Al Goldstein Summer Speed Series #7 2017

It appears that it was silly of me to register for each Al Goldstein race instead of getting a series bib, seeing how I ran all but one of them.  This is because the sixth one was canceled due to the weather… after I had spent all day freaking out over it, since that’s what you’re supposed to do on the day of a race.  Total waste of anxiety.  (I did get a nice tempo run out of it, though.  In a deluge.)

Noah was supposed to pace me in that one, so we took a literal rain check on it.

Given that I accomplished my goal for the summer with the first Al Goldstein race, any PR at all would be a nice bonus.  But since I do love to put added pressure on myself, I chose a ridiculous A goal, with “PR” as a B goal.  And I told Noah not to let me know what he was doing, because my plan was just to follow him blindly and not look at my watch, so as to avoid the disaster that ensued when I attempted to follow Henrik.  I mean, I did follow Henrik.  You can “follow” someone and finish several minutes behind them, which is fully what I was expecting to happen here.

It was almost twenty degrees warmer than the first Al Goldstein race, and that one was also partly cloudy.  Well.  This should be fun…

My only input to this pace plan was that I did not want to go too fast up the hill, because it took me a full season to figure it out, but that will kill me.  “So, like… 6:40?”  And then I covered my ears because “la la la, I am not involved!”

There was  a false start when the horn was blown early… then didn’t blow at all when we actually started.  That was weird.  And then I got caught up in a bunch of people who were all but stumbling over one another, and I didn’t want to start weaving all over the place, so I was scrambling to catch up to Noah right from the get-go.  But I finally did, and he asked how I was feeling, and my unsociable response was, “Not talk-able.”  Which isn’t even a word.

People were streaming past us on the way up the hill, of course, but he assured me that that was okay, since we’d catch up to them later.  I mean, not all of them, but a lot of them.  (Yes, this I know, having learned the hard way.)

Even so, I was pretty much toast before the first mile was done.  Being told that you’re right on pace at one mile is a frightening thought when there are still more than two to go and you’re already halfway dead!  I did remember the whole “use your arms when your legs won’t do it” thing, but, well, there’s only so long you can do that.

There was a water station around the midway point.  This is unusual — there generally isn’t one.  But it meant that I got a photo taken by Kristen, so that you can see me lurching along behind Noah, whom you can’t actually really see because someone is blocking him.  But the point is: I’m following him.  Which is what I was supposed to be doing, I guess.

That guy right in front of me in the Whippets singlet?  I was tripping over his heels and it was annoying me, so I passed him.  I don’t think he liked that, because he sped up afterwards, but it wasn’t under my feet, so I didn’t really care.  Gah.

The last mile is always brutal.  I know this.  Hearing that you have only five minutes more to go is hardly a comfort when it feels like you’re going to have a heart attack within the next thirty seconds.  Someone running with one of those annoying talking GPS systems passed me at some point, and he was running 6:24/mi, so I figured that if I had been on pace until then, as long as I didn’t let him get too far away from me, I would at least PR.

Because I didn’t know whether I was running A goal pace or B goal pace, I didn’t know if, “You’re almost there, but not quite” meant that I would PR but miss an ambitious goal, or that I wouldn’t PR at all.  I should have considered this beforehand, but I’m an idiot.  Though I figured it was probably B goal pace when Noah told me, about a minute after he had said that there were 800 meters remaining, that now is the time to sprint.  Are you insane?!  (I didn’t say that.  What I did say was, “I can’t do it.”  And then I realized that I should shut up and spend more effort running and less effort talking.)

Just past the three mile mark, the finish line came into sight.  Somehow or other, I started to speed up a bit, because that’s what happens when I see a finish line, even when I can’t quite read the clock yet.  When I finally could make out the numbers, I saw 20:12, and Noah looking over his shoulder at me rather worriedly, and then I started sprinting like a crazy person, because if I got this close to a PR and missed, I would hate myself forever (more than I already do).

The clock display flipped over to 20:30 just as I crossed the mat.  And I did not start in the very first row.  So I got a PR.

How I managed to do that, I have absolutely no idea.  Before the race, I said that I really had no desire to experience the level of pain inherent in a 5K PR.  Which was true.  And it hurt like hell.  But after the fact, of course I’m glad I did it!

Garmin: 3.11 miles in 20:27, 6:35/mi.

