Harry’s Handicap 2019

A few months back, we learned that the pre- and post-race venue for Harry’s Handicap would not be KoC for 2019.  I was all but delirious with joy at the thought that I might actually not have to stand outside and freeze my ass off while waiting for the start.

Joke’s on me, because it turns out the new location was Shepherd’s Hall… at the back of Holy Name of Jesus Church.  Yeah, that’s not going to work for me.

So I set about looking for a different New Year’s Day race, but I couldn’t find one that was a distance I wanted to run and that also didn’t require a stupid long drive and/or toll, and that’s before we even factor in the price of the race itself.  And it would also make it all but impossible for me to participate in the Polar Bear Plunge.

It all worked out okay in the end… Eric was kind enough to give me my handicap the night before, so that I knew what time I had to show up at the start instead of waiting outside in the cold to find out.  Not that it was that cold, really, especially compared with last year.  I wore a jacket to run to the park, when I really didn’t need one; and tights, when shorts would have sufficed.  This was because I knew I’d appreciate having those after the plunge, to which we were headed straightaway post-race.

These are heavy shoes.  They are not the best choice if you want to run fast.  But I had predicted 25:00 as my finish, taking into account my absolutely abysmal running in 2018, so it’s not like I needed to be particularly fleet of foot.  I was pretty resigned to not besting my Harry’s PR (officially 24:41, from last year).

And then there was the part where my heel/ankle hurt.  It started on the morning of New Year’s Eve, and it freaked. me. out.  Granted, this is the heel and the ankle with healed fractures, and it did rain that day, but I can’t remember the weather ever making it so bad.  There is also the fact that when I don’t eat enough, I tend to break, and the last few months have just worn me down so much that I can’t bring myself to fight to eat more, even though I know that this is spiting no one but myself.  I don’t believe I’d be faster if I were thinner, so it’s not like I’m trying to fix how much I’ve sucked at running of late; but I can’t deny that I’ve been hating what I see in the mirror for a long time.  It’s easier to accept that when I’m running well and I’m not hurt, but … being depressed and running like crap is more than enough, I just can’t handle having to stuff my face too.

Even though I didn’t plan to race this thing (I never really do), my digestive system apparently got a memo that I did, and went appropriately haywire.  I didn’t make it out the door until 10:27 (my start time was 11:00), whereupon my Mk1 took forever to acquire a GPS signal.  About ninety seconds after I started running, I looked down and saw that the same nonsense was happening as has happened once before: the timer was working, but the pace and distance fields were blank.  Great.  I turned it off and then it wouldn’t turn on again, so I had to run back home to plug it in to start it.  By then it was after 10:30, and I did not have time for this, so I grabbed my 620 to use in case the Mk1 refused to work again.  (Always keep a backup GPS charged and ready to go, people.)

I made it to BPS with about three minutes to spare.  That was far more excitement and drama than I needed.  And I didn’t trust my Mk1 to not pull a similar trick again, so I lined up for the start of my handicap (sixty minutes?!) with the 620 in my hand as a backup.

Photo by PaFoua Hang

This is pretty much the worst starting point if you want to run a loop of the park fast.

It’s a downhill, then flattish, then an uphill, and a kind of downhill to the finish.  Since I anticipated running an absolutely terrible time, I decided that my only goal should be to finish ahead of the people in my handicap.  (Spoiler: I did.)  Which is why I set off like a bat out of hell on my way to Positive Split Central.

Andy had said he was going to pass five people; at the time, my heel hurt something fierce and I doubted I’d even make it to the start in one piece, so I just said six.  Which, once I had passed six people, morphed into multiples of six in my crazy mind, so then I had to pass twelve, and then eighteen.  I was homing it on 36 when someone passed me, but then I passed him back, and then he passed me close to the finish, so now my count is all messed up and I don’t know what the final tally was.  Tragic.

Photo by Larry Sillen

Just, like… la la la.  I don’t look super thrilled because I didn’t run the smartest race in the world, but I figured that if my foot was broken, I’d have known it by that point, so I was glad about that.

Photo by PaFoua Hang

And look at the clock!  Since I had a sixty-minute handicap, that means I ran under 24:00.  A  PR is a PR, no matter how terribly you get there.

3.35 miles, 23:43; 7:05/mi.

Yep, Positive Split City.  And my VO2 max went down, according to my Garmin, because the whole day started off so … flustered.  (Yes, the Mk1 worked.  Still carried the 620 all the way.)

Unlike last year, my official time basically matches what my watch said, so it’s 23:42, 7:05/mi… PR by 59 seconds.  Too complex for me to parse all the placement stats, given that it’s a handicap race, but I was one of the first five females across the finish line, which means I get a medal.  Except I don’t have it yet, because Andy and I left for Coney Island pretty soon after I finished.  Not that I would have been able to go to the post-race festivities, anyway, so this was a better option all-around.

Even though I just ran a loop of the park at slower than 10 mile pace, I can’t help but be relieved that I appear to be unbroken.  You would think that dodging a bullet like that would give me a kick in the ass to suck it up and eat even if I don’t want to, but you’d be wrong.  Partly, anyway, because I am trying, to minimal effect; it just takes so much effort and energy and I just… can’t.  Because I am a psycho.

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