So, whaddaya think of the new template? Spiffy, yah? I particularly like my handiwork on my bloghead. I'll add more links on the sides real soon. Loads of cut-and-paste, so... must sleep first.
Yeah, I know the name was officially changed to the Hot Chocolate 10-miler, after the 15K route didn't work out due to construction. But I like the sound of "16K", ok? Has a ring to it that makes this run kinda special. It's not every run that's 9.3 or 10 miles - this is a pretty unique distance in the list of all the NYRR races. I would go so far as to say that this is a good race as a next-to-longest run in a good half-marathon training program. And since the Manhattan Half is in 5 weeks....
It's amazing how things can turn around overnight. This morning's race prep was identical to last week's, except that I left the HEED behind. Instead, I took a bottle of Sustained Energy, which I used last week only during my warm-up. But I had noticed a certain smoothness of energy delivery and I didn't spend so much time with sticky sweetness in my mouth, so I thought I'd give it a go as my main hydration this time around. I should have taken more Hammer Gel with me and been more consistent in taking it, but still, all was good. Smooth, constant energy delivery. If anything, I just need to drink more as I go.
This is what I'm going to call a very good run, bordering on great, falling short only by the lack of blisters, blood, and speed. Due to a really late train this morning, I only had time for a four-mile warm-up with just enough time left over for a potty break and to shed extra clothing. The horn went off just as I approached the crowd of runners lined up for the start.
This was a very crowded race:
I know 4000 runners doesn't sound like much, but there were 1000 more than last year. It was a very warm day; last year this was 10 degrees cooler. For sure, this race attracted a quantity of slower runners - the real track stars were not much in evidence. I figure the people who were out were fair-weather runners and/or needed that one last qualifier for next year's marathon.
After I joined the qeue, it took awhile for the race to really get going. The start was so crowded and the race marshalls were being insistent on us staying in the rec lanes this time. The pack was slowed to a walk twice in the first quarter-mile and the first mile was about a 15 minute split. As we passed the first mile marker, I joked that this was my fastest mile ever - and it was nearly my LAST mile, too, as I immediately tripped over one of the orange cones. I just didn't see it coming. I didn't fall, though, and that was a minor miracle. (Over the course of the day, I'd twist my ankle on some round thing I didn't see and tangle with cones twice, one hit on the shin was hard enough to make my eyes water.) Despite the congestion, the slow start was good for me, I guess, as I found a comfortable pace in the second mile that I felt I could keep up for nine more miles.
And so the race went. Round and round we go. I didn't get lapped until mile 4.5, and that was an indicator I was doing pretty good. My left ankle had minor soreness from the outset and got moderately worse, but not enough to not run. The last 5K was a struggle, but not like I feared it would be. I had slowed down quite a bit in the last couple of miles - Cat Hill was in the ninth - but I managed to pick it up for a very strong finish. Not only did I step up the pace to about 8:15/mi for the last 300 yards, but I notched it up to a 7:01/mi pace for the last 100 so as to beat out some runner who was sneaking up on my left. NOBODY passes me in the final stretch!
I'm pretty happy with the results. 14 miles total, at an average of 10:30/mi.. (Oh, and now I have something to recalibrate my watch to, since I conscientiously hit the big red button at the start and finish lines.) A perfect 1:45:00 for the race and about two and a half hours of solid workout altogether. Very nice. Finished feeling good, not quite exhausted, and spent the next twenty minutes cheering in the runners after me. Skipped the hot chocolate; all I wanted was a coffee, ice, shower, and a nap. (Oh, and the nap was so very very nice. I haven't slept that well in weeks.)
Most important to me is this: aside from the congested start, there was NO WALKING. NONE in that 14 miles. I kept going through my coughing fits and managed every single hill, even if I did slow down a bit on them. Just having done Cat Hill three times without getting eaten by the bobcat qualifies this as a good workout!
As races go, this is technically a PR, since I haven't done any 10-milers before. As 15K distances go, this is my third of this approximate length. My pace was 40 seconds faster than last year, which simultaneously reflects my better health and slower general speed. Oddly enough, my 3rd race ever was an Al Gordon 15K and my pace then was 10:18/mi. Hm.
So that's that. And they're electric-sliding on the Apollo stage, which is my cue to shut this down and go to bed.