Officially, 3.1 miles in 20:24, 6:35/mi.  88/517 OA, 7/218 F, and 1/58 F30-34.  I was shocked that I placed in my AG, because there was big turnout, probably because it was the last race of the series and because all the people who were registered for the previous canceled race earned automatic entry into this one.  But I was extra happy that I did place, since Al Goldstein himself was there to hand out the medals, and I got a photo with him!

(Jana finished second female overall and was paced to a PR by Shan.  We’re like elites, she says.  Ha.)

Am I upset to have not reached that ridiculous A goal?  No, not really… because it was ridiculous.  I never really believed that I could PR at all, so I’m good with this.  And most importantly: I appear to be intact!

It’s good to have friends and teammates who are faster than you.

And for a laugh… the McMillan prediction game!

1mi — 5:52.6
4mi — 26:31 (6:38/mi)
5mi — 33:50 (6:46/mi)
10K — 42:22 (6:49/mi)
15K — 1:05:38 (7:03/mi)
10mi — 1:10:49 (7:05/mi)
HM — 1:34:27 (7:13/mi)
FM — 3:18:47 (7:35/mi)

Massapequa Park Mile 2017

The eternal quest for a sub-6:00 mile continued with this race.  I don’t remember how I even heard about it, but when I did, I almost started to spasm with excitement.  A road mile that’s pretty much flat and straight — what more could I want?!  Well, one that isn’t in August, but I hoped that I’d have somewhat acclimated to the heat by then, avoiding another debacle like the Flats Mile in June.

Turns out that the weather could not have been more cooperative.  In the middle of a string of steamy, muggy, humid weeks — which are back now — we were treated to an absolutely perfect day.  In fact, I was chilly as I left the house.  (Okay, I think anything much below 70° calls for a light jacket, but still.)

After arriving insanely early and picking up my bib (which had my name emblazoned on it in huge letters — registering after July 15 should have eliminated me from this privilege, which I’d have preferred), I had lots of time to stand in line for the bathroom and overhear conversations around me.  I picked up from someone who had obviously run this course before that the finish line was visible from the third quarter, at which point it was time to focus on anything but the finish line to avoid pushing too hard too soon.  Duly noted.

I checked the weather, and it said that there was a northerly wind.  Bib pickup was at the finish line, which was north of the start, so it meant we’d be running into the wind.  It wasn’t too strong, which was good; hardly enough to use it to blame an epic blowup!  (Can you tell I was already feeling resigned to failure?)

The men’s masters mile went off at 9:00, all women at 9:30, and open men at 10:00.  (Why was there no dedicated women’s masters heat?)  At 9:00, I began a warmup toward the start line, and I was running into the wind.  Very puzzling indeed.

After said warmup and another bathroom trip, I made it to the start at 9:20.  I did not see a starting mat.  Which doesn’t mean there wasn’t a timing device there — but I didn’t see anything but the start flag.  Every second counts here, so I was glad that I had arrived early enough to line up at the front.  It’s not like this is a huge race, and the street is pretty wide, so the whole field was only four or five rows deep.

There was a young girl in the first row, maybe nine or ten, and someone in the second row commented that “those kids are going to get trampled.”  Another woman told her that this girl was fast, she’d run a 5:25 — and I decided that I should not pass this kid.

At 9:29, a woman showed up.  “Excuse me, can I just get in the first row?”  And she planted herself right in front of me.  Now, I am pretty good at being able to tell who will be among the top finishers, and I knew she would run faster than I would.  But did she have to get in right under my feet??  Because this turned out to really, really matter.  Going out hard from the gun is, well, hard when you have to wait half a second to avoid tripping over someone’s heels.

Even so, I passed that kid almost right away.  I was concerned, then looked down at my watch and saw that I was running 5:50 pace — a little faster than I needed, but not terribly so.  I either misheard or misunderstood that conversational tidbit, then.

I passed the quarter-mile clock in 1:26.  And then I entered the worst part of a mile race… the middle quarters.  The only part of my watch display I was looking at was overall pace, and I could see it climbing from low 5:50s, to high 5:50s, to low 6:00s … which would still be a PR, but not what I wanted, dammit!!

I think I passed the half-mile clock in 2:56 or 2:57.  I don’t remember what it said at the third quarter, but I vaguely recall hearing someone yelling “4:30” a second or two after I passed it, which meant that I would definitely need to bring it in under goal pace if I wanted to run a sub-6:00.

