In addition to the Pope being in the NYC area this past weekend, I decided to head up that way as well, for the Make A Wish Foundation’s Walk for Wishes 5K!
I first ran this race last year and really enjoyed it – although I was sick with a little head cold, the scenery and the cause made it a really enjoyable event, and I looked forward to seeing my friend Nichole who manages the whole event, too!
We headed up to the park and were immediately impressed with the gigantic planes and fully-armored helicopters hovering around the perimeter of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty – have you ever seen an Osprey in action? That thing made the ground shake with every pass, I felt like I was in the Hunger Games!
Anyway, it was a little chilly when we arrived at the park so I finally got to wear my brand spankin new One More Tri race jacket! It warmed up enough at the start to just race in my tank and shorts, but I had fun repping my awesome new accomplishment 🙂
We hung out while the rest of the runners arrived at the park, along with big groups of folks preparing to do the walk portion of the event. That’s my favorite part: seeing all of the families and groups of friends in matching t-shirts walking their dogs, pushing strollers & wheelchairs, all banding together to raise money and honor the Wish Kids… it’s a really inspirational thing!
After about a half hour, I made my way to the start where there were only about 100 or so other people, a good 1/4 of whom were a busload of teenaged girls who looked to be a track team or dance squad or something. They arrived late and all ran for the start giggling and pushing each other, and all of us older runners parted to make room for them – “Faster runners in the front!” we kept shouting, laughing. They all shook their heads, suddenly shy, but we kept egging them on to cut us slower folks in line so they didn’t have to trample us after we started. Once we did start, we made the right choice – they were FAST!
Once the gun went off we headed out of the park and around the little lake, onto the waterfront walkway path that would take us alllll the way down past the Statue of Liberty and back. I made my way slowly and steadily through the first quarter mile going by feel with the crowd. When I finally checked my Garmin at the half mile I turned out to be running at a 10:30 pace – sweet!
I can’t lie: no matter how many times I see these faster times on my watch, I keep thinking I’m going to snap out of it one day and go back to thirteen and fourteen minute miles. Is that weird? I’m working hard, training right, and I know that the progress I’m seeing is deserved, but I’m just so not used to seeing 10’s that I feel like it’s a fluke! Anyone else experience this??
Anyway, I made it through the first mile at just over 10:35ish, and started seeing the super speedy people heading back to the finish. I decided to have fun and clapped and cheered for every person as they passed – why not, right? Not too long after that, I neared the 1.6 mile turnaround and grabbed a bottle of water at the table – even with the nice waterfront breeze, that sun was pretty freakin’ warm!
I walked 2-3 times to sip my water through mile 2.5, and saw a good number of people still making their way to the turnaround. But once I hit 2.5, I looked at my watch and realized that I had slowed my pace to around 10:50 with my walk breaks – that was still one of my best 5k times ever!
Since I only had a little more than a half mile to go, I figured why not drop the hammer a little early to see just how good I could do? So I chucked my half empty water bottle to free my hands and took off. Just as I came down the hill to the finish, Nichole jumped out and started screaming for me, which gave me the perfect boost I needed to sprint right through the finish line and nail my 2nd best time ever – 34:21!!
I was shredded! My lungs burned, my quads were fried, even my abs were tender. Mike came and found me, and I told him about my new almost PR and he was so thrilled – I’ve been trying to get close to those old pre-surgery PR’s for months now, and I’m finally almost there!
Once I recovered with some Cocogo, we hung out for a little while longer at the pre-walk party, cheered on the 5K winners, I picked up my participant ribbon (I still LOVE that I get a ribbon instead of a medal, it’s so unique and fun!), and we headed home – because I had made the ridiculous decision to go home and tack 7 more miles on to my morning so that I could finish my long run a day early! The thought of having to go to bed early and wake up early AGAIN the next day for my long run made me so annoyed – so why not just do it all today? Who cared that I just pushed my body to the limit? I’d be fine!!
Oh how silly we runners can be.
Once we got home I changed into a dry sports bra and new t-shirt, packed up my Nathan and headed out to my favorite 7 mile loop, took off from where I parked, and promptly convinced myself I had a stress fracture in the first quarter mile.
See, because they’re thinner than my every day running socks, I have a tendency to lace my shoes too tight when I’m wearing compression socks, which then causes a sharp pain in the top of my foot – only my right foot, too! And this was my first time racing in my trusty Pro Compressions, so of course I had laced up tightly. Add an hour of driving and cooling off to the mix, you get a swollen post-race foot in a too-tight sneaker. This is not the first time this has happened to me!!
I sat down on the curb as soon as I felt that pain, took off my shoe, unlaced it entirely and re-laced it loosely, massaged the hell out of my foot, and wouldn’t you know it when I started back up again the pain was gone! It still feels as good as new now, a few days later. Lesson learned: DON’T tie your laces too tight.
Miles 1-5 went by relatively easily, but once I hit mile 5.5 (or rather, 8.6ish) I hit the wall. My hips locked up, my feet were screaming, everything was swollen (you should have seen the line my socks left around my calves!!) – I wanted to be DONE. I briefly got disheartened, but reminded myself that I’d raced the hell out of a 5K earlier in the day so I essentially did double the work already. Besides, my average pace was still on fire, even despite a lot more walk breaks than I’d care to admit to.
I shuffled along on that last mile, walked where I needed to, and thought about the finish line of my next race: the Atlantic City Half Marathon. I envisioned it there at the end of the boardwalk, pictured myself heading towards it strong and full of power – definitely not broken and hurting like I was at that moment! It was all I needed to get to the “finish” of my long run, and with a new unofficial 10 mile PR to boot!
Yes, that’s more than a minute UNDER all my previous 10 milers.
Once I was done, I was more than drained – I felt hollow. I dragged my salty carcass back to my car, drove home, laid down in the shower while Mike ordered sushi, came out and devoured my lunch, then slept for 2 hours. I was BEAT. But – Sunday morning I got to sleep in for the first time in like 2 months! Totally worth it. 😉