew what she looked like, but it was a little crowded so I couldn’t even tell how far ahead of me she was.

That’s too bad, because it turns out that if I hadn’t just assumed she was two or three minutes ahead of me, and didn’t positive split the second half like a champ… I might have been able to catch her.

As I was running up the hill on Center Drive for the last time, the lead cyclist was coming back toward me and asked if I was the first female.  I shook my head and held up two fingers, and he said, “Oh, I was looking for you guys.  You have about a 400 left.”

Which meant that she was closer than I’d thought.  She finished 36 seconds ahead of me.  Meanwhile, I realized that I could PR, so I made a mad dash for that instead.

6.25 miles in 44:49, 7:11/mi.

Officially, 6.2 miles in 44:45, 7:13/mi.  Just thirteen seconds, but at least now my 10K PR pace is faster than my HM PR pace.  6/224 OA, 2/140 F, and 2/53 F30-39 (even though I think the awards were for five-year increments).

The woman who had been hanging off my shoulder?  She finished a little over a minute behind me.  Turns out she’s the same woman who finished just behind me at the Labor Day 10K.  She assumed I know how to run this course because my PPTC shirt told her that it’s my home turf, and that’s why she wouldn’t pass me.  Ha!

I can’t really be upset with the result — sure, I didn’t win, though I should have been able to do so easily, but I did PR, so I guess that’s okay.

What is not okay is that now my ankle hurts.  Not the one I broke last year — the one with a perpetually cranky post-tib tendon.  And I really, really hope it’s just a cranky post-tib tendon, because if it’s broken… I can’t do that again.  I just can’t.

(I am well aware that there are people who complain that I complain a lot.  [This is easily remedied — if it bothers you so much, don’t read it.]  But 90% of the time when I am caught up in the panic and anxiety of I may be broken again, I keep it to myself because I know nobody gives a shit or wants to hear it.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t constantly happening.  And it is so. damn. exhausting.)

NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile 2017

This is going to be short, because I spent too much time running and I have little time left for writing.

Everything should have been perfect: I needed a jacket this morning (means it’s good running weather).  I was coming off a very low-mileage week due to my ankle, so my legs were supposedly fresh.  This course is reputedly a fast one, if you ignore the uphill second quarter, but I knew about that, and I should be able to handle it appropriately.

But most of all, I ran 6:11 on this same course in 2015 with a then-recent 5K PR nearly a minute slower than my current one, and I am now predicted a 5:52.6 mile, so 5:59 shouldn’t be too difficult.

Unless you are me.  And you suck.

I ran the second quarter slower than I did two years ago.  If I had to pinpoint one mistake that I made here, it was pacing off the people around me in that quarter instead of looking at my watch.  But that’s no excuse.  (Nor is it an excuse that the porta potty lines at the start were too long so I didn’t have time to use them; I’m pretty sure it was a mental need, not a physiological one.  Still didn’t feel great.)

Even with the slower second quarter, I passed the half-mile clock in under three minutes.  There is no reason on earth why this should have been the final result.

That’s actually six minutes and one second.  Not that it matters.  Because it is still too damn slow.

I don’t really have goal races anymore; that is a luxury I cannot afford.  But I spent all summer running mile races to build up to the one that mattered most.  This one.  And it wasn’t even the fastest of the lot.

This level of self-disgust led me to take the long route home, which means I actually did complete the Strava Half Marathon Challenge for September.  I had thought I wasn’t going to, which really shouldn’t matter to me, because while I am on Strava, I don’t spend a lot of time paying attention to it.  (This is because I am a horrible human being and seeing so many people running miles upon miles and taking for granted that their bones won’t shatter into pieces makes me feel unbearably jealous.)

Of course, lest I be in doubt of the fact that I suck, my GPS went completely haywire, and upon saving the activity, I was rewarded with this:

Yeah.  That’s what should have happened at the race.  But it didn’t, because I suck.

Actually, there are two possible reasons for this outcome.