This is the part where I would have, and could have, given up.  But it is true that the finish line is visible from a fair distance away, and I am wired to sprint for a finish.  It is also true that when you start doing that too soon, bad things happen… so I started trying to pick people off instead.  I passed two women in the last quarter, and then I could see the finish line clock, which read 5:45.  I passed another woman while I ran my little heart out to try and make it in under fifteen seconds, and I barely did — the display flipped over to 6:00 just as I crossed.

My official time in races is generally a second or two faster than the time on my watch, because I can’t stop it instantaneously.  So this should have been good enough, yes?

But wait.


I stupidly neglected to take into account that dumb USATF rule that requires rounding up… so unless I run 5:59.00, it doesn’t count as 5:59.  Even 5:59.01 becomes 6:00.00.  And this is why that half a second at the start mattered so much.  (She ran 5:07.  The difference between 5:07 and 5:08 seems much less vast than the difference between 5:59 and 6:00.  But that’s just me.)

Clearly, I need to do a better job of focusing in the middle half.  (Though I overheard someone saying afterward that “if you’re not coughing, you didn’t run hard enough,” and I could not stop coughing for hours, so…)

Officially, I ran a mile in six minutes flat… 62/202 OA, 13/89 F, 2/7 F30-34.

I can’t really be upset with it — it is an eleven-second PR — but I do think I could have cut off that extra second if I hadn’t basically abandoned all hope in the middle half.

But now I know.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this race.  Admittedly, I might have been singing a different tune had we not been blessed with such glorious weather!  But I would absolutely do this one again.

Al Goldstein Summer Speed Series #5 2017

It’s not often that one has a chance at redemption from a crappy race performance just a day or two later.  I suppose this explains why Tuesday saw me registering for Wednesday’s Al Goldstein 5K.

Never mind that the weather conditions would be similar to, if not worse than, those which I had the distinct displeasure of experiencing on Monday.  I was going to fix this if it killed me.

And then I woke up on Wednesday, and my ankle hurt.  That isn’t unusual in itself — it often hurts before it rains.  But it’s not supposed to rain until Saturday, and it felt somehow different than that, so I was understandably more than a little freaked out.  I plopped my butt on the bike for a few miles, and then, since I am obedient and do as I am told, sat down to eat breakfast, whereupon I was hit with a blinding display of aura.  Fantastic — just what I need right now, a migraine!

I’m glad that I get aura, actually.  Because then I have a chance to take something to stave off a truly horrific headache.  But those pills contain caffeine, which is not the greatest thing to ingest when your heartbeat is already skittering with anxiety (see: ankle hurts).

Prior to this year, online race-day registration for the Al Goldstein races was available until noon.  Were that still the case, I would not have registered.  But I already was registered, and that compounded my insane level of anxiety, making focusing on anything at work impossible, so I added some lorazepam to the drug cocktail.  (Didn’t really help very much.  Oh well.)

So when I came home, carrying the nauseating remains of a migraine, more exhausted than usual because I had essentially taken a sedative… I decided to take a little nap before leaving for the race.  It would only be about ten minutes long, but that’s better than nothing, right?  So thank you, telemarketer, for calling and waking me from a half-doze after five of those very precious minutes.

I decided I’d start running to the park, and if my ankle really hurt, I’d just turn around and go home.  It was okay, sort of.  But then I worried that once I started running fast, it would hurt a whole hell of a lot, so I made the executive decision to run, not race.

It was a wise choice.  Even though the course was the one that actually makes sense.  (Take note, NYRR!)

It was so nice to be able to run one of these without putting a load of pressure on myself to have to run a particular time.  And it was also a bit of an ego boost to be surrounded by people panting and gasping their way up the hill while I got to climb it at a relatively sedate pace (for a 5K, anyway).

The second mile went by a bit faster than I planned — it looked like I was on track for 22:00 or so.  And it didn’t matter if I ran slower, but once I realized that I was teetering right at the edge of coming in under that… I had to make sure I did.

It’s amazing how much less awful this felt than the race on Monday.  It was still disgustingly hot and humid, but at this pace, it didn’t feel like I was going to asphyxiate myself.  I never would have thought that a measly ten seconds per mile could make such a discernible difference.

Garmin: 3.13 miles in 21:59, 7:02/mi.

