Most people plan their running. They plan which races they’re going to run, they plan when and how they will train, they plan their rest days, and they even sometimes plan their drinking so as not to mess up their training schedule. Me? My style is a bit more ad hoc. Which is why I decided while nearly blackout drunk at 2 AM on Friday night that I would run the NYRR 8000 yesterday morning.
The decision was prompted by a senior manager after an evening of drinking at the office and then heading out to a nearby watering hole for some more company-sponsored boozing. Rob (the SM) had registered for the race, and after a few hours of wine and Rock Band (it was my first time playing ever, but apparently I am amazingly good at drums – in my second turn, I got 94% on medium level) I drunkenly agreed to run it as well. Got home absolut(e)ly wasted around 2 AM, and posted a blog entry, then passed out. I awoke to my alarm going off a few hours later at 6 AM, and dragged myself out of bed to throw some running clothes on and get myself together. When I got out the door (having neglected to check the weather before leaving), I found it was raining, and almost turned back. I tried to pretend that I was doing the race because I had told a boss that I was going to and backing out would make me look irresponsible, but the truth is, I didn’t turn back because of my drunken blogging. Crazy running blogger #8: when you run a race only because you posted on your blog that you were going to do so, and would be embarrassed to back out and face the ridicule of your running blogger friends.
Got to NYRR at 6:50 AM, just in time to register before it closed at 7. I paid the $25 (ugh, I really should register in advance), got my t-shirt, bib, and chip, and headed up to the baggage area/start at 102nd Street. On the way I called Rob, to find out where he was so we could line up together. Guess what? He was still in bed, with no plans to change that. You would think that this would piss me off, but I was actually in a great mood and happy that I was going to do the race.
At the starting line, my good mood continued. The guy next to me tapped me on the shoulder and asked if he could lean on me for support while he stretched out his calf. We struck up a conversation, and I found out that he had a muscle injury but was trying to beat his nephew who was also running. Bringing the guy next to us into the conversation, we chatted about various running related things, and I enjoyed the camaraderie. Is this what joining a running club would be like? Maybe I should join one.
We set off, and I found myself passing a lot of people at the start. I was in a fantastic mood, and got my first runner’s high within the first quarter mile. I just felt super, and was so glad that I gotten myself out of bed to do this race. I was fired up, and felt like I was running at a good clip all the way through till Cat Hill. At 72nd Street on the west side, I found myself running next to the guy from the beginning of the race, so we chatted a bit, and he let me know that we were running about an 8:30 pace. Sounded good to me.
After we rounded the bottom end of the park, going up Cat Hill was a little tough, but I powered through. I reminded myself that in a few weeks I would be doing the bridge run with a 4% grade for 1 mile – better get used to it! At the top of Cat Hill it was a little bit windy, but not really bad. Shortly after, I hit the final mile, which was a nice psychological boost. Only a bit more still to go! Around 4.3 miles I started wondering why NYRR doesn’t mark 1/2 mile to go on their courses, the way some other races do. Right after I was thinking about this, I saw a sign reading “800 meters to go.” What?! I was really surprised – had never seen one of these before. I suppose it was because of the professional races after, but I was surprised that I had just been thinking about it and then it happened. I don’t know if this is a new thing that they’re going to do for every race, or if it was a one-time thing, but hopefully it’s here to stay, because that is really helpful. (There were also signs at the 500 meters and the 200 meters to go mark).
I did the last half-mile with one of my favorite finish songs playing, Rascal Flatts’ “Stand.” Had a great final sprint to the finish (made easier by the downhill slope for the last 100 meters or so), and saw that I was around 43 minutes. Apparently I didn’t start much beyond the gun, because my official time ended up being 43:07. Not bad at all!
At the finish, I chatted with a guy from the Polish Runners Club, who had finished right by me. I explained that my father and stepmother were both from Warsaw, and he encouraged me to visit their website and run with them in Central Park sometime. After chugging so much water that I got dirty looks from the volunteer who had probably gotten there at 5 AM to pour it all, I went back to baggage, and changed out of my sweaty top into my race t-shirt and a sweatshirt. Unfortunately, I hadn’t worn a coat, and I was just a bit chilly. I hung out at the finish for a while, cheering on all the other runners until the 70 minute mark, when they closed the course to prepare for the elite races. I was surprised – there were very few spectators at the end, and I was the only one clapping or even acknowledging the runners. A little sad. Once the open race ended I wanted to stay, but decided I was too cold. I had about 2 minutes until the elite men would even be starting, so I decided to venture out into the UES and see if I could find a Starbucks.
Amazingly, I did not find one, but instead found a Dunkin Donuts! That was a huge surprise, since Dunks is kind of rare in New York, whereas normally there is a Starbucks on every corner. It especially surprised me since the UES is more of a Starbucks kind of neighborhood rather than a Dunks place, but I suppose I was pretty far uptown, so it was basically Harlem. I stood in a long line (no problem – had plenty of time), and contemplated whether to get a donut and/or white chocolate, or whether to be good and just get tea. I thought about it, decided I wasn’t hungry (just cold), and that tea would be better. I have to say, the Beck Diet Solution is really helping me with my willpower! (I’m in the middle of reading it right now, but will post a review when I finish. For now, let’s just say it’s awesome).
After getting my tea split into four cups so it would cool faster and not scald me, I headed back to the races. I arrived at the finish about 5 minutes into the men’s race, which was perfect. The announcer was doing a great job telling the crowd the updates that he was getting from the course, and it was a really exciting atmosphere. Being in such a social mood, I chatted with the guys on either side of me, and learned a lot about the runners. Until I was at the race, I hadn’t realized what a big deal this was, and how famous these runners were. The US record holder for the mile was there, and favored to win until I was told that he had gotten food poisoning two nights before the race. There were lots of other great runners though, and the finish was really exciting when it came – a few runners pretty close together (though not quite a photo finish). The fight for second place was especially intense.
After the men’s race, I wanted to stay for the women’s, but decided that since I had run out of hot tea, it wasn’t the smartest idea for me to stay out in the cold with no coat on, so I caught a cab and headed home. A completely unplanned race, but one that I’m so glad I did! I just had a ball, and my time was pretty respectable (only about 40 seconds short of a PR – not bad for 5 miles!).
Distance: 5 miles
Overall place: 905/1780
Age group place: 83/211