Today was race day #6 for 2013.  I ran the NYRR Mini 10k for the 2nd year in a row.  Last year was the 40th anniversary of this historic race – the oldest women’s road race in the country.

In the days leading up to this race, I was actually considering a DNS (DNS = Did Not Start).  The advanced weather reports were abysmal – Tropical Storm Andrea was expected and likely to make race day conditions unpleasant.  Added to that was the fact that I had 16 miles on my training schedule for today and Jeff Galloway really encouraged me to get my miles done, even if it had to be in divided segments.  The “urgency” of sticking to my training plan was worsened by the fact that I skipped my 14 miler two weekends ago when I was visiting Disney.  To add to my stress I’m on call this weekend for my hospital and while I didn’t need to see any in-patients today, I did need my phone readily accessible in case of emergency.

Two days before the race my husband announced that we had to attend the Annual Meeting of the Westchester County Medical Society.  While not a black-tie gala, I certainly wasn’t prepared for a buffet dinner in black dress and heels the night before a race.  And I wanted to scoot into NYC on Friday afternoon to pick up my race packet – in the worst of Tropical Storm Andrea! – so I wouldn’t have to worry about it on race day.  Luckily my subway ride to NYRR’s headquarters was quick and easy (not dry and not uncrowded) and the race shirts are quite cute and worth being wet.  The dinner meeting was great networking and while the food wasn’t my preferred pre-race meal, there was enough stuff for me to eat that I was fine.

Jeff Galloway wanted me to walk 5 miles (slowly) to start my 16 total miles today.  My plan was to get up at 5am and walk on the treadmill until it was time to head to Central Park.  Unfortunately my early alarm woke up my 5 year old son (who ended up waking up the entire house by the time I left for the race).  I dressed in my race gear and headed to the treadmill.  Unfortunately I only managed 4 miles before it was time to pick up my work partner for the race.  Amazingly the sun was finally coming out after torrential rain all night and the weather looked promising. We got stuck in terrible traffic due to flooding on the West Side Highway and I dropped her off at 72nd Street to pick up her race packet while I searched for a parking garage.  Boy was I glad that I had braved the storm on Friday!!! I had hoped to get a few more miles in before the race but the traffic delays made that impossible.  I found a “real” bathroom with indoor plumbing for my last minute pee and headed to the start line.  My work partner was starting in a front corral and I didn’t see her again.

I did talk to some nice women while waiting to start and even ran into one of our former anesthesiology residents who started right next to me! That was an auspicious beginning to this race.  I decided to start on the far left of the starting corral.  I worry a lot about doing short run/walk intervals during crowded races and try to start near the outside whenever possible.  I picked a run 40 sec/walk 20 sec ratio since that’s what I’ve been using for my race rehearsal segments.  I was figuring I should try for 12 min/mile pace since I’d have close to 6 additional miles to go after I finished the race.

The race starts on Central Park West and heads North for well over a mile before turning into the Park.  There was some crowd support on the street at the beginning.  Even some doormen waved and cheered as we ran by.  My first mile was at 11:13 min/mile pace and I realized that I should probably slow down.  I did just that and the 2nd mile was – more appropriately – 11:38 min/mile pace.  The next part of the race is where some of the real hills began but I maintain 11:31 min/mile pace for mile 3.  Mile 4 was my worst of the race.  Many women were walking the hills and I was a bit trapped behind people.  I was trying not to weave excessively as it adds so much distance.  So my pace was 11:59 min/mile although only because of a few fast run segments at the end of the mile.

I was definitely feeling the 4 miles that I walked this morning by now and the heat and humidity were starting to affect me a bit.  Around mile 4.5 I saw a spectator wearing an Iowa Hawkeyes shirt.  My mom was a Hawkeye and so was my Aunt and several of my cousins.  I yelled over to her “Go Hawkeyes” and she smiled and cheered.  It may sound stupid but I sort of felt that it was a sign that my mom was watching me run.  Stupid or not it kept me going and mile 5 was at 11:00 min/mile pace.  Another motivating factor happened just after mile 5.  I was on one of my regularly scheduled walk breaks and 2 guys (one spectator and one volunteer) were cheering for the runners.  As I approached them my Galloway beeper went off and it was time to run.  They clearly thought that their cheers motivated me to start running and they both gave me high 5’s as I went by.  It was very sweet and definitely helped me keep going.  Mile 6 was 11:09 pace and the last 0.2 miles (or 0.31 as my final distance was 6.31 miles) was at 10:20 min/mile pace.

My final Garmin time was 1:11:41 or 11:34 min/mile.  Surprisingly this is a 10k PR for me (helped by the fact that last year’s race was even hotter and more humid).  Sadly my official time is not my chip time but actually clock time (based on when the very first runner crossed the starting line).  There is a 2+ minute difference between the 2 times.  While 11:34 min/mile pace is NOT my fastest NYRR pace, the 2+ minute differences in finish times matters as to whether or not my race today is a PR.  Not truly important but important enough that I emailed NYRR to try to get it fixed.

After the race I walked the final mile of my schedule 5 mile walk before driving back home.  Once I got home I refilled my water bottle and headed to my treadmill to finish my final 5.69 miles.  I used a run 20 sec/walk 40 sec ratio and went VERY slowly.  It wasn’t pretty but I completely all 16 miles, including my 10k PR.  Not bad at all!

What did I learn from today? I learned how much faster I am as a runner.  Despite all of my recent whining about motivation, I could truly see that I’m a much better runner than I was a year ago.  If my only goal for today was this race, I easily could have gone much faster.  I think it’s realistic to think that I could eventually run a 10k with 10:30 min/mile or faster.  I’m starting to see that I can set loftier goals for myself and – as long as I stay consistent with my training – I can continue to get faster and stronger.  Overall I’m very pleased with my running today – both my race and the rest of the mileage that I completed.