  1. I know I’ve said that I got faster when I got heavier.  But I think I may have reached a point of diminishing returns in that regard.
  2. I suck.

Only one of these is fixable.  And I can’t fix it, because sure, it’s very easy for me to weigh less.  Except that 99% of that weight is going to come out of my bones, and then I won’t be able to run at all, which renders moot the fact that I’d be light enough to move faster.

I am so sick and tired of chasing this goal already.  Now I will have to wait another two years before I can run this race again, since it will be on Saturday in 2018.  I really do not want to do it anymore, but I am too stubborn to give up.  Even though I’m pretty sure I’m going to run a sub-20 5K before I run a sub-6 mile.

Or neither of them will happen.  Because I suck.

(I should be glad that this is the mile, though.  It would be truly horrific if I had had to run marathon after marathon after marathon in pursuit of a BQ.)

NYCRUNS Labor Day 5K & 10K 2017

If anyone knows why I never learn that running two races back to back is insane, please do enlighten me.  Because this is the third Labor Day in a row that I’ve done both the 5K and the 10K, and I cannot understand it at all.

That being said, I am ecstatic that I was able to run these races, since my ankles have been hating on me something fierce.  I was terrified that I had re-broken my right one, and after a few days off, I determined that it probably wasn’t broken — just really unhappy.  So of course my left post tib tendon felt left out and decided to join the party.

I do love heading to the start line of a race with a doctor’s note in hand, lest I be unable to complete the distance.  (As in… run the 5K, see it was a terrible idea, defer the 10K.)

Short little warmup.  Seemed kind of okay, though I felt really sluggish and slow and just… blah.  All you can see in this photo, though, is how happy I was to actually be able to start the first race.

My plan for the 5K was to run it blind — I was curious to see what would happen if I did that.  It could go one of two ways: I’d either run a lot faster or a lot slower than I expected.  It turns out that I was wrong about that, because I actually ended up running pretty much what I would have been aiming for, given that I was going to be running a 10K immediately afterward.

But the execution of it was not pretty.

After the annoying little out-and-back right after the start, I found myself positioned as the fourth female.  I passed one of the women ahead of me about half a mile later.  It felt like I was running an appropriate 5K effort, which was all I really wanted to do, so I was trying not to pay too much attention to my placement.  Another woman passed me right around the halfway point, just as we rounded the lighthouse at the northern tip of the island.  And then I was reminded of what I always conveniently forget: the east side of Roosevelt Island is never without a headwind.

I did look down at my watch once during the last mile, just to see the elapsed distance, and I thought I saw a lap pace beginning with a 7.  Oh, well.  Trying to pick it up in the face of a headwind is not something I like to do.  And I know that this course always measures long for me, so a PR is pretty unlikely anyway.

That’s a model positive split if I ever saw one.  3.16 miles in 21:17, 6:44/mi.  Which is actually sub-21:00 pace, for, you know… 3.1 miles.

Officially, 21:14, 6:51/mi; 26/357 OA, 4/186 F, and 1/51 F30-39.  Had I been watching my pace, I’d have attempted a similar finish time, albeit more evenly.  But hey, I was still able to walk, so I was not about to complain.

Even though the prospect of running a 10K right then really did not excite me.  I do not like the 10K.  Ergo, my PR is so soft that I should be able to best it despite having run a 5K just prior.

Ha ha ha.

Same course.  Times two.  Meaning I get to face that headwind again.  Times two.

I was planning to look at my watch for the 10K, mainly so that I didn’t go out too fast.  And I kept trying to slow down in the first mile, but for some reason it just didn’t work, since I kept feeling like I wasn’t running as fast as I was.  I think I was in third place for a bit; I passed a woman not long before the first turn around the lighthouse.  Half a mile later, a woman passed me — I don’t think it was the same one.  And then I played leapfrog for fourth place with another woman for the rest of the race.  I thought it would be a brilliant idea to draft off her on the east side, and that is when I learned that we were dealing with a crosswind, not just a headwind.  GAH!!