Officially, 3.1 miles in 21:56, 7:05/mi.  99/394 OA, 16/149F, and 2/22 F30-34.  How hilarious — the one day I decide to take it “easy,” I end up with an AG award.  Go figure.

Oren snapped this photo around the midpoint of the race.  I look altogether too happy.

But that’s probably because by then, I’d figured that if my ankle was broken, I would have known.  It’s still a little unhappy, but it feels so much better than yesterday that I could cry from relief.

And I realized that there have been a bunch of stressful things going on in my life that are unrelated to running, all of which have contributed to making my already-poor sleep worse; this, plus the weather, might be why I’ve run a few crappy races in a row.  I guess I need to wait until some of that is sorted out before definitively settling on the conclusion that I suck.

But, you know.  I still might suck anyway.

NYRR Brooklyn R-U-N 5K 2017

Not that I’m bitter about it or anything, but I’ve never run an NYRR race in Brooklyn. Because they are always on Saturdays. This pisses me off to no end, but that’s a story for another day. This story is about how I finally did run one in Brooklyn.

The Central Park version of the R-U-N 5K is kind of a pain. Being limited to one clear plastic bag, and not a very large one, is a bit of an issue when I’m coming straight from work. But for a Prospect Park race, I can go home first. And since I historically run better in Prospect Park, I figured this would be a good way to maintain my B corral after the chance to do so in a half marathon this past winter or spring was stolen by my stupid body — all I needed to do was run under 21:08. (Let’s ignore the fact that the TrackTown 5K completely obliterated any confidence I may have had in my ability to actually do that.)

The thing is… the Central Park course is PR-friendly to me because it doesn’t include the West Side Hills, and I’ve never struggled with Cat Hill in quite the same way.  The Prospect Park course, it turns out, is just about the worst it can possibly be.

See that little part of the loop between the start and finish that is not a part of the race course?  That’s the lovely downhill which makes the second mile of the Al Goldstein races so fast.  And the hill in the first mile of those races?  Mile two here.

Not.  Cool.  I like starting on an uphill because it forces me not to go out too fast.  The way this course was designed, I really didn’t have a choice but to go out fast.  But since the point wasn’t to PR, I planned to pace it so that I ran right around 21:00 pace — to account for extra distance, since the huge crush of people would inevitably lead me to weave quite a bit.

Because the race started on Wellhouse Drive, I took the opportunity to check out the fancy new composting toilets there.  Or at least… I tried.  I stood in line for ten minutes, and it never moved.  Which is baffling, because people kept coming out, but nobody was going in!  I finally gave up so that I could get to the corrals before they collapsed.

screenshot from NYRR’s video of the start — I see me

Maybe it bears mentioning that the dew point was above 70°, but since it’s always my fault when things don’t go well, I can’t cast all the blame there.  I went out a little too fast, went up the hill a little too slow, and the humidity did enough of a number on me that I couldn’t recoup as much time as I wanted in the last mile.

I ran with Henrik, who is much faster than I am.  I should have just followed him and not looked at my watch, but I’m stupid and never learn.

I’ve long said that I handle heat well, but not humidity.  This is probably largely due to the fact that when it’s humid, it feels like you’re trying to breathe through a soaked rag stuffed into your mouth, and while this might make zero scientific sense, it’s almost like half of the air you inhale evaporates before it even hits your lungs.  (This is remarkably similar to how it feels to try to breathe when you’re having a panic attack.  You see the correlation here, I am sure.)

Right around the top of the hill, Henrik told me that we were right on pace for 21:00, “Just stay with me!”  If it were only that simple… and if only I hadn’t kept looking at my watch to give myself more reason to despair.  When my pace lags like this in a race, it’s easier to focus on increasing my cadence.  I know this.  But apparently I was too busy sucking on a wet rag to do much else.

I did have to give it a pathetic little kick at the end, though… because there was no way in hell I wasn’t going to best my NYRR 5K pace from two years ago.

Garmin: 3.14 miles in 21:32, 6:51/mi.  I didn’t weave as much as I thought I would, which is just about the only positive thing I can say about this performance.

Officially, 3.1 miles in 21:29, 6:55/mi.  284/4687 OA, 22/2437 F, and 5/617 F30-34.  I could have won my AG if I would have run the time I wanted to.

I also did not achieve my objective here, and my correlated 10K pace is now something like 7:10, which means I am going to be dropped back a corral.

