I was determined today to get down to the race early and get in three miles before the race started, considering my schedule called for 16 miles and I knew I wouldn't feel like running after the race. I was up at 5:30 so I could do my therapy and get out of the house.
As I futzed on the train putting on my number and getting my fuel belt ready, I slowly realized nearly everyone else in the car was also in running gearr; we all looked very ready to go. When the train stopped and we all got off at Coney Island, we definitely looked like some "greet the sun with painful calisthenics" sort of cult.
After putting my bag on the correct bus (they bussed people out to Coney Island and bussede our baggage up to the Park), I got in a solid mile before having to break off and wait for the port-a-johns. The lines were huge! But I took the opportunity to ditch my hoodie and stretch as best I could. Then I got lined up on the boardwalk and the race was on!
Unlike any of my other runs, this one was a steady and predictable run -- steady rate of rising stress, that is. I started out well. We ran a couple of miles on the boardwalk itself and I found the boards suprisingly easy to run on. About a mile into the race, I passed Lu, the old Chinese guy with the bells, and greeted him. (I would see him again a couple more times as we'd pass each other; I do believe he finished well ahead of me today.)
We left the boardwalk and jogged right up Ocean Parkway, which was closed off just for us! It's a long, almost straight shot from Coney Island to Prospect Park. As the miles went by, I was having a harder and harder time. Not getting weary, exactly, but just increasing foot pain (though never terrible) and increasing fatigue. I made sure to hydrate at every single water station, as well as from my own fuel belt. I also made sure to keep popping Lifesavers and used the Power Gel before the race. I think a few more painkillers next time would be a good idea.
We entered the Park at the eastern corner and -- cruelly -- the route now did a giant backwards "e" involving two long uphills. I walked the first uphill, but managed to run most of the second and last hill. We ended up in the middle of the park. I've been tired before, but this one really took it out of me!
I wasn't about to give up on the 16-mile goal, though, and after stretching a bit, getting some banannas and drinking more water, I got my stuff off the bus and headed up the park again, walking. I may not finish today running, but I would damn well get in 16 miles! I was shortly joined by another runner, a woman about my age, also named Chris, who was looking for the R train. At the top of the park, I showed her the F station entrance, but convinced her to keep walking with me (we were having a nice chat) downhill to the 4th ave/9th street station. Once we got down there, I realized the R train is there, too! I pointed out the entrance to the R platform to her and we said goodbye. That was a really nice walk home -- and my GPS said I'd put in 15.9 miles.
Race results are here. Once again, my time was almost exactly 2.5 hours. I was one minute slower today than last time, even though I believe I walked less. But I was never running quickly, that's for sure.
Anyway... 4th ING qualifer down, 5 to go. I am a little apprehensive about my (feet's) ability to go the whole distance in Cincinnatti...but I look forward to the challenge. I also find myself keeping my fingers double-crossed that my ING entry will get picked this year.