January 1, 2011

Midnight Run

Well, not much going on in my athletic life. Health is so-so. Feeling pretty good the last few days, so when I got a New Year's Eve invite from fellow runner and Pheddip listener, Marci, to run the Midnight Run with her and her friends, I took her up on it. Not that I had a prayer of running WITH them, but we spent a couple hours together beforehand and a little bit of recovery time after. Marci lives on 58th, very close to Central Park, very convenient for running meetups.

So after some of the usual pre-run BSing and worries and watching Marci squeeze on her Vibrams, we got going about an hour before the run. We needed at least half that to get to the Bandshell, where the party was, as many routes were blocked off by the popo. (The warm weather brought everyone out to Times Square, which on New Year's Eve sort of extends itself outward. Nuts.)

The Emerald Nuts Midnight Run is a great tradition, with runners dressing in costumes for a contest or just come as you are. I've done this run at least once before and volunteered at the mid-point "champagne" station two years ago, when it was in the teens. My impression at those times was that the run draws about 3-4,000 runners, max.

This year, however, there were a lot more. A LOT more! I'd guess at 7,000 or more, at least and perhaps one bandit for every registered runner. Things have advanced, certainly. They had the lead truck out for this and elites were warming up in a protected sprint area. This is moving beyond "fun run".

The start was amazing. There were no corrals, so we just squeezed in where we could. Midnight came quickly and the fireworks started. The fireworks lasted a LONG time - at least 20 minutes. I was a mile and a half into the run before they stopped. Or, rather, paused, because they started again as I was about a half-mile from the finish. Very nice!

As we started, I told the others to have a good run and just did this at my own pace. They were planning 10-minute miles, and I was planning perhaps 12s. The results are somewhat slower:

The first mile was pretty slow at 13:30, but I didn't walk at all until half a mile into it, when I was well up Cat Hill, even well past the bobcat statue! Perhaps the slow, crowded start gave me that energy. (Or perhaps it was the nasty caffeinated strawberry-banana Gu I took a half hour before.) The second mile was flatter and I walked only twice, for very brief periods, and turned in a 12:15. One of those walks was to slug down a few swallows of non-alcoholic champagne. I might have passed that, but the entire pack slowed to a walk there. So, whatever.

Mile three was a lot of hills and a fair bit of walking, resulting in 13:29 for that mile. Considering how tired I was getting, not terrible, but not great. However, the fourth mile was a real winner, as it's on the long downhill towards the 72nd street crossover. No walking (much to my surprise) and a bit of a push toward the finish, resulting in a sub-12 mile.

I wrapped up the evening with the mile-long hike back to Marci's and some hot cider. Headed home shortly after, knowing the train would be local and take 90 minutes or so.

Want to thank Marci for being a good host and turning my New Year's into a very memorable one!