It was a total last minute decision for me to run the NYRR Run For The Parks 4 mile race. Actually, I only signed up for it because of this:
Now that Roman is a big, grown-up 2 year-old, he’s officially allowed to enter the NYRR kid’s races! Holy cute. Their course is about 20 feet long and all these tiny little guys and girls are trotting along, lots of them holding hands with their parents. He had a ball. (More adorable photos in my weekend post!)
Despite the fact that it was unplanned and I didn’t have much time to think about it, the race went really well. My coach had me do a mini-taper week and I felt well-rested and ready to run on Sunday morning. It was colder than I expected, but lovely and sunny – actually perfect running weather. The course began at 68th Street on the East Drive, ran counter-clockwise, looped through at the 102nd Street Transverse, then finished on the 72nd Street Transverse. Most of the 4 mile NYRR races follow this same course, so I knew what I was in for:
That steep hill in the first mile is called Cat Hill, but I never feel like it’s so bad, since it’s at the start of the race, when your legs are fresh and you’re feeling good. Check out the elevation between about mile 2.5 and 3.5 though. Ugh. Those hills are not fun at all.
My plan of attack:
I remembered those hills in the second half of the race, but what I also recalled prior to Sunday was the lovely downhill followed by a flat right at the end of the race. My plan was to attack the hills after mile 2, with the knowledge that once I got them over and done with, I could recover with some easy downhill running.
Mile 1 at 7:56. I would have loved to have run this at more like a 7:45 pace, but with the combination of a crowded start and Cat Hill I’m happy that I ran a sub 8:00.
Mile 2 at 7:27. I was aiming for a 7:30 pace here, so this was exactly where I wanted to be.
Mile 3 at 7:46. Those hills are no joke. I used my repeated mantra that I used when marathon training for this section. I also used the technique of picking out a runner up ahead and speeding up my pace to overtake them on the hills.
Mile 4 at 7:22. I am so happy with this last mile. Obviously the downhill helped me a lot, and I’m thankful for it, since it gave me a negative split for the race!
Last 0.05 miles (because with all your ducking and weaving, you never run the perfect distance!) was at a 5:44 pace, so I also had enough left in reserve for a strong finishing kick.
The result? Another PR for this mama! After setting a PR for the 4 mile distance in 2008, I’ve consistently set new records every time I’ve run this distance since December 2013, when I first started working with my coach. It’s made me realize that you can always push yourself a little harder, a little further, when you really want results. For me, it clearly requires someone pushing me to bring that out with the right training and mindset.
An extra bonus was seeing Mary Wittenberg, the CEO of NYRR, just past the finish line, congratulating runners. I high-fived her.
Do you use mantras when you’re running or racing?
Have you ever surprised yourself with a PR or a better-than-expected performance?
Do you struggle with hills?