Since we pass the finish line twice, I knew that I’d run the first half in 23:00.  I really, really wanted to run a negative — or at least an even — split, but around the fourth mile marker, my ankle started to complain.  It had been reasonably well-behaved until that point, and it wasn’t worth aggravating it further.  I abandoned the idea of the negative split, as well as that of taking fourth place… but the leapfrogging continued, for some reason:

I was in the lead when we came to the last out-and-back, and the idea of finishing in the same position in both races was so appealing to me (I’m weird about having things be “linear” like that), I just had to break away.

For the love.  6.29 miles in 46:20, 7:22/mi.

Officially, 6.2 miles in 46:17, 7:28/mi.  35/317 OA, 4/155 F, and 1/43 F30-39.

The moral of the story here is that if you are going to run two races in one day, don’t expect to be breaking any records in either of them.

Which is more than fine with me, really.  Because I may not have broken any records, but I didn’t break any bones either, and that is infinitely more valuable.

 

Brooklyn Mile 2017

Last Thursday, I signed up for two races — this one and a half marathon.  I mention this because the half marathon registration cost $50, and the mile registration cost $40.  (The latter does benefit GOTR NYC, so at least it’s going to a good cause.  Doesn’t change the fact that it’s a ridiculous amount of money to pay to run a single mile.)

Overpriced or not, I knew that I’d be doing this anyway, body-willing… because I need to run a bunch of mile races so that I can screw up every which way and learn what not to do.  By eliminating all these things, maybe I will learn what I should do.

Which, of course, does not mean I am really sick and tired of sucking at the mile.  But hey, they have pacers!  This should make things a lot easier, right? <>

A bit warmer than the day of the Massapequa Park Mile, and a bit windier, but not by much.  The weather really wasn’t bad at all, especially considering what the previous couple of days were like.  We got lucky.

warmup!

Instead of starting between the 5:40 and 6:00 pacers, I decided to hang with 6:00 until the last quarter — seeing a finish line would give me the push I needed for those extra couple of seconds.  So the horn sounds, off we go, and I’m sticking with this pace group, but after about thirty seconds I started to think that we were running way too fast, so I slowed down a tiny bit… and then I saw the clock, which the pacer passed in something like 1:17.  1:17!!!

Left to my own devices, I would go out too fast… by, like, four or five seconds.  Not thirteen.  I immediately slowed down, and then I felt like I was running much slower than it turned out I actually was, so I kind of gave up.

The clock at the halfway mark read 2:56 or 2:57 when I passed it.  Which means that all I needed to do was run 800 meters in three minutes.  Don’t ask me why this knowledge did not spur me to do exactly that, but it didn’t… and I reached the third quarter-mile clock in over 4:30.  I don’t know how much over — it couldn’t have been that much, since I remember seeing 4:1x, and I can’t really read the numbers until I’m ten to fifteen seconds away — but I was pretty sure this was a lost cause and that I wouldn’t even finish under 6:10, so, whatever, who cares.

And then I saw the clock at the finish line.  It was just under 5:50 at that point, but there was no way in hell I was going to break 6:00.  Still, finish line = speed up.

Even though Elise looks like she’s sprinting, and I just look all, yeah, whatever.

My watch measured the course at 1.02 miles, whereas it measured the Massapequa Mile as one flat, so even though the time elapsed was 6:04.6… this happened.

Yes, yes, let us rub this in a little bit more, why don’t we?!

Officially, one mile in 6:04.  52/282 open women.  I have no patience to figure out everything else!

“They” say that the Fifth Avenue Mile is a faster course.  I should know this, since I’ve run it before.  And two years ago, when my 5K PR was a minute slower (57 seconds, actually, but who’s counting), I ran 6:11.  I should be able to run twelve seconds faster now, even though that uphill second quarter is terrifying.

But this is me, so that might not be what happens.

(Not that one thing has anything to do with the other, because life doesn’t work that way — but if I had to choose between running a sub-6:00 and breaking, and never running a sub-6:00, I’d choose the second in a heartbeat.  So I am at least thankful for that, at the moment.)