Jimmy got me all excited because for some reason, he interpreted this chart to mean that you needed the “first time” pace to get into a corral, and the “last time” pace to maintain it.  I said that no, it was a range — corral B was for people with a correlated 10K pace between 6:30 and 7:04.  An extended debate ensued, and then Peter Ciaccia (NYRR president) walked by, so we enlisted his help in resolving our dispute.

I was right.

But he also said that they don’t necessarily automatically drop you back a corral after a single race, because bad days happen, etc., etc.  There may be hope for me yet.

So I registered for the Bronx 10 Mile.  Which I did not want to do, but I lost my chance at trying for 21:08 in the Central Park R-U-N 5K, since it’s sold out.  And the Bronx race is already near capacity.  Then I immediately realized it’s actually Tzom Gedaliah that day, but whatever. I hate registering for things so far in advance… it requires me to have an inordinate amount of faith in my fickle body.  (Which I’m trying to give everything it needs so that it shouldn’t break on me again, because the whole “You’ll be so fast come fall after running through a brutal summer!” thing is moot when your body shatters once it’s finally cooler.  If I’m joining normal people in that heavier = slower, maybe I can also join them in the ranks of not breaking every time I turn around?!)


TrackTown Summer Series 5K Road Race 2017

The TrackTown Summer Series 5K sounded like a great idea, in theory.  Randall’s Island is small, so how hilly can it be?  (I’d never been there before, obviously, if I had to do course recon.)  I’ve been lucky with the Al Goldstein races in that my Garmin measures them pretty close to 3.1, and I knew this one would probably be “long,” but that didn’t seem too high a price to pay for an easier course, right?  HA HA HA.

An omen: the morning of the race, I sneezed before my mascara had dried.  Cue long feathered lower lashes (albeit painted on my face) and a strong desire to get back into bed for a very long time.  Like, say … forever.

Then I got an email that mentioned bag check would close at 5:30.  Hello?  People have to, you know… work.  Getting to Randall’s Island is a pain in the ass as it is — how are we supposed to get there that quickly?!  But fine, I left super early.  And arrived super early.  PS?  Bag check didn’t even open until after 5:30.

So I had all this time to sit around and agonize, quite literally.  My stomach was pulling its usual race-day shenanigans, and I was just not feeling very excited about having to subject myself to the level of pain inherent in a 5K… but the plan was to go out around PR pace and see what happened.

See us, under the bright glaring sun that broke out through the clouds just in time for the race?  Somewhere near the middle of the frame, Adam is waving crazily and Jana and I are looking a little befuddled.  We were sure the start was going to be a shit show, because there was no corral system — everyone just packed in wherever they felt like packing in.  And it started on the Icahn Stadium track, which is really not that wide.

It was a total shit show.  I wove way too much to get anywhere near my desired pace, which is dumb, because I hit a mile on my watch a good ten seconds before the first mile marker.  Still, it felt pretty decent for a 5K effort.  Even with the stupid wood chip path, which narrowed and caused another bottleneck.  Same thing happened on the cinder part of the course.  It never really opened up.  (Also?  It was not as flat as I’d thought.  I mean, it wasn’t super hilly; there were just some rises I didn’t expect.)

But that wasn’t an issue for me anymore at that point, because midway through the second mile, someone stuck a knife in between my ribs.

I hardly ever get side stitches while running.  Ever.  This one chose a fine time to make an appearance, and it seemed to have been carrying along a couple of years’ worth of missed opportunities, because it was bad.

PR?  Ha, ha, HA.  I wasn’t even going to come in under 21:00.  In fact, I was all ready to accept that I wouldn’t finish under 22:00, either — I could see the clock, and if I’d bothered with a kick, it would have been no problem, but I just couldn’t motivate myself to care… until Trish pulled up next to me.

So we got a photo finish, and I did come in under 22:00.  (Which I would have done either way, because I forgot that the clock time wouldn’t be my chip time.  I’m running on little to no sleep, my brain no longer works.)

How to run a terrible, awful, horrible race.  Just to remind yourself that hey, remember?  You suck.

All that weaving added way too much distance.  3.17 miles in 21:40, 6:50/mi.

