Woke up yesterday morning after a fitful night's sleep and decided to go ahead and run that morning's race. I wasn't even sure how long it would be - I assumed a 4-miler - or if registration had closed or not. Regardless, it was sure to be a beautiful morning for running.
I was able to register and got the gayest t-shirt ever. Not surprising, considering this was the Pride Run, always held during Pride Week, which celebrates the anniversary (40 years this time) of the Stonewall Riot. The Stonewall Tavern, of course, is a rinky-dink little hole in the wall over near Christopher Street - it's amazing where history can find its seeds.
Anyway, the race turned out to be 5 miles. I got in about a mile of warmup before the race and opted to run shirtless, even though I didn't see anybody else doing so. I was already warm, but apparently, the high-60s hadn't discomfited anyone else yet. Hah! Just wait... For once, there were no brown or grey bibs - just a variety of gaily-colored bibs and I got a pink one, which was for an estimated 10 minute/mile pace. I knew I wouldn't be running that, but I hoped to do a little better than 11 min/mile.
The course took the easy route, with the first mile cutting off the Harlem hills and dealing with the West side hills, then down down down in a breezy second mile, third mile rounded the bottom of the park, fourth mile contained Cat Hill, and the fifth mile was a mostly-flat wrapup to the downhill finish. Frankly, I started conservatively, not figuring to really race this, but just see what the state of the union is, if you know what I mean. After so many, many days of rain, I was feeling the need for some company and hoped to God I'd have a decent time.
I had no pain, made sure to take some albuterol, and had a half-cup water at the first four water stops. The first mile was about normal for me in that area, walking about half the big hills, but managing to tackle the shallower hills. The second mile would have been perfectly continuous had I not walked for some water. I was already sweating heavily by that point, so I think the water stops were a good idea for me. I didn't want to bonk due to improper hydration. The third mile felt pretty good, too and I was feeling warmed up and ready to tackle the last two miles. Fourth mile was a bitch, largely due to Cat Hill, but I managed to at least reach the Cat (halfway up) before walking. Quite a victory, considering where I was just a few months ago.
The fifth mile was good - I didn't run it as fast as mile two, but I didn't stop at all. I was running out of energy; I kept a mental image in my head of the night back in 2003 when a buddy and I headed out across an estimated 130 miles of desert before the next gas stop. It was a ride we intentionally took it easy on the throttle, limiting our speed to mid-rpm 65 mph and trying not to vary that and extend our gas mileage. I had never made it 130 miles on my 3.3 gallon tank, and this last mile in this race felt very much like those trepidatious two hours. I needed to just keep the running at a moderate, steady pace and see if I could outlast the road.
A quarter-mile from the finish, I knew I'd make it and that if I were careful, I could crack open the throttle a little bit. I concentrate not on a faster turnover, but extending my stride a few more inches, envisioning longer pushrods in the cylinders. Finally, the finish was upon me about a hundred before I thought it would be and for the last 50 yards I pushed hard, loping through the chute in an odd gazelle-like manner. I've never used that gait before and I have no idea where it came from. Finishing felt great and for the first time I can recall, I didn't collapse into a coughing fit right after.
54:20 - a 10:52 pace. A long way from a PR, but I've had worse races.
I gratefully received a bag of hard-baked, sodium-chloride-encrusted carbohydrate twists, and a stick of frozen, flavored sugar-water (known as pretzels and popsicle to the imprecise). I got my bag, sat down on a bench in the shade, and enjoyed my food while checking blood sugar. I squirmed the new gayest-t-shirt-ever over my head and cringed at the feeling of cotton on dried-sweat-skin. This feeling is to me like fingernails on a blackboard is to you. I should maybe have opted for the nylon shirt I'd come in. I also ran into a fellow Team Boomer runner - her name is slipping my mind right now - with a new Team member training for her first half, which will be the NYC Half. I was very pleased to see them.
On the way home, I reflected that June is at an end and marathon training must begin. I am considering the 16-week training program Bart Yasso outlines in this month's Runner's World. It is demanding. I have no illusions about completing every run, but this program is definitely for the experienced runner. He offers suggestions on modifying the program for beginners or those who are injury-prone. With my health in its current good state, I think I can do pretty good with the program, though it is ambitious.
I also took a look at my current running shoes. There are wear indications that these shoes will not last me 'til November 1st. And I'd really like to do most of my training in the pair of shoes I'll do the marathon in. So I went online and ordered the next generation of my shoes. This time, they come in BLACK, even in womens', and by ordering from Kelly's Running Warehouse, I got them for 20% less than anywhere else, with free shipping. Considering the last two generations of this shoe are still selling on eBay for more than that PLUS shipping, I think I got a steal.
Looking at these puppies, I can just hear the bionic sound effects.
Today, I went out for some miles. Very tired...managed three miles, but not high-quality. Almost did it just for the joy of enjoying sunny weather, I guess. Maybe should have rested, but what the hell. Tomorrow, probably four miles and a gym workout, though I have a reading to go for the play I'm lighting in August, so I better get my timing right.