The week after my trek through Central Park, I found that it took longer than usual to recover. I gave myself two days of complete rest prior to attempting to get up and complete a lite run on Wednesday morning. Quite honestly, I just went through the motions. I ran without focus and without a measureable goal. My head wasn’t into my training. As the weekend drew closer, I realized that my mind wasn’t really helping my body heal up. Why? Because I wasn’t exactly in the most positive frame of mind.
Do you recall how disappointed I was with my poor effort during my August marathon in rye, New York (refer to this one if you want to check out my recap: http://backofthepacker.com/2012/09/21/marathon-8-the-self-transcendence-marathon-part-1/ and http://backofthepacker.com/2012/09/22/marathon-8-the-self-transcendence-marathon-part-2/) ? While the prior weekend’s solo adventure put me in a fantastic frame of mind because I was surrounding my my teammates during the second half of my run – my Nike + watch kept telling me that I had yet to piece together the kind of mistake-free marathon that I knew that I had in me. In my blog entry late last week ( http://backofthepacker.com/2012/10/12/marathon-9-another-self-inflicted-marathon-through-central-park/ ), I mentioned that I needed to work on my “Shooter’s Mentality” – the ability to forget the bad experiences / races immediately, and continue to “train it and trust it” – continue to work hard so that, on race day, I can trust in my abilities to provide the expected results / improvement. Well, the Shooter’s Mentality hasn’t kicked in just yet….and I’m training – but not trusting. Oy.
What I needed was a little taste of success. I needed to show myself that progress has been made this year. And the New York Road Runners Fifth Avenue Mile on Saturday was going to be just the opportunity that I required.
The Fifth Avenue Mile is a fantastic race where runners of all ages run down Fifth Avenue from the corner of 80th Street to the corner of 60th Street, finishing just outside of the southeast corner of Central Park. The one mile course begins with a slight decline, followed by lite uphill run. The last third of a mile is a sprint down one last downhill to the finish line. The record for the course is 3:54, I believe. (And FYI: THAT AIN’T SLOW, FOLKS). Although the distance is MUCH shorter than the races I’ve particiapted in throughout 2012, this event resulted in…quite honestly…the hardest mile I have ever run in my life.
The runners were broken up by male/female and age group. By the time my agre group assembled at the starting line, I was resolved to push myself to the absolute limit as far as pace was concerned. Once I crossed the starting line, I was going to run as fast as I could for as long as I could. Within minutes, the gun went off and we crossed the starting line.
I “sprinted” (ok, let’s face it – that word is in quotes because it looks good whilst discussing a one mile race; however, I don’t think I can call ANY type of running that I do a true sprint….one cannot sprint whilst carrying a baby grand piano on your back) right off of the line and, within a quarter mile, I felt my breathing become very rapid. I was not used to running like this. It began to hurt at I reached to top of the course’s one incline. I was about to slow my pace down a bit for fear of breaking completely. It was at that moment, with the finish line slightly less than half a mile away, that I actually got stubborn for once.
Knowing that I only had 10 blocks to cover and the race would be over, I recalled what one of my TFK coaches kept telling me during speed work one Wednesday a couple of months prior. While running a timed 5k one Wednesday evening, Coach Glen saw that I wasn’t using my arms as effectively as I should be. So he came up behind me and starting telling me “Use your arms! Throw your elbows back! It’ll add speed and make your pace easier to hold on to”. As th arms go – so do the legs. I heard Coach Glen’s words over and over in my head, and I went to my arms. AND IT WORKED! I sped up – I could feel it. The feeling of actually getting faster instead of breaking down fired me up. I decided to really push it durin the last quarter mile…and then I noticed the clock over the finish line. I couldn’t believe it.
I crossed the finish line and immediately looked for a garbage can. I really left it all on the course. I felt sick to my stomach – but I knew that I did the best I could. Unlike other races run this year, I wouldn’t be able to look back at this race and say “my time would have been a little better if I did this or that differently”. I could honestly say that I gave all that I had. And I couldn’t believe the results. One mile in 7 minutes and 10 seconds. I have NEVER run that fast in my entire life.
This was the positive experience I needed to shake myself out of the duldrums that I was dealing with lately. Now, all I need to do is build on this experience and gain some momentum going into the deepest part of my racing season.
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