Officially, 21:39, 6:59/mi.  (Which is exactly the time over which I was so ecstatic at the 2015 R-U-N 5K, and now I’m pissed off beyond belief with myself for running that “slow.”)  239/748 OA, 64/337 F … and apparently we’re all in the 1-99 AG.  Those stats are actually according to gun time, but I can’t imagine the chip timing would change my placing substantially anyway.

There was apparently something in the air, because a lot of people had the same problem I did.  Not that I feel any better about my crappy race knowing that others suffered stitches too, but it does seem weird.

The good thing is that I appear to be intact, even if my stomach is still hating on me.  (It was in doubt because of the rainy weather… stupid bones hurt because of that.)  But now I am terrified that this is going to happen again and again and again, and I’ll never be able to PR.  And because I am so worried about it, I’m probably going to think myself into a side stitch, because I am my own worst enemy.

Who sucks.

Al Goldstein Summer Speed Series #3 2017

Being late and feeling rushed cause me a great deal of anxiety.  This is why, when I am running an evening race, I get to work earlier in the morning.  Leaving earlier in the afternoon helps to dissipate that I’m not going to have enough time panic.

Unless, of course, you factor in that the MTA’s level of suckage of late is impressive even by their standards.  Suffice it to say that despite leaving work by 4:30, for a commute that shouldn’t take longer than 45 minutes, I did not arrive home until after 6:00.  I ended up leaving for the race just a few minutes later than I normally would have, but because I was rushing, I felt all stressed out and aggravated and ended up running my warm-up to the start faster than usual.  I knew that if I ran a shitty race, I could place the blame right at the feet of the MTA.

Though I guess that since I was so busy being stressed over the delays, I didn’t have much time to freak out over the race itself.  Namely: I would be running this one solo, and I wanted to race it.  It was nearly twenty degrees warmer than the first and second races of the series (both of which I considered nearly perfect, weather-wise), so that would undoubtedly have an effect; I decided to be happy with another sub-21, but to try and pace it similarly to my PR and hopefully cut a few seconds off in the second downhill mile (without giving them back in the third).

Of note: for the past couple of weeks, the patellar tendon in my left (AKA, “bad”) knee has been doing this weird snapping thing.  It doesn’t hurt per se, it’s just incredibly annoying; I’m not super worried about it because this has happened before, and it eventually goes away on its own.  What hasn’t happened before is the knee going numb.  That doesn’t hurt, either, but it definitely isn’t normal.  Knees should not feel like they’ve been shot up with Novocaine.  It’s possible that this can be attributed to a climb in which I somehow bashed my knee into both a volume and a foothold at the same time, but regardless of origin, it needs to go away.

Same old, same old.  And a lovely, balmy 81°.  I actually ran in short sleeves for this one, which I don’t usually do, solely because I was already so hot from dashing around like a lunatic trying to get home, and upon reaching home I had no time to cool off before going back out again.  So.  Short sleeves it was.

During my run to the park, I was running into a headwind.  As I approach from the east, this ought to have meant that I wouldn’t be spending much time running into the wind on the course.  Turns out that was not the case.  I suppose I should be grateful that I was running into it on the downhill, instead of on the uphill, but that kind of messed with my “cut off a few seconds during the second mile” plan.

The splits are nearly identical to those from my PR.  I went out conservatively, having learned the hard way that it’s stupid to power up the hill, but I think I was a little too overly cautious in the next two miles.  It definitely felt like I was racing a 5K, but not quite at the “I’m going to drop dead” level, so I probably could have — and should have — pushed a little harder.

There is that nice little finishing kick because I heard someone coming up behind me, and I didn’t know whether it was a man or a woman, so I couldn’t let that person pass me!  (It was a man.  We crossed the finish line simultaneously.)

Garmin says I ran 3.1 miles in 20:36, 6:38/mi.  Officially…

20:33, 6:38/mi.  89/525 OA, 9/214 F, and 5/56 F30-34.

Yes, that’s right… I missed a PR by four seconds.  Once upon a time, I would have beaten myself up endlessly about this, and while I am a wee bit annoyed, I’m also a little proud.  Because it was much worse weather than we had for my PR race, and I did this on my own, without a pacer.

Plus, it heat-adjusts to a sub-20!  So there may be hope yet.

Excuse me while I go laugh myself silly.

Flats Mile 2017

I suck at mile races.  Pretty sure it’s mostly a mental thing — there is no reason why I should not physically be able to break six minutes.  Back when I first started trying to do that, almost two years ago, my 5K PR was nearly a minute slower.  It would have been a huge stretch, but I did think I could do it.

