NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile Race Recap

I’m 100% aware that this recap is like a month late, but better late than never, right? Right. So when the folks at NYRR contacted me about running the Fifth Avenue Mile, I was super stoked, especially since I’d be running the Media Mile. Where the race is mainly run in age group waves, they also set up special waves for groups like FDNY runners and kids. I didn’t know what “media” meant; because they invited me via Instagram I assumed it would be a handful of other social media peeps like me. But I was only half right…

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My start time wasn’t until 11:45, which gave us plenty of time to get into Manhattan, take a few subways to Fifth Avenue, pick up my packet, and hang out by a pretty fountain, cheering for the earlier age groups and warming up.

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Once 11:15 rolled around, Mike headed down Fifth to meet me at the finish, and just as he left the announcer started talking up the participants of the Media Mile. This made me stop in my tracks. Remember when I said I was only half right? Yeah. It turns out that while I recognized a few awesome IG people (OMG it was like celebrity spotting), “media” actually meant media people, like on-air talent for local news stations, producers and journalists and stuff. Which meant I spent most of my time in the corral pretending like hanging out with celebs was no big deal, while inside my head I was squealing like a tween. I was about to get smoked by the woman from CBS 2 News!!

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OK, maybe I didn’t hide it so well. OK, maybe I photobombed her. Sorry, Kristine Johnson.

There turned out to be only like 50 of us in this wave. And usually the smaller the race, the farther towards the end I finish. It’s just science. I started to get nervous that I could potentially be the last person to cross the finish line in a very obvious way.

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I also had my photo snapped awkwardly by a NYRR photog.

Funny side note: because there were some local celebs in the corral, there was also a lot of media packed into the corral with us. Exhibit A:

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This guy followed this poor girl around for a good 5 minutes.

One nice thing about the corral being so small was getting to actually talk to people. The fella you see below is Arun. This rockstar is currently training for the Marine Corps Marathon, and he’s the kindest fellow runner you’re going to meet. We chatted about our shared fear of being last, and promised that we’d stick together if it came down to it. It was reassuring knowing that I wouldn’t be last alone.

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Suddenly it was time to run, and everyone around me turned into elites. No kidding: they all crouched down, fingers on their Garmins, ready to burst with energy. But instead of panicking, I ducked down with them and pretended like I knew what I was doing (this turned out to be the theme of the day), and at the sound of the gun we were off!

The actual running happened so fast that I can only recall the thoughts I had at the distance markers. At .25 I thought, “Already?” At .5, I thought, “No way.” At .75, I spotted a course volunteer wearing the same pants and we screamed for each other (Go, Skirt Sports sister!). That’s when Arun, who had been steadily pacing behind my left shoulder the whole way, asked, “I’m not slowing you down, am I?”

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I glanced down at my watch to see just how fast I was going and almost shat myself when I saw 6:xx. All I could do was laugh and reply, “No way, not slow at all!” and keep going. Through the last quarter mile downhill towards the crowd at the finish line, I could hear them shouting. Once I got close enough to read the clock and saw 8:xx, I legitimately shouted out loud, “WHAAAAT?!” The girl ahead of me turned around to see what the big deal was. I was astounded – I’ve never seen an 8 minute mile in my life!

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So I took off even faster, gunning for under 9 minutes – and I did it. In 8:51.

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All I could do was laugh and gasp for air. 8:51! Never in my life. There had to be a mistake. It felt great. But even a new PR wasn’t as exciting as what I saw next: MEB.

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It was like seeing a unicorn.

There he was, off to the right of the finish line. No big crowd, just Meb, chilling with a few peeps who popped around the corner to snap a pic with him. So I went for it, too!

Arun had crossed right behind me and as I congratulated him, I asked if he wanted a pic. I figured acting like I knew what I was doing was the best way to go (again, the day’s theme…) and before I knew it, I was stepping up to Meb, introducing myself, and shaking his hand. I wish I remembered what I’d said. Probably something like “It’s such an honor, may I have a photo?”. But he agreed and thanked me and posed graciously, congratulated me on a great race, and I was off. I snapped Arun’s pic for him, and we dissolved back into the crowd.

I was floating. I swear I’d dreamed what just happened. A PR and Meb, within seconds of each other. Mike found me and congratulated me on all the excitement, and just as we were ready to leave, a volunteer told me that my media bib meant that I got to hang out in the Media Tent with all the reporters and legit running celebs. Free danish and OJ and fruit trays while Meb and the media folks do interviews? Don’t mind if I do!

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For real though, my adventure in the VIP Tent was more OMFG than NBD. Continuing with the day’s trend, I squealed inside my head the entire time but acted cool and calm on the outside, like hanging out and accepting the fruit plate tongs from Meb himself is something I do at every race (when in reality we both reached for grapes at the same time and I died four times).

IMG_1830I have to laugh when I think back on this day – it was one of those perfect days where everything falls into alignment and goes smoothly, and reminds you of how lucky you can be sometimes. It was an honor to run an unbelievable great race, make new friends, and meet some truly amazing runners. I’m already looking forward to next year!

20 thoughts on “NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile Race Recap

  1. Oh my gosh. OMG! I mean, I might have squealed a little when I read this. And it just kept getting better and better and suddenly.. MEB. What a great day! And congratulations on a GREAT PR mile, that’s awesome! You had to be on cloud 9 for days following all of that. 🙂 So cool

  2. This is awesome, VIP girl!!! and “I started to get nervous that I could potentially be the last person to cross the finish line” – OMG I SO KNOW THIS FEELING! I actually have picked races based upon the year before’s finish times, to give myself some reassurance there would be enough people around my pace, or even after me.

  3. Pingback: Runners World Half & Festival Day 3 | Jess Runs Happy

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