It’s been a slow year on the running front. I knew it would be with the whole hamstring this this winter and the wedding coming up so soon. It’s not like the wedding is even that time consuming. I just know myself, and I didn’t want to worry about making both wedding appointments and scheduled runs. I’ve been running more as the wedding approaches because I have less to do (the big stuff is all done), it’s a good stress reliever and the weather is too perfect not too.
I realized too that I’ve run exactly three races this year and they’ve all been strange distances, so I figured I’d recap them all at once and note how my running has changed since sort of backing off for the first time in years.
First up: Corporate Challenge
When- evening, early June
Distance- 3.3 miles
This is an old favorite of mine. Something about the excitement and mix of competitive types and total newbies (you run this with your company so some use it as a chance to show off and others make it their first race ever!) as well as the fact that it’s in Central Park just creates this cool atmosphere. I went into it thinking it was 3.5 miles like years passed and was pleasantly surprised to finish early.
It was much more organized this year, which made for less weaving in and out of crowds. It’s got a few hills that kick your butt, but overall it’s not bad. It is difficult to pace because my Garmin never works in the sea of satellite seeking devices and the presence of both newbs and speedsters means you’re pretty much surrounded by people going all out for at least the first mile.
I know I went out too fast, so I stopped at a water stop after the halfway point. Knowing I was 5 seconds shy of finishing under 30 has me kicking myself for that decision, but 3.3 miles is an arbitrary number, so 30 minutes is sort of an arbitrary goal anyway.
Next: Wall Street Heart Walk and Run
When- evening, late June
Distance- 3 miles
This was another company sponsored week night race. Racing on the weeknights certainly fits better into my schedule these days. This one was run downtown by my office (duh) which was super convenient as far as travel to and from the start. Still, the streets down here are so stinking narrow that the whole race felt packed to the gills.
The roads are closed to vehicles, but pedestrians still have to cross, and since the race is held at evening rush hour, people were just crossing at their own risk. At first, avoiding terrified looking business men in suits was a funny distraction, but as I got tired, ducking and dodging got a little frustrating. I’m sure they hated it more.
It was very hot that day. Probably the first hot day we had all year, so even though I tried to hydrate and walked through the water stop, I lost all momentum in the last half mile to dry mouth and a little dizziness.
Finally, it was about equal parts fun and sort of discouraging running the same route I use to commute twice a day every day or every week. It was fun because I could recognize everything and knew exactly how much further the finish line was, but it was sort of a bummer because I got that conditioned feeling of dread as I approached my building. Maybe that’s more of a statement on my life than this race.
Overall, I’m happy with the results especially given the heat and crowds.
Finally: Firecracker 4 Miler
When- morning, July 4!
This is an old favorite which Chris and I have done the past two years. It starts right by our house which is nice and they finally bumped the start time up by about two hours which is absolutely the right call for a July race. Also, the fourth being a Friday this year just made everything more fun knowing I didn’t have to work the next day.
The weather was perfect for a race, cool and overcast, and the rain held off until we were safe inside.
The race itself was much bigger than last year, which was nice if you’re trying to hide in the crowd. Local races, you know. We ran at a really easy pace and chatted for the first three miles then picked it up for the last one. We had no real goal, but it was a really good time.
Some general observations about racing on a sort of minimal running diet: I’m more nervous than I’ve been in a long time. I guess I’m just not as in the running mode as I’ve been in past races, but I had jitters for these races the likes of which I haven’t felt in years. It was actually sort of fun. I’m also finishing faster than I would have guessed. It’s probably due in part to the nerves and mostly to the fact that I’m less exhausted. Previously, short distance races have been blips on a training plan for a longer endeavor, and as such, I think I was just tired and generally viewed them as extra training runs. Now, I’ve got a bit more energy, and they feel like real races!
I read a Runner’s World article about how more people should race the 5k instead of treating it like an entry race to bigger, badder distances. I gotta say, I see the potential there. If I weren’t so eager to run a marathon before 30, I’d be all over this idea. Short distances are no joke.
So, with that said, my next race will be with a new last name, so these three are the last of my humble legacy. I’m glad I decided to take a mini running break this year.