To start off with, the weather cooperated nicely. Highs were predicted to stay under 90 and the humidity finally broke, too. So the morning was cool-ish and pleasant. I got up at 5 a.m., thinking I needed to aim for a 7:15 check-in for an 8 a.m. race. Well... I managed to get there at 7:00 and was one of the first to check in -- and then found out the race wasn't 'til 8:30! No problem. I walked around a lot and got in a good 1/2-mile warmup when the time was right. I made sure to drink plenty of water, for as the time crept on, it was already getting uncomfortably warm in the sun. I also choked down some energy goo. I wasn't particularly aiming for a fast race, but the course was a "fast" one and I figured I might as well get in a run at faster-than-marathon pace as long as I was feeling like it.
Once the pre-race was done with and the air horn sounded, I just hung out to the side, not with the rest of the pack on the road. Experience has taught me I might as well wait. I wanted to get a running start at the starting line, and my recorded time is a net figure anyway. Curious about how long it really takes for the 10+ milers (the group I usually line up with) to actually reach the starting line, I watched the clock. By the time I hopped over the wooden railings and started running and got over the start line, the clock was past 5 minutes already.
The first mile was a fast one, no doubt. I didn't exactly feel like I was flying - not like some of my cross-city long runs I'd done before - but I was definitely moving. I passed all kinds of people for the first couple of miles. I realized I was in danger of doing a newbie mistake, starting too fast and not being able to keep up the pace, so after finding myself with some elbow room, I took it down a notch to cruising speed, meaning I was still moving pretty well and pleased with my progress, but not aiming to pass a lot of people and not feeling like I'd burn up before the end.
I skipped the first water station. By the second, I knew I'd have to grab some water. I grabbed a cup at the second table and took three large mouthfuls of water before tossing it aside and getting on with my pace. Not too long after, somewhere towards mile marker 3, I had a moment of definite over-heating and for a bit thought I might have to slow to a trot and cool down. Fortunately, though, the hill I was on ended soon and the slight downhill was in the shade. That returned me to normal and I didn't have the over-heated feeling again. No way was I aiming to be THAT GUY who the paramedics have to pull off the ground.
I had found the race challenging to this point. I was having mild asthma at the time and was regretting not having brought along an inhaler. I should have trusted my body though: as before, right around the third mile marker, something changed and my body got used to all the conditions and the fourth mile could almost be described as pleasant. It was certainly the easiest mile of the race. I didn't up my pace again until the last 1/2 mile, and then I tried to ratchet back up to where I began the race.
Now, I'd been keeping an eye on the split clocks. No way they were accurate. At my best, I am a 10-minute-per-mile runner, and the first clock (taking into account my five-minute start time) had read 14:something. So I didn't trust the clocks. However, as I came up on the finish line I was astounded by my time - 44:something. Taking off the five minutes, that means I'd been doing slightly less than 10-minute miles. Could that be right?? I put it out of my mind and proceeded to get some water and a bagel and retrieve my bag.
As I ate and drank, and sucked down some no-longer-frozen Gatorade I'd brought, I cheered on the later finishers and waited for the kids' races to start. I spied Dr. Maharam strolling between the aid station and the staff port-a-johns and hailed him. He recognized me right away and asked me how I did. All I could get out was a breathless, "Pretty good I think and thank you! Thank you!" I wanted to impress upon him that I couldn't have done even this little 4 mile race without his attention (and of course my therapist Amy, too).
They had heats for ages 2, 3-5, 7-9, and 10-13. I was very impressed! The 2-year-olds' racing was just downright cute. No way they knew what the hell was going on, but some of them were quite game and really pushed those little legs the whole 150 feet. (Some of them arrived at the finish in mommy or daddy's arms. Some got confused or scared by the cheering crowd and were crying. One spectator near me quipped that he sometimes finishes races crying, too!) Same story with the 3-5 year olds. I was impressed with how fast some of those kids could move! The other two groups had a little more self-discipline and awareness of what was going on. Each older group had a longer distance to run, with the oldest kids running a half-mile out-and-back course. Really very nice to see.
Got home, showered, put ice on my knees for 20 minutes. Looked up my race stats on NYRR website. My net time was 38:47 for the race! I ran 9:41 miles! I really didn't think I could do better than a ten-minute mile. Next weekend, for the Mets Run Home thing, I'll bring my running belt and my own hydration - I know I can get that time down to 9:30 at least for a 5K. ;) Of course, I'm planning on doing two miles before the race as a warm-up, so as to have a 5-mile day, so we'll see how I feel by the time that race starts!