Tag Archives: first marathon

My First 10k Race: Where is that finish line?

This past weekend I ran my first 10k, the NYRR Joe Kleinerman Classic 10k in Central Park.  It started on the upper east side near 101st street and looped all the way to the edge of the northside of the park, down the west side, across the bottom of the park near 59th street and then back up on the east side to the finish line around 101st street. 

Once again I had to face the challenge of those Central Park hills.  I find I actually prefer not to know much about the course and just tackle it as it comes.  Perhaps this is an approach I prefer just for Central Park because of the varying degrees of rolling hills.  So just when you think you’ve accomplished the 2 big hills, suddenly you’re on mile 5 and there comes Cat Hill, kicking your butt even though it’s not supposed to be much of anything compared to what you ran at mile 1 and 2.  Or maybe this is a naive novice approach?  Isn’t ignorance sometimes bliss?

Running is such a mind-game of personal puzzle pieces.  Not everyone’s piece fits in the same way to get a picture of the finish line.  Some pieces require water at mile 2, other’s need a sip of Gatorade at every fluid station while still other’s won’t drink till the finish.  Some prefer to start out in the front of the pack, other’s prefer to lay far back and enjoy the feeling of passing other runners as you build up speed each mile marker.   

I planned to run the first 3 miles kinda easy and then push hard for the last 3.  I sort of kept to that plan.  I had a friend join me for the run and I don’t train with her so her presence still impacted my strategy whether I realized it or not because now the puzzle pieces I was fitting together to make my perfect picture of crossing the finish line unintentionally became a duo effort.  Sometimes that was a really good thing when it meant more motivation and sometimes it just became an added level of decision-making to an already tricky jig-saw puzzle

By mile 5 we were really pushing up Cat Hill hard and then as we started down the hill I looked at my friend and said for about the fifth time – “Put it in cruise control to the finish!” – because when you go down a hill it should be just a free-flowing sensation with minimal effort or energy so that you can clear your mind and cleanse out your muscles and heavy-breathing from the challenge of going up the hill. 

We pass mile 6 and we have a point-3 to go.  That point NEVER came!  We started to hear the announcer and music but when I looked ahead I just kept seeing the snaking trail of the racers as though it was never end.  We are now passing speakers and a lot more runners that have finished and are eating their apples and bagels.  But still, we can’t see the finish line.  I can’t keep pushing at this fast pace of close to 9 min per mile.  My friend says “Where is it?! When is it gonna end?!” And then finally we see it just around the bend.

I finished the race feeling amazing and invigorated because I pushed myself harder than ever with an average pace of 9:54 but my per mile splits were a lot faster than I’ve ever done for a run of more than 5 miles.  I have never had a bad experience running a race.  Every one of them has been an incredible adventure and journey for me.  I always focus on the positives and little victories rather than anything negative. 

And yes, I absolutely did smile across the finish of my first 10k.

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The “Take It Easy” vs “Pass One More Ass” Strategies

I’ve just started reading Hal Higdon’s book “Marathon: The Ulimate Training Guide”.  Practically every page makes some kind of profoundly inspiring statement about running a marathon that just tugs at my heartstrings and makes me bawl up in tears!  

He says the training should begin around 16-18 weeks from the marathon date so for me that will mean in June.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not already focusing on keeping a steady and consistent running schedule to keep my legs strong and endurance at its strongest level.   He suggests keeping a diary or a blog throughout your training.  Check! Already on it. 

This Saturday I’m running a lovely 10k NYRR race in Central Park.  My strategy is to run it for speedwork.  I’ve been trying to improve my pace this past year into the 9:30 – 10:00min pace range for runs over 5 miles. 

On Jan 21 I’m looking forward to running the Manhattan Half Marathon in Central Park.  For that one I just want to have a steady 10:30 pace which will be the same pace I had for the Staten Island Half, Grete’s Gallop and Queens Halfs in 2011.  Grete’s Gallop was also a half marathon in Central Park and it was, by far, the hardest course I have ever run.  The rolling hills were just that, rolling… and endless. Even the last 5 miles, up and down, up and down.  So my attitude is to just take it easy and focus on having fun and finishing.

Funny how I mentally go into races generally thinking I’ll take it easy and just push when I can, and cruise when I want, don’t overdo anything, just focus on finishing and having fun.  But then once I cross the Start Line the ‘Take It Easy’ strategy flies off with the breeze of a pack of runners and I’m suddenly pushing myself to pass one more ass.  The ‘Pass One More Ass’ strategy has really helped me go faster. 

My sister (also a runner on a similar journey as myself in planning to run her first marathon at the ING NYC Marathon) made the suggestion to me once when she joined me halfway into Grete’s Gallop to help push me along.  She said, ‘Find an ass and pass it!’.  It works.  There’s always some ass in front of me that if I zone in on it and take a deep breath I’ll gradually manage to squeeze past.   Now whenever I run a race, I inevitably take the Pass One More Ass strategy. 

 

 

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