After I signed up for the Mini 10K, I realized that gave me seven NYRR races for the year, so I could pretty easily do the 9+1 challenge again. As it turned out, Coach B set me up to run the Staten Island Half as a dress rehearsal race before NYC, which means I really only needed one more.
Brooklyn R-U-N 5K was that final race, even though it’s actually smack in the middle of the nine chronologically. It’s one of two summer evening races NYRR runs, so first I had to make sure I could get the following day off work. Good thing I did, too, because it was 10:30 when I finally got home Monday night.
Pretty basic: Start at the lake at Prospect Park and make a partial loop around the main road in the park, finishing on the road that bisects the loop. The first mile is pretty flat, the second mile is all uphill, and the final stretch is a mix of downhill and flat. I’ve run the entire loop a few times before, so nothing unexpected there.
This was a training run with a ballcap, so my only plan was to make this part of that day’s workout. With my quality day switching to Mondays this cycle, I figured I’d be doing some sort of speed or hill work, but instead it was just supposed to be an easy run, with the week’s hill repeats pushed to Tuesday. Ten to 15 minute warm-up, plus the race, would take care of everything and I could have fun.
Or so I thought.
Conditions on the ground
The Friday before the race, I woke up and my left knee was cranky as heck. I still don’t know what set it off in particular, but it was so bad I didn’t run Friday or Saturday, and I was still walking a bit gingerly on Sunday. I knew from past experience that it was just cranky ligaments and as long as it felt OK to run on it, I was fine.
By Monday it was feeling mostly normal. Unfortunately, the weather was also mostly normal for this summer: hot and humid. It was supposed to be high 80s with 80 or 90 percent humidity at the start of the race. Lovely.
I headed into the city right after work, and it took me about two hours to get to the gear check, though that included a stop in Fulton Center for an early dinner and some pre-race fuel. I still had plenty of time, so I plopped down under a tree and just relaxed for a bit. It wasn’t nearly as hot there in the shade.
Once I checked my gear and started running down to the starting corrals as a warmup, I realized all those swampy, sunny afternoon runs must be paying off. It wasn’t nearly as unpleasant as I thought based on the weather report. And no, the weather hadn’t improved. The entire time I was warming up, I was listening to the announcer repeatedly remind us that going to a medical tent didn’t mean dropping out — most runners would go on to finish the race after rehydrating and resting for a few minutes.
Why did I sign up for this again?
My goals, or lack thereof
No goals this time out except to finish the race and not aggravate my knee.
It felt like a slog from the beginning. My knee was a little cranky. Not painful, but I was noticing it in a way I don’t when everything is working smoothly. I was sweating even before we crossed the starting line, and my pace felt slow.
Mile 2, though, was the doozy. I just kept plugging along, walking when I needed, and running when I could. Prospect Park has A Hill. Just the one, unlike Central Park, and I generally prefer it over Harlem Hill because it’s longer, but less steep. Still, that very length was the most brutal part given the weather. My second mile was a full four minutes slower than my first.
Coach B asked me Tuesday how the race went, and my four-word reply was “Hot. Humid. Hellish Hill.”
I did have a great conversation with another BOTP runner during Mile 2, somebody who ran her first marathon last year at NYC and is running it again this year. She told me, “Everybody warns you about the Verrazano, but it’s the Queensboro you need to be ready for.”
Coach B and her Adventure Twin are among the many runners who have warned me about the Queensboro, so this was not a surprise. I’m planning to run the bridge at least a couple of times before the race, but I suspect it will be a bit later in the cycle when the weather will not be as blazing hot by the time I can get into the city.
Once we got into the final mile, I pulled away from the other BOTP runner and just focused on finishing. I knew I had picked up the pace some, and was pleased to see after that I’d split the difference between miles 1 and 2 and clocked mid-15 for my final mile split.
- My knee felt the best it had all week after the race, so that gave me confidence that running is not the issue. (I’m pretty sure it’s actually sleeping that’s the issue, so I now have a second body pillow to support that knee the way I have had for my right knee when I sleep on my left side. It’s a good thing I’m not claustrophobic, because I feel quite surrounded in bed now.)
- As brutal as the afternoon runs have been in this heat, they are paying off with adaptation to the weather, and that should lead to faster times once it finally cools off again this fall.
- I would do this race again, assuming I could again get the following day off. It was nice to not be rushing into the city to get there in time for the start, and even with my sluggish pace and a long walk to minimize subway changes, I got home at as reasonable an hour as possible on my NJ Transit line.