Now my 5K PR predicts a 5:54 mile.  And yet… every single mile race I run is slower than the one before it: 6:11 at the 2015 Fifth Avenue Mile, which is still my official PR; 6:12 at last summer’s Harlem One-Miler, which I followed up with a 6:10 time trial less than a week later; and 6:15 in December at the Sri Chinmoy 1 Mile Race Around the World, which I followed up with a stress fracture.  This knocked me out of the entire winter indoor mile series at the Park Slope Armory, which sucked a whole lot since I think part of the reason I’m terrible at the mile is because there are so few opportunities for me to race them, and so I get way too psyched out about each one.

This year, though, I might actually have more than one shot at it.  If my body holds up.  A very big fat if, when you’re me.  It is because of this body that I was delaying registering for the North Avenue Mile, which I ran in 2014.  (And was over the moon to just make my goal of 6:45, which is now slower than my 5K PR pace.  Perspective is a funny thing.)

Except that when I tried to finally register a couple of weeks ago, the race page was a dead link, and it wasn’t listed on NYCRUNS’ website anymore.  Curious.  I asked Angela about it, since it was a NewRo Runners event, and she said that it had been canceled, but the reasons why were unclear.


Then, a few days later, she told me about this mile race, which she heard about in their Facebook group.  (I guess kind of like… “We’re sorry we canceled our mile race, but here is this one on the same day!”)

Van Cortlandt Park is a pain in the ass to get to, but it’s less of a pain in the ass than New Rochelle.  And it’s on the flats, so it’s … flat.  These are the good things.  I was still dubious about my chances at running a mile race that didn’t suck, but I dutifully did not race all-out at last week’s Al Goldstein 5K.  Which, honestly, I don’t think would have mattered.

Because last Tuesday, I was wearing a down jacket.  It is suddenly forty degrees warmer than it has been, and while I do handle heat better than most people, I still need time to acclimate to it.  So, yeah… it’s suddenly a million degrees (okay, ninety, but same difference), sunny, and oh, right, there’s an air quality alert in effect.  Not to mention that the flats might be flat, but it’s a cinder track, which is really not the fastest surface.

And since it was a small inaugural event, there weren’t a whole lot of runners participating.  It’s harder to race something when there aren’t a lot of people alongside you, and there were only fourteen people in the open women’s heat.  Which went off at 10:40 AM.

On a brutally hot day.  Under blazing sunshine.  (I know the weather on the map above shows clouds.  Trust me.  That is inaccurate.  I was there.)

Now, the whole point of having Jana pace me is so that I don’t see my splits.  I am almost positive that I could not have run under 21:00 at the first Al Goldstein race had I known how fast I was actually running.  So when the horn sounded, I just followed her, and all was well until the quarter mile mark, which we passed in ninety seconds.  I knew this because someone was there calling out the splits.  Which, I mean, great, we’re exactly on pace — and maybe hearing that lulled me into complacency.  And then hearing at the halfway point that I’d just run a 1:37 quarter… I knew that there was pretty much no way I’d be able to battle back from that to get my sub-6:00, but I could have still gotten a PR.  Except I just gave up on it.  I’m not going to say it felt like I was running easy, but it didn’t feel like it hurt any more than my 5K PR did.  (Accurate, as my third quarter was basically 5K pace.)  And then once the clock was in sight, and I saw that it read 6:04 and I would definitely need more than six seconds to reach it, meaning a PR was not going to happen, I didn’t even try to pick up the pace.  I just didn’t see the point in it.

Yep, what lovely splits.

I’d be lying if I said I was thrilled with this result.  But honestly, I’m not as upset as I would have expected, because it’s not like last year’s Harlem One-Miler, where I just missed a PR — this is so far off that, and so close to my 5K PR pace, that it can’t be explained away as an I just suck at racing the mile thing.  (Everyone ran slower than their expected times, some by as much as a minute, so I guess it could have been worse.  If I hadn’t even run under 7:00… yeah, that would have been pretty devastating.)

Looking this up is probably something I should have done before the race instead of after it, but according to this temperature calculator, the heat-adjusted pace for a 5:59 mile in today’s conditions is 6:16.  I have no doubt that I could have run that had I not given up the way I did.

But I want to run a PR, not a heat-adjusted PR.  So I will just have to keep trying.