On May 20th, 2011 I stepped foot into Central Park. I was warming up with some of the best runners in the country and beyond. I spent the previous day and a half feeling out of place. On Friday evening I had the pleasure of eating dinner with Meb Keflezighi. I had so many questions, but yet found myself frequently speechless. I was entertained by the idea that we had ordered the same meal, a chicken sandwich. Then, on Saturday afternoon, I sat between Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall at the elite meeting. As I looked around the room I had feelings that I should not be running as elite… particularly here and now, amongst all this talent, ability, and speed. It was all so surreal until I felt the cool breeze on Sunday morning. I wanted to run a strong, consistent race, gage my fitness for Boston next month, and gain faith that my body could handle the road. In the back of my head I wondered how my body would handle this race a week after a 50k.
I had flown into New York the preceding Wednesday. I had ventured off to Connecticut for a couple days with family. My sister, nephews, and brother in-law kept my mind off my tired legs. My youngest nephew, the one who I had the pleasure of delivering, gave me a sole focus for my race. As I was lacing up my shoes one morning, he turned to me and said, "Aunt Caiti your shoes look like race cars." Every time my mind started to go down a negative path during the race I reminded myself that my shoes were race cars according to three-year-old Griffin.
At 5k into the race, I had some doubts. I feared being disappointed, slowing down, or literally falling apart. I looked down at my shoes, took a deep breath, and smiled. Consistency seemed to be perfected as I had pretty even splits at each mile marker. The first eight miles looped through Central Park and I was surprised by the ups and downs. I expected flats, but I was treated to rolling climbs for 8 miles. Then we dropped out of the park and it was a nice steady decent through Time Square and into the finish. I felt great, particularly around mile 10 where I finally felt warmed up. I was amazed by how great my legs and body felt especially considering my 50k last weekend. I finished in 1:19:24, an 11 sec PR… whohoo (huge I know)! I felt like I could have kept that pace for at least another 5 miles. It was very clear that I had more speed somewhere in those legs. But, it was also very clear that my body knows 6 minute pace. My lungs were great, I was breathing fine and even talking throughout the race. Ultimately I am grateful that my body has been recovering so well and that there is still some speed in my legs.
I am incredibly grateful for my NYC experience. Thanks to the New York Road Runners for a fabulous and organized race! Thanks to Infinite Running for encouraging my participation and taking good care of me! Thanks to all those insanely fast and inspirational runners! And thanks Griffin Brown for making me smile for 13.1 miles!
Looking forward to spending the next month dialing in for Boston.