Two years ago, I ran the Joe Kleinerman 10K. It was my first timed race and it took me 1:10:47 to cross the finish line. This year, thanks to my ever so sneaky friend Steph, I reached a big goal and finally went sub-60; crossing the finish line in 59:18. I wavered back and forth all week about really racing this race. Over the summer, I missed beating the one hour mark by 31 seconds and proclaimed I had no idea how to race a 10K. I had no intentions of racing that race, PR’d by four minutes and 19 seconds, and yet I was still disappointed being so close to achieving sub-60. I decided it would definitely be a goal for 2014 but I wasn’t sure I had the fitness to get there on Saturday. I mean, let’s be honest, I’ve only been running easy runs since the NYC Marathon, haven’t done any structured speedwork since September and may have gained a few unwanted pounds since I finished marathon training. But as always, the Coach encouraged me to go for it.
I woke up to a forecast of 50’s and rain with occasional thunderstorms.
What? Last week we were in a polar vortex with arctic temperatures and snow and now I was contemplating running in shorts? Crazy! I text Nicole and Allison and asked if I could just go back to sleep. I was exhausted and literally had zero desire to race in the rain. In the end, I obviously decided to stop being a baby and got dressed and ready to run with my friends.
Steph, Em and Kara met me at my apartment and we took a cab to the start. Yep, you heard me right, a cab. The start was about 2.5 miles from my apartment. In an effort to sleep until the last possible second, we decided that we would take a cab to the start and run the 2.5 miles back home post-race. As we made our way to the race start, the rain started coming down harder. I couldn’t help but wonder why I do this to myself. Spoiler alert: for the ridiculous endorphin high of a PR and reaching a goal you didn’t think was possible quite yet. Oh, and for the promise of a champagne brunch post-race to celebrate Steph’s birthday. Obviously.
We met Allison in the corral and all decided to start the race together. I seriously love running races with my friends. I’ve gotten so used to running races with them, as training runs, or just for fun. I hope one of them realizes that they now have to run my next goal half marathon with me. Steph and Abby had been encouraging me to go for it, and try for sub-60, all week. At the last minute, Steph asked me if I just wanted to run the race all together for fun. YES! I was so excited to run at an easy pace and simply enjoy the first race of the new year with my friends. I actually wondered if that should be my goal for 2014. I spent most of 2013 chasing big goals which was nothing short of amazing. But I wondered if I should take a break from PR chasing and just enjoying running solely for the love of running. You all know where this is going, right?
Somewhere around mile 3, I think, I felt Steph picking up the pace a bit. I wasn’t wearing a watch, so I didn’t know our pace, but I knew this was faster than an easy pace. I knew what she was up to. She must have seen our pace and known my big goal of going sub-60 was possible. We had lost Kara and Em at this point and Allison, Steph and I stopped chatting, no thanks to that faster pace. I decided to just go with it and try to keep up with her as long as I possibly could. The first half of the race went by pretty quickly. I barely noticed Harlem Hill; surprising since I hadn’t run this hill in months. Although it was in the first mile, I anticipated it feeling harder than it did; thank you Refine Method. The race course started just south of the 102nd Street Transverse, included one full loop of Central Park and finished on the 102nd Street Transverse.
Mile 1: 10:29
It was really foggy and warm during the race. I decided on my Oiselle Lesley Knickers, singlet, clearly vest and arm warmers for the race.
Somewhere between mile 2 and 3, I was so warm I rolled down my arm warmers and looked like I was wearing sweat bands on my wrists; circa 1985.
Mile 2: 9:45
Mile 3: 9:17
When we rounded the lower loop, at the south end of Central Park, there were a couple of cool pockets with a fine mist that felt absolutely amazing. At mile 4, as we were making our way back around to the east side of Central Park, I saw one of the time clocks and tried to calculate if sub-60 was possible. The clock said 41:xx. I knew we started three minutes into the race. I tried to do the math, but apparently I was working so hard I thought we were at 39 minutes when we were actually at 38 minutes; meaning sub-60 was possible. Way to subtract 3 from 41, Beth.
Mile 4: 9:13
As I climbed Cat Hill, the last real hill in the race, I almost gave up. I was feeling pretty exhausted at this point and fighting to maintain my pace on the hill left me feeling a little nauseous. But Steph was still ahead of me and I decided not to give up and keep fighting to catch up with her. Between mile 4 and 5 is when I told her sub-60 wasn’t possible and I really wanted to slow down. She assured me it was still possible and that slowing down wasn’t an option. So I continued to fight for it.
Mile 5: 9:26
This part gets a little fuzzy but I think somewhere between mile 5 and 6 Abby caught up with us. She had already finished. Duh! Do you know how fast she is? She started running with me and Steph and asked how it was going. All I remember is saying, “Can’t talk.” I was working so hard at this point and I was happy to have them both running with me. I saw mile 6 and somehow was able to find one last gear to get me to the finish. WHY does a quarter of a mile feel SO FAR? I started running as fast as my legs would carry me. I was so happy to see the transverse and make that turn to the finish. I saw the clock at the finish and screamed at Steph, “Am I going to do it?” I couldn’t believe it. Was this really happening? Was I really about to finally run a sub-60 10K? I sprinted through the finish and was THRILLED to stop running. I think I may have dry heaved for a second. Steph told me I did it! I had finished in 59:17, unofficially. She showed me her watch so I would believe it.
Mile 6: 8:49
Last 0.27: 8:26
Whaaat!?! The last 1.27 miles were sub-9 minute miles!?! That definitely hurt and left me completely shocked that I was capable of running paces like that right now. It’s the best possible feeling as I start training again today. I’m really excited and incredibly hopeful to see what’s possible this spring.
Thank you to Abby, the best Coach, who somehow always knows that I’m capable of more than I think I am and always encourages me to let go of fear and go for it! A major thank you to Steph for tricking me, getting me to race outside my comfort zone and pacing me to that coveted sub-60 finish. When it comes down to it, I’m thankful to her for believing I had in me this weekend. This was an amazing weekend with my friends and a great start to 2014!
Do you prefer running races with friends for fun or racing alone?
How do you celebrate your PR’s?
Any exciting races coming up?