Almost all NYRR races I do begin with a cup of coffee at home, followed by a one to two mile jog to the start, depending on the location of the start. Yesterday, the outside air was a balmy 67 degrees when I began my journey. Though humid, it was much more comfortable than the two marathons I ran in May--again with the relativity.
I was actually really eager to line up for the start to see what kind of introduction Paula and Kara would get, and to hear their speeches. For anyone not in the loop, they are both about six months pregnant, so they weren't among the elite contenders. After Mary W did her thing, she gave each of the honorary guests a chance to speak. Paula wished us all luck and said she was excited to be there. Kara said she was going to spectate and cheer for us. Yay!
The field was apparently stacked with elites. Here they all are jockeying for position. I also included this picture to illustrate the seeded corral system that NYRR has adopted. The colored signs correspond to bib colors. Blue is first, then red, yellow, green, and so on. I really don't know what comes behind green, but there are a rainbow of colors. For this race I was red, which put me pretty close to the start.
A downside of being so close to the start is going out too fast. Because I was surrounded by speedies and the fact that Central Park West is a flat zone, I hit mile one in 7:48. I really don't think this was too fast, but I could not maintain it. I slowed to 8:05 for mile two. Then it was up and down the Harlem Hills for mile 3, which was 8:11. I have no idea why mile four was so terrible, but I slowed to 8:36. Perhaps I was busy waving to all the Flyer guys who came out to cheer? With two miles to go, I did what I could. Mile five was a nice 8:04; I distinctly remember hamming it up down Cat Hill. Perhaps this picture was taken shortly after my burst of speed, because I look deeply focused and rather serious. Also a tad pained..
Mile six clocked in at 8:13 and the last point two was 1:42. Final time: 50:40 (~8:10 pace). I did not cross the line with an entourage like Paula (seen here with her three year old daughter and Kara G), but I was all smiles.
I was handed a pink carnation (which later perished in a deadly duel) and drank a cup of water. If you're at all familiar with running in humidity, you'll know how disgusting it is to experience the "sweat rush" (ie sweat just comes pouring out in mass quantities as soon as you stop running). This did not deter us from gathering for a group photo--in fact, our Flyer photographer referred to it as a "post race glow" (she is a journalist ;))
After that, FlyGirl and I went off in search of shenanigans. First, our carnations duked it out for Brightroom, and then we headed back towards the finish line.
It was there that we spotted Kara Goucher! Meeting her was pretty awesome. She's as sweet and friendly as she looks, and she chatted with us as if we had been friends for years. I think I was a bit starstruck when this picture was taken-- Kara is most definitely my favorite ;)
As much as I wanted to hang with KG all day, we had to say goodbye and wish her well. Maybe our paths will cross again in the future. But if not, then I have a pretty rockin' photo for my collection! Of course, Lam did not want to be left out. He claims he was just standing in for Kara, but the truth is that we were honoring our semi-tradition of posing with him post-Mini ;)
I was pretty exhausted by this point and really needed more water. I said my goodbyes to my teammates and jogged the two miles home. During the cooldown, I thought about how awesome it was to push myself in this race. The two marathons I did in May did not give me that chance, so this was kind of a consolation prize. Though it was not a PR, this race was a great experience for me (meeting Kara aside) and got me excited about future racing opportunities.
Lastly, since I rarely praise NYRR (criticism seems to lend itself more naturally), I'd like to thank them for the following things: women's cut t-shirts (they're great! I wore mine today during my cross-training workout), Dove products (who doesn't like a little swag in the form of beauty products), tote bag (perfectly sized for Whole Foods excursions), and last, but not least, the chance to mingle with outstanding professional women athletes!