This event had limited entry, so I signed up early. Giving some deference to my knees of late, I've chosen short qualifiers to complete. But being short, they've also given me the chance to a) see how low I can get my per-mile times, and b) complete a few races in heat that would make longer distances much more difficult.
It was really a beautiful morning, overcast and with a nice breeze. After wandering the MTA for two hours like Charlie on his Tragic and Fateful Day, Shea Stadium slid gracefully into view as the 7 train pulled into the station. I had made a new friend at the 42nd street station, a woman who was the most petite thing I've ever seen, and who was also trying to get out to Shea. With no express trains running, it just took forever. Anyway, we both made it, and I made it before they packed up the numbers pick-up table. I really must learn to get my number the day before! I had ten minutes to get my number, drop my bag, and stretch.
For less than 2500 runners, it sure looked ike a whole lot more! The starting area was narrow and we were...
[hang on, my phone's ringing....]
[...that was Mom. Have to talk to Mom when she calls! Have YOU called your mother lately?]
...all pretty tightly packed in there. Once we got started it was a pleasant run at 75-80% of all-out for the first mile, slightly for the second, and gradually faster again during the third, all the way to home plate inside the stadium. The clouds cleared at about mile one on this flat, fast course, and that left the giant Unisphere quite dazzling in the sun. (This artifact from the '64-'65 World's Fair is decidedly impressive and doesn't look run down or anything. It's been well taken care of. The three rings you see around it aren't attached by supports, they hang in position via wires held in tension between the rings and the sphere, like a tensegrity structure. Also, the continents are drawn in rough relief, with the mountainous areas stacked up. Most impressive.)
We rounded the sphere and headed back towards the stadium parking lot and thence into the arena, and around the perimeter on the dirt. I have never seen grass so green and immaculate, not even on a golf course! It was amazing. We all crossed the finish line at home plate and then slowly took the long line back around the field towards the entrance/exit to get some water and such. (Many runners bent to touch the grass on their way out, just to see if it was real.) My final time was a net 29:30, good for a fast 9:30/mile. Good run; a personal fastest per-mile time.
After the race, little Subway sandwiches were handed out and we all seemed to take extra time gathering our things and chatting and cheering on the last of the runners coming in. This was an important race for a lot of people: it was a big team event. I came across one of the older ladies I've seen at my therapist's and she's a member of the Mercury Masters team, which in the women's 60+ group is currently in first place in the points standing; we'll see how today's event affects that. Nice to see her there! (The girl I met on the subway was also on a team, the Greater New York team, I think.) Other teams heavily represented were Fleet Feet, Empire Runners NY, Central Park TC, Achilles, West Side, Central Park TC, and New York Flyers, among the dozens of teams total.
Standing in line for sammiches after the race, I got into a conversation briefly with a very attractive woman and later kicked myself for not at least exchanging names. Along with remembering to pick up my number the day before, I've GOT to remember to turn the charm on during such flirting opportunities and put my stomach on the back burner -- or else I'm going to remain single the rest of my life. And if there's one thing I'm looking for in a mate, it's